I cannot believe it’s March already!

February 2016

Here’s what February 2016 looked like in writing…

Yearly Goal
150,793/600,000 words (25%)

Monthly Goal
Planned to take half this month off so I didn’t set a goal other than to not fall behind (which I very nearly did anyway but rallied in the last week)

Total Words Written
(I know, I know, I should have gone for 40k but I wanted to sleep)

Average Words Per Day

Things completed:

Other Works Actively in Progress this Month:

  • A monologue play
  • The MG novel nicknamed WOC1


February was an unusual month on a personal level.  For starters, I went on vacation for a week right at the start of it and it was a weird vacation for a couple of toddler and weather related reasons. We did have some good times, but it generally left us wishing we could have a do-over or extension. As someone who usually leaves a vacation well ready to get back to my normal life, I’ve never really felt unsatisfied by a vacation before so this was a little depressing.

Also depressing was the terrible cold the little one caught while we were down there which stretched from during the vacation itself well into a week and a half later. As always seems to happen, I got sick the same time as her but, while she was able to get a ton of rest, care and naps on Mama, I was running around taking care of her that week mostly alone while the hus had to work late so I just kept getting worse. It was a bad combination and, while the little one has been free and clear of illness for about a week, I’m STILL sick. It got a little hairy for a while there. I was having these awful coughing fits where I would just cough endlessly until I gagged much like it was when I had whooping cough but with the added twist that I was also dizzy because I couldn’t get enough oxygen. Good times all around. It was Asthmatic Bronchitis at once point, though now it’s just some lingering coughing/wheezing/runny nose stuff that’s more annoying than debilitating. I don’t get sick often but when I do, boy howdee, it just lasts FOREVER, doesn’t it? I never do anything by halves, I guess. I’m actually sick of tea, I’ve drank so much in the last few weeks, and I LOVE tea.

In the midst of this weird month of sick, I also attended an Off Off Broadway production of Three Padded Walls which was great fun and everyone involved did a wonderful job with it. I went through an entire bag of cough drops to survive the performance but managed to only cough a handful of times during the show which was a personal victory.  I didn’t want to be *that* audience member at my own play.

Writing wise, I was all other the place. While I meant to take the vacation off, I ended up doing a lot of writing over the trip, making serious headway on a monologue play I’ve been working on in the background for a while now. I’m really excited about that project but the nature of it necessitates leaving it for the time being to finish later when I have time for more research because it’s yet another part of my big Tale of Tales adaptation-palooza. I haven’t really had a chance to talk about this project much, mostly because it was very unformed in my head before, but something crystallized in a big way at the start of the month and it’s really shaping up to be something. What’s really exciting about this play is that, while there’s many characters and room for an ensemble where a school could cast every role, it also lends itself very easily to as few as two actors playing all the roles. Considering most of my shows are much too large to appeal to the professional circuit, it’ll be nice to finally have something with a small cast to share there! While I can’t say when the full-length version will be available, I will be submitting some of the monologues from it to opps as they come up because they work just fine as standalones.

Besides fiddling with that play during the two weeks of sickness and misery, I did very little other writing. My word count says I got words down here and there but I’ll be darned if I know what I was doing. You know how it is when you’re sick. You’re tired and miserable and focusing is even harder than usual so it’s easier to work on little things like blog posts and journal entries than to buckle down and do any big editing. I managed to keep the old pen moving but I didn’t do anything all that spectacular.

Then last Thursday, when I was finally feeling a little better, I realized that I was just using being sick as an excuse and I was really just procrastinating on starting the big revision of WOC1. I’d done a ton of prep work for that rewrite before I left for vacation with the intent of starting as soon as I got back so I thought I was in a good place to just dive in and get that ready for Beta Readers. Work on it was going really great… until last night when I realized I was going about it stupidly and needed to rethink my approach. Back the train up and slow it all down a bit.

I really want to just leave that statement there but I promised to be transparent here so let me try to explain what went wrong. I reworked my outline in the downtime and came up with what I’m hoping is the final flow going forward. Then I dove in with editing my previous draft and, while it was going really well, it occurred to me that I was wasting time and making much more work for myself by trying to write and edit the “new” sections (aka the parts that changed from the last draft) as I wrote them. I realized it would save me a ton of time and aggravation if I whipped through all the new scenes until I have a new “first draft” of the entire new plot and THEN go back into fine-tooth combing. My mistake became clear when I spent three hours crafting a perfect scene only to realize I didn’t need it at all. That realization would have come sooner, and been less painful, if I’d whipped my way through that scene in 15 minute as part of an entire new rough draft and seen where it fit in the big picture immediately, instead of after I did all that work. It’s going to take a mental readjustment, but I think it’s what I need to do.

Could I write the whole book the slow and steady, editing as I go? Yes, absolutely, and it’s how I’ve finished many projects in the past. But I’ve come to realize that’s not how I write my plays, which I finish faster and much more efficiently. With as little writing time as I have these days, I need to be as efficient as possible with the time I do have and that’s a big part of what I’m trying to teach myself these days: How do I force myself to write fiction how I write plays? Write smarter, not more often? Right now, that means being mindful of what I’m doing as I write instead of just writing on blindly because the words are flowing.

Up Next

The foreseeable future will be all WOC1, all the time until it’s ready for Betas. If I get really stuck on it, I may cheat with one of the other Tale of Tales plays, which is almost done, because it will get something else out the door and be an easy confidence booster. I’m not setting a deadline for when I hope to finish this revision, just committing to working on it every day until it’s done with the general goal of as soon as possible.

This book is very much for my daughter and I made the mistake (?) of telling her about it and now is she is VERY invested in it, asking me about it all the time. This is at once a good and bad thing. Good because it means I’m really driven to get it done ASAP, bad because it’s added all this extra pressure. Every day she wants to know when I’m going to finish the book and it’s like, I’m working on it, yo.

Taking this much time off from playwriting and that (mostly) guaranteed paycheck to work on a novel I may never be able to do anything with feels really stupid from a business standpoint which is why I’m trying it find the best way to do it and waste as little time as possible. Finger crossed, my hope is that I’ll be able to get this novel out the door and still have a new full-length play by this summer for schools to premiere in the fall. It’s ambitious but doable, I think, though I’m sure Life is having a Very Good Laugh at this plan and cooking something up as we speak. In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of new one-acts so it’s not like I’ve been sleeping.

I’m still on pace with my writing goals. I’m still on track with my projects. And yet, a month like this still feels like a failure because… I don’t even know. Even I do not understand my weird brain.

What I *do* know is that, while I still don’t completely know what I’m doing, I am learning and adjusting and making changes and I think that’s making a big difference.

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