Focus

*Tap tap tap* Is this thing on? It is? Oh, good.

Has it really been two weeks since I posted something? I’d like to say that it’s because I’ve been fantastically productive, but that would be a big ol’ lie. (I did have an idea for a story this morning, though, that I might work on later, after I’ve done all the other things that are on the list before it.)

About that list…. I have eleventy million things to do in the next couple weeks and not nearly enough time to do them all. For starters, there’s the reading at Left Bank Books next week, and I need to decide which part of The Unwanted I’m going to read. I’m thinking chapter one and then a bloody bit from the middle, which will make no one ever want to go down into a school basement ever again. (Of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer already did that for me.)

And then, after that, I start leading a YA workshop in the continuing education program at St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus, which as you can imagine has me nervous as well. I’m working on my lesson plan at the moment and putting in order all the things I want to talk about, the writing prompts I’m planning to use, and the exercises I’m going to assign. I’m also reading a lot more YA, obviously. I just started reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and next on deck is My Most Excellent Year.

And then (because, yes, there’s more) I’ve got the GRNW meetup in Seattle followed by a reading at Orca Books in Olympia, which means my parents will get to hear me read for the first time. Luckily, I think I’ll be able to read the same excerpt from The Unwanted at that event as I do at Left Bank.

For someone who’s still “funemployed!”®, I sure seem to have a lot on my plate. I’d say I’m taking October off, but then I’ll be leading a short story workshop at the community college. No rest for the wicked.

And that’s all in addition to, you guessed it, the next book, which is a sequel to The Unwanted. (Well, there is an idea for yet another novel, but that’s completely different.) Instead of flying by the seat of my pants, which is my usual mode of operation when I write, I’m actually planning out the scenes I’m going to write from more or less the beginning. I have a few thousand words written already, but that’s mostly been me writing my way into the story. I’ve also started rereading The Odyssey (I say “reread” though I can’t be sure if I’ve ever read it before, actually; I know I read The Iliad in middle school or high school, but so far The Odyssey is sounding familiar only in so much as everyone knows what the story is about), mainly because I’m picturing this one from the beginning as a journey, though the destination, unlike in Odysseus’s case, may not be clear from the outset.

And that’s what I’m working on. How are you?

9 thoughts on “Focus

  1. Okay, I have a question, you said that you were going to write more or less from the beginning? How do you typically right. J have a notebook about Emily, where I will write a snippet or a scene or something… is that where you start?

    Marika

    • What I meant was that I’m trying to plan it out from the outset. Usually, what I do is just start writing, go for about fifty pages or so, then stop and figure out where I’m going. This time, I’m… not exactly outlining, so much as writing up a list of scenes that I see taking place and what needs to happen in each one and how it moves the story or the character forward. At this point, I’m listing them on paper in a notebook, but it’ll eventually get transcribed into a master document in Scrivener.

      • I am terrified of outlining… I have no idea as to why. I just can’t bring myself to do it, although I do think that in many ways it would help me. let me knows how it goes.

      • I’ll keep you posted! I’ve never done a strict outline like I did back in high school; you know, where it’s all “I. A. 1. a.” etc. My past outlines have been mostly chapter summary, and even as I went along, I altered things so much that I had to revise the outline. Sometimes, you make the map and then realize you’re taking a different route. Don’t let it scare you!

    • Happy to share the reading list! It’s more a “recommended” or “for further reading” list, as the class is only four sessions once a week. I’m hoping to talk about The Hunger Games, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Two Boys Kissing, but I’m keeping our options open in case participants want to spend more time workshopping their own pieces.

      (I should note that I haven’t read every book on this list, only about 60%. For recommendations, I polled my colleagues who are also YA-versed or have taught YA classes themselves as well.)

      For further reading:
      To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
      The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
      Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret, Judy Blume
      Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
      Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan
      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
      Shine, Lauren Myracle
      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
      Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz
      The Age of Miracles, Karen Thompson Walker
      Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron
      Call Me By My Name, John Ed Bradley
      The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
      Adaptation, Malinda Lo
      The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, Holly Black
      The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

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