Friday Writing High and Low

This has been a weird week for me in writing. My big high was finishing my revision on Tuesday, three days earlier than I had expected. It felt great to get to the end again. And I feel good about the work I did.

Getting to the end in a big revision feels just as good as writing The End after a first draft. This go around, I added new layers to my manuscript, swelling the story by another few thousand words and giving more muscle to the characters and action.

My low came after I’d finished the revision. I decided to put it away for a couple days to work on other non-novel-writing things before I’d do a speed run-through of all my changes to check word choice, spelling, grammer, etc, before I give the revision to my beta readers. I thought a few days off would be great, freeing, wonderful. I was going to get all these things done from my to do list.

Not quite. I got lots of other things done — not as much as I wanted, but a lot. But I felt terrible. Lackluster. No enthusiasm. I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

I think the lesson here is that next time I finish a revision, the next day I have to jump into another novel. I actually do have another novel that I’ve started, but I figured that with only a couple days off, what’s the point of jumping back to it? But I could have done a lot of thinking and sketching out ideas in that time.

It feels like I’m not complete without writing each day, novel-writing. That’s why I write.

What was your high and low this week?

Friday High & Low: Great News, Great Advice

I’m starting a new Friday traditional on my blog, the Friday High & Low. Every Friday, I’ll check in and give you my writing high and low for the week.

My high this week, is actually last week’s, but I was too busy to post it then. And I’ve got two:

First, I won the Houston SCBWI Chapter‘s 2012 Joan Lowery Nixon Award. The prize: A year’s mentorship by the awesome and award-winning Kathi Appelt, yep, author of The Underneath and Keeper, as well as a slew of fabulous picture books. What fun!

Second, the first four chapters of my novel Wake was published by Hunger Mountain, the literary journal of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Such an honor! I’m so impressed by all the writers that I’ve met who have gone through the VCFA program. And its Hunger Mountain magazine, both online and in print, is an inspiration to all. Go here to read it and let me know what you think.

My low? All in all it was a good writing week. My low is that I haven’t quite made my 50-page a week revision goal, but I’m close and I think I can make it tomorrow before my time runs out.

Finally, a friend shared some great advice from the storytellers at Pixar. They really know what they’re doing, mixing humor and heart with equal parts action and adventure. There are some real gems here. My favorites are:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

What are your favorites? What’s your high and low for this week?