03 April 2011
On Setting Writing Goals
If a writer's lucky, a publisher sets goals -- a.k.a. deadlines -- for her. But whether or not we're under contract, we need to set goals for ourselves. Usually they're things like, write a certain number of words or for a certain number of hours per day, or finish the chapter by Friday. If you're a NaNo writer like I am, one of your goals will be to write 50,000 words every November.
This if fine with me, because I consider myself a goal-oriented person. But my computer -- well, to be fair, actually my word processing program, not the machine its-actual-self -- is doing its best to disorient me.
Take this morning -- please. (Old joke, sorry. But really.) What should've taken five minutes -- I'm pretty sure it ought to have something to do with the "select all" feature -- took me three hours. All I wanted to do was reset the margins.
That turned into resetting the headers and footers. I knew I had a footer 'cause I have page numbers in the document (which I should call a manuscript because it's a novel); but who knew I had header margins when I don't have a title at the top of the page!
Anyway, realizing I needed to adjust the header and footer spacings led to the discovery that every page of the document seems to be a separate section, although a few sections compriese four or five pages instead of one, and that there are only odd-numbered sections, which seems, well, odd. I don't know if it's a program flaw, gremlins, a virus, or nuisance fairies, but I only divided the ms. into two sections.
And by the way, that division was so that I could not use page numbers in the first section -- you know the frontispiece and title page and all that aren't supposed to be numbered -- and start them in the second section, with the part of the book people are meant to read. Did that work? No, of course it didn't! I could restart the page numbering in the actual text, but I had to cover the unwanted numbers with text boxes.
I did finally get the ms. the way I wanted it, and sent it off to the self-POD entity. Maybe as soon as dinner-time today, I'll find out if the changes satisfied them, or whether I have to mess with the margins (etc.) one more time. But for the moment, I'm counting that particular goal as met.
But I've set myself another one -- open-ended, to allow time to stalk away and not speak to the computer for a few days when it gets particularly obstreperous -- that kind of scares me. I want to be able to format my fiction for e-readers, and this, some people tells me, involves html, which is all <> and/ and \ and [ ] and so forth. Even if I don't have to use html, I expect my efforts will involve some @#$%&!!
So -- if you don't hear from me after a few weeks, send in the search-and-cyber-rescue dogs, okay? (BTW, this program's not letting me preview my post, so if there are typos, let's pretend they're not my fault, yeah?)
And hey -- good luck with your writing goals!