Michaeline: Prep Work

Two women with plates of red Thanksgiving food. (Maybe apples)

The literary feast takes time and love to prepare properly. It should neither be rushed, nor left to boil away on the backburner. Give thanks to our muses, and let’s get back to work! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

This week is Thanksgiving in the US. The Canadians are already done and possibly have finished digesting their Thanksgiving feast, and I know the Japanese don’t tend to celebrate Labor Thanksgiving Day with food. It seems to be more about napping. But the Americans are going to be busy with prep work.

The bird should be in the fridge already, slowly thawing. The shopping should be done. Cranberry sauce can be done up three days in advance to allow for the flavors to meld, and pies are tastier when they are at least a day old. Thanksgiving Day will be a blitz of baking, boiling, mashing and mixing, but the smart cooks will be doing what they can now.

Writing is a lot like that, too. It’s a good idea to take some time to research, whether it’s 19th century masquerade costumes, or the technology today that’s going to develop into some future science. It’s a good idea to pre-write some scenes or characters – it’ll help direct your research. And of course, taking care of your brain by giving it good food, more blood through gentle exercise, enough sleep, proper rewards and just a touch of deprivation is some very important prep work. Vitamin D is probably a good idea this time of year, too.

And then it’s time to blitz. To spend an hour or maybe two just sitting and writing. Hacking through the fields of doubt and ambiguity to reach the proper vantage point, where it all is laid out, clear and ready to put on the page. Or at least today’s scene, today’s paragraph is clear and strong.

(-: Time to take my own advice. The prep work is done. Time to create a feast of words.

4 thoughts on “Michaeline: Prep Work

  1. Reading this has made me hungry! I didn’t do as much prep as I probably should have for this year’s NaNo, but the 50k goal really isn’t the most important part of it for me. So, while I’ve pretty much given up on getting anywhere close to the November word count goal, I have not given up on having my series kickoff novella and novel 1 ready for critiquers by the end of 2015. Time for second breakfast, then a dive back into my own story!

    • LOL, second breakfast is often the best meal of the day!

      TBH, when I was writing contemporary fantasy, I didn’t need to do much literary prepwork at all for NaNo. A character presented herself (usually herself) for duty, and I found a conflict for her to work with, and then I just wrote to see what was going to happen. That was the most amazing part of those NaNos. Seeing ideas appear from nowhere. I got a string-of-pearls plot that had quite a bit of crazy in it, but it was a full novella first draft.

      The big thing was to be in good fighting condition. Not too tired to type (or too tired to make the decision to type). Hands in good shape. Menus planned so that was a no-brainer.

      I could blame my laggardness this year on a variety of factors, but perhaps the big one is not letting myself have enough daydream time to mull over the story. I play with work ideas during my freetime, not my writing ideas. I’ve stopped listening to morning podcasts in the car this month, though, and let my mind work through things. It’s either cleaning up the ash-and-trash stuff, or sometimes it is actively working on My Story.

      Anyway, a good night sleep last night gave me motivation and energy to push forward a tiny bit this morning. Got a good scene in. We’ll see what happens this afternoon (-:. I’ve got half of Sunday ahead of me!

  2. Prep work Thanksgiving-wise is done here, or will be once that bird thaws out.I love cooking for Thanksgiving because it means leftovers – days and days when don’t have to cook. Perfect for NaNo month.

    On the writing front, I think the prep work I did the past few months has made all the difference in how this year’s NaNo is going, compared to last year (when I wandered off and did something else after about a week). Having a fairly good idea of where the story is going has really helped. There are a few places in the story that say “something needs to happen here”, but I’m still moving forward so I’m very happy about that.

    Today’s pre-work (for when next week’s rain is supposed to arrive) involves cleaning the rain-gutters and re-attaching the one our last rain-storm knocked loose. Might even put up some of the holiday lights while I’m on the ladder before heading back to the keyboard.

    • (-: Isn’t Thanksgiving just the best? I suppose Christmas works this way, too. I love turkey sandwiches and turkey ramen and turkey soup with 2-minute noodles. And pumpkin pie is almost nutritional (-:. (Actually, now that I think of it . . . I make it with kabocha, eggs and condensed milk, with just a little brown sugar. So, maybe it is healthy.)

      And good job on moving forward! I think that “something happens here” is so valuable. I usually have a vague idea about what happens, so it’s nice to just carry on and get to the good stuff.

      (-: Kind of like my Thanksgiving this year. Kentucky Fried Chicken, a pie and my friend gave me a fabulous cranberry compote. I’ll roast some chicken thighs on celery to get a good leftover protein pile going on Friday, and make up a nice chicken stock to carry me through the week.

      Not as yummy as turkey ramen, but I don’t think roasting a big bird is in my future this month. But who knows? I may succumb. I love turkey . . . . Maybe a small one, spatchcocked and cooked on two nights.

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