Sojourns in Publishing

Writing. Editing. Designing. Producing. Printing. Reading.

Month: November, 2011

I quit NaNoWriMo, and I’m okay with that.

About two weeks into my writing marathon with NaNoWriMo, I quit. Just like that. I had a total of about thirty minutes of angst about it, then I was done. And I felt simply relieved.

The whole point of me starting the whole endeavor was to try to begin a serious daily writing habit, and actually having something to produce, something of worth, something I felt proud of. 1666 words a day, for me, was not easy – at least, in the format I was attempting (fiction), even with an outline already sketched out.

In another context, 1666 words in a day is a blip on the radar, especially considering how I write easily 40 emails a day in my correspondence at work alone. Are they good words? Well, they do the trick. I try to be as circumspect as possible. Handling manuscripts all day tends to do that. I want to use as few words as possible, and I want them to be well-chosen.

I feel a surprising lack of guilt, given my natural tendency to be hard on myself. In the same spirit as my well-intentioned and extremely ambitious weight-loss and fitness programs that start off with a bang and fizzle out, I’m learning to pace myself, building up to where I want to be in my ideal writing world. I’m feeling extremely curious these days about what I see in the media, and I want to dismantle, explore, discuss, and rebuild those concepts with words in the context of dialogue with community.

Mat Wright of Wright Result had good things to say about Blogs and Journalism, and his words resonated with me. It affirmed my belief that I must feed what stokes the fire in my belly, and at this point, it’s just not about flailing at my keyboard at 5:30 AM with my eyes (and mind) half-closed to meet a minimum word count. My best writing happens when I’m feeling my way around through my keyboard, almost like reaching out and reading by braille. Fiction might be the genre for that at some point eventually, but it just isn’t right now. I have an appetite to read, to become increasingly educated and informed, to discuss, and to share. Blogging/Journalism is where I want to seriously invest that energy for the foreseeable future.

For Absolute Beginners: Manuscript Preparation

Manuscript preparation is more than typing into a word processor—it also includes formatting the document and preparing your photos and illustrations with an editor and graphic designer in mind. Considering the items below will go a long way towards a smoother manuscript submission process:

  1. Software: What word processing software are you using (e.g. Microsoft Word, OpenOffice)?
  2. Pages and paragraphs: Are you familiar with actions such as inserting page breaks, viewing/hiding hidden characters, and using hard returns to separate paragraphs?
  3. Photos: When you upload photos to your computer, what photo management software do you use (e.g. Microsoft Office Picture Manager, iPhoto)?
  4. Handling image files: Do you know how to check and adjust the the DPI of your photos?
  5.  File extensions: Are you familiar with names of file extensions (such as JPEG or TIFF)?
  6.  Attachments: Are you comfortable with uploading and downloading attachments?
  7.  File management: How easy is it for you to find items that you’ve downloaded? Are your files scattered all over your desktop? How do you name different versions of your manuscript?
  8. Technical support: Do you have any tech-savvy family members, friends, or neighbours who can support you with the above issues?

If you’re an absolute beginner to word processing—or to publishing in general—please don’t let technology intimidate you. The answers are out there, and there are people who are willing to help. The tools are there to serve you, not the other way around.

November 1, 2011

The main thing that drew me to the publishing industry is my lifelong interest in writing. The written word is undeniably a powerful thing. It’s been the most important and reliable activity by which I’ve found my way back to myself when lost. It’s started and ended relationships, healed wounds, and gotten things done.

“...We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” ~ C. Day Lewis.

All that to say that my “writer’s block” has been shaken loose in the presence of all the manuscripts , dreams, frustrations, emotions, motivations and ideas of my clients. The only way I am going to settle the muttering in my mind is to put pen to paper.

I am convinced that writing is the best way for me to find my own voice. To that end, I’ve begun working with an old copy of Gabriele Lusser Rico’s Writing the Natural Way, which has a series of exercises (among other things) that develop right brain techniques in order to write more intuitively according to natural rhythms and expression.

I’m about to begin on the third exercise and I have to admit that it’s not been at all easy. The first two exercises have had me tearing out pages and swearing and muttering. I even lost a good night of sleep because I was so irritated that my writing of one particular exercise (a poem for my husband) turned out less than achingly beautiful and shockingly insightful.

Accessing a more intuitive mode of writing has somehow because more difficult than I remember. Some of it is because I’m concerned with the technicalities of the manuscripts of other authors for a solid 8 hours a day, but most of it has to do with the above-mentioned laziness, distraction, inertia. It doesn’t matter.

Writing is clearly something that becomes stronger and more supple when exercised, so, here’s me getting off my cushy bum and doing that thing I keep saying I should be doing. That thing that, as it turns out, I really, really, really want to do. And so this morning, I got up two hours earlier than usual, and I’m committed to getting the first chunk of writing done by 7am.

1666 words a day for the next 30 days, and at the end of that, something that hopefully resembles a relatively interesting and readable 50,000 word novel.

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