Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December Distractions

It's hard to get any work done this close to Christmas. Last Friday I had lunch with some editor-friends. On Saturday, I attended the Xmas party of my local SCBWI chapter. Sunday I spent addressing Christmas cards. Yesterday I received cards from people I hadn't thought to send one to, so I had those last-minute cards to address.

Here in North Texas it was 75 degrees and beautiful yesterday, so I ended up gardening instead of writing. I demulched a tree, having seen on This Old House that too much mulch can be harmful. I raked some off the Chinese pistachio and put it on the abelias instead.

I also cut about eight limbs off an aging fruitless mulberry. Most of them were dead, but I sawed through three perfectly good, living limbs that unbalanced the tree -- unbalanced it to the point that I feared the whole thing might crash to the ground in a big windstorm. I thought the sap would be down and the poor tree wouldn't feel a thing. But today I see sap oozing from the cuts, so I guess the tree wasn't as dormant as I had hoped.

Last night, I joined 1.3 billion others in watching the winter solstice lunar eclipse, at 2 a.m. local time. Which meant I overslept this morning.

Today it's 82 degrees and sunny, and I've been outside refilling the birdbath and making some Vitamin D. But I'm less tempted to do yard-work this afternoon. It's smoky outside -- a grassfire, I think, burning to the south of us. We need rain! California, send us some?

I have managed a few hours of useful work today, in spite of myself. I've reformatted Book 2 of WATERSPELL to look like unbound galley proofs, the way I did with Book 1. I'm only on page 60 (of about 425) but I can see already that the reformatting will give me a fresh look at a manuscript that's become too familiar in its standard Times Roman style.

At the SCBWI party last Saturday, I made a deal with a fellow writer of fantasy to trade manuscripts. We're both long writers, and both hesitant to ask people to read our 100,000-word epics. But it's not an imposition to critique each other's work, at length. I'm excited at the prospect of having Karen read my whole Book 1 instead of just sharing it piecemeal with my regular critique group. The intensive critique of a few pages at a time is absolutely invaluable. But at this stage of development, I really need a knowledgeable, skillful professional to consider the work as a whole.

My goals for the next few weeks, therefore, are to:
  1. Get Book 1 to Karen for her critique of the whole ball of wax.
  2. Finish my reformat and reread of Book 2.
  3. Return to work on Book 3. It's written; I just have to polish it until it squeaks.
And then I think I'll be ready to finally begin a serious search for an agent. Or perhaps for a small publisher. I'm still considering the options that the new e-publishing technologies have opened up.

But right now it's time to finish my final cup of coffee for the day. Then I need to put aside the distractions (like a warm and sunny Texas winter-solstice afternoon -- and this blog!) and get back to work.

So many distractions, so many pages, so little time -- especially on this, the shortest day of the year. Happy Winter Solstice!

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