Tuesday, February 19, 2008

He's Baaaaack!

Sven is back. The 70 Days of Sweat Writing Challenge commences round 3 on March 1st. Are you ready to sweat?

I've been waiting for this. The first two rounds were great motivation and combined with NaNo they taught me several profound things about what works for me and what doesn't.

Focusing on word count tends to dry up the words while engaging creatively with the story, its world and characters daily guarantees the words will come. It's that daily part that's tricky. But it is the key.

For round three, my goal is to sweat. Sweat plenty. But not sweat it. It's that which is the real challenge for me. I am too easily engaged in the wrong battle, blasting my psyche with recriminations, guilt, and shame. So instead I'm going to make a daily engagement with the story--solemn yet playful. I'm returning to the Fruits of the Spirit story world I was working with in round one. Depending on how I slice or splice them, I've got six to ten novels in progress whose story arcs are interwoven and whose POV characters walk in and out of each others stories as supporting cast across a 70 year timeline.

I spent the first weeks of round one roaming among all of these re-engaging with the characters and the files after a six year hiatus; tweaking existing scenes, adding new ones and notes for more, creating a story world time line and roster in a single file and so forth. During the second half of that round I began to focus on one particular POV character, her story arc and the novel which carries it because I identified this character's story and especially its time line as the anchor for all the others.

It seems like something more than coincidence that it turned out to be Faye's story that would serve this way. For Jubilee Faith Gardner nee Fairchild carries as POV character the novel, The Substance of Things Hoped For, whose theme is Faith.

By the end of the first round I had mapped out huge swathes of Faye's story and her novel's structure and added new scenes to the existing 20K. I was actually beginning to see a possibility that three more months working at the same intensity would be enough to ensure a completed draft of Faye's novel. I was tempted to not do NaNo so I could try to bring that draft across the finish line by the end of 2007.

But the story idea I had for my NaNo novel was too alluring and the hope that the new-found discipline and the lessons learned from Sven I would help me finally--on a fourth try!--win my first NaNo badge. So I switched to the new novel, Spring Fever, and I did earn the badge. And just as I suspected, the long break from Faye's story made it difficult to re-engage. I just started working with Faye's files again last week. Dabbling would be a more accurate term.

I have not been idle since the end of Sven II though. I have sweated plenty. Just not so much in word count. Though it was all in honor of the work and the dream. For the entire month of January I was engaged in a major do-over of our room--cleaning, sorting, tossing and organizing. My writing environment is now much more conducive to productivity and creativity. February has been about organizing my files both virtual and paper and organizing my time and prioritizing tasks. And the whole time since the end of NaNo I've been re-organizing and making over my mind and spirit. All of this was motivated by my commitment to the vision of myself as a story teller.

The last two weeks I've been engaged in battle with a bug. I'm hoping that is now won and I will be in fine shape for sweating by March 1st.

0 tell me a story:

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