The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky…

Here I am, thinking.

What I am thinking is that I now have only one short story circulating. Mark Twain’s Daughter came home yesterday, and true to my word, I sent it out to Writers of the Future. Well, I wrote the nice people at WotF with a question, and they were so solicitous and helpful I felt like I really should send them something.

When I came back from Viable Paradise in 2009, I was given the gift of confidence. I have been very careful to prune that confidence so it doesn’t turn into overconfidence. (Confidence gone to seed is pretty ugly and can smell like yesterday’s marijuana.) At the time I received a real gift from many of my fellow VPers. Lots of them suggested that what I had taken to the workshop was unique, and that it might go somewhere. I felt renewed in my resolve to do the kind of thing I do. Not so commercial, me, but I know what I do.

Flash forward to now. Here I am in the middle of the Klarion third book rewrite. My initial readers tell me it’s working, but I feel like I’m floundering. The only thing for it right now is to keep writing and not let the editor turn on until I at least have a first draft. This is hard, but I am trying.

At the same time, this is taking me a long time. I am not competing with anyone but myself, but I feel strange that I’m doing only this isolated thing. I have no avatars in the world right now but one. And I know this can’t be the best way to meet editors, make connections, and all that jazz. It seems counter-intuitive to that end.

I find myself pulled in several directions. I have a lot of ideas of things I’d like to try, and finite time to try them in. I’m trying to focus myself on one project right now, but I feel other projects slipping away from me.

It hasn’t been all morass this last year. What I feel I have done this year is gotten better at writing short stories. I have one story coming out in November, and one I wrote last year coming sometime. And I have expanded my sense of belonging and participation in the writing community. That’s something.

Nevertheless, I feel that I must do a bit more. I work best with goals and an action plan. Cue the action plan.

1. I have just busted 500 expertise hours today. Go, me. I find that dedicated writing time without goals works well when you are experimenting, but I need to impose some goals to get some focus on that time. I also have a few deadlines coming.

2. Icon: Icon is next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In addition to being Jane Yolen’s guest liaison, I need to plan out my contributions to 3 panels, and polish something enough for my reading. This is priority one. After I’m done planning today, I will plan my reading.

3. Now that I know when Taos Toolbox is, I need to have a good piece of writing to send for my application. I am thinking of the opening scenes from the first Klarion book. That said, maybe then that should be the piece I plan for my reading for Icon. An outline for the first book must accompany this, but I pretty much have that done. It will have to be prosified.

4. Writing Retreat: I am working with next year’s con comm to have a journeyman writing retreat in conjunction with Icon. My hope is that it can be a Paradise Lost, although I’m waiting to hear on that. I should write that proposal soon, and get it to next year’s con comm.

5. In November, I will stop Klarions and I will write the first Abigail Rath book. That book has been replaying itself in my head, over and over, and it should be a short middle grade project. I would like to get it out to readers in December and January, get some feed back on it, and have it ready to go out on the great agent hunt by March at the latest.

6. There’s another retreat in March that I’m going to, and I’ll need to have a decision on a piece to submit for that no later than the end of February. Surely, one of the things I’ve been working on will strike my fancy for it!

7. I will plan to stick to a fairly rigorous writing schedule. My thinking is that I would like to get a certain number of scenes or chapters done a week, and I will look at the scope of the Klarion book after that first outline, and assign deadlines to tasks. I will alternate working on this longer term project with shorter projects, which will at first be getting Abigail Rath ready, and then will be some short stories I can get out there.

8. By the end of 2012, I want to have Abigail Rath versus Blood Sucking Fiends soliciting agents. I want to have at least 5 short stories in circulation at any time. I will not put an end on the Klarion project, but I would like to be making steady forward progress on it by meeting weekly goals.


What I think this means is that short stories and middle grade fiction will keep my name out there, and make me feel like I’m making the publishing attempt. Whereas the Klarion thing will be more opus-y, and I can take the time it deserves without getting that Susannah Clark kind of feeling.

It goes without saying that I’m not sending any of this out until it’s been vetted by writers and properly meets my high standards. I may still be an amateur, but I am no longer a rank amateur, and I understand that time is less important than quality in this biz.

I think that means I have a business plan. Wow.

So, I’d better get crackin’. The rigor means you might see less of me around here, goofing off. I am sure you can bear the deprivation.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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