#ROW80 Round 3: Post mortem

Kind of a morbid title, isn’t it?

I’ve done two rounds of ROW80 now, and each time I learn something different. The first time, I was very ambitious and soon realized that most of my goals were immeasurable, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of the challenge. This time, I did a lot of writing, but not nearly enough; I did a lot of reading, but not nearly enough; and there were areas I realized that I had forgotten but added later, and still didn’t do them.

So, let’s review:

Writing:

I said that I would take Candace Havens’ Fast Draft and Revision Hell class, and I did. If you did what Candace asked (twenty pages a day for two weeks), you would end up with 280 pages, or somewhere between 50K and 75K words. I ended up with 35K, and had no further to go. That was the result of poor planning; I tried to pants my way through it, and it didn’t go all that well. Figuring this was the problem, I plotted and outlined the hell out of my next project, Camp NaNoWriMo in August. I reached about 11.5K words on that and realized that the story, based on some stuff I had written ten years ago, was not that good to start with and didn’t get any better with age. So I went on writing whatever popped into my head, got another 3K words written before deciding that I wasn’t going to win anyway and abandoned it.

Here’s what I figured out: I’m not a novelist. The NaNoNovel that I tried to write had started life as a short story, and that was as far as it was going to go, until the people reading the story said, “so, what happens now?” and begged me to write more. I tried and realized that I was wasting my time; the story was complete as it was. I examined the Fast Draft novel and realized that it was nothing more than a series of short stories strung together. And there’s nothing wrong with that; Amy Tan contends that The Joy Luck Club was a collection of short stories that looked like a novel when you saw all of them next to each other. The best writing I did this time around was a memoir about my dad dying the day before Chicago was hit with a huge snowstorm. I have hundreds of stories that I could write about growing up and all the goofy things that went on. So, I’m going to stick with short fiction and memoirs. If a novel idea comes to me, great, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

The two regular features of the blog, “Two For Tuesday” and “The Thursday Ten,” actually worked out pretty well, although I found that the latter was a lot harder than the former. I spent a lot of time listening to music when I was a kid, so I guess that comes more naturally than making a list of ten things. I cut the Thursday posts back to one every two weeks to give me more of a chance of making them, but even so, it’s kind of hit-and miss. Definitely something I need to concentrate on next time around.

Reading:

My intention was to read one craft book and one non-craft book per week. I sort of read whatever the hell I wanted to read, and didn’t always finish the books I was reading in one week. I did do a project where I identified each of the scenes of Libby Hellmann’s Easy Innocence, in the hopes that I could learn to identify turning points and scene breaks in other books. I had fun doing it, and learned a lot from it, and most likely will continue to do that for other books that I read. Maybe I will figure out the secret of novel writing after all.

Other:

I have been terribly remiss as a member of the ROW80 community in giving praise and encouragement, for which I apologize. I promise to do better at that. As far as social media, I’m finding that Facebook is more of a hindrance than a help, and think I need to start dividing my Facebook Friends into groups, because I’m missing things. (I have several friends who are like squirrels on crack, posting all the time.) Likewise, I need to break up the people I’m following on Twitter. I’m finding Twitter a whole lot more useful having learned about hashtags, because I follow so many different topics on it (baseball, the weather, the news, authors, etc.), and I’m finding more people to follow as a result. I need to organize them better.

In all, I’d give myself a C minus for the round. Congratulations to everyone who managed to accomplish all that they set out to accomplish. I’m thinking, though, that there aren’t that many of us. I’ll see you all in the next round!

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