Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do less, accomplish more

So said my yoga teacher, Tom.

I took his advice. Thus I haven’t been writing many blog postings but I did finish my hardcore first revisions on Escape, Captive’s sequel (I also completed the actual first draft of the whole book). Now it’s all polishing and perfecting, which is a lot less work than earlier efforts.

For, I was juggling too much and not finishing enough. And it’s absolutely true that anyone’s mind, even mine (though I aspire to more) can only handle so many disparate efforts at once. My projects as of late have also been complex, requiring deep analysis and a written output…which is hard, grueling and doesn’t time share attention well.

I’m posting today because after reaching a milestone yesterday on Escape I’m taking a much needed day off to clear my mind. Due to my kid schedule (50 percent of the time) I tend to balance my work week based on when they’re around and not a traditional week. My downtime is thus usually just when I’m too tired to do more or when they need my attention. Or yoga.

Finishing one thing and doing it well – before moving on to another big project - really is a better approach than trying to do it all, if you have that luxury. I stumble when I try to just finish independent of quality. Grabbing a book draft from ten years ago, giving it a quick run and polish then throwing it unprepared in the Amazon competition got me what it deserved…it didn’t win (nor did it deserve to win). But, I also got two reviews which helped me identify what wasn’t working in the draft (besides the bad writing) and so thus when I direct my full attention on fixing it I have a starting point. Do less but accomplish more by focusing….

That clutter of goals, desires, hopes, ambitions, delusions, denial and boredom scuttle effectiveness and it’s that doing less which Tom identified. Be present, be in the moment and give what you are experiencing or doing now your utter attention. It’s the concept with which I struggle all the time in yoga but I’m slowly learning. I’m persuading myself now as I plan out my Saturday, hence the posting, as much to remind myself as for any other reason.

So I didn’t blog for a month or two. Anyone miss me? I doubt it as there is just so much amazing writing to read online now. Plus, I’m still on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and wow…

But soon, within weeks, I’ll have another completed book to show for my time spent doing less.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

ABNA new novel competition - making the first cut

A book I wrote over ten years ago just made the first cut in Amazon/CreateSpace's new novel competition (done with Penguin and Publishers Weekly). I did a quick revision on the book before entering but wish I'd had more time to do a longer one. As someone said on one of the many related Amazon discussion boards...editing is harder than writing because the editing is never done. I second guess, wonder, wish I'd changed certain things... Especially one phrase which honestly goes beyond cliche to stupid. Oh well.

Nervous? Of course. But I'm also resigned. I did the best I could in the time I have given that completing Captive's sequel is more important than an old draft, even though the latter is probably closer to being a finished book. The new one is better (in my opinion).

On March 20 I'll find out if I make the next cut from 1,000 to 250 and will keep readers of this blog posted, win or lose. In the first round only a 300 word pitch was judged; now 5,000 words will be read and reviewed.

Competitions are gruelling for me but reading the above mentioned discussion boards they are for many others as well. Fiction has a subjective quality to it; the great writers who everyone loves are few and far in between. For example, I hate J. Steinbeck's books.

In a competition only one book wins. Doubtless it will be a very good read but reasonable people will always disagree over whether it was the "best" entry or not. And then there is the genre question...past winners have been more in the literary fiction genre and my entry isn't.

The best way to handle the related nerves, doubts and worries? Get back to work and write; which at least creates something. Whether it's a work of value is, again, subjective.