Spring ILC, Week 1: What the heck is an ILC?

This quarter I’m doing an Independent Learning Project (ILC), Evergreen-speak for doing whatever you want (with faculty support) and getting credit for it. I’d been planning for a while to do an ILC this summer (my last quarter here) to learn about the world of publishing, make professional networking connections, and try to get one of my novels published. In order to that, I first need something publishable and all my novels are in NaNoWriMo-first-draft form. So this quarter I’m working on revising Gaudiloquence and the Frozen Story.

On my own time, I’m going to meet once a week with a friend and fellow tutor at the Writing Center. I’ll also meet once a week with other writers in a small group to share our stuff with each other and give each other feedback. The most enthusiastic of these is a friend and former classmate (who we’ll call Celianne) who wants to become an editor. I’ll also be meeting occasionally with my contract sponsor and teacher of the 4-credit writing class I’m also taking. Then there’s the actual work of reading books, revising my novel, and writing a research paper.

Because I work best when I have everything meticulously planned ahead of time, I’m making myself a detailed schedule for the quarter of what assignments and readings I’ll have done by what time. I’m that much of a dork. And I know that if I don’t put these kinds of things in place to help me keep myself accountable, I’ll procrastinate and flounder and get nothing done. Deadlines are good for me.

I’m already halfway through the first book I’ve assigned myself, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein. It’s a great readaccessible, funny, and full of great advice. I need to try the exercises in the chapter called “The Art of Detection” to figure out how to best summarize my story and get at what it’s really “about.” And if those themes don’t crop up in the actual text as much as they should, that’s something to work on.

I reread my first draft for the first time in about a year (I wrote it even longer ago than that) and felt relieved. It’s not as bad as I worried. Yeah, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Of coursethat’s what rough drafts are for. But I still love the story, I genuinely care about the characters, and I wrote some decently funny moments. I feel really excited about moving forward with this.

On Thursday I had my first meeting with Cecilanne, who had read to page 58 by that point. We tried to stay away from the fun detail stuff and look at the bigger picture, or Higher-Order Concerns. I need to work on filling out the plot and description to slow the pacing WAY down. I also need to make the theme more consistently visible, which is understandable, since the theme I started out with when I set out to write it
“Stories matter”was not what came out when it was finished, and what I’m continuing with“Being an adult is hard, yo” (or something to that effect).

Cecilanne and I geeked out about my story together for a couple of hours, and I look forward to more of this every week because she’s a rock star and I love her.

On Friday I found and printed out some articles from JSTOR that might be useful for the paper I’m writing, exploring how children’s literature can be a medium for anti-oppression work and ways I might be able to make that happen in my own writing. There is disappointingly little that has been written on this subject in academic journals. So, to the Internet! There must be blogs galore that talk about this sort of thing (*fingers crossed*).

So there I was this afternoon, Sunday at the end of Week 1. I had gotten a lot of important work done, but there was one glaring omission. Revision. I hadn’t actually gone back into my manuscript and changed anything or written anything new, even though my self-imposed schedule said I would rewrite at least one scene. It doesn’t matter how much I read and talk about revision if I don’t actually DO it. So I did. I cranked out one scene, and I’m not sure how good it is, but it helps slow down the pace and build character. So yay.

One of my new goals for next week is to make that work a priority by writing at least one page a day. If I can keep that up for a week, maybe I can do it for the whole quarter. All while reading my books and researching my paper and meeting with other writers and doing the homework for class and going to work and revising my latest Inkwell article and taking driving lessons. Whew. Wish me luck.

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