Recalibrate

or how a new plan usurped the pity party of The Year of the Snake

The moon slid into her new robes late last night, in the sign of Virgo. Kim Falconer wrote in her New Moon newsletter:

The New Moon in Virgo is perfect to bring more ritual into the daily routine, amping up both ‘heart’ and ‘production’. Virgo is about skill development, and the rituals in life that are constantly creating and re-creating our experience of reality. You start creating habits that make life better.

As it turns out, I was already leading myself to that very place. I like to think of writing as recreating the experience of reality and I was ready to start writing. Properly. Again. I jokingly said, when my serpent medallion arrived last week, that the Year of the Snake could now begin for me. Better late than never!

TIME TO RECONSIDER

Weedy Typewriter

(c) Jodi Cleghorn 2013

This week, in a closed writer’s group I belong to, the topic of goals was bandied around. My first instinct was to comment it is all too hard at the moment, with home schooling still in flux, my health only just on the mend (after being slammed with glandular fever for three weeks) and a puppy who is still fitting into the family. The idea of trying to shoe horn anything in, seemed mad. Destined to fail. The best I could do was try and find time to write and to continue editing Post Marked: Piper’s Reach. That was an almost goal, right?

That afternoon I ended up in a cafe without my computer and without my phone. I had my Sony and a notebook. I started to flick through what was written in my notebook. That was enough to inspire me to reconsider my whiny comment.

There are four months left until the end of my creative year, I said to myself. What could I achieve in that time, rather than bemoan all the missed opportunities that have already passed.

NEW GOALS

One thing about goals is they need to be specific. The other is to attach a time frame to them.

A piece of mousse cake and a pot of tea later I had two pages of possibilities downloaded into purple ink under a variety of sub-headings: everything from the short stories in progress or pitched, to novella possibilities, the editing and submission process for Piper’s Reach broken down. The stories had markets and deadlines attached to them. So did the novellas, along with possible windows for writing. The editing schedule went month by month.

On the start of the second page I wrote down some new habits (albeit, new rituals!) I wanted to foster.

NEW HABITS

The three most obvious for the readers here are:

1. sit at my desk five mornings a week for one hour

2. blog reguarly

3. submit every month

I think the new habits will go a long way to helping facilitate success. If I achieve a quarter of what is on that list, then I will be happy. If I manage to sit at my desk five mornings a week, I’ll consider the entire goal setting initiative a win!

Watch this space!

What new goals are you willing to kickstart this new moon.

Advertisements

First Impressions For Post Marked: Piper’s Reach

Pipers Reach Promo PictureLast week I wrote about the process of honing the first page and the angst of marrying a non-traditional narrative with a traditional narrative framework to hook the reader. I had been reviewing the opening page in preparation for submitting to Marcy Hatch and Dianne Salerni’s “First Impressions” and agonising over the fit. Wondering if Piper’s Reach was appealing to those outside of our existing fan base. Dreading feedback that said we’d got it all wrong. After reading the comments on both Marcy and Dianne’s blog I know now why I was so worried.

Kittie Howard commented: There’s no middle ground with epistolary writing. It either hits or misses.

So, are we a hit or a miss?

THE HITS

“What’s great about this first page is that it sets up lots of questions about the past between these two people but also suggests a question about the future. Why is the narrator writing to Jude now, twenty years later?” Marcy.

I never really thought about why the twenty year gap (I was thinking of all the other whys) or the inherent question regarding the future (even though we set up the original tagline as: When the past reaches into the present would you risk a second chance.)

There’s just the right amount of past and present mixed together, and enough places mentioned to provide a clear image of setting without being confusing. Dianne

Again, I hadn’t thought too much about the setting on the first page (too worried about character and voice and conflict), even though Adam and I had spoken during the editing process about properly locating both the towns early on, something missing from the original letters.

To follow finish off Kittie’s comment: There’s no middle ground with epistolary writing. It either hits or misses. This one hits!

Alex J Cavanaugh commented: That simple letter says a lot. The authors nailed so much in just a few paragraphs.

You can read the full critiques and all the comments on Marcy’s and Dianne’s blogs, or add your own there.

THE MISSES

Some of the readers were slightly confounded by Australian colloquialisms such as ‘sea change’ (though apparently it was Shakespeare who first coined the phrase in The Tempest!) and ‘pashed’. Adam in true Adam style explained pash in the comments and added ‘pash rash’ – oh, I’d totally forgotten that! Chatting over dinner last night Dave and I agreed ‘pash’ really does belong (rather than snog) because it is one of those iconic 70’s and 80’s teenage Australian words – those all or nothing kinds of kisses at blue light discos and school socials that traded etiquette for raw momentum. If we want to keep true to the Australian voice of the characters we will need to be mindful to accommodate an international audience in the context of those words.

There were some punctuations glitches to fix and a small tweaking of one sentence regarding ‘stuff’, which is quite shameful given years ago I walked into my soul sister’s Year 8 English class where she had written ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ on the board and was running through ways of better articulating these generic terms!

So the worry was for nothing. Easy to say in retrospect! The project overall is unique enough to pique the interest of readers and there is enough in that first letter to hook the reader in. Now to worry over the next 321 pages!

Many thanks to Marcy, Dianne and their readers. Their comments and insights have fuelled the second stage editing rocket ready for launch next week.

If you have a manuscript and are interested in being part of Marcy and Dianne’s ‘First Impressions’ drop by either of their blogs for more information.