Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Posts Tagged ‘work in progress

#WorkLifeBalance Revised

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February provided some time for reflection and prospective changes at work forced me to re-evaluate what is important. What do I want to do with my life? As I gallop thought middle-age, I am still waiting to find out what I want to do when I grow up. Where paid employment is concerned I have always gone with the flow and grabbed any opportunity going. I adapt and learn, become good at whatever I’m doing, but am prepared to move on, never having been wedded to the perfect job.

As the focus of my current role changes, to one I am not happy with, I have decided that my writing has to come first. I am in the lucky position of being able to pull back from work for a little while to focus my energy on my words. The last time I wrote full-time I started to go a bit nuts with the social isolation and went back to work because I am a boring person to spend all my waking hours with. Now the balance has shifted too far towards work and I am losing the time I need to write, hence the current re-evaluation. I’m not sure how this will work out, but I know I need to re-focus on my writing to make progress. And who knows, I might even get back to my Italian lessons as well as some long neglected piano practice. I have continued with crochet and, after most relatives and friends received crocheted Christmas decorations, my favourite work colleagues are in line for crocheted leaving presents. Please feel sorry for them.

 

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

March 17, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Project 10K – March 2018

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Oh dear, I’m even later this month although I have been thinking about my Project 10K post for a while, even before the end of February. Of the three tasks I set myself, I completed one and a half:

  1. Participate in the remaining Friday Fictioneers challenges for the month. YES.
  2. Finish reading to the end of my novel so it is pitch perfect again. NO.
  3. Write/ submit some new short stories. YES and NO. I started writing two, submitted one, looked at deadlines and got no further.

© Flights of Fancy

 

So my tasks for this month are the same as for last. However, I have given myself a word target as incentive. Seeing how well I’m not doing will help me focus.

  1. Read through WIP to the end. – 49000 words!
  2. Look for short story competitions. Submit two stories by month’s end.
  3. Contribute to the OLWG challenges in good time and not a month after the prompts appear.

I am stupidly thinking of signing up to Camp Nanowrimo next month so need to get the WIP out of the way and pull myself back into setting goals and sticking to them.

 

To answer Gabriele’s monthly questions:

  1. Did you meet your writing/editing goals? Yes and no.
  2. Did you have fun writing? Yes, writing stories in dialogue for Friday Ficitoneers has been challenging.
  3. Did the P10K help with motivation? Yes, but I should have organised my time better.
  4. Anything else you want to tell us, questions you want to ask? I’ve had a work-life balance rethink, which will be the topic of  soon-to-be-posted post.

Thanks to Gabriele at Flights of Fancy for Project 10K and keeping me on my toes, even if I’m always lagging behind. I’m off to read Chapter 11 of my book now….

Written by Sarah Ann

March 12, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Priorities and Progress, 2017-18, #amwriting

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In January 2017, I came up with a list of writing tasks to be completed during the following 12-months. These were reviewed in February, April and June 2017 with mixed progress having been made. A little over 12-months since I wrote my original list of jobs seems a good time for yet another review, as well as to make commitments for the coming months.

 

Task, in rough order of priority, as priorities change.

Ease of completion: *easy to ***hard

Time commitment required: ^a little to ^^^a lot

Progress and Plans  February 2018.

 

1. Keep up with blog.

* Easy if I have something to say/ report.

^ Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say.

Posting has been sporadic dependent upon work commitments. Regular writing updates in the first half of 2017 petered out towards the end of the year and were replaced by me concentrating on Project 10K, a monthly commitment to write and or edit 10000-words, or undertake other goals as self-defined. I concentrated on the micro instead of macro in terms of time frame.

In 2018 I will post monthly as part of Project 10K.

 

 

2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.

* Easy.

^^ A large time commitment for revisions/ editing and sending to agents.

Achieved.

I sent the manuscript to 8 agents and received a ‘near miss’ from one. Is sent to another 10 and was invited to pitch my novel to 1. This agent suggested changes, which I have recently re-submitted. The end of the manuscript needs re-reading through.

In 2018, I will continue to submit my revised manuscript if the current agent considering it rejects it.

 

 

3. Write 100-word Friday Fictioneer stories.

* Easy to do if have nothing else on and come up with a story.

^^ Requires time and concentration to perfect. Takes time to read and comment on other stories and be part of the community.

Mostly met.

I have responded to most prompts and gained some encouraging feedback on my stories.I don’t participate unless I have time to read others’ stories and sometimes the photos cause no neurones to fire in my head.

In 2018, I will continue to participate as inspiration and time allow.

 

 

4. Revise and edit my NaNoWriMo stories from 2014 and 2017. Work up 51k words into a novel.

** Medium.

^^^ Big time commitment. Hopefully enjoyable to do.

I began to edit NaNoWriMo2014 at the end of summer 2017 and made progress until November when I participated in NaNoWriMo2017.

In 2018 I hope to be able to edit both these works into full-length second drafts.

 

 

5. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

* Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas. Enjoyable.

^^ Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.

Ongoing.

Jan and I talked about this project briefly recently – Jan hasn’t painted a picture but has ideas. I am in the same position as before regarding progress: 1 story finished; 2 needing tough editing; 1 just started.

In 2018, I will get my stories finished, send them to Jan and then nag her to paint.

 

 

6. Write short stories for competitions.

*** Quite hard writing to order.

^^ Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.

I came runner-up for an entry in March ‘17 so thought I’d made it. Subsequent submissions through the year yielded nothing.

In 2018, I will continue to look for short story competitions, but not concentrate on them to the detriment of other commitments.

 

 

7. Self-publish flashes and short stories.

*** An organisational project and learning experience, e.g. about self-publishing platforms. Takes less brainpower than writing.

^^ Time-consuming but can be dipped in and out of.

No progress since June 2017.Stories are collated. Page layout needs to be completed. Cover design needs completing.Self-publishing platforms to be researched.

In 2018, I will get this published… and pigs might fly. Colleagues in the Windsor Writers’ Group are self-published and are there to call on when I’m ready.

 

 

8. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.

*** Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new to me.

^^ Large time commitment and learning new skill.

Schedule in for 2020?
 

 

9. Continue with novel-length abuse-survivor story started 2014.

* Easy to write – the story is in my head.

^^ Need time and space to pick this up again.

This will happen only when I’ve completed all of the above… so maybe never.

 

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

February 27, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Project 10K – January 2018

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You might be able to tell how well January is going with goals given that we’re a third of the way through already.

The goals for this month are to get the first third of my WIP re-written (1) and ready to resubmit (2) to my prospective agent by the end of the month. I don’t think it will be sent of by 31st but as long as it’s ready for a re-read prior to sending I will be happy. This task has been taken up again this week and is bigger than I’d hoped as chapters chop, change and dive-bomb all over the place.

 

December goals were partially met, and I’m posting all of Flights of Fancy’s badges as achieved in different areas.

  1. Read 9 books and get them back to the library by the end of the month.

Mostly a fail. I read and returned two, am currently reading two, have started two others, and have two unopened by the side of my bed. I’m not sure what happened to number 9 and hope I returned it as I can’t remember doing so.

  1. Edit the first 3 chapters (approx 8k-words) of my book post-pitch.

Partially met and yet the task has grown to the first third of the book.

I’ve written a new Ch1, edited the original Ch1 into Ch2. Ch5 has become Ch3, which pushes the original Ch3 and Ch4 to positions 4 and 5 and I’m not sure they work there. This is very much still a work in progress, and I’m also having to adapt Ch7 to make this all hang together.

  1. Get a 1000-word ‘Christmas’ story ready for my writers’ group on 12th.

Yes, I managed it, and then the meeting on 12th Dec was cancelled because of bad weather. We read our stories to each other this month (9th Jan) instead. The group liked my character, could relate to the frustrations I described, and said my story flowed well. As I told them, in terms of constructive criticism, they were useless.

  1. Participate in one Friday Fictioneers’ challenge – I’ve missed the last two.

Success, I managed to complete two.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

January 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Pitch Feedback – #amwriting, well I was

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Awake in the middle of the night last week, having tossed and turned for one hour, read for another, and still nowhere near dropping off, I asked myself, what would I do if I had a week to live. The first thing that popped into my mind was that I would contact the agent to whom I pitched three weeks ago to let her know my revised manuscript would not be arriving in her inbox. This was a surprise to me. Is this really the most important thing I would need to do during my last days? Probably not, but the thought did spur me into action. Since my pitch meeting on 27th November I have been thinking about the changes the agent suggested, and attempted a few false re-starts to my manuscript. However, later on in the morning that this life-limiting thought arrived, I finally buckled down and set to work on the first five chapters of my book.

Chapter 2 has disappeared, being chopped up and pasted into Chapters 4 and 5, as Chapter 5 moves forward to the position of Chapter 2. Keeping track of all the pages and moved paragraphs has been a task, but one I’ve enjoyed as I see the start to the book reshape itself. I am yet to discover if this will result in additional changes through to the end.

The agent suggested I have started my book in the wrong place. Instead of Chapter 1 being a character looking back retrospectively on a lunch at which she hears some bad news, I need to open with that lunch and the receiving of that news. This I am still struggling with, as it was hard enough to get the first chapter written the tenth time I attempted it. Having to shift the timeframe, and add in a character’s voice I was reluctant to write in the first place, is a difficult task. I have to remember faint heart never won fair lady. Unfortunately, with the Christmas holidays almost upon us, my colleagues seem to be dropping like flies and I’m the only one who seems to be available to fill in. My work schedule has gone bonkers, and my re-started novel languishes neglected…. I’m going to have to take some time off in January!

 

Written by Sarah Ann

December 19, 2017 at 9:09 pm

#NaNoWriMo – getting there – #amwriting

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NaNoWriMo was progressing well, slowly but surely. It is good to have a word counter that also gives percentages. By the end of day two, I had written 3800 words, which I was reliably informed was 8% of the target, and this gave me hope. Strange the effect percentages can have compared to raw numbers.

The words were flowing freely, but that might be because I am writing a stream of consciousness novel, in the present tense. I wondered if I might get stuck with nothing to say mid-month. I didn’t, and haven’t now I’m nearing the finish, but on day 9, I went back to the beginning. My story had gone off-track; I was venting about my stuff rather than discussing what my character needed to say.

I lost a couple of ‘home alone’ days late in the month as they were filled with other stuff or hubby’s appointments were cancelled. This meant I needed to work harder at the front end of the month. All good in theory, but on 6th Nov I received an email inviting me to pitch my existing novel on 27th. So I had a new priority, learning how to pitch a novel and getting the pitch word perfect. My NaNoWriMo word count fell behind and I have consistently remained about two days behind where I need to be. I worked on my pitch, which got me back into my novel, but the structure of the pitch was superfluous in terms of the lovely informal chat I had yesterday. I am still unsure if I am able to summarise my novel in an enticing way given that Broo Doherty had read my synopsis and first three chapters and had lots of useful advice on how to take the work forward.

The good thing with this year’s NaNWriMo has been that, as I get the bare bones down, I can see where I need to go back and pad out with muscle. As this story takes place in one day, with flashbacks telling the reader how my protagonist came to be standing on the edge of a cliff, there is going to be a lot of cutting and pasting to make a coherent narrative. Character back-stories will need to be developed and incorporated on a third or fifth draft, but I am hopeful I am making notes of these requirements as I go. This is a development from my previous NaNoWriMo attempt in 2014, which was put away and only resurrected relatively recently. As I read through it last month, I noticed the holes and found a whole load of other stuff that needs explaining more fully, as well as characters I’m not sure are needed. Hopefully by the end of this month I will have 50000-words and maybe another 1000-words or more of questions to answer/ research to do to make the story consistent, which is more than I managed last time. I am only just identifying the jobs needed to sort out my 2014 efforts. At 42000-words or thereabouts this time, and with only two-days until the finish, I might not ‘win’ this year, but at least I took part and wrote a story that didn’t exist a month ago.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 28, 2017 at 9:09 pm

How to pitch a novel? #amwriting

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How do you? Please can someone send me the foolproof answer, like yesterday?
I’ve looked online, read a number of articles, and tried to sit through some Youtube videos. So far I know I need:

(1) a hook/ the elevator pitch – the attention grabber in around 20-words;
(2) 2-3 paragraphs/ 2-3 minutes about the book including title, genre, setting, protagonist, the conflict and how she overcomes it. These words need to be simple, clear, irresistible, and an interesting description of the novel that captures its best qualities and sells it in a most intriguing way;
(3) to be confident in my presentation;
(4) to say why I was best placed to write this book and where the idea came from;
(5) to say what is unique about my book;
(6) to identify where the book will sit on the bookshelf and comparative works/ authors;
(7) to know about my prospective agent and the authors she represents and where I might fit on her list.

I have less than a week until my pitch. I will never be (3). I think I have the answers to (4 -7). I am still at a complete loss with (1) and (2), which are sort of the important bits. I keep writing and re-writing the opening to the pitch hoping the killer lines will appear eventually.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm

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