Monday, May 26, 2008

On schedule

It's going better this week, the working-to-a-writing-schedule writing life. Who knows why? I was a mess last week, a sprained/strained ankle and twitchy knee keeping me housebound but too irritated to concentrate on writing. Suddenly, this week, although ankle is still a little tender, I am more motivated, more focussed, more intent on stopping playing Scrabulous during my daily two-hours of scheduled writing time. Ok, it's only Monday, but here that's Day Two of the week, so I'd like to take a moment (not during writing time, it ended 6 mins ago) to just give myself a little pat on the back. I think that's important. I find it all too easy to berate myself for what I am not doing, to feel guilty about this and that, but I don't spend much time being nice to myself, saying, Well done, You sat there for two hours doing only writing-related things, good going.

It helps to share goals with my new writing buddy, just the setting of the goals is incredibly useful. I guess that's the kind of person I am. I like lists, I like ticking things off. (I used to want to be a teacher, just for the power to tick! ) And I am learning from Clare, in our third Week sharing goals, to set all sorts of goals, not just Doing goals, but Thinking About goals, Enjoying Goals. So this week I set out to Think about my idea for a film script. I've never written a film script but this idea has been in my head for years, and I decided to just play around a bit to get to know the main character, since I can't hear her, yet. When I write short stories, I generally have quite a strong sense of the characters, but here, which is unusual for me, I have the plot (well, the beginning) and not the voice. I riffed for a while in the 1st person, trying to hear her, and then suddenly something started coming out. Not in the 1st person but in the 3rd person, but there she was. There she was, and all she was doing was waiting for the toast, but suddenly I have her. I feel her.

Today, I decided not to revisit what I wrote yesterday. It needs breathing space, but also I want to nurture this yearning I get to write. I am realising that I need to play a bit hard-to-get with myself too. Set up some obstacles so that when I write, I am dying to do it, can't wait, that kind of feeling. So I will build up a little desire before I allow myself to carry on with what I started. In the meantime, I took Vanessa's advice in her article on Story and changed the titles of two of my stories. They were pretty boring - When She Comes, and Drinking Vodka in the Afternoon. She suggested that when judges/first readers are reading hundreds of competition entries,
Make it zippy. The reader might have 50 stories entitled 'The Dream', and one entitled 'Why Cactuses Don’t Work'. Which is going to intrigue more?

I changed the story titles to something I hope is a bit zipper! Then I submitted two stories to the Bridport Prize, one of the most prestigious short story awards, 5000 pounds to the winner. The deadline isn't til June 30th, but I was taking Vanessa's and WomenRuleWriter's advice to submit early, not wait until the last minute. Will I have a better chance? Don't know. I was really nervous doing the online submission. If I leave it til the last minute, I know that once te deadline's past, nothing to be done. I was thinking, Wait a week, what if you want to change it, tweak it? But I took the plunge and sent them off. Never got anywhere with this comp before, so fingers crossed. Another goal ticked. Off to play Scrabulous.

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