Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's My Life

by Seleste deLaney

So, I'm taking a writing class right now... sort of.

You see, I signed up for it at the last minute in order to try to finish up a draft I was working on and revise it and get it to beta prior to NaNoWriMo. Mission accomplished! Woot! Thing is, I was left with about five days between sending it off and NaNo starting.

This was actually perfect (in my mind) since I'd just received a manuscript from my new crit partner. I had five days to turn that around and get whatever pre-NaNo plotting I was going to do finished before November 1 (oh, and take care of edits on my holiday short, but that was easy-peasy). Everything was going fine--is going fine, actually--and then the instructor sent a note basically saying not getting pages was unacceptable during the course.


Now, I don't know you about you as a writer, but I get hard-core burned out if it's all-my-words-all-the-time. I know for a fact if I'd picked up one of my other works-in-progress last week when I sent off the manuscript I'd just spent several weeks of blood, sweat and tears on, I would have been worthless for NaNo. As it is, I had to reset my brain from funny contemporary romance to urban fantasy which is no small feat for me. Flipping a switch literally from one day to the next can't happen for me.

I do realize the instructor probably wasn't talking to me specifically and the email was more directed to people who were making excuses about not getting pages. (When I finished revisions, I announced that I was taking the next five days to plot for NaNo and didn't even mention the critique-read.) However, it really stuck in my craw.

People paid for this class. I mean, I get that people pay for boot-camp exercise classes too (and suffer the requisite beat-downs if they slack off), but for some people this class is asking them to go from being page-a-day writers to being 20-page-a-day writers. That's a huge jump and it's a commitment that not everyone might be ready for when they sign up. They've heard it's a good class, so they pay their money and then O.O

As for myself, I knew what I was signing up for, even last minute. I just didn't expect there to not be things such as you-finished-the-draft-take-a-celebration-day or whatever. Maybe if I'd started the class with a brand new manuscript, I'd look at it differently, but I didn't. I finished what needed finishing and got the words plus revisions done quicker than I thought. If I was still in college, I would have totally taken the extra time for something else, even if it meant pretending I was still working on the original project.

This shouldn't be any different.

Yes, I know the instructor wants the class to be successful for everyone. Problem is it will never be successful for everyone by her definitions. Some people will never be 20-page-a-day writers. Some will only be able to maintain that while taking the class and never find the momentum again. Then there will likely be a few whose writerly lives are completely changed by what they learned.

But even if they only learned that this particular process doesn't work for them, the class was still a success because they learned something not only about their writing habits but about themselves. So, I'm going to continue to take today for my crit partner and my plotting (and my house cleaning since we have company coming this weekend that was already on the schedule before this class even hit my radar) because that's what I need to do for me both as an author and a person.

Then when midnight hits, I'm going to start writing again. I'm going to do my best to bust out my 20-pages-a-day for the rest of class. Know why? Because if I can pull it off, it means I win NaNo by the end of class. Also, if I can keep up the momentum, I can finish the draft by Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat. For me, that's well worth taking a non-instructor-endorsed breather right now. For me, that will mean the class was a complete and total success.

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