Friday, June 11, 2010

Reflecting

So, I've been taking stock of life and writing, especially writing.

I've been at this "seriously" since, oh, call it Summer 2008.  I was off on parental leave with my first son, and started to write a novel that I'd been kicking around.  (The oft referenced, not-to-be-completed-any-time-soon "Big Top")  That lead to entering the Toronto Star (one of Canada's big newspapers) Short story contest.  It also lead to joining a writer's group, which kept me going.

Once the gears were set in motion, it's been pretty steady ever since.  MicroHorror published my first story in Feb, 2009, and my second.  I found out in April of that year that my Toronto Star story got first prize in the contest, which was a huge validation that I haven't been just committing onanism by keyboard. 

After that, came a small series of flash successes, and the sheer act of continuous writing produced some really neat longer pieces that I'm proud of. 

November was my first NaNoWriMo - and I made it to the end.  However, I've since discovered that the work produced at that pace, with an eye to sheer word count can lead to innumerable problems trying to make something of the result.

Since January, as part of the "newspaper prize", I've been working with a professional author in a post-grad college course, and have, I think, learned more in six months than I've learned in a lifetime of scribbling, and the biggest thing I've learned? Be like a two year old.  When you're reading your stuff, ask "why" until you want to scream.  You'll find stuff out.

And now? I'm a fair clip into the book I should've been writing since January, and enjoying it, but have realized that even with the stories you love to write, there is going to be a lot of work involved down the road. Normal Café is coming to a close, and I've got some neat plans for the finished work.

Personally, my family's great, my kids are the best, my house is a nightmare, but all in all, life's not letting me down. And now I'm 35.  I'll take it.

Thanks for reading this momentary exploration of the navel (speaking of verbal onanism ...) 

May all your white spaces fill with genius.

Chris

7 comments:

  1. Keep at it my friend. When you sit down and disect your life like that, you realise that life is pretty great. Happiness, health and a loving family are the most perfect things. Everything else is a bonus. And if you can entertain a stranger or two on the way with a great story (which you do) then even better.

    Have a great weekend, Chris.

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  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for sharing your world with us. I'm comforted that we have many similarities in our thoughts about writing (family too) - I love to write, but sometimes validation reminds me that I'm not just wasting time.

    Congrats on your story win - that's huge, 1st place! I hope you keep penning; it's writers like you that I learn from, reading your work is always value to my own.
    Cheers.

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  3. PS - Word count can be a terrible thing - I'm 20K into my first draft of my second novel, and will probably only get another 20K when it is finished, though I expect the book to be at least 80K when I'm done.

    For me, the first draft is the guts, basically dialogue and a little bit of scene detail, but I find that until I've got the framework for the story and plot, I don't want to waste a bunch of words that will eventually be deleted in the end anyway - so I try hard not to think about word count. I know that should always come last. Tell the story first, then do what I need to, to make it work.

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  4. Thanks David and Erin. It's also good to know people are reading this stuff too!

    Erin - one final "secret revealed" - I don't really care about word count either, but having the progress bar up there reminds me that I'm working towards an ultimate goal.

    Glad to hear you've taken something from my stories - it's more than mutual.

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  5. Chris,
    I have read your review of Howl on Amazon. First of all I just want to say thanks for taking the time, both for the read, and for the review. I loved what you said, and agreed completely actually....with all of it. I would love to pick your brain on what the rusty parts were. LOL, my editor self can't resist knowing. Care to dialogue? IF so I'm at mk.crittenden@gmail.com

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  6. Hi Chris,
    I've been in the thick of it and very proud to say I haven't been blog reading (yay! I'm weaning myself.) But that means I miss everyone's progress updates, which sucks. I decided to come back and here and read yours after your tweets because it seems we are in very similar shoes. I admire anyone who walks the walk as much as talks to the talk.

    I see from your post we started writing about the same, and although we have different objectives at the moment, are at similiar stages. I'm working on a novella and a couple short stories at the moment, because Devil's Eye needed more of a rest.

    Congrats on the success and making it to 21, I mean, 35. (we can just pretend it's 21, I always do).

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  7. I read about all the anthos releases on google reader, I can't find the post now. So I'll just say, "Congrats!" here. I'm really looking forward to the Flash! antho. The cover is gorgeous, isn't?

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