Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Posts Tagged ‘writing

Project 10K – November Goals – #amwriting

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October turned out to be a mixed bag of a month where goals were concerned, with two achieved and one missed. Two out of three isn’t bad though. This month I am committing myself to one thing – to write 50000-words for NaNoWriMo. Trying to get all those down is going to be task enough and anything extra I achieve will be a bonus. So to do this properly, I need to answer some questions. Thank you to Gabriele at Flights of Fancy for the nudges and the badges.

1. Did you meet your writing/editing goals?
Yes, no, yes.
I started off well with my first goal of editing 10000-words of my NaNoWriMo2014 novel, went through a mid-month lull, and ended with me actually beating my target – hooray!
My second goal to write two new short stories for competitions was a complete failure. The ideas for one short story are scribbled down on various pieces of paper, but haven’t been pulled into a coherent shape yet. I gave up completely on the other one.
I wrote stories to three of four Friday Fictioneer prompts and received some encouraging feedback on those.

2. Did you have fun writing?
Yes. I enjoyed seeing my word count slowly increase as I got back in touch with characters I wrote about three years ago. I can recognise where I need to pad out and expand as well as what to cut during the next draft. It’s a slow process, but I will get there in the end.

3. Did the P10K help with motivation?
Definitely. Having a word counter on my blog for all to see made me push myself in the final few days of the month. Committing to ¾ FF stories also pushed me into making sure I took part.

4. Anything else you want to tell us?
I was in Las Vegas for four days – my first trip there. I didn’t lose my shirt, but came home with a cold I am still trying to shake off.

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

October 31, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Project 10K – September Goals – #amwriting

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Mid-month is probably not a usual time to be goal-setting, but with little paid work materialising, I have been able to move on with my writing. I have even dug out and started to read through, and add to/ correct, the 50588-words I wrote as part of NaNoWriMo 2014. This was a project I had decided to pick up next year, but by talking about this story with others, I became motivated to look at it now. In the past week I have made it to the end of page 7, so only another 158 to go. I doubt I will have finished reading through and making changes before Christmas. However, I am setting myself the target of editing 10000-words in the next two weeks as part of Flights of Fancy’s Project 10K. You can commit to write or edit 10000-words, or set a specific goal to be met if numbers aren’t your thing. And if you succeed, you get a badge to put on your blog at the end of the month. A long long time ago, I used to collect badges, and keyrings, and bookmarks….

At the end of the month, I will answer the questions:

  1. Did you meet your writing/editing goals?
  2. Did you have fun writing?
  3. Did the P10K help with motivation?
  4. Anything else you want to tell us?

And then I’ll set my goals for October.

Have a look at Gabriele’s site for more.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

September 15, 2017 at 10:27 am

Oh those poor agents – #amwriting, #amediting

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I am not sure what I was on in March when I thought that my has-been-going-on-forever book was publishable as it was. Perhaps I made too much use of my friend’s Nespresso machine and excess caffeine caused delusions. On the advice of my new writing friend Lou, who said the book was almost there but not quite, I have been re-reading and re-editing. Chapters 1-3 haven’t been covered in so much scribble since a major re-write two years ago. And when I found a typo in Chapter 2, I wanted to jump up and down and pull my hair out. A train pulls away, not ‘as the trained pulled away.’ How did I miss it? As I paced my friend’s kitchen, coffee in hand reading aloud, how did I not stumble over this mistake? I don’t know, but I did, and it makes me unhappy to know I sent out a manuscript that wasn’t just not perfect but also contained errors.

I have worked on Chapter 3 today, which was previously chapter 4, and found yet another mistake – a we instead of a with, as in ‘take a walk we me.’ Again, how is it only now I am seeing it? I want to boil my head for my stupidity/ poor eyesight. Instead I will plod on. It has taken me three weeks to get this far (p. 21), slotting in reading and editing between appointments, typing in changes while hubby watches TV. I just hope I can keep the same mood and frame of mind until I reach the end of p. 212, as the changes need to be uniform and the feel of the book consistent.

As for the eight agents I submitted to in April, one replied the book was a near miss for her, three others said, no thanks in the current market, and after the passage of time, I imagine I will not be hearing from the remaining four. I will be working on my re-submission next week.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Learning Keeps You Young, or Busy – #amwriting

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I have realised this week that I am better at practical learning than book learning.

Readers of my Friday Fictioneer posts might know I recently started tap dancing. I didn’t dance as a child – I was too fat and my parents didn’t have the money to pay for lessons however much I pleaded to go to ballet classes with my best friend. Eighteen months ago I started Bollywood dancing and learnt that for year. It was lovely to move elegantly and learn more about Asian film music, but the classes ended.

I have always hankered to learn to tap, probably because of the noise and my imagining that it was easy to stamp around. It isn’t, and I am having to practise between lessons to keep up. I am a complete beginner compared to the others who are re-learning or have at least a term behind them. I am improving, but don’t imagine I will ever be fast enough. I have also taught myself basic crochet stitches and am about to attempt my first piece of clothing, albeit a relatively simple scarf.

However, my online Italian course, which I started last June, is languishing uncompleted. And I have pulled out of the writing MOOC I signed up to complete over the next 6-weeks because I don’t have the time to do it justice. The University of Iowa have run a number of writing MOOCs and I participated in How Writers Write Fiction 2014 and 2015, as well as How Writers Write Poetry 2014. They are professional and stretching courses, but post new classes on a Thursday and I am unable to keep up now work has become busier.

At tap, I have peers in front of whom I don’t wish to fail. With crochet I have physical evidence of my progress. However, with Italian there’s no one to practise with, and I’ve enough of my own writing to get on with without committing to more. So whether I’m better at the practical, or the things I enjoy most, is open to question.

How do people learn without peers, teachers, or projects to keep them on track?

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 28, 2017 at 3:34 pm

#amwriting – honest, I am

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It’s difficult to blog about writing when one isn’t doing much. I have (mostly) written a weekly flash and am tweeting haiku most weekdays. I’ve also been doing a bit of reading about writing, but still have a big pile to work through, and there hasn’t been much progress on short stories or other move substantive works.

On the advice of a new, and proving to be dear, writer friend, I am heading back to my currently-with-agents novel to look again at chapters 1 to 3. These are the ones that need to hook and grab and sink in claws that cannot be removed until the remainder of the manuscript has been read. I have never been happy with the opening lines of my book – they stink. So with Lou kicking my backside, I will be tightening, shaping, and giving these opening 7000-words a perfection makeover.

As clients fall but the wayside I have lost 11-hours a week of paid work and will have more time to write. I have divided this week in to days on which to complete different tasks, and subdivided in to mornings/ afternoons/ hour-long windows. For example, today (Tuesday) I wrote up my work reports in the morning and scheduled writing this blog post for the afternoon, as well as catching up on emails hanging over from the weekend. Wednesday morning I will re-read chapters 1-3 of the aforementioned novel before getting out my red pen. At some point during Thursday or Friday I will revisit the short stories I plan to have finished by the end of July. However, I feel that with the lack of progress made during the past month, that deadline might slip by. I have even timetabled an hour of Italian practice for later in the week. I need to master, or at least revisit Italian personal pronouns if I am ever to move on.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: read and sharpen chapters 1-3 of novel; edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted; I’ve crocheted some flowers.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and blog reading are both too sporadic.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian and piano practise have been non-existent.

Written by Sarah Ann

May 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

I am not a plotter

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Last week, while house-sitting for a friend, I had the opportunity to write/ edit unhindered without feeling any guilt at closeting myself away or needing a quiet space. I did not read much of the reading book I had taken with me as, once my brain was back in the writing groove, I didn’t want anyone else’s thoughts in my head for fear of contamination.

On the train journey home I didn’t want to read either, so forced myself to concentrate on a short story prompt. I had a picture of a hare to work with. This has been on my list of jobs to do since the start of the year, if not before. I have thought about it a number of times, and even written down a few trigger words, but got no further. Sitting on the train there were no distractions and I made myself think about hares – boxing, spring, new beginnings. A female character emerged recovering from a broken relationship – boring. I looked out the window at passing countryside – green emerging from brown gave me new beginnings again. The weather was overcast and yielded no inspiration. What else had I spent the previous week doing? I’d looked after a child and made some enquiries about dance classes. My character became a child dancer. I zeroed in on the boxing hare. My child dancer became male, one who had had prospects, but no longer. He was taking up boxing instead. Why?

As you can see, I am not a plotter and my story grew as ideas changed through the initial scribble: uninterested parents became loving ones; the father developed a job as a risk assessor in order to be fanatical about insuring everything. After an hour, and my first change of train, I estimate I had written 700-words of a story needing lots of work, as well as research about ballet. Once redrafted the story might still be full of holes, but it doesn’t matter because, with notebook and pen, I wrote a story. It has a beginning – a boy in hospital; a middle – how he got there; and an end – what he’s going to do next. I was happy to have achieved my hole-ridden story because I’m good at filling holes and by the eighth draft they will be.

Train journeys being what they can be, I also wrote two blog posts, including this one, and a haiku, before picking up my reading book and finally allowing my writing brain to relax.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: re-draft synopsis of novel and submit; work on short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have blogged a week after my last post; I have drafted my novel synopsis and edited it once; I have written a new short story.

Fails (as before): blog reading is too low; Italian’s make great pasta; what’s a piano?

 

Written by Sarah Ann

March 22, 2017 at 9:08 pm

And she’s off

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This morning I wrote 1000 words of a new short story. The incentive is a competition with a deadline of 13th February 2017. There is no theme and no chance of me winning. However, I am still committed to writing upto 2000 words and sending them off. Procrastination is my greatest problem, ideas float around in my head and there is always some reason, usually something inconsequential like housework, that prevents me writing. In this instance I had a vague idea on Monday, scribbled on some paper on Tuesday, and sat at my laptop this morning turning those two initial paragraphs into my character’s background. I haven’t quite worked out how sinister she is, or whether she is at all. The story hasn’t ended, there are two deaths and a visit to A&E to describe, so with only 1000 words left, I suspect the story will grow quite a bit before I do some much needed paring. But the point is, I have started and could be halfway through. More importantly, I didn’t want to stop writing, but also didn’t want to run out of words or get to a point where I couldn’t see which way to go, got bored, or didn’t like the character any more. Instead, I noted down some possible plot developments that I can pick up when I go back to it.

I am not someone who can carry too much at a time. I take on too many tasks, spread myself too thinly, and end up getting nothing done, so while there is a list of things I want to get done, I am starting small. As well as the competition story, I want to write one inspired by a friend’s print. Many moons ago a visual artist friend, Janice Hume, and I decided to collaborate on a joint project – I’d give her some stories to illustrate; she’d give me some pictures to write stories about. We both made the exchange, and I worked up a story to one of her pictures, although I wasn’t happy with it. At the moment I am working on the picture below and have two character names – Elena and Pavel – and a comment about it always raining in the UK, and that’s it, but I know it’s going somewhere. There is something about the angle of the shoulders, or the way the men are sitting, that tells me there is a story here waiting to be written. The other things on the list can wait until these two pieces are done and dusted, or at least have each reached their fourth drafts.

men-waiting

Copyright Janice Hume

Written by Sarah Ann

January 12, 2017 at 8:01 pm

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