Monday, October 12, 2009

What I learned on my vacation

What I learned on my vacation? You can't have a six-month-long summer. I shall explain anon.
This past week was an enormous bouquet from my sister who gave me a week alone at her timeshare condo in Carlsbad, CA.

I wasn't sure whether I would uplug, but when I got there and found I'd left the laptop power cord at home I decided that was a sign.

Without blogging and Internet research, I focused on the task of revising the 100,000 words, give or take, that I had written in the first draft and rewriting of second draft of a YA fantasy. I was prepared with tips from other writers and had shrunk and printed out the manuscript. If you haven't heard of this process, you copy the file and change it to single-space, 10-pt font, which results in an easier-to-handle print version.

Then I read it through--just like a real book, oh my. I used colored post-its to mark scene changes and editing ideas. No stopping to re-write, just jot down that this scene should be deleted or that character's reaction needs to be explored or, uh-oh, I had changed the scene before and now this character is no longer in the picture (make him go away!) or whatever-happened-to-that-amulet-I- mentioned. I felt like a puppeteer controlling a stage full of marionnettes but seeing a pretty good run-through.

I also made a timeline. In the margin of the legal pad, I wrote the passage of days for the corresponding scenes written on the other side of the margin. I found myself noting an awful lot of "next day," which when tallied up led to the shocking realization I had written a six-month-long summer.
Granted, I live in California where we have a six month summer or, some may say, a year-long summer, but my story is in a fictional country where the seasons come and go. So I have some time management issues. Ha. Ha. Really, it won't be that hard to fix now that I'm aware.
My next step is to do the story map chart I learned about from the Literary Lab folks, who give great revision tips. I ran out of time to do all the revision chores I planned but I'm energized to keep the momentum going.
I did make time on this trip for pleasures, such as browsing this wonderful used book store, featuring eclectic and rare volumes.
Besides reading my own manuscript, I read two other YA books and the daily newspaper. And I indulged in "So You Think You Can Dance" and two Netflix DVDs--Sarah Connor Chronicles Season Two with that amazing opening sequence montage and Shirley Manson singing "Samson and Delilah." I confess I watched that opening several times. I also watched the delightful "Lost in Austen," in which a modern woman finds herself smack in the middle of "Pride and Prejudice." Totally funny and romantic.
And last, but way not least, I walked on the beach every day and saw amazing sunsets. And took their pictures with my cool camera phone.
I'm glad to be back, but also grateful to have had as productive and wonderful week as I did.
I missed you all, but in many ways, you were there because of the things I have learned from each of you and the way it is improving my novel-writing skill.
So, a big hello again *waves madly* and thanks.


Andrea Cremer said...

Welcome back, Tricia. Wonderful pics and what a great vacation :)

Natalie said...

Sounds like a fabulous vacation--both productive and fun!

Donna said...

Wow! You had a true writer's vacation. Thanks for sharing the photos and the rewrite ideas.

PJ Hoover said...

Everything about it sounds great! I love the productivity and all the fun!

Sarah Wylie said...

Sounds lovely! Welcome back :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*waving again* Hi Andrea, Natalie, Donna, PJ and Sarah. Yes, thank you all, it was most fun and fabulous.

Yat-Yee said...

Lovely. Glad you got to enjoy and work at the same time.

storyqueen said...

Welcome back! It is a good thing I didn't know you were in Carlsbad.....that's where I teach, just off of Tamarack. I would have totally invaded your peace and quiet!!

Love looking at your manuscript notes!


MG Higgins said...

What gorgeous photos! Good to have you back, Tricia. The blogosphere wasn't the same without you.

Yvonne Osborne said...

I've never heard of shrinking your ms that way for ease in reading. What a good idea. Then I would be able to carry it around with me without having a separate backpack! I'm still jealous of the very idea of a week alone, but it sounds like you made good use of your time. Nice pictures, as always. (love those flowers)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Yat-Yee, yes, it was great!

Shelley!!!! I totally could've met with you. I walked the beach from downtown to Tamarack every day, except for the day I walked at Swamis. I was staying on Armada near Palomar Airport road. Maybe another time. If I'm down there again, I'll send up flares!

Thanks, Melissa. It was hard being unplugged but when I saw what I accomplished it was cool.

Yvonne: It really works, making the ms about half the size. And it changes how you read, knowing that you will only make notations, not stop to rewrite. Very worthwhile.
All the pix were taken on that cell phone, again. I remain amazed.

Yvonne Osborne said...

I printed it out one time front to back for someone and punched holes in it and put it in a binder so it read like a book, and that worked pretty good. I'm in the market for a digital camera. Recommendations?

Michelle D. Argyle said...

What a gorgeous picture of the beach. I'm so impressed with that camera phone. So glad you got a lot done on your writing!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: Hmmm. I have a Konica Minolta Dimage that I bought a couple years ago because it is very lightweight and has anti-shake built in for its 12x optical zoom (I like to shoot birds, surfers--moving objects). But I suggest you go to a camera store and feel/test models, as well as look for consumer reviews to find what meets your needs.

Michelle: Thanks! That phone is becoming my buddy. And my writing plan has improved vastly with your advice.

Bish Denham said...

Wow! Lots done and it sounds like there was no stress and that you had fun. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together!

Robyn Campbell said...

Tricia, but I wish I could've been there with! :) I missed you! Things just aren't the same when you're missing from the blogosphere. Glad you were so productive. I unplug next week and I'm hoping to get a lot done.

The pics are fabulous. That camera phone takes breathtaking photos. So now I have a case of the "I wants." I want a phone like that. No I MUST HAVE a phone like that. I need a phone like that. Whew. Sorry. I went into my, "hey kids. Christmas is coming and mama knows what she wants" mode. *she rubs hands together as she thinks of a plan to get those kids to chip in and SURPRISE her for Christmas* *grin*

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bish: Indeed. I'm pretty dang pleased.

Robyn: Thanks, friend. I always miss you when you unplug, too. But it really does make a difference with productivity. It's just so alluring to visit everybody.
I'm still amazed by what that cell phone camera does. I had no idea when I bought it. I hope Santa is eavesdropping. ;)

Tabitha Bird said...

I am like you. Everyone who I read has helped me with my writing. Fellow bloggers especially.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tabitha: I keep feeling like I'm in an on-going writers workshop or college course without tuition. It is truly amazing how helpful and stimulating the writers/agents/editors who blog are.