Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Project Angst, Time Management Issues, and Bar Love

I just finished reading through my page proofs of Ballads of Suburbia. Now my fiance Scott reads them. He has only read small sections of the book before and listened to me talk through plot issues, but he is my fresh set of eyes. Editor and I have read this a bunch of times now, as have all my CPs, so it's up to Scott to catch any tiny things we missed. I'm anxious to see what he thinks about the book. I've gone from feeling it will never live up to what I wanted to be to feeling like I love it even more than IWBYJR. Well, I don't know about more... They are such different books, there really is no comparing. But anyway, I am pleased with it and hope he is too. 

Once I come back from vacation (I will blog abt that later this week), I glance through these proofs one last time and then that is it. The bulk of the writing work on Ballads of Suburbia is done.

This is satisfying but also panic-inducing. I have the usual worries about the book being perfect, but also freaking me out: Now it is time to commit to writing something new. That's right. I can no longer tell myself that I am just fiddling around while I wait for the next stage of edits or proofs on Ballads. I have to move forward. IWBYJR and Ballads have taken up most of my writing time since 2002. Ballads was easy to dive into because I'd written a really crappy version of it in 2000, got the idea for the "ballad" concept that improved it while I was still writing IWBYJR, so I knew what I was doing. It was hard, but I knew. Now it's time to enter the great unknown.

There are three story ideas taking my attention. I have my Persephone book, which I talked a bit about here. This will likely be the next book I write. My agent has the first 50 pages of it and synopsis right now and I will revise according to her notes and then send it on to MTV Books as my option book and hopefully they will want it. I've been toying with it for about a year now off and on (really, really off and on because of edits, promo, etc on IWBYJR and Ballads), and have it mostly figured out except for the stuff in the middle, which for some reason is detering me from writing.

So for the past couple of writer's groups (I meet once every week or two with a couple writer friends that I went to grad school with), I've been working on this short story that will likely become a novel eventually, but for now needs to be a short story of 10K words or less that I want to submit to an anthology. It's due Apr 30, so that is a total race against time, but I hope I can win. It's about a guy who just gets out of jail. The anthology "will investigate the sexual experiences and identities of male characters as envisioned by female writers." So it's about a sexual experience. Might not quite be YA, but I don't know, my character is only 18 and I never shy away from that stuff in my books so.... But yeah, anyway. Don't know if my story will get finished on time or accepted by the anthology. But this character is fascinating me right now. And I think it takes place in Wisconsin and I think he hangs out at River's Edge.... I always liked how Poppy Z Brite revisited her fictional town, Missing Mile, in various short stories and books, so... No IWBYJR characters so far, but the place...

Thirdly, I have my bartender book. I've been messing around with this book since summer/fall 2007. I itch more and more to work on this one because I'm bartending again, but I think it is going to have to wait until after the Persephone book. I'm not sure if it's YA... well, technically I'm not sure if any of my books are YA, but I guess what I mean is I don't know if it is something my agent would want to submit to MTV Books or not. It alternates between a 17 year old girl on the run with her mentally ill best friend and her mom, who is the bartender character and possibly the mom's best friend, who is the mom of the mentally ill character....

Anyway, I'm struggling to focus on just one book even though I know I should be focusing on Persephone. (Well, I should be focusing on the anthology story first and then Persephone.) I'm hoping that a week long vacation of no work, just reading, journaling random thoughts as they come, and mostly relaxing with friends will clear my head and then when I come back I can get focused and write!

However my other big issue is time management. I still haven't mastered it since IWBYJR came out and I've had to juggle promo along with writing. I tried to create more writing time by quitting the 8:30 to 5 job for bartending, cutting my outside work time in half, but I still seem to get lost in doing promo, answering email and twitter, facebook, etc. I feel like my computer totally gives me ADD because there are so many different things I can be doing. I start one thing, then move on to something else before finishing, and then before I know it I am wasting time on facebook instead of working. Sigh. Kind of like how it has taken me an hour to write this blog and yet I still haven't gotten around to paying all my bills which was my original point to coming online. Ugh! So once I get home from vacation, I need to carefully carve out online time and writing time. 

I do really well when I'm on deadline, but when I'm not.... I don't know I guess I'm just naturally a binge writer. I learned those habits in grad school because I was working two jobs and I would reserve a day or two a week where I would just binge write all day, but the rest of the week I wouldn't be writing. Now I binge during deadline times and am not nearly as productive other times.  I think structure is key for me, but I will happily take any time management tips (esp from other writers) if you've got them!

I really wish I could write full-time. I think that would help... But then I don't know. I do love working at the Beacon. I think writing full-time for me would mean still having one shift a week at the Beacon just for fun. But now it's not just about fun, it's about paying the bills, which means while most of my brain is devoted to writing, part of it is also devoted to bringing more business to the Beacon. Not like icky frat boy/sorority girl/amateur drinker type business, just more of the same kind of customers we have. I love the Beacon because it's a neighborhood bar. It draws in a wide range of people. I have a ton of intelligent conversation at the Beacon with people I would not normally cross paths with. There is also drunken hilarity. But anyway, so I'm constantly brainstorming about how to make it an even more fun place and draw in new folk who will enjoy it. Like I've been trying to do this trivia night thing on Sundays, which is not really off the ground yet, but I have high hopes for summer. And I've been inventing new drinks and shots. And I created a facebook group for the bar, so we can communicate our events and specials to our patrons. One of the regulars posted this awesome video that BethEllen put together that shows the Beacon. It's been making me smile today and I thought I'd share it for those of you who are curious what this bar I speak of so often looks like. I'm not in the vid. I wasn't bartending during the time it was taken. Maybe we can do another one this summer :)

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