Hunting, Fishing and Writing

I recently started reading A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.  When this book first came out I poo-pooed it for its title despite a number of friends recommending it to me.  I’ve read the first 40 pages or so and I am really enjoying the way it’s written.  The author does so much with dialogue and action and the writing is really, really clean.  By this I mean there aren’t a lot of explanatory phrases or long dialogue tags or relentless adverbs.

Each word is carefully and specifically chosen and it shows.  Sometimes when people talk about the “craft” of writing I think it sounds really pretentious.  But that is how I would describe her writing; very well crafted.  It’s helpful to read and keep in mind as I hone and tweak my own writing.

Deadlines for deadlines’ sake

I work really well with deadlines.  I rarely turned anything in late in high school or college.  I’ve always been really good at budgeting my time.  That doesn’t mean I always turned in the highest quality product, but damn it, it was done!

So I struggle with creating deadlines for myself related to my writing.  On the one hand, I really do accomplish a lot when I set them up for myself.  Even more, when I tell others about my self-created deadlines.  On the other hand, my goal is not just to finish, but to finish the best possible product that I can.  And I’m not striving for an A or a B+.  I’m striving to create something that someone else is going to want to publish and in this market that means it has to be better than good enough.

Does anyone else work with deadlines in their creative life?  Does it work?  Can you do it without sacrificing quality?  Got any secrets worth sharing?

Reasons to Write

I have a lot of reasons NOT to write this week:

It’s parent-teacher conference week at school.

My computer is not working again.

My husband is just back from a week-long hunting trip.

I’m tired, gosh darnit!

So I’m particularly proud of myself for the 40 minutes of writing time I carved out for myself this afternoon.  I read a lot of posts about writers and how they do or don’t find time to write.  For a while I felt like my lack of a proper desk was what was really keeping my from writing.

This is my baby.  It’s solid wood and I found it on craigslist.  Even though I love it, (surprise surprise), the motivation to write still has to come from me.  (What the desk doesn’t write the book for you?  For shame!)

Whether I manage to find writing time or not, I try not to beat myself up to much about the choices I make with my time.  Unless of course I get sucked into some sort of Bravo tv marathon.

Protagonist must protag

This was part of some advice given to me by fellow YA Maine writer Deva Fagan.

Lately, it’s taken on new meaning.

As I’ve revised my book I’ve tried to make the main character drive the action more than she was driven by it.  I have tried to make her the cause rather than the effect. And I’ve found it makes for easier writing.  When you have a character who knows what she wants it’s easier to write than a character who is always just reacting to the circumstances around her.   It’s made me more sure of my main character and it’s even made me like her more than I did before.  I suppose I do prefer people and literary characters who are assertive and pro-active in their own lives.  It’s funny I didn’t realize this before.  I think that’s part of the value of having really good readers to help you in revision.