Friday, August 15, 2008

Big Night Tonight

Tonight is the launch party for the Salisbury Writers Festival. I forgot to RSVP earlier in the week but a quick phone call to the organisers this morning assured me my wife and I were still able to get in.

The announcement of the winners for the short story comp will also be made tonight so everyone keep your fingers, toes, and anything else you're capable of crossing, crossed. This is the comp I submitted Idolatry to, a 2000 word dark fiction piece centering around the theme of greed.

Yesterday I also received another assignment back. B+. So for Module 1, semester 2, I've so far received an A and two B+s. Cool. It also included some thoughts on the short I'm writing for it, Wamphyri.

Lately I've been very preoccupied with theme in my writing. Combined with feedback on my outline for Wamphyri, it's becoming an issue. "Too much going on" is a common catch-cry in regards to my early drafts of short fiction. I need to step back and nail down a theme and then remove everything not necessary to convey that theme. Not an easy task when verbalising exactly what the theme is, seems elusive to me.

So I've started trying to detail the theme in all my works - practise makes perfect. Hence my mention of greed in Idolatry. Everyone in the story has an agenda where they believe a magical object can get them what they really want: The main character wants money and long life, the buyer wants long life and virility for her husband (they already have money), and a rival wants the idol for the same reasons as our main character. In the end, only one wins, while greed claims the life of one, and disappointment for another. Perhaps a fuller theme description would be "Greed only brings hardship" as even the "winner" has to devote himself to the idol.

There is a total of four characters (including the hotel clerk - five if you include the cab driver but he doesn't speak). In Wamphyri, which is targeted to be about double the size (4000 words), I currently have somewhere near 20 characters to control. Most are very minor parts where they are simply torn apart, but fitting all this in while trying to resolve internal and external conflicts for my major character is obscuring any possible theme. I need to pare things down to a much more manageable level. The more I think about it, the more I think a short story should only contain three or four characters max.

So I'm going to rethink the plot and reduce significantly the players involved. Then before I actually write a word, I'm going to decide on a theme. Not sure if this will work, but we'll see. I was supposed to work on it last night but never got there. The advanced release of the Black Box extended review sidetracked me. Tonight is the launch and tomorrow is my day off writing.

Things seem like their backing up again. I've spent one night this week on Newland. I have only thought about Wamphyri. I haven't begun to draft the three articles I need to do for SA50s+. I haven't done the interviews I need to do for my current assignment. I still have over a dozen books waiting for me to read.

I like things to happen quickly, but this is not the way it works with writing.

Newland will take months to complete the first draft. If it's done by Christmas it will be good.

Wamphyri needs to be done by November to a publishable standard. I'm still working on getting Too Late the Rain published and that was written over a year ago.

Articles take me about a week to write, but I'll write all three of these at the same time. I just need to dedicate some time to getting them done.

Assignments I do one a week minimum.

Books take a few days each to read and review.

Prioritise and get on with it, is what I need to do, but I keep changing the priorities as need arises. Not a good habit.

This week has probably been worse than most because of the sudden requirements for the Black readings & reviews. I lost two days there. I lost another day fixing my sisters computer, while I wrote the extended Black Box review. I'll loose another block of time due to tonight's launch. So pretty much four days gone and I have a little bit done on Newland, a couple of books read and reviewed, a first draft of an assignment and a lot of thoughts on themes and changes for Wamphyri to show for it. (oh, and I finished working on the AHWA market pages) - Actually that's quite a bit of work when you look at it like that.

Maybe my writing commitments is like my short story plots--too much going on. I can see my wife nodding :)

My frustration comes from not getting enough done on the projects I really want to get done, namely Newland and Wamphyri...and my assignments of course.

I'd like to take my wife on a couple of research trips for articles I have in mind but that's new projects for new markets that takes up extra time. I know she'd enjoy the outings (as would I), but it would equate to another change in priorities - they pay good but.

My mind always seems to be looking for the next opportunity to learn more or to take advantage of what I already know. It's not always due to money either. It's just that hunger within me to become the best writer I can possibly be, to reach that ultimate goal of being a writer full time. But yet again I'm stargazing while my feet remain in the quagmire. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tonight I need to see how Idolatry makes out. I already have another market in mind for this piece if it fails.

Next week, I will finish the due assignments at the beginning of the week (Monday-Tuesday). I'll break up the time with some reading. I'll try to post one review on HorrorScope. Returning Wednesday nights to reading nights should more than help with that. Thursday will be for Newland and Friday for Wamphyri. Sunday needs to be freelance day - time to write my articles.

I still need to fit in some critiquing time somewhere. I need that X-Lotto win!

I've rambled enough--time to move on.

I hope you're having better luck organising your time than I am.

Remember to keep your fingers crossed for me tonight.


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