Scribbles and thoughts ...

These are ramblings from J L Wilson, published author of romantic suspense, mystery, and paranormal -time travel fiction....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Packing and Publishing: They're So Much the Same!

I am packing for a move to a new home, 250 miles away. I've got a month or two to get packed, and I've already begun the Big Weed-Out, so I'm not too stressed about getting packed. But I figured I'd get a jump on it over Memorial Day weekend. My move will be bookended by holidays: start packing on Memorial Day and hopefully finish unpacking and be settled by Labor Day.

The best laid plans ... well, we can hope.

As I've been getting rid of Stuff and packing things away, I've discovered that the true test of whether or not to keep an item is when I ask myself, "Do I want to unpack this? Do I know where it will go?" If the answer is "yes" then it gets packed. If I don't know where I'll put it, I set the item aside and consider it for later. If I ask the question a second time and the answer is still 'no', then it goes in the Giveaway Pile.

Writing is like that, too, isn't it? If you write a scene or chapter and it just doesn't feel right, ask yourself: does the book need this scene? Can my book continue on quite happily without it? Do I want to add it to my book and 'unpack it' -- find a place for it? If the answer is "yes" then keep the scene. If the answer is no, tuck that chapter or scene into a file and save it for later. It may come in handy some other day.

Another thing I've discovered has to do with padding. I'm a sparse packer. I don't use a lot packing peanuts or paper. I tend to wrap fragile items in sweaters or clothing and hope for the best. I don't have a lot of really Prized Possessions. I have affection for many things, but if something gets broken, well, I'll probably be peeved then I'll figure out a replacement or do without.

Sort of like in writing, right? If you find yourself padding a scene or a chapter because it's not quite long enough or not 'right', then look at it and see what you can do without. Do you have a lot of peanuts surrounding the action ("peanuts", not ... well, you know!)? Are you treating your characters as though they're so precious they can't be allowed to stand on their own? Knock them down a bit, bounce them around, force them to act without your text holding them up. See who survives and who doesn't. They'll come out stronger for it, I can guarantee.

And lastly, pacing. I've moved a lot in my life (at last count, about 25 times in 40 years). I like to dig in and get a bunch of packing done 'ahead of time' because I know as we approach our move date something will go wrong -- or right -- and those best laid plans will go awry. Maybe our closing date will move up a few days. Maybe I'll have a new deadline at work (yes, I am still working full-time while writing and packing). Maybe the movers will need to accelerate the loading date. Maybe ... so I started a bit early, knowing that if I pack 2-4 boxes a day, I'll probably have a nice cushion of time in which I can 'relax' (yeah, right. Relax during a move to a new state? Dream on!)

Pacing is important in your writing life, too. There are times when you need to write and times when it's best to just take a bit of a break. Pace yourself. Dig in, work a bit on it every day (even if it's just some editing or a few tweaks here and there, the packing equivalent of 'I'll pack the coat closet today'). If you give it some of your effort every day, it will get done and you won't have that panicked feeling as you look at the calendar and realize how much time has passed. Set a goal and aim for it.

And hope that the best laid plans do not go awry!

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