Novel Writing
Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Organizing for Success

Please excuse the grandiose title.  I couldn't organize my way out of a paper bag.  My brain just doesn't think that way, does yours?  Because it is my experience that most of us creative types tend to be more towards the wafty, creative, big picture side than the down-to-earth groundedness I associate with being organized.


Last Thursday my desk was covered in papers.  The floor of my office was littered with piles of journals and legal pads, each of which had some ongoing project in it.  I was halfway in the middle of a lot of personal projects and I had a number of things going for clients and students as well.

And then I got an email.

From an agent. 

The one reading my novel.

She likes it.  Sort of.  She thinks I'm a fabulous writer and that the novel is very well done, though she has reservations about the relatablity (her word) of Emma Jean, the main character, and she thinks some of the minor characters are not well drawn. 

But she would be delighted to read it again if I revise.

And so revising I am. 

But first I had to clear a space in my brain for the revision.  And to do that, I had to get my office cleaned up.  And so, on Saturday afternoon, despite the fact that it was the first gorgeous day we've had here in Portland in ages, I worked for several hours on organizing for success.  I straightened and filed and consolidated.  And I printed out the most recent version of Emma Jean and put it into a binder.

And yesterday morning I started working on it again.

It is weird to be going back to a novel I thought I was done with.  And yet, it feels right, too.  The way the agent described her vision for Emma Jean made me hope I can rewrite her to that idea, because if I can, I truly will have written a kick-ass novel.

So, until further notice, Captain will be writing my blog posts.  He's taken up residence in the new office chair I just got on clearance at Fred Meyer for $60, and will be writing posts of great fascination to cat lovers.  No, actually, I'm kidding, in case you hadn't guessed.  I'm not taking a blogging vacation, but I am going to lighten up on my posting schedule a bit.  Instead of posting every week day, I'll be posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next few weeks.  I anticipate being back to the full schedule soon.

What about you?  Where are you with your various projects?  And how do you organize for them?

0 thoughts on “Organizing for Success

  1. Mahala Church

    How exctin! (a good Southern word) Linda will be thrilled when she returns, and I’m thrilled for you. You sound full positive resolve and I’ve no doubt you will succeed. Mahala

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    Thanks, Mahala, and please keep your fingers crossed for me. I am very, very excited, and I can’t wait to tell Linda.

  3. Ledger D'Main

    Tsk, tsk…you mean you didn’t revise and re-edit your book twelve times twelve times before sending it to a lit agent…tsk, tsk
    Perhaps your right—following one’s own blog advise is never to be done…snicker, snicker…;-)

    Advice On Dealing with Editors
    My advice on dealing with editors is to say yes to all suggestions unless you want to say no, to ask in those cases if the point might be set aside until later, and to proceed thus until all suggestions have been addressed. At that point, the writer should feel free to insist on having his or her way on the points set aside.—THOMAS POWERS

    Two Kinds of Editors
    There are, it seems, two kinds of editors. The first kind cares mainly about himself, about how his editing performance reflects on him and getting ahead or getting stroked or getting to lunch, as the case may be. Such editors are not editors at all and ought to go to breakfast and stay there. A real editor, however, is a rare thing, and I’ve been lucky in working with a few. A real editor is focused totally on the writer’s work and helping the writer realize a vision of the piece or the book he’s set out to do. Editing requires a certain selflessness that is hard to find.—DAVID REMNICK

    Congrats on getting a lit agent to at least get past the inquiry letter…is your story about vampires???…it must be, that’s all they publish…
    Ooohhh, hair-ball…..

  4. Karen

    WTG Charlotte! Keep us posted! Love your kitty (and that kick-ass chair)!

  5. Charlotte Dixon

    Ledger, I revised it eight times. This will be the ninth. And no, there is not a vampire in it. Amazing, huh? Thanks for all the quotes.

    Karen, Thanks! And both the kitty and the chair are great. I didn’t even realize what a difference a chair would make, my back no longer gets sore. And the cats make all the difference in the world.

  6. Linda

    Ooooh, exciting stuff!

    I’ve been freelancing for a year now and the effort is starting to pay off. I can just about keep our heads above water now, and I’m working towards a full-blown cruise.

    We’re still living in northern California, and working on leaving. We need to make decisions regarding the transmission.

    I’ve been reviving my blog, working on my history site (, and wishing I could have twice the hours in the day that I do.

    And yes, I am a big-picture kind of gal. Generally the clutter gets to a certain level, and then I attack it with a shovel.

  7. Jessica

    Congratulations! How exciting!

    Please keep us posted on your progress.

    I really need to get working on the second draft of my novel. How am I organized? Um, well all must stuff is in lovely piles.

  8. Charlotte Dixon

    Hey Linda, Thanks, glad to hear the freelancing is going so well and also happy to see the link to your history site. What a great idea!

    Jessica, thank you, thank you. I do piles, too. That’s organization, right?

  9. Jesssica

    Absolutely! And I do happen to know which pile everything is in, unless someone moves it.

    I managed to spend 15 minutes working on my ‘beat sheet’ for my novel this morning and I’m so impressed with the little insights I managed to gain in such a short period of time. Perhaps I need to kick myself into a little more organisation.

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    Jessica, I always think I can just ignore the organization and go right to the work, but if I’m terribly unorganized, it weighs on me. Glad you got a lot done in a little amount of time!

  11. Christi Corbett

    How exciting!

    I must say, I admire you for not sweeping every pile onto the floor seconds after you got the agent email!


  12. Charlotte Dixon

    Christi,I think the process of getting things sorted and organized helped shift me back into rewrite mode! I was levitating a few inches off the ground and needed something to ground me.

  13. rebecca

    I wondered too why you didn’t just sweep evry pile off to the side, but then again I would have done the same organizing. Captain Cat looks right at home in the chair, as does mine in my chair whenever I get up and walk away. Great news on your novel.

  14. Maryse

    This is so exciting! I know how hard it is to get anyone excited in publishing a book (through my writing group). Go for it, Charlotte! Your novel will shine!
    I never saw myself as a very creative person because I’m VERY organized. But life is teaching me otherwise. I continue to blog when I can but my latest baby is a word game on Twitter. Wonderful way to be creative and meet like-minded people.
    Good luck with it all!

  15. Charlotte Dixon

    Rebecca, thanks! Captain (and his brother, Lieutenant) is very good at looking at home in all kinds of odd places, but I’m especially happy that he spends a lot of his day in my office.

    Maryse, thanks to you, too! I believe it is possible to be organized AND creative, I just didn’t get both those genes. I’m so glad you are finding a creative outlet in your twitter word games.

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