Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer's here and School's out!

We're going to take the summer off here at Modern Myth Makers.  But we won't be lolling about with cabana boys (/sob!), instead, we'll continue to do the writing thing (and if there happen to be cabana boys with fruity drinks, who help us "focus"...  I'm just sayin).

You can follow our individual blogs to get the skinny on what we're up to, and we'll be back in August with blog entries a plenty!

See y'all then. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Moving through May

climbing the mountain
rocks slip, not enough water
and then snow begins


And we're back to the mountain image! I wonder if I'll see a mule along the way?

Here's an update of the month's writing progression: slow. My stated goal was to work on revisions, on making a particular ms better than the first draft. However, I don't have a lot of experience in the revision process, and so a good part of the current progress is finding a method that works for me. Let me tell you that that "finding a method" is all sorts of frustrating!

As an example, I have found that working on any chunk larger than ~100 words at a time doesn't work well. (Okay, okay, doesn't work at all, forget the well.) That small word window means that it will take me ~550 sittings to work through the ms that I have on the table. 550! Just makes me want to give this up and become a shrimp farmer someplace other than Louisiana.

Such a drastic move would involve more financial solvency than I have at the moment, so I'm staying put and counting down the revision sittings. For now.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maintaining Full Time Critique Partners

The perfect mesh of a full-time critique partner, a CP outside of a critique group, is a mix between an accountability partner, a cheerleader, a boot camp drill sergeant, and a critic who isn't afraid to call fie on the prose: There for the long haul, ready to celebrate the baby steps, demand weekly progress toward those all-important career goals, and shred mercilessly the pages and chapters they get.

Most full-time CPs take on one or more of those tasks and expect, as they should, reciprocation. It's a relationship of giving as well as requesting, and it requires a contract of commitment, and a promise of dependability. There's nothing quite like meshing with someone enthusiastic about writing and dedicated to the craft who can jump into those multi-hat-wearing roles when their time permits.

So what can be done to keep these long-time crit partners happy? To make sure that the relationship stays nurtured? Here's my list! Keep in mind these depend on what the established working relationship is, and are in no particular order:

1. Set a turnaround schedule. If the fastest I know I can crit and send back a chapter is a week, (this means I can do a read as a reader, then spread out the more analytical work over my lunch breaks during the day job work week so I don't bite into my own writing time in the evening), then I say so. Make an arrangement for the max number of pages expected weekly or monthly on either side--get at least that much done, and if it's exceeded, more's to the better!

2. Be there in times of crisis. An agent contest coming up on a blog that your crit partner wants to enter? Be there, double-checking her entry as much as needed until she's happy with the submission. A request from an agent or an editor? Virtual martinis all around and a last readthrough of the synopsis and/or pages for a final spit and polish. Wanting to tie the muse up with bungee cords and throw her over the tallest cliff? There's the time for an encouraging email, virtual chocolates, and a picture of a LOLcat. Crises, one should keep in mind--are not every day or every week. Just the big events. I try to give as much notice as possible with these--and I suppress my normal critique chapter request for the week in leiu of the timely entries.

3. Keep the lines of communication open. This is so, so crucial for keeping and nuturing a CP...lack of emailing and informing of delays can break this kind of business-friend relationship. So can habitual delays. If I'm going out of town for a week, I send a note to let my crit partners know in advance. If I wind up in the ER and can't get the pages critted on time (as happened a few weeks back), I can't predict that, but I let my crit partners know as soon as possible the cause of the delay and when my revised turnaround time will be. Keep the email flowing and your crit partner in the loop instead of dropping the ball on your return crits and falling off the face of the planet.

4: Cheer them on! If my crit partner shares minor or major victories, I'm right there with a happy dance, too. If they've got a strength in their manuscript that stands out, or a scene that makes me chuckle, I'm sure to let them know. The road to publication is long, and a good pat on the back can soothe the sting of rejections and necessary revisions and serve to brighten up the day of the person on the other side of the computer monitor. Likewise, if I've achieved something with my manuscripts I'm sure to tell them, because chances are it wouldn't have been possible without them!

5: Stay current, stay educated. This means sharing the good blog posts and the announcements for the classes or conferences that you know will be perfect for your CPs, based on their interests and strengths as much as their weaknesses. I've begun to work through books on craft and writers' journeys with one of my CPs, and we'll use the opportunity to help each other to grow and improve. This is an encouraging process as well as a constructive one--building each other's writing foundation up and up and up toward success.

How about you, fellow writers? What qualities do you look for in a career crit partner? How do you maintain the relationship?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First and Goals: May 2010

At the beginning of each month, we Modern Myth Makers will be posting our writerly goals for the coming month, in an effort to motivate ourselves through the threat of shaming in a public forum by giving each other, and all of you, the opportunity to encourage our progress.

NL Berger's Goals: Oh, April was a month of EPIC FAIL for me. It looks my inner writer decided that my gag goals from April 1st looked pretty good and I spent pretty much the whole month in intense baby-preparation mode. So, you know those goals from last month? Yeah, they're making another grand appearance this month, hopefully with a better outcome. That's 3 revised chapters and 12 OWW reviews over the next 31 days. Time to get cracking!

Tori Pryer's Goals: Ok, I failed in the month of April, but I'm going to blame that on the massive pollen invasion that blanketed SC this spring. It took most of my energy to breathe and keep going to the day job. Add to that no free weekends and you have a recipe for poor writing habits. That being said, I have been working on TDC in the latter half of this month. I plan to continue that path and hopefully have revised pages to show for it at the end of May. I want to know what will happen in the story (synopsis) and have approximately thirty revised pages.

Sarah Templeton's Goals: I'm keeping my goals super-secret this month, my path is so set on what I do have going on that not even the threat of public shaming is required for me to succeed. So I'm not going to share--I'm going to write. And write. And write.

Haricot Vert's Goals: Wallowing in and revising of words. This is what I'm up to for May. So encouragement is always welcome, as the spirit takes you.
As for a resumé of April... well my goal of cleaning the short didn't happen. However! I did start revising a different project, so I count the past month as time well spent.

What about you guys? What are your writing goals for this month?