How To Be A Writer

During NaNoWriMo, I followed a comic strip written/drawn by the cool and groovy Debbie Ohi. In addition to the comics, she’s also a writer. Or perhaps she is a writer who also draws comics. Pick one.

Anyway, she signed off on the NaNo comic and said that her other one, Will Write For Chocolate, will restart soon. I went to check it out since it has been a looooong time since I last read it. WWFC is part comic strip, part advice column. I found the archive listing and am going through them in order. Yeah, procrastination from editing/rewrites has already begun.

Freelance writers typically write magazine articles and since the pay for them is low, to survive as one you need to write a lot of articles. Writing a novel is a long process but magazine articles are short, to the point, and you move on to the next one immediately. As I am going through the archives, I came across a post about avoiding distractions. The first suggestion is from someone who says she has a business plan. And that stopped me in my tracks. At first glance, it is a great idea.

A business plan, for those who don’t know, is a formal document (or set of documents) that lay out how you are going to do your business. It contains long and short range goals, financial plans, possible alternatives, methods to follow, etc. It can be either hugely complicated or it can be simplistic. Typically, a business plan is required any time a business wants to acquire funding such as a grant or business loan. When I was a potter, I had one. I had to come up with one for the business class I was taking as part of the Production Craft program at Haywood Community College. (Excellent program, by the way. Clay, wood, metal (jewelry), and cloth) We had to write it then present it to a funding source. I never made it that far due to various stuff*. The business plan I had to figure out a budget, supplies, prices for wares, where I hoped to be in 5 – 10 yrs, etc. It was the hardest thing I had to do (and that includes the drawing classes!).

Should I do one for my writing? Probably. If I were truly needing the income, I don’t see how I could earn without one. A business plan for a writer would have to be much more than “will write two novels a year”. It would have to include marketing plans (what, where, cost), projected income/outgo (outside editor, software, royalties, shipping), goals (write free articles to get name out vs do freelance while writing Big Novel), and so much more.

But since I write novels and the occasional article, I don’t think I will do a formal business plan. The variables of my physical and mental health would make it nearly impossible to come up with one that wouldn’t require constant adjusting or to have one so vague it would feel it was a joke.

If you, however, are a serious writer with a family (human or canine) to support, you may want to do some research into writing one. You may find out some harsh realities or you may find out your goals are quite reachable.

Linkages:
Write Your Own Reality
Building a Writer’s Business Plan
Plan Your Writing Success With a Business Plan


* With only a few months left to go in the Production Crafts program and during the time I was buying equipment and setting up a studio at home, I was in an accident. I was rear ended on my way to class one morning. My body was already not right but my teacher and I had come up with ways that I could still be productive while not hurting myself further. For example, I worked the wheel standing up. Anyway, the accident screwed up my neck, shoulder, and back really bad. The many doctors I saw never officially documented (although I thought they were since they were saying it aloud to me) that I could not do pottery nor work until I healed. By the time I realized this, it was too late. I lost many months of classes, lost my job, lost my truck. The other insurance company got away with only paying for my medical bills and the truck (a beat up ’72 Toyota). My future as a potter was gone because some idiot wasn’t watching where he was going.

Another NaNo Ends

And this year I won.

I won not just by writing 50K words, but I won it because I found I could write again. I didn’t know if I could. I thought perhaps I had lost the ability. My jokes of “one book wonder” was becoming not a joke.

I wrote over 4385 words today to end with 50,210 words. I didn’t write much the past few days because I realized I didn’t know where the end was. I didn’t have a clue what was to happen on the last page. Finally, at some point yesterday, it came to me. I didn’t have a chance to sit down and to it until today. And I did it. I wrote the ending.

The story’s not a bad one. It has great potential. But it is missing a lot. And it has so much dialogue it’s sad. It is a very emotional story but still feels flat. At least to me it does. Lorna likes it and wants me to hurry up and finish it. I will poke around on it a few more days, maybe fill in between where I left off the other day and to where I started today. Then in January, I’ll do the rewrite (or 2).

I cannot express how I feel about being able to write again. It feels good. Solid. Real.

I didn’t do a daily word count. I had a small section in a spreadsheet that had the global goals but no daily stuff. I don’t want to turn into a Word Count Queen again.

Synopsis Biopsis

I hate writing synopsises…synopsi…those things.

The synopsis is smashing down the entire novel into a single paragraph or two into a summary. Part of its purpose is to tease the reader and publisher into wanting more. Think of the synopsis as what’s on the back cover of a book with just a wee bit more added in.

Another part is to help the writer to figure out just what the hell she is aiming for. Which is probably why I hate them.

Someone asked what this latest book of mine was about. And I couldn’t quite answer that question. “Earth is about to end, aliens come and rescue a bunch of people in time…you know.” I think that’s what I said.

I don’t think I can write a synopsis until the book is finished. Too many variables. Too many plot holes. Too many untied strings. But there comes a point when I feel the urge to start narrowing it down. Almost always it happens about 30K words. Exodus is at ~29K so I am feelin’ it. I am doing it in my head for now. It has helped to fix some of the problems I’m having.

One problem was the sheer numbers of people. The world’s population right now is just under 7 billion. I at first was thinking that maybe 22% of them would be genetically homosexual. And of that amount, 45% were lesbians. That came out to be 672,885,369 lesbians.

Think about it. 672.8 MILLION lesbians/humans. That’s a shit load of people. So I did some research on just what is the percentage of homosexuals? That number depends on the country/region. Some countries have a high percentage (up to 45%) and others have a really low one (as low as 2%). Then I was thinking that perhaps not everyone who identifies as being homosexual may not be genetic homosexuals. So I dropped the numbers down to half to 11%. Still left me with 336.4 million lesbians. Oy.

Okay, plot change. No way could they have gotten everyone. Yeah, sure they could have if all were put into cryogenic suspension. But still, what to do with all of them? So I changed the plot. They didn’t have time to take everyone off. I looked at 25% of all lesbians had been rescued (84 million) and of those, only 1% would be woken up (brought out of cryogenic suspension). They would help the aliens to decide what to do with them all. That meant 841,107 would be awake and moving around. Still a huge number but somewhat more manageable. Slightly more than the population of San Francisco.

Now my synopsis is starting to form. Plot knots are being combed out to nicer looking threads. Plot holes are being patched with more information. I still couldn’t write it out but it is there like a ghost. Just don’t ask me to come up with it.

Linkages:
What Percentage of Population is Gay? (Gallup poll)
Demographics of Sexual Orientation (Wikipedia)
Modern Survey Results (part of above article; interesting section)

NaNoWriMo 09

For those of you completely in the dark ages, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place each November and, while it is called “national” it is very international. For the month of November, participants try to write 50,000 words in a single manuscript. This comes out to, roughly, 1667 words per day. It has to be a novel that you have not written before (so no editing re-writes) and it cannot be a book of short stories. It has to be one single brand spankin’ new novel.

This is how Butch Girls Can Fix Anything was born. I wrote the original draft in November ’04. It was my first NaNo, too. I have participated, and finished, in every one since except for last year. Failed miserably. I don’t think I got a thousand words.

So I am going to try it again. No, I am going to do it again. I will finish. I will.

Bouncing ideas around. For some reason, they have biblical names. Genesis, Exodus, and Pentecost. Genesis will probably be renamed Generations or The Genesis Generation or The Generation of Genesis. All Science Fiction although Pentecost may lean more into the Fantasy genre.

Genesis/Generation – those left behind to clean up Earth after everyone else has left. Genetically (virally?) modified to live longer (forever?) so the work can be done.

    Genesis – n: a coming into being
    Generation:

    1. All the people living at the same time or of approximately the same age
    2. Group of genetically related organisms constituting a single step in the line of descent
    3. A stage of technological development or innovation (“the third generation of computers”)

Exodus – those who left Earth; left a hostile (pissed off) Earth

    A journey by a large group to escape from a hostile environment

Pentecost – Earth speaks

    (Judaism) Jewish holy day celebrated on the sixth of Sivan to celebrate Moses receiving the Ten Commandments

All are related to the perpetually researched SF I’ve had in the works for years: Centric. I thought I could finally get it down on paper last year but failed. It is a wonderful story with cool directions – as long as it stays in my head. Every effort to make it real fails. Self-fulfilling prophecy?