Saturday, July 20, 2013

A First Draft of A First Draft Machine

Mexican sunflower
I don't let Hope play near traffic because she'll get hurt.  Instead, I keep her close to my heart. ~ LRZ

A first draft is a tricky little devil.  It slips and slides out of grip.  Often times I wear myself out running through starts that cough and sputter.  Those are false starts that don't get the engine roaring.  I want a beginning that powers the piece.

Conference prep
I've been reading a lot about how we sit too much and about treadmill desks, so I thought I'd try the treadmill for hammering out a first draft.  The machine does not appeal to me at all for running.  A mile feels like ten when you're staring at cement walls and shelving filled with books and other stuff that you can't seem to part with.

I simply added a wooden table insert over the treadmill arms and voila, a desk.  It's dark in the cellar so, I enlisted the help of a retired dorm light.  Together my team and I are moving forward much faster putting words, okay scribbled words, on paper. 

Last post, I mentioned I wanted to start three things, but I hadn't even decided what three.  I hopped on that treadmill and walked my way through that decision, selecting three diverse projects.  Not only that, in one hours time, I wrote 2.5 pages of anything but neat writing.  That writing moved me forward on all three projects.   

The one bothersome aspect of this First Draft Machine is that it uses electricity.  Thus the trade-off becomes productivity versus energy use.  I am now thinking sitting on an exercise ball or standing may be enough movement to get momentum going on a first draft.  Next time I write a first draft, I will test out one of these ideas.  

I used the treadmill prior to the 21st Century Children's Nonfiction Conference to read books by authors and publishing houses.  Aside from one book that I mentioned, that prep work was all but forgotten when I got there.  Stellar.  I noticed 2014 information is on the website.  I plan to return.


Monday, July 8, 2013

The finale
A science writer is an air traffic controller, of sorts.  Stories appear on the radar from all directions.  As the cargo lands, it's processed and evaluated quickly.  Is it worthy of sending out?  Can I get a scientist on board?  Which direction is best?  Outbound flights are strategically packed with good science so they arrive in the best possible manner.  At the radar screen, it's hard to gauge the reaction on the other end.  All science writers want more than a safe landing.  They want their cargo placed in the loving arms of an enthusiastic recipient.

Tinkerbell must surely be on her way
I still feel like an apprentice, slow at matching stories to markets and settling on a direction.  My airport is a sorry sight.  This week, I'm aiming to study the radar screen and make some quick decisions.  If all goes well, I'll get three flights on the runway.  I have made great progress in writing first drafts quicker, which I'll blog about next week. 

At the end of the evening, the smell of gunpowder hung in the air as smoke billowed up from the trees.
I had a dream an editor snapped at me, "Quit babying me!"  I suppose that comes from my latest line of thinking that they are a touchy bunch. (grins) 

In an effort to go head to head with fiction, I wound up with first and sixth honorable mention in a Children's Literature contest.  I swapped chapters of a manuscript and was hoping for a first place win for both chapters 1 and 2 (chapter 2 which used to be Chapter 1, won in 2010).  It was not meant to be.  The judges commented "well-researched" and "thorough bibliography."  Yep, that's what on want on my headstone, she wrote a great bibliography.  Not! 
A dandelion puff, high in the sky

It was a mighty delighty nighty watching fireworks.  I've never been successful taking fireworks photographs (perhaps I should have done some research on what settings work best).  This Canon SX260HS has a "fireworks" setting which works fantastic!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tassy Walden Contest

Tassy Walden Contest winners
Last Wednesday, my writing friends and I trucked down to the Connecticut shore to attend a reception for the Tassy Walden Contest winners.   I was thrilled that my friend, Natasha Garnett, was honored.  Also on the list for the NINTH time was a friend I met at Chautauqua, Betsy Devany.   It was great to see her again.  I enjoyed listening to the distinct voices of the winners and also meeting veteran writers like Leslie Bulion and Doe Boyle.

I just finished up module 7 of my online course and I will breathe a sigh of relief when I'm done in a few weeks.  I have learned so much, but I hesitate to tell anyone all that I know because I'm going to sound like Chicken Little.  I am enjoying the banter on the discussion board and I've noticed those that STILL believe the climate is changing due to natural causes have regressed from stating things without supplying supporting facts to name calling.  I've been called delusional and stubborn and I've been told my voice is meaningless.  One person wrote, "What has to happen to you to return to reality, have a piano fall on your head?"  Thankfully, there are hordes of sharp participants that squash all the untruths such as one thread titled, "Global Warming Debunked: NASA Report verifies Carbon Dioxide actually cools Atmosphere."  WRONG!  Use reliable sources, NOT blogs!