Thursday, December 21, 2006

Writing through the holidays



Howdy, y'all!

If you've been as busy as I have, you've probably asked Santa to bring extra hours in every day. But just in case he doesn't come through, I have a plan:

First, I went through my files. Yes, ALL my files. Almost a hundred story ideas, all at various stages of development. If a manuscript had no hope of selling, even if it hadn't been submitted and rejected, it took a short flight straight into the trash can.

That left me with about two dozen stories, some fully-fleshed out, others just topics I felt could be turned into salable novel plots. I gave each a thorough read, to determine which might sell in today's market...and which cannot...and a few more files sailed into the already-full garbage pile.

Next I sorted through the remaining six story outlines, and put them in 'easiest to complete and submit' order, so that on January 2, 2007, I can perch on my purple exercise ball, fingertips curled above the keyboard, and dig in on 'the story of my heart' (working title "Defiance").

Make no mistake: The "Defiance" characters and storyline fits today's publishing trends. I see no point in making a difficult job even harder. I mean, why put time, effort, and energy into a book nobody but me wants to read! (The fact that I can write about a couple of my favorite topics, and wrap character traits around my favorite (and least favorite) personality types is a 'plus'....)

Yeah, I'll put my 'all' into "Defiance", and when I believe it's ready, I'll submit the synopsis and first three chapters. And before editors' fingers ever turn the pages, I'll be hard at work on the second story in my short-stack, "Tuxedo Bend".

I'm organized to a fault. If things aren't in order, I can't get anything done. Chaos--even a small amount--puts me into a never-ending tailspin of 'fix this' and 'do that'. In order to concentrate on a task at hand, my tiny brain needs to see and feel (and believe) all the ducks are in a row, all the T's are crossed, all the I's dotted.

There's no turning back; I dragged pounds of paper to the curb and cringed as two big guys hefted the can into the back of the trash truck. Maybe the rats and roaches at the landfill will enjoy reading what no agent or editor ever had.... As the squealing, grinding gears of the vehicle moved down the road, I found myself relaxing. Smiling at my new-found freedom....

Each manuscript DISproved the 'out of sight, out of mind' adage. I thought of them every day, sometimes more than once a day: Could a few be rewritten? (If so, which?) Could I weave elements of one novel into the plotline of another? Might 'this' character perform better in 'that' story? Knowing they were as gone as last year's Christmas fruitcake opened my mind in a brand new way.

As an avid gardeners, I know that sometimes, when a plant malingers, harsh pruning is in order. Lopping dead stuff off, whacking back to the original plant is the only way to get back to healthy green chutes and big fragrant blooms I once enjoyed.

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this.... Cutting those dead, never-salable stories from my files made room for stronger ideas that will bear publishable fruit.

My advice to you? Instead of asking Santa to deliver more hours in the day as your Christmas gift, ask for 3 uninterrupted hours you can use to prune YOUR files. I promise...it'll be a gift that keeps on giving, for the space you'll create in your office will cry out to the Universe "Fill me!"...and new ideas will appear like magic beneath your Christmas tree....

I'll close by wishing you a merry Christmas, a happy Hannuka, a wonderful 'whatever you celebrate' during this holiday season. And may 2007 allow you to meet all your goals, and let you see at least a few of your dreams come true.

All my best, Loree

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am never disappointed by what I find in your blog. Keep up the good work. My wish for you in the new year is that you will have time to post MORE articles, because the only time I am disappointed is when I come here and there is not a new article to read.

Joya said...

Loree-
Thanks for being such a great motivator. I sit down in a lazy mood, read your advice, then hop up ready to tackle my files! Keep up the great work and congratulations on getting rid of the "dead wood" in your files! I'm betting that it made room for lots of upcoming great ideas. I especially loved the picture you painted with your words--rats eating your story ideas at the dump. I can just picture that... :)

Anonymous said...

Looks great! Good resources here, good stuff. Your web site is helpful. Enjoyed the visit!
- theloughdown.blogspot.com d
spaghetti alla carbonara

Carol Thompson said...

Hi Loree,

You are one of those very organised people that I always envy and can never emulate.
My husband tells me that I rely on Womens Intuition alone ! Yes the chores get done, supper gets cooked and the washing get done but ask me what is still to be done or when I plan to do it and I can't answer.
Well the house is clean the children fed and properly brought up and the family is happy so perhaps I should not feel so guilty about be dis-organised and generally I don't.
It just goes to show that we need all kinds to make a world and the main thing is just to do whatever makes you and those around you happy.

Carol

bthompson@uti.co.za

Robin Bayne said...

Happy New Year : )

Sue Turner said...

I agree with "anonymous"! Where have you been! I have come to rely on your astute advice. Add an article, please!

Anonymous said...

Great resource. keep it up!!Thanks a lot for interesting discussion, I found a lot of useful information!With the best regards!
David

Loree Lough said...

Hey, what gives! I checked to see what the 'one comment' was (and from whom) and there are TWO comments.

Hmmm...did somebody lose a finger, shoveling snow, making the one-two-digit counting a little less accurate? (I know a great hand surgeon....)

Alrightee boys and girls, submit your opinions here! (Remember, doing so qualifies you for a 10% discount to any Leading Edge Writers' Studios event. Heck, it might even getcha in the door FOR FREE!

All my best (and get those fingers on the keyboard!)

Loree

Anonymous said...

Hello, thanks a lot, You'v done a great job.I can only realize how much time and resources does it take to create such a resource!Great work, I am impressed!

Robin Bayne said...

TAG!!!! Loree's *it.* Please list 5 things people don't know about you and then tage 5 more bloggers!!

Robin Bayne said...

TAG!!!! Loree's *it.* Please list 5 things people don't know about you and then tage 5 more bloggers!!

Anonymous said...

Great design, useful info!This resourse is great!Keep it up!With the best regards!
Frank

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josh Lockwood said...

A sudden, devoted fan!

Lacey Sue said...

Wow! Pruning files - what a concept! I need to do that, too. Question: How do I find out what sells in today's market? Read the storylines on new releases?

I just read "Suddenly Married." I enjoyed it, so I thought I'd look you up on the 'net.

Loree Lough said...

Okay, back to 'tag' I'm it....

Five things nobody knows about me?

1. I'm 5' tall
2. I weigh 118 lbs.
3. I had lasik surgery and now have 20-10 vision
4. I'm madly in love with my husband
5. I'm crazy about my goofy mutt.

Okay...somebody else's turn now....