Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Am Jealous of Your Deadlines

A recent entry at the 32 Poems blog has a long list of poetry contests with deadlines in October and November.

Seeing lists of poetry contests makes me feel anxious. I feel like I'm a complete slacker, like I should be capable of juggling the thousand things that everyone else seems to be doing.

Maybe deadlines make me feel anxious.

I have to remind myself that priorities that I decide on are mine, and I don't need to feel guilty or feel like I'm missing out on something just because I choose to prioritize other things. It lists 14 prizes, and according to the fees listed, it would cost $305 to enter them all. Surely most people submitting would not enter them all either. They make their choices and prioritize where their time, money, and effort will go.

National Novel Writing Month is in November. The challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days is something I enjoy, and I have said that I want to do it again this year. I have seen some people are doing a 20 page poetry challenge in November. Also, a fun idea, though I think I like better the weekly "Poetry Postcard" challenge I did last year. It takes a longer period of dedication, but at the end of it you get 52 drafts.

I do not have a full book manuscript I am satisfied with enough to send out. I have a chapbook manuscript, but not a full length book. It is certainly possible for me to edit one, and I should absolutely take the time to do so, but that is a longer project than an afternoon's work.

Also, my husband and I are newlyweds. I need to concentrate on settling into a normal household routine that will be good for our relationship, after things got all crazy from planning a wedding for the last 10 months. Not to mention, I have a list of half a hundred things that I wanted to do but kept putting off because I couldn't take on a new project. Most of these, like setting up a small office in our guest bedroom (formerly "the wedding room") and brewing some beer, require a certain outlay of money and also the time, energy, and concentration to actually get it done. We moved into our house last September, and I feel like we barely got settled before the wedding stuff happened. Let's have some nice, normal "nesting."

I need a creative project. My brain needs it, my soul needs it. And I don't need a dozen creative projects--I just finished doing that with all the wedding foo. Let me just be selfish and self-absorbed for 30 days and write a fun, ridiculous novel. In December, I can do things like reorder my manuscript and replace all of the ancient faucets in the house.

So, I know I am probably missing a hundred deadlines by not submitting a single thing in November. The editors will have to pick a wonderful manuscript that's not mine. I need to set my own priorities for my projects, and as aware as I am of the "opportunity cost" of my choices, I can't feel guilty about them.

What is your project or projects for November? Are you giving up anything to do them?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo and Other Projects

The wedding is over, thank goodness. I am infinitely relieved not to have to go through any more planning or buying things to please other people. No matter how much I complain about the DJ or certain other vendors that didn't live up to their promises, the only thing that absolutely had to happen on that day did--we got married. I'm still inclined to wish for a week I could do nothing but sleep, although I'm finding we're nearly as busy now in the weeks after the wedding as we were in the month leading up to it.

Also, I can't quite believe that I didn't post at all on this blog in the month of September. I believe that I intended to on various days, but there were other things that had to get accomplished, and so something had to give. On the one hand I'm exhausted from dealing with all of the deadlines, and on the other I would really like to do some creative things... even if now I'm prioritizing relaxing.

It's somehow surprising, but it is already October 26, just 6 days away from the start of National Novel Writing Month. I have that project pinned up as something I would like to get to, but as of now I have no idea about what sort of idea I would like to use. I also know that I need to do a certain amount of planning (chapter outline, main characters and conflicts, a list of names) or I won't get very far. I've read some enjoyable books lately, so perhaps I will start with what I liked about them and use that as a foundation.

One project I think would be interesting would be if several people put together an outline with a set of main characters and central conflict, then each person took off with their novel separately. Let's say we had a guy named Bob Stickney. One day his dog Bender gets run over by a car, his girlfriend Beth Ann leaves him, and he wins $100,000 in the lottery. It would be really interesting to see how the main characters changed, what plot twists developed, and what minor characters sprung up. Of course, I'd need at least one other person who would be willing to tackle this. What do you think? Anyone interested?