Monday, March 26, 2012

The Organizational Fallacy

I want to talk about a major fallacy that creative people fall into (probably most people, but I've had several conversations about this with friends who are in the creative fields, so it seems to be more a creative person issue to me): the organizational fallacy. Or, stated another way: If I could just get myself organized, I'd be able to get to all the projects on my list.

So here's my to do list right now:

I'm querying Altar of Dead Pets - which means finding agents who are selling novels like mine, researching them, researching the books they've repped, rewriting my query letter to reflect what they want to see (most agents want to see the same thing - a one paragraph description of the novel, a one paragraph bio of myself, and a bit of information about marketing or why I'm the only one in the world who could have written this book - but some agents ask for slightly different information or want it in a specific order), and basically sifting through the thousands upon thousands of agents out there to find the handful with whom I think I've got a shot.

Part of my effort in this area is building audience on my Facebook page for Altar. The page is my experiment in social media marketing - building interest in the novel through links to relevant news articles (for example, I linked to a news piece on how our conception of death has changed over the years which directly related to a part of the novel where Matt talks about changes in how we determine if someone is dead and that the determination has moved from the heart to the brain as our medical abilities have improved) and small excerpts, recreating portions of Monica's Book of the Dead journal with my photography of cemeteries and roadside memorials, and other writing-related pieces of information. I'm going to start doing add-on stories this week - stories that are based on characters in the novel, but not a part of the novel or from scenes that I liked but were edited out for space (my first Un-Altered Excerpt will be one of these, an X-files scene that got edited down to a paragraph of Matt explaining how Denny taught him about the stars and planets).

Go check out Altar of Dead Pets on Facebook if you want to see what I'm doing, and please, while you're there, like the page.

So there's Altar, still taking up a lot of my time, but then there's moving on to the next novel, Finding Ithaka, which is in the telling-myself-the story phase, which means writing lots of pages very few of which will probably make it into the final draft (if Altar is any indication). But I love my new characters and am excited about the new story taking shape.

Then there's all the other projects that say - me, me, me, pick me, whenever I look around. I've got a YA novel that jumped on me over the summer and stories that want to be written. A collaborative project with a couple of friends. And looking for opportunities to get involved with the fabulous Bay Area literary scene and read my work. In the midst of all this, I've also decided to apply to Squaw Valley and look for residency opportunities. And, oh yeah, teach and take care of my family.

Which comes back to the organizational fallacy, the belief that if I just figure out how to organize my time better, it will all miraculously get done. It's the fallacy of comparison - I've got a friend who writes every day (seriously, he's been writing a blog post a day on his blog, Writing about Writing) AND keeps his house clean. At the moment, my house cleaning happens when things get to the point where I can't stand it anymore (okay, that's pretty much how my house cleaning happens all the time, not just when I'm busy with writing). Another friend literally channels stories and novels. Last year, she wrote more than 500,000 words. I wrote about 100,000, but many of those were words I'd already written in some form, so they don't count in the same way.

In each case, I look at what my friends are doing, how much time they're writing, their clean houses, their well-groomed pets or children and think, if only I could get my to do list under control and stay on top of how I use my time, I could get all of it done.

I suppose it's not too different no matter what field you're in, but I think, with the creative brain comes the sense that, "I'm creative. I should be able to figure this out!" And yet, I have to reconcile myself time and again to the fact that I am a mere mortal who can only do so much with the same 24 hours that everyone else gets no matter how much I want to believe there's a clever way to fold time like origami paper and get an extra hour or two in the day.

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