Novel Finished. Barely. What’s next?

Sometimes writing takes a backseat to life. How dare it! Cutting into my writing time with family and barbecues and travel and house repairs and … You get the picture. And it’s all good, all the time. But even when I’m in the midst of enjoying some time away from writing, the bug to scratch out a few words and ideas is never far away. After all, I have been hopelessly bitten by the creative parasite which has been replacing my blood with writing ideas for the past ten years.

Even in the midst of a busy time in life, I was still able to finish my novel this summer, which was, at the very least, the baseline goal I was shooting for. My earlier summer-self had hoped to write two novels this summer. Well, I was fortunate to get one done.

Novel #9 – currently titled MOSES THE SINGER. It is set in Penang, Malaysia and involves a group of teen musicians and a homeless illegal immigrant. Of the five main characters in the novel, four are teens aged 16-18, so I will be marketing it as my first ever YA novel. As with all of my novels, I wonder how it is. What will people think? Will it be interesting? Gripping? Moving? Will readers have as much fun reading it as I had writing it? I suppose these are questions every writer grapples with.  The reality is, no matter how long one has been writing, these questions don’t go away, but I can never let them define how I move forward with a story. One has to be committed to the story and push the story from all angles in a relentless pursuit of making it the very best possible.

This is what I’ll be doing the next few months: revising. I will be completing a couple more drafts of the novel before passing it on to some beta readers for the frightening feedback.

This fall, I will also be pushing my plays as much as possible in hopes of finding a theatre which will produce one of them. I do have a short play hitting the stage in Penang this November.

On top of this, I’ll be directing Suessical The Musical for an international school, and I have another show called DUETS which will hit the stage in late October.

It’s going to be crazy busy, but that’s the way I like it. Except for the fact that my writing time will continue to be limited. Keep moving forward. That’s the only thing to be done.

A Writer on Pause No More

I’m a writer.

But it’s not what buys the bread and puts kids through college. For that, I am also a teacher.

But the best part of being a teacher and writer is, of course, summer. Summer is when I can hit the resume button and become a full-time writer again. I am at that blissful part of my year as I currently write this. Writing happiness has returned once again.

I’ve had the most wonderful writing routine the past three days, and it looks sustainable for the next month or so. I carve out of my day about three hours to sit alone with my laptop, immersed in my thoughts, and punch out as much coherent dialogue and description that I can during that time frame. Then I pack it up, get back to family time, cook some dinner, and ponder where my next writing episode the following day will take me.

Three hours is typically the maximum amount of time that I can concentrate on writing. Sometimes only two depending on how the chapter is coming together. By the time I reach the two or three hour mark, I’m ready for a break. I need to allow what I have written to sink in my brain and make sure it is exactly where I want to take the story. I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself. Three steps forward. The next day, I’ll backtrack and re-read what I wrote. Edit and revise. Check and double-check, and then plow on to the next chapter or segment. When I get to do this this everyday for two or three hours, I can make a lot of headway, and within a month, I can have a solid outline for a complete novel.

I’m currently working on book 2 of my first trilogy. I’m already over the 42,000 word mark while cruising into the latter half of the book. I’m having a blast with this story and can’t wait to see where it will take me.

A summer where the pause button is no more. The pedal is to the metal. Full speed ahead. It’s exciting. Stay tuned.

How about you? How do you carve out time for writing?

8 Ideas, 15 Minutes (The Sad Reality of No Time)

Our school is having some meetings coming up at the end of the month, and I’ve been asked to write up some skits, and find some actors who would perform short pieces for each one which illustrate different life lessons.

I’m always happy to do so, and now I even have a creative writing group which meets once a week to help me with the task. We will need 6 skits, and my group meeting is tomorrow, so I decided that I should take a few minutes and get down a couple ideas to get our brainstorming session off in the right direction.

Well, 15 minutes later, I have already detailed out 8 different skit ideas. I could probably have 8 more in the next 15 if I wanted to continue, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I think we will already have enough to work with.

I’ve been in a wonderfully creative spot these last few years. Ideas tend to jump out at me at all moments, and, thus, the sadness of this reality weighs heavily upon me: I simply do not have enough time to explore all my ideas. Life and work seem to stand in the way.

What would I be able to accomplish if I had nothing to do all day but writing and planning writing? I know what I can accomplish when I have a week like that. Vacation time is incredibly productive for me. Imagine if I had 52 weeks of vacation. I’m pretty sure my keyboard would need to be replaced.

This could be kind of depressing, but I can’t let myself think that way. I will choose to believe that my brain is working at its creative best exactly because of the current environment I’m working in. I get to interact with lots of young people. That keeps my brain young, right? I get to discuss and wrestle with many different important issues which can only help further my ideas, right? And when I do have time to write, I’m ready and focused to get as much done as possible. So, perhaps it’s best that I don’t have any additional time.

Although I wouldn’t mind trying the 52 week vacation at some point to see if my creative juices truly have no end. What if they didn’t? That possibility is what always gets me excited.