Gmail Rage

Just a quick post today, as I’m expecting Toddler D to wake up any second. Kid A started Grade one today (what???) and I’m trying to keep to my promise that I would blog more often once he was in school.

I’d just like to take a moment here to point out that gmail is making me want to tear my hair out (and yes, this is writng-related). As I said in my last post, I’m at the point of querying now and I sent my first one on Friday. BUT, I couldn’t actually send it until my husband came home because gmail has this cute little quirk where it adds spaces between every paragraph. No matter what you do. I mean it. I googled the issue and apparently this is a well documented problem and one of the only ways they’ve found to fix it is to go in and recode things. Excuse me? For the query letter itself, this wasn’t a problem until my personal info at the bottom, since the rest is in block paragraph form. But the text samples are in, you know, actual manuscript format. The only way I managed to deal with it was to do it through my husband’s outlook and then he sent it to me and then I sent it out. I’ve been quite happy with gmail, but this is a pretty major failing as far as I’m concerned. And since, judging by the google results, this is a giant problem that has been going on for years at this point, you’d think they’d have gotten someone on that by now. So, come on google. Get on it.

That being said, yes I did get a letter out on Friday and I have another ready to go tonight once I can get it properly formatted. Hard to believe that I’m finally taking these steps after a lifetime of thinking about it. Almost as hard as it is to believe that I’m the mother of a kid in grade one!

Advertisements

Now back to my regularly-scheduled blogging. I hope.

Geez, you walk away from your blog for upwards of two months and apparently someone thinks it’s okay to go in and completely change the updating format. Some nerve. I’ll try to adapt. 😉

So, yes, once again I find myself apologizing for a hiatus. I’m sorry. I really am. Maybe in a few years, when both of the kids are in school, I’ll be able to update more regularly. My hope is that the new schedule I’ve set for myself will lead to my wandering onto this site a little more often (I hope). More on that later.

Actually, more on that now. (See? I’m such a pantser I don’t even plan out my blog posts :P) . Part of the reason I’ve been away from the blog for so long is just how many projects I have on the go at the moment. I’m nearly done the long edits on the novel. I’m rewriting a chapter in that novel from another POV. I’ve started the sequel. I’m working on a query and a synopsis. I’m polishing up a short story for submissions. Plus I’m editing, not only my own work, but a novel for a friend and occasional projects for people in my writing group. And on top of all of that, I’ve been very strict with myself about working out, trying to keep the house in some semblance of order (hahaha) and, you know, not ignoring my kids. Up until a  couple of weeks ago, my method had been chip away at everything a little bit every day. A chapter on the novel. 10 pages of editing for my friend. A page of a short story. Etc. Etc. While I thought this meant that everything would get done at roughly the same time, what it actually meant was that I was forcing myself to switch creative gears rather often during my “writing time” segments during the day. And since those segments are only during Baby D’s nap and sometimes an hour or two in the evening, I barely let myself breathe between those switch-overs. And if there happened to be anything that I was less interested in working on – query letters, say – it was very easy to just work a little bit longer on everything else until the baby woke up. Oh darn, guess I’ll have to work on it tomorrow.

This all became very apparent to me while I was on vacation. I managed to escape the Canadian winter for two weeks this February and I had big plans of all of the writing and editing I was going to do while away. And you know what? I didn’t do much of it. A little bit, yes. But not anywhere near as much as I had “scheduled”. And, at a time when I was supposed to be relaxing, I found myself stressing out about everything I wasn’t doing, everything I had to do when I got home. Especially when my husband pointed out that it was probably really time to get started on that damn query letter.

And once I got home, things didn’t get better in that regard. I continued on my every-project-every-day schedule until I realized that all I was left with at the end of the day was a feeling that I’d accomplished pretty much nothing, nothing was completed and I was still completely stressed out. And that was worrisome. I actually have the opportunity to be pursuing my passion and, while I understand that everything is stressful some of the time, it wasn’t a good sign that the thing I most love to do was stressing me out all of the time.

And so I reset my plans. 6 projects, 6 days, one day off. On Monday I work on the novel edits. Tuesday, short stories. Wednesday, query and synopsis (read: housecleaning). Thursday, editing my friend’s MS and any other editing-for-others on my plate. Friday, since it is #writeclub on Twitter, I’ve slotted in chapter rewrite and sequel work. Saturday is social media and blogging, since I’ve also been remiss at actually following the blogs I follow. I’m also using Saturdays to catch up anything I’m feeling especially behind on. And Sunday is my day off. It might not always work out that way, but that is the standard schedule and I’m giving myself permission to mess with it as necessary. Just last week I had to switch two of the days because I was waiting for an edit to come in. And so far the new process is working well.

And how are those many many projects working out, you ask? Pretty well, I’d say. On the novel – and yes, there is a tentative title, but it’s still pretty tentative – I’m nearly done my “long edits”, then I have to comb through for consistency errors. I’m rewriting one chapter from a different POV (on the advice of a CP) to see which I like better. And yes, I actually have started the query letter writing process, as daunting as it seems.

Short story work is going well too, I think. It’s done, the first round of comments are back and it has been sent off to a few other people. Once I hear back from them, I’ll start polishing it up.

I guess the only other real writing-related “news” is that I’m taking my writing class again next semester! We managed to squeeze it into the budget and I am so excited to get back to it! The only drawback is that a lot of the ‘regulars’ aren’t taking it, but one of my closest friends is for the first time. And I’m definitely looking forward to meeting a bunch of new writers too. 🙂

So hey, I managed a blog post (and yes, Baby D is up. Sigh.) With any luck, I’ll have some time to comment on some others and then I’ll see you all again next Saturday. 😉

Oh, but before I go – proof of Reading Night. 🙂

Image

Short stories: Discuss.

All right blogosphere, twitterverse, facebookers…enlighten me.

Short stories. Explain.

No, seriously. With my draft still out there, I have been spending some time toying with ideas for Book 2 (and, um, Book 3), but I realize that this is the perfect opportunity for me to be working on some unrelated shorter fiction and seeing what happens. The problem is that, aside from the ghost story I posted on here (which I am admittedly very happy with) I really do find shorts to be a challenge.

I think the main issue stems from the fact that I am essentially a pantser when it comes to writing. My outlines are always extremely vague, if I have them at all. Yes, this does lead to the occasional crisis when I realize that I either don’t know what’s happening next or don’t know how to get to the next part I know is just beyond the wall.  But I can’t do that with short stories. With such a word count limitation, I don’t feel I can just sit down and let my imagination take over. I have to know not only where it is headed (the ending) but exactly how it’s going to get there.

Endings are perhaps the largest part of that struggle for me. How do you know when to stop? Where does it end? Some of the short stories I’ve read have endings that leave me breathless. I want to be able to do that! Can I? Maybe?

Yes. I’m sure I can. I’m sure I can do this. That being said, I’d still appreciate hearing your experiences, frustrations, successes and advice.

So, please, discuss. How long do yours tend to be? Is there a common, general length? How do you know where to end them? How do you stop yourself from going on (and on and on?)

Aaaaand….go!