well, I meant to blog about my progress in my novel over the weekend, but I got delayed—as did my progress—because I was sick. it was nothing too serious, but it was a nasty sinus-y cold that left me unable to do much besides stare at the television (I rewatched to the ends of the earth on Netflix, which I claim is research because one of my chapters takes place at sea…even though i’ve already done so much seafaring research for another project).
I did manage to put down 2,000 words over the weekend, but I was hoping for double that. ah well…there is still time to meet my goal of finishing drafting the middle six chapters of my book in time to revise them before my next deadline.
what will have to get pushed back are my revisions to my first six chapters. however, this first deadline is also the shortest since it includes the week I was at residency, so i’m okay with that.
as of right now, i’m 25% finished drafting chapter 8. chapter 7 is drafted, and it’s been critiqued by one of my cohort-mates (we did a round-robin critique over the last few days). I project that I’ll finish drafting chapter 8 on Friday, and chapter 9 on Sunday. That puts me halfway through my drafting goal for this deadline.
as for my reading list, i’ve purchased my required craft book (the art of subtext by Charles baxter) and I have two out of five of my novels I’ll be reading for this semester. i’m focusing on historical literary young adult since I think that’s where my novel will fit in, so I want to take the time to examine the craft of these books. thankfully, the plea I put out to my fellow m.f.a. peeps and some of the mentors in my program produced some great results.
first on my list is the astonishing life of Octavian nothing: traitor to the nation by m.t. Anderson. got it from the library today, started reading today, fell in love with it today.
I have until feb. 19 to finish the middle six chapters of my book.
by April 2, I have to finish the final six.
then, may 14 is my deadline for the whole book, which I estimate will be 18 chapters, around 75,000 words. at that point, I send my manuscript to my mentor and my second reader and hopefully they’ll decide it meets the requirements to pass.
after the program
my goal will be to spend the summer in heavy research revision mode. i’m doing some research now of course, but there will be plenty I don’t have time to research before my m.f.a. deadlines. this is the only difficulty with writing historical fiction.
that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of research to do with contemporary fiction because there definitely can be. but I need time to visit some more museums and research libraries. I need time to pore over primary source materials.
right now i’m focused on character and story. I wouldn’t say i’m guessing at historical details; as I said I am looking things up. however, there will be things that I don’t even know i’ve got wrong because I cannot focus on them right now.
after that, I plan to start researching some agents. if the book is ready by the end of the year, i’ll start to query. while it’s a dream of mine to be able to do so, I also won’t send out a manuscript that isn’t as strong as I can make it.
I feel good about where I am with this work. there’s still plenty to do, but that’s the fun part. for the first time in a long time, I have a sense for where this story needs to go, what my characters need to accomplish, and how i’ll get them there.
i’m certain that this has a great deal to do with the m.f.a. program i’m in, with the feedback from my mentors, other faculty members, and my fellow learners.