Yesterday I was feeling pleased about how well my scheduled week of work was going. Today, not so much. Okay, not at all. For starters, I woke up completely exhausted (Tuesday night, I just couldn’t get to sleep. Wednesday night, Trixie woke me up in the wee hours needing to go out. This morning she had a hacking attack that woke me up) which left me kind of glazed when I started work. Then we had to make an appointment for Trixie with the vet this afternoon (some poop problems) so I knew I wouldn’t make a full 40 hours. And then after being good most of the week, Plushie started getting obstreperous (climbing things and barking again) which shredded my chain of thought. So I stopped late morning and began working on various tasks that I hadn’t done this week (checking on contractors, some pet health insurance questions, etc.)
Now as to the stuff I did get done:
I’m still replotting Southern Discomforts and it seems to be going well (I’ll only know for sure after I start the next draft). Most of the work this week was spent on characters:what they want, what the obstacles to getting it are, how to make it more stressful. I charted out individual arcs for the key characters, and one for the town of Pharisee itself—the community plays an important part in the story so I need to give it its own arc. I also considered several possible big changes:
•Dropping my protagonist Maria. It won’t help, though. While Joan Slattery has a more personal tie to everything, she’s not going to take up arms and investigate the murder that starts the book—she’d have to be drawn into it the way Maria was.
•Start in 1970 or 1971 instead of 1973. Maria is a Vietnam nurse turned anti-war activist turned radical terrorist (no murders, just blowing shit up good). If I start the story a couple of years earlier, I could have her be in Pharisee right after her crimes, hiding from the cops. That makes her look more suspicious, and puts in more of a vise. However it also means I give up FBI Agent Cohen (no female feds until 1972) and I like Cohen.
•Have Maria get on the bus by blind chance. My original concept is that she’s friends with Carl Slattery and accompanies him down to his hometown for Aubric McAlister’s funeral. But even if she has good, pressing reasons to get out of town, I think that makes it a little too easy and laid back. If she’s just running away and grabbed a ticket for the first available bus, then winds up in the weirdness of Pharisee, it’s got more potential. For the moment I’m going with that.
In other writing activity, I sent out three stories, got one back immediately. I finished another draft of Schloss and the Switchblade, redrafted another story and about half a redraft of Button, Button.
Up until today, I seem to be keeping up with the new schedule okay, though afternoons, as I said last week, are definitely my weakest time. So far I have no work-around for that. I did put in one evening of work, and that went well (at the end of a day of writing, more writing isn’t always productive). I am definitely underperforming as far as nonfiction query letters. It’s hard to get into the groove as I don’t have much success with them, and unlike short stories, it’s not like I can show off or self-publish a letter like an unpublished story.
I also got minor goals accomplished during the week such as getting an X-ray (nothing serious), dealing with a contractor and getting a haircut.
As keeping up requires lots of tight time management, I made it a point last weekend to have lots of relaxing and fun. Hopefully this weekend I’ll do it again.