OMG, Is That a Spreadsheet?

Wasn’t I just talking about becoming more organized and that my revision outline was a good start?

Not easy to decipher. Took a picture of my monitor.
Not easy to decipher. Took a picture of my monitor.

After Monday’s post, I began revising per said outline. Unfortunately, yesterday I experienced a mini-mental blowout when I arrived at this question: Move Chapter 14 back so that right before Chapter 17?

Because I’m not organized enough to have a chapter-by-chapter spreadsheet–the global view, you might say–I began flipping through the hard copy, ever more distracted by the marginalia (Wait, did I fix that comment? Really?) not to mention befuddled.

Lo, after an hour of this, a revelation came upon me like a bossy pointing finger and voice descending from the clouds. Thou shalt use an Excel spreadsheet. Thou shalt list each chapter in organized fashion. 

Oh man.

But. Remember I mentioned that I received a spreadsheet from my day-job boss? Hmm…And I may or may not have mentioned novelist DeAnna Cameron’s discussion about spreadsheets just last month. (I left a comment or two on her blog because I was fascinated by her organizational prowess.) Hmm…

So, using the spiffy spreadsheet on hand and stealing DeAnna’s column headers, I came up with what you see here. Cool—and colorful too! It’s my miracle for the week. And, guess what? Laid out tidy like that, it’s too obvious that, of course, Chapter 14 must be moved back two chapters. Duh.

I like spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are good.

Friday ‘Fess Up + Four = Friday Five #2

(What is this? A combination of two Friday memes: the literate kitten’s invitation to ‘fess up to our crimes and misdemeanors against our writing efforts and a “friday five,” in which we list five random things about our week…)


1. ‘Fessing up: I had an excellent writing day, and now I deserve to play in the long-awaited warmth and sunshine.

Yesterday I wrote six pages; today also. But yesterday was only a good writing day relative to today’s excellent writing day. What makes the difference? Flow. Just flow. Today the words fell out relatively easily (it’s only a little after noon!), whereas yesteday I spent a semi-tortured day at my desk. I didn’t complete my pages until 3:30 p.m. 

Today was fun for the writing because I have a character, Malcolm, who is such a wad. I love writing his scenes. I managed 21 new pages this week.

2. Follow-up on yesterday’s mood: An excellent writing day always helps, doesn’t it? Plus, getting out of the house with friends last night. Plus, the kind comments I received. Plus, a new day. I can still hear the low-grade muttering as I write this — no doubting that — but the sun is also shining.

Besides laying down sentences, I’m still wondering what else I can do to help myself, something concrete that will give me a sense that I’m moving forward…

3. About forgetfulness: This week I was in a pretty good fictional space, and as a result I kept forgetting to buy a new stick of deoderant. No, I’m not stinky; what I am, is a woman hand-rubbing deoderant crumbs against her skin. Never fails, I realize I’ve reached the end of my deoderant when the last bit falls out of the tube and breaks into pieces on the counter. Usually, I’m quicker to buy a new stick, however.

4. Something that maddened me: Overheard at a cafe, a women mourning the fact that her parents, who worked long and hard to retire early, were forced back to work (in their early 60s!) because they could no longer afford their health insurance premiums. ‘Nuff said.

5. Photo of the week: I suppose I am doing something concrete besides the writing itself. That’s my bulletin board and that’s my repository for all self-promotion, publicity, and marketing ideas I come across. Ready for when the time comes (there she is, my inner cheerleader)!

Speaking of self-promotion, DeAnna Cameron’s latest how-did-you-find-your-audience interview mentioned something especially interesting. Dora Levy Mossanen, the interviewee, started connecting with booksellers and freelance publicity folks before her first novel sold. My inquiring mind wants to know: How do you approach booksellers under those circumstances? I’m thinking she might have some natural networking skills…

Friday ‘Fess Up + Four = Friday Five

I’m combining two Friday memes that seem to be going around (but not like a virus). First, the literate kitten’s invitation to ‘fess up to our crimes and misdemeanors against our writing efforts and then a “friday five,” in which we list five random things about our week, about anything. I like both ideas, so I’m combining them…

1.  ‘Fessing up: Ideally, my writing work-week begins on Monday. This week Monday was once again my Sunday. I don’t know why, but Monday often turns out to be the one day of the week that’s truly mine and truly free (except for the fact that I’m supposed to be writing, of course).

Also, I’ve finally discovered the fun of participating in the blogosphere with a blogroll, comments, and so on. YIKES! Blogging: procrastination, time sink, distraction! The fact that I know what the word “meme” means frightens me. I must take care — this week got a little out of hand.

Two new scenes written; one of them felt particularly good.

2. Self-promotion has been on my mind lately. I recommend the how-did-you-find-your-audience? series of author interviews on debuting novelist (2009) DeAnna Cameron’s blog. Worthwhile reading.

3. A strange thing happened at my mom’s house. I happened to pop in while an arborist was trimming the trees. This arborist was a delicate women who spoke with a breathy Jackie-O voice and wore her cumbersome tool belt gracefully. I swear that her gaze quickened when my mom mentioned my writing. “Oh, you’re a writer?” she said. I could see it in her eye — suddenly I was interesting. Seems she writes also (go figure). She asked me for advice about how to transition from short story to novel. I bumbled my way through an answer, which was based on my personal experience, and she actually thanked me as if what I had said came out of an “expert” place, like I knew what I was talking about or something. Frankly, I felt weird. To some folks, I might be considered an expert?

2. Started reading The Gathering by Anne Enright. OOh, baby, I can already tell this novel is going to be one of the stand-outs on my 2008 reading list. Starts out, I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen, and continues on fascinating me with its stark yet lush voice. Technique-wise, the way she circles around the unknown event is masterful in its non-linearity.

5. Photo of the week as shown above: One of the many reasons why I love Italy (Siena). It’s probably too much to ask that he’s got a novel tucked away in his backpack, isn’t it?