Monday, October 18, 2010

The End of the Beginning ...

Using the Seneca quote from Janet's post on Friday seems a good way to lead off the discussion of "where do I go from here?"

The Prairie Chicks blog was a new beginning for most of us. It certainly was for me, but it is close to its end as an active blog. Now I am looking for some way to continue to experience the interaction with other writers that has become so important to me. One way to do this will be to continue to read, comment, and sometimes merely lurk on the several blogs to which I have become addicted. The other large consideration is, "where am I going with my writing?" As if you haven't heard me blathering enough about that over the last year and a half, I will try to make some sense of these two issues.

I hope to have some kind of platform developed in the near future. I believe I will use Blogger to set up some pages, including a blog of my own that has been under wraps for more than a year. I just haven't had the time to put to it. Now that Prairie Chicks is going dormant, I hope to finish working on what I have titled: Rambles Down a Prairie Road. I will notify my Chick and SRW colleagues when it goes live. Stay tuned! I am less sure about Facebook and Twitter. Needless to say, if I do get involved, there will be some kind of "coming out party" to celebrate my plunge into those particular forms of social media.

I've tried to focus almost exclusively on fiction this past year (with only moderate success). I attempted to finish the first draft of my Laura/Gordon, Fiona/Duncan novel, and almost made it to the end. Nevertheless, I am currently working on the first major rewrite, and progress is slow. I deviated somewhat from that objective when I made a brief foray into scriptwriting in April. I put the first few chapters of my novel into script form, which did give it a boost. It helped me immensely with the first few scenes, which I now doubt will be the actual beginning of my novel. At least I have written those scenes, wherever they end up in the finished version.

I will not describe here any of the distractions which interfered with my fiction writing. I talked enough about them in various posts throughout the summer. Suffice to say, most were of my own making. I will mention only a couple of deliberate deviations from fiction: a workshop on magazine writing in August, and a course in creative non-fiction which I am currently auditing. Yes, I am consciously taking writing time from my novel to do the assignments for that course. But I do believe that all writing is ultimately helpful, even stepping out of my preferred genre.

Having a deadline seems to help me accomplish more, so I will miss that aspect of writing a regular post for Prairie Chicks. What will be a good substitute? Besides my own blog, and, in the short term, the non-fiction course assignments, I am seriously considering registering for NaNoWriMo again this year. Last November was the most productive writing month I have ever experienced. I have a half-formed idea for a brand new story to put in that hopper. It may turn out to be the western romance I have always wanted to write!

In two days, I leave for the Surrey International Writers' Conference in British Columbia. Although the manuscript for my novel is not polished or even completely rewritten, I will be pitching it to an editor while I'm there. If interest is shown, I know exactly what I will be doing in the weeks following that conference! If I fail to garner any kind of offer, then I will still be seriously working on whipping it into shape, in preparation for queries and pitches later on.

I have registered for some pre-conference classes, including one on the architecture of fiction, another on developing an approach to pitches and queries, and finally, an in-depth look at rewriting a manuscript (no matter how many drafts it has already gone through). All three should help me to get back to that desired focus on fiction.

I also need to put aside some time soon to complete and polish the short story I am writing for an anthology that the SRW hopes to publish next year.

In the more distant future, I will tackle the messy first draft of the novel I wrote in NaNoWriMo 2009, to try to turn it into some kind of coherent form. It is the story of two young women from the Canadian prairies who spend a year studying at a British university in the 1950's and how both their lives are changed. Although I met the requirements of National Novel Writing Month (writing slightly more than 50,000 words in one month), I will need to flesh it out with another 20,000 words or more.

My sign-off from the Prairie Chicks does not contain any startling announcements, but I see nothing but opportunities in my future. I have only to grab them and make something out of them. If I do that, and I am able to keep distractions at bay, I am hopeful that one day I will have books to promote using the various forms of social media described earlier in this post. I would like to think that, as all the Chicks continue to write, we will have many future successes to celebrate together somewhere in this real and/or cyber-world.

Thanks for all the memories, and happy writing, one and all!


Anita Mae Draper said...

Helena, Rambles Down a Prairie Road fits you perfectly. I look forward to reading it.

I also wish you every success both in Surrey and on your writing journey.

I'm very glad we'll have more chances to discuss our writing careers. :)


Helena said...

Thanks, Anita. I seem to scramble a lot to keep everything going, but the journey is worth it. I really need to "see" what the rest of you are doing to stay inspired. So, definitely, I hope there will be many opportunities to share our experiences.

I will be over to your blog to stay in touch, and will let you know when I finally get my act together to go live with mine!

Janet said...

I can't wait to see your blog go live, Helena! Let me know the minute you do so I can add you to my favorites.

Good luck in Surrey - drop me an e-mail when you can with all the details (I'm feeling sorry for myself because I'm not going this year). And good luck with NaNo!

Looks like you are one focused writer. Can't wait to hear all about your new 'beginning' - and your journey :)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Helena,
I look forward to reading Gordon/Laura and Duncan/Fiona's story someday. Let me know if you need a critique.

I also look forward to seeing your blog when it goes live. I'm not as good about keeping up with people in their blogs as I should be, but once the Prairie Chicks are no more, I'll miss the daily contact. I'll need to keep in touch.

Best of luck in Surrey and with NaNo. I'd love to hear how both of them go.


Helena said...

Janet, for me, Prairie Chicks really marked a new beginning, but of course, new things don't remain new, don't keep going, and so we move on to other beginnings, based on where we are when the first beginning ends, as Seneca said. (I think!)

Anyway, I think that associating with the rest of the Chicks and all the wonderful writers that followed us, has really helped me to see the direction in which I should be moving. So, my thanks go also to you for being the motivator that you are.

I'm doing laundry and other last minute things before I set out tomorrow on the first leg of the trip to SiWC (have to get to Saskatoon first!). I feel even less prepared than last year, altho I'm not sure that's really the case. I'll definitely send you a wave from Surrey, and more details after the experience has sunk in. Remember the feeling?

Congrats on the half marathon!

Helena said...

Jana, thanks for stopping by. I don't really expect my "manuscript" to get snapped up at SiWC! So I am prepared for the next level of rewriting, revising, etc. and know that it will be a hard slug until I feel it is ready to submit. I'm sure I will need the experienced eye of a published author before then. So, get ready -- you may see Currently Untitled before you know it.

And, don't worry, we will all find ways to stay in touch, even without the daily stimulus of Prairie Chicks.