Tag Archives: blog

Numbers Game

2 Oct

This post goes hand in hand with my post “Making Time”. Once I made the time for my writing, an amazing thing happened. My writing actually got somewhere. Color me surprised. And I actually was!

For each hour I wrote, my word count went up. A word count goal to a writer is like heroine to a junkie. Picture me, disheveled, sitting in my car and eagerly scratching at a note pad. Every five minutes, I pick up the note pad and begin to count the words I wrote. Shy of my goal, I grab my pen and feverishly scratch at the pad once more. Finally, I reach my goal. I throw my arms in the air, “Success!” I am sated until the next day when my fix is due.

Word count goals can also be my downfall. If I set them too high, I am doomed to fail every time. I have to be realistic. It is much more satisfying to set a modest goal and succeed than to set a ridiculous goal and fail.

Another risk I face is the temptation to stop and count my words every other minute. This can halt any real progress I am making, and my poor muse ends up with a serious case of whiplash. Instead, I try to guesstimate as I write. I know I write somewhere around 250-300 words per page. It is a lot easier to keep a page count straight in my head without having to stop writing. At the end of my session, I know about how much I wrote.

That doesn’t mean I don’t count each word after my session. Hell yeah, I do! But, at least I have the willpower and the grits to wait until my writing session is finished to count. Most of the time, I find myself within 20-50 words of the figure I ball-parked.

But the ultimate ecstasy is reserved for when I add a day’s word count to the word count total for my novel. At that point, angels sing from the heavens, the lion lays down with the lamb, and everything is right with the world. I go about my day, a stupid grin on my face. If I glowed any more, I would be radioactive. I may get strange looks from passersby, but it doesn’t matter. On these days, I’m the victor fit to wear the title “Writer”.

This is what I look like when I meet my word count goal.

Making Time

26 Sep

I was out to dinner with my mentor and we were both complaining about not having the time to write. We asked ourselves the reason for putting our art on the back burner. We came up with a spectrum of reasons from guilt to America’s puritan heritage. Would it be considered selfish to spend my time writing a fictional novel that has not made me one red cent or washed one dirty dish instead of doing something else that others may deem “more productive”? How could I battle my guilt and self-loathing for locking myself in a room with my computer when I could be spending more time with my family?

For me, it was about making the time for my writing when and where I could avoid the guilt and distraction. After looking at how I spent my time during the day, I decided that my lunch break would be perfect. It would give me an hour where I’m away from everyone and everything and I could just write.

Easier said than done. There are days where I am lazy, and I rather spend my mid-day break watching stupid YouTube videos than write. To be honest, there have been times where I skipped my hour-long writing session. However, these days are few and far between.

It is much easier to write once you have the momentum going. It is like brushing your teeth or your daily BM. Your mind knows what is coming next, so it transitions into writing mode much faster and easier than it would if you hadn’t been writing everyday.

Once I made the time for my writing, I was able to finally finish my book. Maybe it will work for you too.

 

C. L. Parson

Killing My Darlings and Disposing of the Bodies

20 Sep

Yesterday, I did some hardcore rewriting. It left me drained and oddly excited. Below are all the grisly details. Viewer discretion is advised.

Let’s start with the murders, shall we?

And by murder, I am talking about the twenty pages I completely trashed. I debated with myself about throwing away so much work, but in the end, the murdering of those pages helped make a stronger manuscript.

What about the bodies?

The twenty pages included some important information I still needed in order make my novel work. I shifted through all of the shit to find the bare essentials. I wrote them down on note cards to remind myself that these “bodies” needed to be relocated. Then on the back of the cards, I jotted down some ideas about where the “bodies” can go in the novel without it feeling like an info overload while still contributing to the natural flow of the dialogue. Below is one example.

The front of the card AKA the corpse

Back of the card

Seeing RED

After I had a few ideas about where to dispose of the bodies, I began to rewrite the manuscript. It began innocently enough. I told myself I was just going to read through it and make a few notes if I didn’t like something. I ended up doing more slashing than Freddy Krueger at a sleep study clinic. Below is a picture of the carnage. Oh, the humanity!

Avert your eyes!

In the words of Catherine Scully, a friend of mine, “that, my friend, is a lot of red ink.” (You can find Mrs. Scully on twitter @CatMScully. She also has an awesome blog: cscullywriter.wordpress.com.)

Instead of cowering in fear, I find myself rubbing my hands together, sharpening my knives (red pen) for round two. Muahahahaha! Manuscripts beware. There is a killer on the loose.

C. L. Parson

No Time for Reading? Try Listening.

18 Sep

Stephen King once gave this advice to budding writers,

“Read a lot and write a lot.”

I know I am not the only one who thought, “Yeah right, easier said than done.” We all have other things that require our attention and may be considered to be of higher priority than reading. For example, I have to stay on top of the dirty dishes in the sink, or they will just keep multiplying like a bunch of frisky rabbits. And of course, there are the day jobs most of us must trudge to everyday.

What is a writer to do? We know we need to read to help improve our writing, but when?

How does, “Whenever you want,” sound?

I am one busy bee. I am always being pulled this or that direction. You know what I always have on me? My phone and my iPod. When I’m at work, I search through the podcasts to find public domain books that others have read aloud and uploaded. Librivox (librivox.org) is a great resource for this. I am currently listening to Charles Dickens. I have also listened to the works of Thomas Hardy and Charlotte Bronte this way. It is a win-win for me. I am a writer, and an English major. So many of the assigned works I have to read for class are public domain, allowing me to download them for free in most cases.

Libraries are often times overlooked when it comes to audiobooks. My local library allows me to “check out” audiobooks online. I recently listened to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for free via an MP3 download from my library’s website. Do you know the best part? No late fees! I am pretty sure I paid for at least one librarian’s yearly salary with my late fees before discovering the internet downloads page on their website.

So break out those earbuds and give listening a try. But I’ll warn you, it is addictive.

C. L. Parson

Rejection

17 Sep

Rejection can be difficult, especially when in the form of a rejection letter for a book you wrote. Plenty of my poems have been rejected in the past. Eh, whatever. A poem takes time, but no where near as much time it takes to write a book (for me anyway). So today, I received my first rejection letter from an agent I queried.

The agent was very gentle with me, pointing out a few things that were wrong with the first few pages I sent over. It didn’t feel great to have someone critique my work negatively, but it was constructive criticism. What surprised me the most was that I agreed with the agent.

Bwuah?

I had to admit to myself that even though I loved my book, I did not love the beginning. I guess I was a tad bit lazy. I had finished my first book ever and I didn’t have the courage nor the testicular fortitude to completely rearrange it.

Editing?
Sure, no problem.

Rewriting some sentences that don’t work?
Bring it on.

Throwing out the first thirty pages and starting from scratch.
Ouch! It burns!

But it is something that needs to be done, whether my lazy-ass likes it or not. For me, I must compare and take the lesser of two evils.

Sit my ass down in a chair and make the painful, excruciating changes.
OR
Never get my book published.

Well, when put that way, it really is no contest. And I should have known from the beginning that those changes needed to be made. After all, if I am unhappy about something in my book, what would my readers (though they are non-existent at this time) think? If I have a hard time getting through the blah blah blah at the beginning, how can I expect my readers to, or better yet, an agent, or a publisher?

Now some may say I am committing career suicide by posting my downfalls as a writer, but you know, we have all been there before. We are all human. Why pretend like we are perfect, when everyone else knows it’s all a sham? So I have decided not to play the “perfect, professional writer” game anymore. I’m taking my ball and going home, damn it.

Maybe writing about my imperfections as a writer will help other writers and let them know it’s okay to not have all the answers. Hell, half of us (myself included) don’t even know the damn question.

Now if you will excuse me, this lazy writer has some hardcore revising to do. Sigh. Hey, I never said I had to like it.

C. L. Parson

Testing. Testing. Is this thing on?

17 Sep

Hello citizens of the great Interweb!

So I have been thinking a lot about the whole “blog thing”. I finished my first book and have a few ideas for the next one. But it is getting around the time to really buckle down and begin to consider the marketability of my first book. I also found it might be necessary to have a place where all my fans (my mom) can read about my writing process, my struggles, my triumphs, etc.

My experiences with blogging in the past have been very touch and go. So keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll try not to screw it up too bad.

C. L. Parson

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