Subscribe to Jessica's exclusive newsletter

Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter

* indicates required

Monday, October 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo and Things To Do

NaNoWriMo is about to come roaring down the highway at us. At least it doesn't sneak up.

These are the items I need to get done in November, in no particular order:

1. Write 1,667 words per day of The Seven Noble Knights of Lara as an unofficial NaNoWriMo. If I don't make a really big push now, the project could languish for a few more years, and no one wants that. 1,667 words a day is a lot for me, and I'll probably have to rigidly schedule a time to sit down and do it until it's done. I've resisted rigid schedules because I now have so many demands on my time, with priorities that change more often than I'm used to.

2. Fireship Press: Acquisition work. At a meeting this week, the new COO said we needed to shift acquisitions to someone with fewer qualifications than me so I could get back to higher-level editing. The thing is, I love acquisition work! Deciding whether a piece has what it takes to make us request a full MS, and then deciding how much editing the full MS would require before it was ready for publication can be the most thrilling part of the entire publishing process. So far, if I've had a hand in approving a book, it's then been assigned to me for the aforementioned high-level editing, and it's tremendously satisfying to take a book all the way through, from MS to the exit gate. Acquisitions is probably the least time-consuming of all the tasks here, but it does mean that much less time to do everything else.

3. Fireship Press: Editing work. Currently, I have four books I need to pay huge amounts of attention to in order to ensure their overall quality. I prefer to do them one at a time or I'll become distracted and irritable, because I typically have intense consultations with the author in order to better understand his or her vision and shape it as changes come through. I also love this part of the process because it's where the real metamorphosis takes place. Needless to say, it's the most time-consuming aspect of my Fireship work.

4. Fireship Press: Copyediting. Exciting, higher quality standards and a severe dearth of staff mean I have to take on a lot of the tasks Tom taught me how to do, although they aren't officially in my job description. We already have a new copyediting system in place that should eliminate misuse and mistakes, but if I see a mistake myself, I can't help but correct it. Hopefully, that instinct will lessen the work load of the official copyeditors.

5. Fireship Press: Production. This includes all aspects of formatting. I don't mind this at all and would gladly keep doing if it weren't so time-consuming. Again, the company is working on offloading these tasks, but for now I either have to do it myself for the books I'm editing or work closely with the other staff members to get it done right. One important task this month is to "teach" everyone how to upload the book for the printer. Which brings me to:

6. Fireship Press: Admin. We're working most of the time from our own home bases, but meeting once a week to update each other and teach each other about all the little details no single one of us has complete control over. Yet. At these meetings I also tend to be assigned more tasks.

7. Blog. In November, I will have to reduce the blog to excerpt days on Saturdays and Sundays and the occasional book review I'm already preparing. I'd love to provide much more exciting content for you, but as you can see, I'm stretched a bit thin at the moment.

8. Açedrex Publishing. My company isn't the cash cow I was promised, but my theory is that hard work will pay off eventually. My strategy is to keep increasing the catalog with irresistibly fascinating titles. Of course, the timing is perfect (not!) and I'm now working on a couple of especially intensive projects, which I will unveil when the time is right. In the meantime, you can always help by purchasing inexpensive but high quality titles!

9. Publicity. In a perfect world, I would have the financial and time budget to promote my writing and my company. I don't need to point out that this is no perfect world.

10. Keep reading good books in order to keep gaining exposure to good writing for my own uses. I also enjoy being of some help to talented writers by putting my reviews out there.

11. Taking care of my husband. He doesn't literally need taking care of, but mainly emotional support as he works just as hard as I do, but at a job he doesn't feel drawn to, just to keep a roof over our heads. And save to get our stuff in storage back to us some day. He's easy to please: he's thrilled just to spend time with me. For that reason, I can't be working on any of these other items at the same time I'm taking care of him. No, all that other stuff has to be done when he's at work. Such "rules" help to keep me grounded. I love my work, but it's important to work to live, not live to work. Also during November is my husband's birthday. I wish I could seize the moment to show him how much he means to me, but a card and a restaurant visit will have to do.

12. Thanksgiving. We'll probably be pretty pathetic. We can't travel to be with loved ones, but at least I assume my husband will have some time off to cook a turkey breast and give thanks for all our blessings. It's a great opportunity for calm and attention.

13. Staying sane. Under this umbrella fall eight hours of sleep per night, going to my writers' group meeting, keeping a private journal, and taking a moment to cook a nice meal once in a while. Some kind of contact with my actual friends would help, too, but I guess I'll put that off until December.

If we could assign a universal effort unit to each of these tasks and total them up, I think we would be looking at several months of work. The effort I put into each task is pretty intense, with the result that I'm a slow writer and a pretty slow editor. I always want to get it right the first time, which obviously doesn't apply to the writing process. Oh, the incessant push and pull of my different instincts!

So, November will be an experiment in quantity/quality balance. Wish me luck!