Work-in-Progress Wednesday: 8/25/2010

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons & blimpy.

It’s been a couple of weeks, but I can finally get this theme, a little something I like to call “WIP Wednesday” off the ground. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I wanted to take a day out of the week to report on the progress of my own writing, novel work or otherwise.

What I’ve Been Doing

The last time I did a substantial amount of work on my novel (or any work at all, rather) was at the beginning of May when I was trying to reach the 40-page limit for the final portfolio of my novel writing class I was taking. Over the past couple of months, I took some steps in what I consider to be the right direction as far as research and outside reading goes.

  • Re-reading “Columbine” by Dave Cullen. The first time I read the entire thing in two days (his portrayal of that entire incident was just so amazingly well done); this time, I’m taking my time, highlighting/sticky-posting things I think may be beneficial in working on my own story. Much of what I’m focusing on with this is character traits. It’s hard to develop a calm, cool, and collected psychopathic killer. The shooters at Columbine are tremendously helpful in that respect. I am not modeling my character after them, really, but taking clues instead. The book is also helpful in that it explains the aftermath of a school shooting tragedy. In that respect, it’s all about world building and any help I can find, I’m grateful for.
  • Researching Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I think this is almost a must when writing a story like mine. I’ve always thought tragedy and PTSD run hand-in-hand. Again, thanks to Dave Cullen, I’ve found some great resources on the matter. I’ve done my own research and am waiting to hear back about an “interview request” of sorts with a few Psychology/Counseling professors at UW-Milwaukee and Mount Mary College.
  • Researching Psychopathy. This one is a bit more difficult to deal with. As with anything like this (PTSD included), there are varying level pf degrees and just an incredible amount of information to sift through in general. It’s been fun, though. Mount Mary offers a graduate level course in psychopathology. I’m entertaining the idea of taking it, possibly next summer. This is something that I plan to ask about when/if I hear back about the aforementioned interview requests.
  • Researching Bibliotherapy. I haven’t gotten too far into this just yet. Writing as healing is an interesting subject. I’ve been sifting through the book “Writing as a Way of Healing” by Louise De Salvo. I’ll be reading the entire book (probably twice!), and I recommend it. I’m looking forward to researching this and for a few reasons beyond the scope of my novel.

Where I’m At

This past Sunday, I finally, with encouragement from the #amwriting community on Twitter (I recommend taking a look there. Such wonderful encouragement!) and some other close friends, I tackled the revisions for my six chapters that had been sitting around since the end of May. It wasn’t easy. Revisions never are. A few of the chapters needed little work, which I’m still very happy about. Many of the issues dealt with the passage of time between the shooting and the time the police arrived at my main character’s apartment. It’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, but I think I’ve gotten it to a point that makes more sense and that I can be happy with.

Writing forward. I won’t lie…it scares me. Even though I have basic outlines for future chapters, I still always feel a bit lost. I know it’s all part of the process, but sometimes I think it’s enough to keep me from sitting down to actually write. I’m getting through it, though. If I can force myself to sit down and start writing, after the first page or two, I feel fine.

On Monday, I sat down and finally, for the first time since sometime last spring, met my daily goal of 1,500 words. My goal tends to stretch between 1,000-1,500 words, and I keep it that high because it forces me to work.

I started chapter seven. Right now, it’s sitting at thirteen pages and I have a feeling that I’m nowhere near being done with it. At the very least, I expect it to run another five pages, which will make it the longest chapter I have thus far. I’ve already marked areas that need work. I’m excited to get back into this.


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