Last week, I introduced the Autumn Project (2018). You can read all about it, but in brief: between September and the end of December, 2018, I’m planning, plotting, and completing the first draft of my next novel, Light of the Outsider, in public.
It’s an exercise in accountability, transparency, beginner’s mind, and teaching what I learn. In that spirit, I’ve promised to share my progress on a weekly basis through “minisodes” of Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick.
This is the first update!
Listen to the episode for all the details… meanwhile, here are some significant statistics and other stuff:
The Autumn Project (2018): September 9 through September 15, 2018
The focus of this week was on writing background for the major and point-of-view characters, plus a little housekeeping, notes, and research / reading as necessary.
I got through nearly all the major characters, with just two minor but pivotal characters left to finish on Sunday. I also compiled a timeline of those characters’ lives up to the events of the novel.
- Days Worked: Six
- Total Time Worked: 14 hours, 42 minutes
- Words Written: 12,004, not including the timeline, which was adapted from the prose background material
- Approximately 2,000 words per day / 816 words per hour
Why Write So Much Character Background Material?
In writing these background notes on each character, I’m having a conversation with myself.
It’s a way to ask questions, and uncover questions I might not have thought to ask in the process.
By thinking through things like how old someone was when a critical moment occurred in their life, or what motivated them to take one action instead of another, I’m forced to consider their personalities, which will ultimately inform how I write that character in the actual book.
Additionally, when I’ve written something about the history of a character and it’s staring back at me, I can quickly spot shortcuts I’ve taken and cheats I’ve committed in my own thought process. It’s an odd thing, noticing when an element is just not right, or is too simplistic, or doesn’t make sense when set against other elements… it’s like not being able to walk past a crooked picture frame hanging on a wall. You have to fix it, or you’re just lazy.
Perhaps the niftiest bi-product of writing these free-form, stream-of-consciousness essays is that each one, I’ve discovered, contains synopses for at least one short story. I could write a prequel collection, or a serial, presenting the origin tales (and other tales) from all of the principle characters in Light of the Outsider. Or I could have someone else do it… and this is how the seeds of a personal creative franchise are planted!
I surrendered Wednesday. I have a standing familial obligation on that day, and there just isn’t enough energy or time left over to dedicate to a couple hours of creative thought.
Also, I’m still working out the best time of day to tackle the two to three hours an Autumn Project (2018) session usually consumes. Mid-afternoon is nice, but on weekdays, that cuts right in the middle of my client work. I’ve been starting at six o’clock in the evening, and that’s not bad, but I’ve run into a little bit of fatigue around then, too. I’m sure food, water, exercise, and sleep all factor in. I’m working it out.
Finally… and you’d think I’d know this by now: everything takes longer. More often than not, I’m scrambling to get into Autumn Project mode and can barely get the webcam turned on when it’s time. I need to stop whatever I’m doing at least forty five minutes before the scheduled writing session, not twenty to thirty minutes before.
Stay Tuned For More Weekly Minisodes, Plus Regular Full-Length Episodes!
I’ll continue to stay accountable throughout the rest of 2018 with these quick weekly minisodes updating my progress on Light of the Outsider.
Stay tuned for more full-length episodes of Sonitotum with Matthew Wayne Selznick, too, including upcoming shows on the value of living poetically, the necessity of responsible self-promotion, and more! I’ve got thoughts I want to think at you!
Don’t forget to subscribe to Sonitotum wherever and however you get your podcasts, and if you have a moment, please rate and review the show in your podcast app, too! Thanks!