NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Year in Writing

Blog readers--yes, I'm talking to both of you--December 2012 just about wiped me out. In fact, 2012 the Year just about wiped me out. Here's a rundown of my writing year:

January: I attend my first-ever SCBWI Conference. Come away energized, inspired, and yes, panicked. I have to justify this trip by being a Serious Writer. 
February: I do a lot of research for Book #2, the sequel to The Key & the Flame. Realize that the more I read about it, the less I know. Panic.

March: Continue fleshing out the outline for Book #2. Notice how thin the plot is. In late March, finally start putting some words on virtual paper.

April: Reviewing copyedits for The Key & the Flame. Quite a trick to work on new material while trying to focus on old material.

May: Read over galleys for TKTF. Wow. How did I miss so many errors? Would be great if I could rag on the copy editor or the proofreader, but no, these are my own goofs. Humbling.

June: With galleys and copyedits done, TKTF is out of my hands. Full-time focus on Book #2. Writing like a house afire ... except when I get scared and can't. Or have to work on editing jobs to pay the bills and can't.

July: Getting panicked all over again. How is it that I hadn't seen that my self-imposed deadline for a first draft of Book #2 was fast approaching and completely impossible? August 15? Was I nuts? Apparently.

August: First-draft deadline blows by me like a semi on the highway. Nice knowing you.

September: A month late, first draft finally complete for Book #2. Champagne! Caviar! Impending dread! (I'll have to cut about 30,000 words. It's really long.)

October: Slash my manuscript like I'm being charged a buck for every word I leave in. There go 10,000 words ... now 12,000 ... I swear there's not another thing I can cut, unless I want the story to go something like this: Some kids had an adventure. The end.

November: After leaving the manuscript alone for a week or more, I see how bloated it is. Wow, I can cut a bunch more. In fact, it would be criminal not to.

December: Working on the third draft for the first two weeks. Trying to answer the approximately 150 questions I had jotted down while reading through the draft. (No kidding.) Questions like: But if she does x on page 37, how can she be doing y on page 91? and I don't get this bit at all. Makes no sense. (Not a question--just a cat-o'-nine-tails that I flog myself with regularly.)

December 17: Finally in a position to do a final read-through of Book #2 manuscript. I figure I'll just do a quick scan and then send it off to My Lovely Editor. Should take a couple of days.

December 20: I'm rewriting every single page. The prose is so sucky it should be cleaning my carpets. Wow. Sad wakeup call here.

December 21: People around me are doing a lot of shopping and drinking cocoa and singing weird songs they don't sing any other time of year. What's going on? I'm still rewriting the manuscript. Somehow I manage to find time to erect a pine tree in my living room. Whatever. The book is calling.

December 23: Rewriting. Spell checking. Admitting that some problems can be solved in the editing stage. It's not going to the ruddy printer, after all. At midnight, I email Book #2 to MLE, who is probably quaffing eggnog with everyone else in America. I spend the next day wrapping presents for whatever it is we're celebrating.

December 24-January 1: I wake from an editing stupor. Wow! There's a world out there! And look--something snowed all over it. It's pretty and sparkly and I have presents to open. I spend a week saying Merry Christmas to everyone and playing games on my iPad and singing weird songs I don't sing any other time of year. I practice saying, "I won't worry about that right now." And I almost mean it.

photos: top, Stewart Butterfield; tiger on beach, Keith Pomakis; Craigievar Castle in autumn, Michael Maggs; winter in Bulgaria, Psy guy. Courtesy of wikimedia commons.

Tell me: How was your year? Regrets? Triumphs? Spill!


  1. LOL, you should probably enjoy your time of "2 followers" since you might be world-famous in a few months time. :)
    I'm sure 2013 will be a very exciting year for you--and I hope it has fewer moments of panic!!

    1. Thank you, Faith! I'm working on the panic thing. :)

  2. That sounds almost identical to my 2012--particularly December! I hope 2013 will bring us a little less frantic editing.

    1. I think a lot of us had a year like this. But now we've done it once, right? We learned some stuff? I hope so!

  3. This will officially serve as notice that you have more than two followers! I have enjoyed watching your progress in 2012. My daughter and I are anxiously awaiting our journey to Anglielle in April. We are both looking forward to a magical adventure. On a personal note, I am always on the lookout for amazing student leaders to write about. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that the opportunity to share their stories will continue in 2013. Good luck to you! Kathleen S.

    1. Thank you, Kathleen! If I come across any student leader candidates, I'll let you know.

  4. What a year! I hope that you are getting some much deserved rest right now. So so excited for The Key & The Flame!! The cover is just beautiful. :)

    1. Thanks, Jen! Yes, I have been playing catch-up and reading a lot. I'm enjoying your MG blog, too!

  5. Hey Claire, what a year you've had! (I'm glad I got to be a part of it.) And now for's going to be so great.