The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Month: October, 2012

Yes! This is just what I needed to read. I am doing a final edit of my first novel, and although it has gone through extensive rewrites, this is the last one before I release it out to the world. My fears were keeping me from starting – but now that I have been working on it for a few hours again, I see that things aren’t as bad as I imagined. I think I will share your post with my high school English class — the majority of my students hate to rewrite, but it might help if they read your comments about how it’s a different process. 🙂


Self Publishing Requires Self Confidence

Hellp.  Ha, I meant to write Hello, but maybe hellp is better.  It more accurately reflects how I feel right now.  I have been putting off blogging because I was asked some questions about self publishing, I told people to follow my blog, ( I have no idea whether they did or not) and now I feel obligated to sound like an expert and write things that will help people.

But here’s the thing, I’m not an expert – I’m going in fairly blind here, and I don’t know what I’m doing at all.  But I’m determined that this is going to happen.  This book – Someotherville, which I do love and which so many of my friends and family (and a few strangers) have financially backed through Kickstarter – is going to come out.  And that’s that.  So I guess it’s time to stop stewing and get on with what needs doing.

I should receive the funds from Kickstarter on Monday.  That means that I can go ahead  and purchase ISBNs and once I have an ISBN, I can officially get permission to reprint the John Ashbery poem that I need permission for, and then I can get my galleys printed and send out advance copies to reviewers.

I should also write a press release to say that my kickstarter campaign was successful and that I’m gearing up to publish the week before Valentine’s day.  And I should start writing to local bookstores explaining that this is coming out, and that I’d be more than happy to come out and do a reading.  Oh, and I should write a letter to Minnesota Atheists thanking them for their support in putting my information in their weekly newsletter, and I should also write to spinning and weaving guilds to let them know that they might be interested in the controlling metaphor of the book.

When I write it out like that, it seems simple enough.  Easy, really.  No problem.  No reason to be absolutely terrified, right?

That’s what I keep telling myself.  🙂  Ok.  Brave face.  Time to be bold.

Thanks for reading – if I write any more right now, it will just be a way to procrastinate.  🙂 S

My Novel Writing Process

I am surprised at how many people have asked me about the writing process and how I decided to use Kickstarter to fund my project.

As far as the writing process, I would first say that I don’t always relate to what people call ‘the writing process.’ I feel like I have many processes that are happening all of the time.  But specifically for my first novel, Someotherville, my path definitely didn’t follow what many people would recommend as a ‘writing process.’

First of all, I was not planning to write a novel when this idea came to me.  I had talked about writing a novel when I was younger, and I had experience writing a lot of short pieces & I thought, somewhere in the back of my head, that I would like to write a novel some day, but I didn’t really know what that meant. 

In fact, I started a novel when I was in my 20’s – it was called “Slice of Life, a Novel.”  The cover, which was hand-drawn, had a slice of pizza on it.  I wrote a lot, and I was trying to have a stream of consciousness character.  It quickly turned into me journaling, but a little on the cutsie side, and it never felt as though it was a novel.  So that fell to the wayside.

In the intervening years, I had the thought that “someday” I would write a novel and when people said the cliche that “everyone has a novel in them,” I hoped that it was true.

But writing a novel was really something that only existed in dreamland, and it didn’t seem that it would ever be a reality.  So when I was lying in bed one evening and I had a conversation with my husband that led to the initial idea, I said, “would you mind if I wrote a story about a guy who never finishes the novels he’s writing?” and he said “write whatever you want.”  (Which I would have anyway.)  Then I started writing.  I had written about 5 pages before I thought to myself, this could really be something longer.  This could be a novel.

I wouldn’t say that I gave much thought to structure.  I was much more concerned about creating the stories as I went along.  I think that’s probably why this is a very straightforward, linear novel – with the exception of the story-within-a-story elements.  But the narrative frame is straightforward. 

The process for my next novel has been a lot different.  I have spent a lot of time researching different periods of history and different links to Minnesota, because the whole thing is going to be intertwining the stories of a woman and two of her female ancestors.  Because there are different time periods, I have had to think about how I will be able to back and forth between the main story lines, and that has made me think about how to structure the novel overall.  It’s a much different process.  For this one, I actually took an idea that I have seen in movies about writers – which is, that I took index cards and used them to organize the book.

Now, mind you, I had no idea of what to write on these index cards when I started.  I just knew that I had three main storylines, and that I wanted them to intertwine.  There are also short scenes about modern artists that I also wanted to work in.

So I went through what I had written so far, which was probably about 60 pages, and I basically gave each main event or ‘scene’ a brief title so I would know what it was.  It was short titles that I won’t (likely) use in the book – things like “Imogene terrorizes london” and “Suzie fights with Trevor” – nothing to difficult to come up with, but enough detail so that I remember what I meant.

Then I taped the index cards to the wall.  I put all of the Suzie cards in one row, all of the Imogene cards in another, all of Margaret’s in a third, with a fourth row for the artists that Suzie either meets or reads about.  Finally, I looked at the whole thing and numbered the scenes on the wall, pretty much going down the columns, sometimes combining scenes and sometimes adding extra scenes.

So everything that I have so far is written is organized.  Now whether that will translate into a good reading experience remains to be seen, and I’m sure that I will need to make adjustments. 


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