Getting Things Done

P1010004_3That would be my Siouxsie-pale hands literally attacking the keyboard for the next month. Yesterday I turned in the last packet of the third semester for my MFA program. And saving my advisor’s response and a bunch of paperwork, that means I now have a month off. The next residency begins in scenic Montpelier on July 9.

During the semester, I finished a 16,000 or so word critical thesis (called, perhaps boringly, "Eye for a God’s Eye: The Bold Choice of the Omniscient Point of View in Fiction for Young Adults"), which, while it took me away from fiction for a good chunk of time, also turned out to be a tremendous learning experience. (Oh god, did I really just use the words "learning experience"? My apologies. I’ll get back to the hedonistic kind forthwith.) I also wrote about 16,000 words on a new (old) project, oddly enough using the omniscient POV–or the OPOV, as I now call it, which is, thus far, an even bigger learning experience. (Last time I use that term, I swear.) And did brief annotations for somewhere north of 50 books that I read, mostly not including the theory books I read bits and pieces of for the thesis. My advisor, the fabulous Leda Schubert, who is so smart her brain may actually throw off sparks at times, kept the faith and prodded me forward and endured the whining that comes from serving on two juries (the Tiptree and the Cybils) during the same period of time as writing a thesis and doing freelance stuff and the normal day job/life stuff, etcetera.

I’m saying this because I have a nasty tendency to only focus on what I haven’t done. Which, in this case, is to revise the novel I wrote during my first two semesters. I managed to do a bit of it, but for the most part it got set aside. (This will undoubtedly turn out to be a good thing, but some of us like to enforce insane standards for ourselves, or at least indulge in self-flagellation.) Anyway, that brings me back to attacking the keyboard. Doselle–whose ear I bent for far too long one night in Madison, answering the innocent inquiry "so what are you working on?"–will be glad to hear that I plan to take this month to Finish That Damn Novel.

Yesterday I printed out the first draft and got my pen and notebook ready. Mostly, I already know what needs doing, but I’m sure some other stuff will occur to me coming back fresh to it. The most major surgery is writing a new ending, but I know what the right ending is and that’s always the hardest part. For the next month, that’s what I’ll be doing. And then I will send it off to my genius first readers, who will tell me how to make it even better, and then I will send it to some agents.

But, first, the finishing of a coherent draft. Defendurcastle_2

What I won’t be doing this month is taking on any freelance assignments, saying yes to anything optional, keeping up with e-mail or returning phone calls in a timely manner. I’ve already downsized my feedreader subscriptions by about a hundred (so if something really important is happening in your life and I should know, e-mail me). One of the most important things I know about my own proclivities is that I require time to goof off, in fairly large measure, when I’m working really hard on something. So I will be playing Defend Your Castle (yay, Wii Ware!) and making it through the last couple of seasons of Angel (after getting bogged down by that whole Darla’s return storyline) and catching a stray movie and posting random stuff here and going out to dinner and that kind of thing.

I will just also be working very hard on making le novel and not keeping up with some stuff. Wish me luck and fortitude.

6 thoughts on “Getting Things Done”

  1. Rachel, you overachiever, I can’t believe you’ve already started. I actually collected a bunch of books for mine during the month off before the semester but changed my mind on the topic when I got to the residency. It’s probably smart just to go ahead and do it to prevent such insanity!
    Thanks, guys. So far, so good.

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