Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Much-Needed Update and Looking Ahead to 2012

Hello readers! It has been a long ass time since I updated the ole blog. Much has happened, and I have updates to share. I hate that so much time has lapsed between entries. But as I've said before, working on my writing must come before blogging for me. Still, one of my resolutions for 2012 is to get back to blogging more regularly -- even if it's once a week. Even if it's just a weekly check-in and not book- or YA-related.

Belated news item #1 - I finished my first draft! I actually finished it on December 4th. It took me 4 months to complete, which was a little longer than I wanted, but still an acceptable amount of time. And it's done! But now comes the hard part, the part that separates the real writers from the wannabes: revisions. I've had a problem in the past with starting projects, completing first and second drafts, and then abandoning them. I refuse to let that happen with this manuscript.

Belated news item #2 - I'm working on a new project for this month only, a script. It fell into my lap unexpectedly. I can't reveal too much, but said project needs to be completed by the New Year. I'm writing the script now. It's amazing to think I only heard a vague idea for this project after Thanksgiving, and now I'm banging out a first draft. I usually never work that fast, and I'm proud of myself for hitting all previous deadlines thus far.

Writing Year in Review
A problem I keep having is when I look back, I see I've written a lot, but I have no material to show for it. 2011 had that same problem. The first half of the year was spent working on a second draft of a WIP that I soon aborted. I was trying to write something to get published rather than write something I loved. Also, my revision process was staggered and ultimately ill-conceived. I was having my writers group read 1-2 chapters/month, per our guidelines. Get critiqued in piecemeal did not work.

I decided to break one of my rules, succumb to Sexy New Idea syndrome, and look into starting a new WIP that I was passionate about, that I believed could show off my voice. And so far, so good. I began brainstorming the idea in late-May/June, worked on an outline in June/July, and began writing in August. I believe in this project, and unlike the others, I want to see it through to the end.

This year, I also started my blog and twitter feed (@FillupSeagull), and despite some gaps, I have kept it going and met lots of kind, supportive, talented writers.

So, at the end of 2011, I don't have a polished manuscript or screenplay to show around, but I remain optimistic for 2012. And this time, I'm learning from my mistakes.

2012 Resolutions

#1 - See It Through: I want to see through every WIP I start, specifically my new book. No more ditching projects after draft 1 or 2. I want a finished product. I will see this book through. I'm already taking action. After critiquing the beginning chapters by piecemeal for a few months, I'm having my writer's group read the entire novel over the holidays, and they are coming back with notes in mid-January. I won't have to sit idly and wait months for them to read the whole thing. I can take their feedback and get started on draft 2. I am limiting the number of writing projects to attempt this year down to two: this novel and a screenplay idea. In years past, I resolved to finished four different projects, and that never happened. I will focus on these two and see them through to finished products.

#2 - Get My Work Out There: For all the writing I've done over the years, I've barely shown my work to others. I kept telling myself that it wasn't good enough yet, that I needed to do another draft to get it to professional quality. I was holding myself back, paralyzed by fear, by so many articles telling aspiring writers to get their work absolutely 100% perfect before sending it out. Those articles were correct -- your work should be as good as you can make it -- but you shouldn't fixate so much that you never send anything out. I gave my writer's group a first draft to read, something I never would have done before! In the past, I would've held back, claiming that I'll complete a second draft -- work out all the major kinks -- before submitting to group. But who knows how long that would've taken, and frankly, who knows if I would've even completed draft 2?

I have also never queried an agent. Again, I kept telling myself that my work wasn't ready yet. And maybe it wasn't. But I should let other people tell me that sometimes. Rejection is part of the writing life, and it should be embraced. And who knows -- an agent may even like my work.

Besides completing the book, I want to get back to writing screenplays. I miss it. I stopped writing scripts once I moved to Chicago, convinced that a screenplay is impossible to sell when you don't live in LA. It is nearly impossible, but there are lots of contests I can enter. I've already found a few contests, including one right here in Chicago, where I can submit my as-yet-unwritten script. And again, who knows where this could lead. Writers must always be cautiously optimistic.

All in all, 2011 was a good year for me. I rekindled my passion for writing, and I'm excited about my goals for next year. By this time next year, I want to have queried/submitted a finished book/script while maintaining a normal schedule for my blog. I think that sounds reasonable. Do you, loyal readers?


  1. Hey Phil, good to see you. It sounds like you've thought long and hard about what does and doesn't work for you. Here's to a successful 2012 :-)

  2. Best of luck to you Phil. I expect to hear some great things from you in 2012.

  3. Great goals! HUGE luck to you, and as a fellow blog neglecter, all that matters is that you start again :)

  4. Keep going, Phil! It's nice to read an up-date of your writing life!

  5. Nice to have you back in the blogosphere. It's hard to balance writing and blogging. Congrats on all you accomplished in 2011. I hope you reach your goals in 2012!

    Happy New Year, Phil!

  6. How exciting, working on a new script idea! And following through, forcing yourself to work through your fears ... that's a huge part of the journey. And there is a definitely a point where chapter-by-chapter critiques do not work - they are a fine way to get going, to work on craft, but after a first or second draft, you need to do whole-MS crit swaps (at least I did, and they work fantastically for me). They're also good for motivating through that next draft, to get it DONE (like you want to!).

    Good luck, fellow Chicago writer, with all your goals!! :)