Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Well, it's in the mail. I returned the revised chapters the editor asked for along with the plot outline. And wouldn't you know it, after I dropped it in the mail, a writer friend found typos in it! $^&%& and triple $^&%& I went over that thing and over that thing.

Here's hoping the editors are a little more human than we all fear they may not be. I guess this is a real lesson in humility. No matter how I want and try to be perfect, I'm stuck with just plain old me. But not to worry. I kinda like me real good, as my granddaughter would say.

Now the task is to finish the manuscript and make each word count. I wish I could not go to work and sit and type all day and all night. Reality says that there are some important things that I would need to attend to even if I didn't have to work, like the relationships in my life.

It's those relationships that help me flesh out my characters. Because I know how it feels to be with others and experience others being with me, the desires, fears and losses of my characters have greater depth.

When was the last time one of your characters did more than the obvious? What makes a story work are the subtleties and layers of everything within your writing. If all you have to say are the obvious things then settle for another "Dick and Jane" book. But if what you're after is a novel that hooks the reader, then invest in folds, seams, and tiers. Leave the obvious for those who can do no better. Keep at it. You'll get there.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another week has rolled around and I'm still writing. The challenge for the day is to tweak my synopsis to perfection. But is there such a thing. I wonder.

When I'm writing I'm constantly looking for a better word, a better way to say it. I can't tell you how I struggle with finding the 'right active voice' for a phrase. It is the bane of the writer's existence.

Every word has to be important, or don't put it in. Every line must move you to the next. The first line's job is to drag you in. Whether it's the first line of the chapter, page, or book it doesn't matter. It must trap you.

And the last line is equally important. Sometimes, it's more important that the first line. It's job is to hook you, be it the last line of the page, chapter. or the book.

I believe that last line of the book is the most important line you'll right. It ties everything together. It satisfies the reader on one hand, but leaves them hungering for more, on the other. The last line must demand of the reader that they seize your next book, and your next.

The perfect first line and the perfect last line are what keep people reading. A solid active story between those lines satisfies.

So I'm off to polish and shine up my work. I've got to get it just right. See ya.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

So sorry to be so late in posting, but I have a really good reason. Two days before Thanksgiving Day I received a chapter that had been kept by an editor at a recent critique. I had been looking forward to getting it back. I wanted to see what corrections she would make so that I could revise the chapter and use her input to improve my writing.

So I got the chapter back, but with it came an invitation to submit!!! Oh my gosh!! I couldn't believe it. I was immediately slammed by overwhelming emotion. The first emotion was this is so great. I finally get a real chance. No slush pile. My work will get read by an EDITOR. Wahoo!! The second feeling was oh great. It's going to be read by an EDITOR. Oh no.

Both emotions were switching back and forth at such rapid pace that there was no space for celebration. It took me several days to finally settle enough to work on the piece with confidence. I had been frozen in the terrorizing belief that if I didn't get this right I would never have such an opportunity again.

That is so not the truth! Here is what is real. If I do my best and it doesn't make it with this house, then I will look at the work again, make necessary changes, and try it somewhere else.

If my writing is good enough to get me this far, then it is good enough to get me another chance. I can't believe the crazy things that fly through my head.

I am finally back in my own skin and back to writing. So I'm off to put on paper what is moving through my mind.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It seems that this journey is full of tweaks and fixes. In the recent past I finally got that a story has multiple layers. Every scene needs to be filled with description for grounding the reader, emotion to pull the reader in, and the character's process to give the reader something to connect with. In my writing I had neglected one of these consistently.

I've got the hang of it and am including all of the above in each scene. But wouldn't you know it, now I'm overdoing it. A little too much description and you lose the flow of the story. Too much emotion and your characters become unbelievable. And who cares about every little thought that passes through the character's head.

It's easier for me to think of it as good cooking. When preparing any dish, you need to add the right seasonings and never too much. A pinch of this and you're doing fine, but add a handful, it's not edible.

Gauging just the right amount of description is usually best judged by someone else. Too often your story is so ingrained in your mind that it's difficult for you as the writer to see if you've strayed from its path.

It is so easy to fall in love with the layout of a scene. You think you're painting this beautiful picture, but if overdone the story becomes about the picture and not your character's behavior or adventure.

So I'm off to tweak a bit of description and get my story back on the right road. Next time I'll pay better attention to the trail of breadcrumbs I laid.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Okay, I admit I've been a little distracted, but I'm back. I have to tell you it was a good distraction, though. I've been writing.

I was typing away, working on my latest project and I ran into a problem that I couldn't solve. Because of it I was stalled, right in the middle of a chapter. I couldn't get the work to move forward no matter how hard I tried.

Finally, I asked my husband to give me a hand (really, his ears). I explained where I was in the story and where I needed to go. Then I told him what was in my way.

What a guy! First, he listened. Then he asked a few questions. Then he made a few suggestions. And presto-chango, alacazam! The block dissolved right in front of my eyes.

Not only was I able to solve the problem, but his suggested solution took me three chapters beyond. I can't tell you what a help a fresh outlook was. Now I am able to write a path straight through to the main thread that will take me to the climax of the story. Wahoo!

Sometimes I forget to ask for help. I think I mistakenly believe that I have to do things by myself. Boy, what a mistake. The lesson for the week. Never be afraid, or too stubborn to ask for help. If you ask, you might actually get something accomplished.

Keep writing.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wow, I just left the regular meeting of my critique group. Every time I leave, I come away inspired.

Today I heard stories that entertained and impressed me. Stories that were fantastic and stories that were real. Stories that clearly belonged to the writer. Every time I attend I come away thinking, How did they come up with that idea?

It amazes me. It has been said that there are only a few story-lines. If this is the case, then the variety of their presentation is uncountable. How do we (writers) keep coming up with new ideas? Each one more fabulous than the last.

In this group, each of us writes for children, but not the same age group. One of the members of the group has such fresh ideas that his stories are unparalleled. Fresh, vibrant and full of light. When he reads them I feel young and wide-eyed waiting for life to open before me.

Then there are the stories for middle grade. Full of excitement and mystery. This one has a way of drawing you in, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And no matter how you guess, you never work out her endings.

Oh, and the YA authors, their stories have me remembering things from that time that are better left back there. The emotions of insecurity, lack of confidence, the need to be accepted, and the discovery of my own strength.

What a time! Riding the imaginations of others. There's nothing like it and I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good morning. I'm sitting and waiting for my granddaughter to arrive. Playing with her is one of my favorite things to do. She is also a great help in fleshing out my characters and keeping them childlike. She says things in a way that would never occur to me. It helps me with authenticity.

Since my own childhood is quite a bit in the past, writing for children can be a challenge. Childlike language and thought process can be a struggle if I don't make a point of visiting children regularly. My favorite place for research is either a McDonald's Playplace or any popular mall. It depends on the age group I'm aiming for.

What is amusing for me is the way language changes, but stays the same. When I was a teen, back in the dark ages. We said that something good was cool, bad, or tough. What I hear is that good things are chill, wicked, or sick. Still so very close to what I know that I can understand.

But don't ask me to read or understand a text message. That's a completely different dimension. I'm so far behind in that area that only yesterday I discovered how to sent a message from my computer to friend's phone. I could use regular language so it wasn't that much of a leap for me.

Maybe soon I'll be able to successfully tackle text messaging. I know a few people in my generation that text on a daily basis. So I guess that means that it is a possibility for me. If I'm going to do this I guess I'd better dig out my decoder ring.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Well it's another week and here I am again. Fortunately the nerve in my back seems to have calmed down so that I can resume my writing schedule. Yeah, like I really stick to that.

Last week while I was waiting for the pain to stop I realized how much I rely on writing and reading for respite from life in general. Not being able to do either was really tough. I was able to return to my nightly ritual of reading in bed for the first time in almost a week.

Now it's time to get back to writing. The characters' voices have returned. It's funny how I've missed their company. Soon they will be telling me what comes next in the story and arguing with me about what they would and wouldn't say.

I used to think it strange hearing them and worry that some weird psychotic process was happening within my mind. Now I just accept their presence and go on about my life.

I'm wise enough to only speak about these voices with other writers. As a psychologist I know how the mention of 'voices' can be interpreted. So the knowledge of their presence is for writers only, people who understand.

It's just good to be back. Great to be typing without pain. There's still a dull ache, but I can easily ignore that. And now it's time to get back to the story. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hi All. I'm definitely back from the writer's retreat, but because I inflamed a nerve in my back I haven't been able to use the computer. I'm really not supposed to be doing it now, but I can no longer resist the need to write.

The retreat was awesome. For once I was able to put the anxiety away and be myself. It was so much more enjoyable that way. I met some great writers. Every one of them was helpful and willing to share tips, advice, and encouragement.

The special treat was that of being able to reading my work in front of an editor and an agent. And here's the coolest part...they liked my work!!! Both said that my current project has a strong protagonist and that the writing is "rich". They found the story intriguing and wanted to hear more. What an ENCOURAGEMENT. Wahoo!

I can't wait to have this nerve thing heal so that I can really put in some writing time.

What I learned is that I am a good writer and getting better all the time. That is really important to me. Being published is something that I really want, but more than that, I want those who read my books to really enjoy them. What would be the point of being published and having your writing have no impact on the world.

I write for children because I really believe in them. I know that it is cliche to say that they are our future, but they really are. Watching them learn and grow in the world around them, taking everything in is a privilege I do not take lightly. So my work has to have a positive effect. Something that enriches their day. A new fact or a new way to view things, something that is more than helpful, something that is enlightening.

I don't want my writing to simply be entertaining. There's nothing wrong with entertainment, it's just that it doesn't last. You read a good book that is solely entertaining and after a while it fades. But if you read a book that is entertaining, but gives you something to think about, too, that book stays with you forever.

That's what I want to do. I've read both of these types of books and enjoyed them. But the ones that gave me that something extra are still in my head.

The annoying ache in my shoulder is becoming a dull roar, so I had better stop for now. Thanks for waiting for me. I'll write again soon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Okay, here's my newest problem. Maybe not new, but certainly ongoing. This weekend I'm attending a writer's retreat. We will be breaking into groups for critique with the opportunity to read before editors and agents. I have my manuscript ready and am talking to myself about confidence and openness. This I can do.

The problem is the pitch. They expect us to present a pitch of our work. I'm ready to scream. I don't know how to do this. I've been working on it and everything I come up with doesn't sound like the piece I'm writing.

How on earth do you boil everything down to two to three lines and fill them with the strength and excitement of the piece? Ugh! I'm pulling my hair out. I'm sure it can be done. People do it all the time. I just don't know how to do it.

This whole process is unbelievable. Every time I conquer one thing there lies another just waiting to conquer me. Sometimes I wish I were a quitter so that I could just walk away, but I'm not. So I'm stuck.

So here I sit writing these few lines over and over. Trying to tweak them into the boldness and strength of my main character. I know that if I keep at it I'll get it, but this is HARD.

I used to say that I love a challenge because it helps me grow. Now I'm starting to regret those words. There can be too much of a good thing. I envision that when I'm much older and much grayer I will have conquered this whole writing process. But I'm sure that's only wishful thinking. In the end there will always be one more thing to master.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Enough about travel woes. I'm writing again. It really feels good. Watching myself write and seeing how my characters are moving through the scenery of the story is very interesting.

Yesterday while I was deep in the setting of ancient Africa my husband asked me a question. I must have jumped about three inches off of my chair. His voice was the last thing I expected, especially since my character was sneaking around in the middle of the night.

If anyone had told me that a world I created could become so real that I could get lost in it, I would have never believed them. Sometimes when I'm thinking through a storyline I almost expect a character to speak to me.

Because the story takes place in an area of the world that I have never been and a time that is deep into the past, I do a lot of research. I get so involved in the facts that I often find it difficult to break away and get back to writing.

And here's the best part. As a true information junky, I'm in heaven. I'm adding so many wonderful bits of information to my overflowing collection of unknown facts (unknown to me, at least). You never know when these little tidbits will come in handy.

It's time to crank out another chapter. So I'd better get to it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Okay, now I've experienced it all. Yesterday coming over the pass into Oregon, it started snowing! I've driven in snow before, no big terror there. But driving in snow over a mountain pass in a 40-foot RV while towing an explorer, YIKES! Talk about improving one's focus in prayer.

I'll tell you, there's nothing like life's tense moments to remind you in whom you depend for you very life. This is the third time we've been in a position with the RV that required serious prayer. The first time, we were in Arizona and decide to travel over the 89A. If you're in anything longer than a four-door sedan, DON'T DO IT!

Imagine taking this 40-footer around curves and bends, through a tiny arts/crafts tourist town on the side of a mountain. We took up so much space that cars coming in the opposite direction missed our side mirrors by two to three inches.

The second time, we thought it would be fun to take the RV on a ferry across Lake Powell. It was a blast. Saved on the gas mileage going around the lake. All was fine until we got off the ferry. We had a choice of going over one hundred miles out of our way to go around the Navajo Nation. Or, take this other road that just skirted the edge of the reservation.

That was when fuel prices had just increased and we thought we would save a little time and money. At the beginning of the road there was a sign that read 'not recommended' for buses and trucks. Well, we're neither a bus nor a truck so we continued.

The sign should have said 'RV'S DON'T EVEN THINK IT'. There were places that we had to make three-point-turns just to get around a curve. And other places where the front of the motor home hung out in space in the turn.

In the middle of one of those I thought my bladder control would fail me. My husband suggested I move to the rear of the coach to relieve that tension. There was no way I was getting out of my seat. What if that disturbed the delicate balance going around one of those bends. Nothing could have pried me out of that chair.

Now we've survived a snow storm. Shortly after we descended into the valley the news reported a white-out on the highway behind us. There's no mistaking it. God does answer prayer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well I'm actually on vacation. We attempted to go the the Channel Islands off the coast of California, but rainy weather cancelled the trip. Because you are left alone on the island without a way of leaving, they won't take people there for a day trip in bad weather.

So, instead we took a boat tour around the islands. The boat was a nice one with a snack bar and observation areas. We boarded without problems. As we were leaving the port, the captain announced that we would be out for three hours and that the water would be a little rough because of the weather.

I'm sure those of you who are in my age range know what television theme song popped into my brain. You guessed it, Gilligan's Island. I immediately pulled out my trusty cell phone and called my daughter. I told her the name of the boat, the time we were leaving, the time we were expected back, and that I would call her as soon as we landed. If she didn't hear from me, she was instructed to call the Coast Guard and make them keep looking until they found us.

She laughed at me. Can you believe it and broke into song. You've got it, she sang the theme song all the way through. Kids.

Then we trekked up to Monterey to the jazz festival. It was awesome. To top it off, I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in years. Today we're in Reno and heading for Boise, Idaho in the morning.

No, before you ask, I haven't gotten any writing done. The plan is that once I finish this post, I'll get some done. I probably should have done that first, but you know how it is when you lack discipline.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Hi All. I'm going on vacation this week. I hope to get lots of writing done and maybe get some much needed rest too. I'm not sure if I'll be within wifi reach, so I might not be able to keep you 'posted' on my process and progress.

Today I have got to make a declaration. Nothing new. You probably already know about it. It's just that I hope by putting it in writing it will help me.

I am totally convinced that television is the work of the devil! Whenever I watch it all of my creativity and time get sucked away. My mind doesn't flow into the worlds I have created. My characters become stunted and two dimensional. Everything goes flat.

I have got to get some discipline in my life. I had told myself that I could only watch it at night when I get home from work. That's when I really need my mind to be numb. That way I could write in the morning before work and get this project completed.

I was doing okay for about two weeks. And before I knew it, I was back to my old habits again. I have wasted tons of time with that thing blaring at me. And there isn't even anything worth watching! I spend most of the time searching for something to watch. But if I don't turn it on, somehow I think I'm going to miss something.

I have got to stick to a plan that works. This project needs finishing and it needs to be good. If I don't whip myself into shape who knows what will happen?

I know what will happen. My imagination will be flat. Nothing will get completed. And all of my plans and dreams will be a bust.

So J, turn the bloomin' thing off!!

I'll post soon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hi all. Sorry for neglecting you. I've been writing and reading. The characters of the current novel I'm writing have moved into my head, and that's a good thing. But it leaves little space for anything else. I'm so busy puzzling over plot twists and characterization that breaking away from it feels like an abandonment of the work. And once I get it figured out, I start rehearsing in my head how it would look and sound.

It occurs to me that much of the writing process takes place in my head. By the time I get to the computer to write it down it just flows from my fingertips. But here's the drawback. If I get interrupted and have to do something else, it is often difficult to remember what was going to happen next. I need to find a way to make notes that will bring me back to where I left off.

There continues to be so much to learn in this process. What amazes me most is that while I am attempting to learn about writing I am actually learning about myself. Some of the things I am learning about me I'd prefer not to know. They are not the most attractive. But at least this way I have the option to change.

Many of the things I'm learning about me are rather pleasant and come through my characters. Pretty cool. The best discovery is that I have a passion for those I care about, even greater that I had already believed.

I am finding that I really enjoy writing. I like the shift that happens in my brain and the creativity that it opens for my life as a whole. The journey is wonderful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The journey continues. Yesterday I sat with a friend to walk through a new piece she had written. I am so impressed by her writing. She was able to capture raw emotion. Emotion that enveloped and permeated, taking me to depths within the character. What a rush!

That is the response to my writing that I'm going for. I can tell that I'm getting close. I think that if I keep working at it I'll get there. I'm sure of it.

What is most amazing to me is that the new skills I'm employing in my writing are becoming more automatic. I visualize the scenes in layers; sight, sound, texture, etc. Then I lay it down in words. I can see the many dimensions of my characters. I feel their emotions; hopes, fears, determinations. They live full lives somewhere inside my head.

I like their company and long to introduce them to thousands of others. I invite you to journey with me. Travel through the world of words and imagination. Your passport awaits you. Just pull it off the nearest bookshelf and allow yourself to be transported to the land of everwhere in the time of everwhen.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

It always amazes me the things I think. Somehow I got the idea that if I improved in my writing skills the first draft would do. What a Maroon, as Bugs would say. I am learning so much about myself and my own arrogance.

I am grateful for the members of my critique group who encourage me, yet keep me in touch with reality. I am finding that I have talent, but as in anything else, that talent must be developed.

The coolest thing though (I know...they don't say cool anymore) is that I am able to learn and move beyond these unbelievable assumptions. My latest lesson is that we all doubt ourselves. A woman , whom I believe is extremely gifted and talented as a writer has questions about her abilities. It brought me back to earth. The truly good are always seeking to improve, learn more, develop their talent.

This is an area of discipline that is difficult for me. I am constantly having these heart-to-heart talks with myself about taking my dream seriously and putting in the work that will get me there.

Part of that discipline is attending seminars, conferences, and retreats. If this is really what I want then I have to set aside the time and the money to participate in these on a regular basis. It also means stepping outside my place of comfort by willingly taking chances and giving up invisibility. WOW! Scary.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Hi All. I've been away for a while. Life just got super busy, so busy that it is interfering with my writing. But the important thing is that I'm back.

I've been working on that YA action/adventure I spoke of in my last post. Something amazing has happened. My writing has taken a turn for the much better. I can't even tell you why. It seems like something has gelled in my brain. I think about writing my stories in different ways. I can see what's wrong with things as they come off my fingertips.

For instance, I just started the next chapter and before I could finish the page, I realized that there was no internal reaction to what the protagonist had just overheard. Normally, it would have taken comments from my critique group to point that out to me. Imagine, I saw it myself, wahoo! I'm even able to see where description is needed.

While on the one hand these are things that are not new to me, and certainly not to others, I am now seeing what all the writing books are saying. How to apply what they mean.

But all of this is a little frightening. Can I keep this up? Will I somehow forget how to apply what I've learned? I sure hope not.

I keep thinking that if I keep putting all I am learning into practice, it will become concretized in my mind and flow from my fingers. Until then I will focus on remembering the lessons learned and apply them at every opportunity.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happy birthday to me! This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with my family. I felt wonderfully loved and honored. I spent much of the time counting the blessings of my life and pondering how I would spend the rest of it. I'll bet those of you who know me know what I'll be doing. Yup, playing with my grandchildren and writing for them.

The story that I'm working on right now seems to have taken on a life of its own in my head. At any given time I can tell you what the characters are doing, feeling, or saying.

Watching how the story turns into words on paper increases my excitement. The only thing better is watching the expression on the faces of those reading the story. I love it!

I watch other people with their hobbies and passions. It's a fever that causes delirium, steals time, and, in many cases, money, too. Fortunately, writing hasn't cost me nearly as much as some of my previous hobbies. Maybe one day it might even bring me some. Who knows?


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hi all, I'm back. I've been away earning a living and taking classes to renew my license. Not fun, but necessary, and none of it has anything to do with writing.

Oh well, at least I'm back. I've started reading a book I wish I had come across a year and a half ago. It talks about writing in a way that makes sense to me. The chapter I read today discussses the 'sound' of writing and suggests new writers spend time reading poetry. What an awesome recommendation.

In my critique group, one of the writers is a wonderful poet. It's her writing that taught me the 'sound' I'm trying for; the way the words flow from one another. Her writing is visual and has texture.

I'm learning to weave sound and texture through my words. I have to confess, it is no mean fete. I imagine if I practice enough it should get easier as I go along.

If I keep chipping away at that mile I'm working on, I just might get it accomlished. How about you?


Monday, July 02, 2007

Good grief, I can't believe it's July, already! To top that off, I got tagged from a person I was considering building a close friendship with. Just kidding, I still am wanting to build that friendship. But the price she has to pay is that somewhere in this post I will use her name.

From this point on the bold letters will spell out her name. They won't be in the correct order and sometimes I will use a letter more than once. This is to protect her identity, but those of you who are smart enough, and know her, will be able to figure it out.

I usually post about things having to do with writing, but today is different. Because of the tag, I have to tell you eight things about myself. The first thing is pretty obvious, my passion for writing.

I love having the stories alive in my head and when I see them develop on paper I really get jazzed. My dream is to have a large collection of novels for my grandchildren to read when they get older. The good news is that they're learning how to read even now. To make the collection special, I think I'll bind the manuscripts in my favorite color, green.

The strangest thing about me is that I've done time in prison, maximum security prison. Do you want to know what did to get there? Here's the story. I needed more than a few extra dollars to pay for our daughter's wedding so I went to work in one. I know, major let down. You were hoping for some spectacular crime that ended in a high speed chase across county lines with the police in hot pursuit. Sorry, just boring work.

In keeping with another passion of mine, I did learn some really interesting things. For instance, I know how to kill you with toilet paper. No, I won't tell you how. Some poor sap will try it, the police will trace it back to this blog, and then I'll do time, for real, as an accomplice. No thanks!

I am a voracious reader and I love science fiction, but not all sci-fi. I prefer character driven plots. The possibilities of the science intrigue me, but strong characters keep me reading.

Okay, I've now satisfied the obligation of the tag and you have a little more information about me than you really need. Since there's not much left to tell, I'll say goodbye for now. Keep writing.

Monday, June 25, 2007

This morning I woke up thinking about the quality of my writing. Questions for myself. How do I know that my writing is good? How do I make it great? What do I use as a criteria to know if it is improving?

I belong to a critique group and their feedback is helpful. After I present a piece, I go home and make the suggested corrections and changes. But does that make it better? I don't know. And if I present a piece to which there are no corrections or changes suggested, does that make it good? I don't know.

I guess the real question should be, what is the appropriate gauge by which to judge my writing? And, how do I determine if progress is being made?

In order to pursue successful writing and avoid the dangers that the 'publish or perish' mindset holds, I need to find the answer to this question. The problem is that this is such a subjective area. For example, someone could absolutely love the story and because of that not notice problems in the writing. Or on the other hand, someone could hate the story and attribute that to the writing. In either case I am still stuck with the initial question, is it good?

What I would like is a clear standard of measure, but I don't believe such a thing exists, at least not for writing. Yet, there has to be something that will assist me in my pursuit of great writing. I long to hold the reader captive, cause their heart to ache, breath fire into their spirit, and leave them panting for more.

That is what I crave and I won't stop until I have it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I wondered what I would write about today. The answer came to me this morning as I read a newsletter from Emily Hanlon. She wrote about something that once again has caused me to re-evaluate my decision to write. She was sharing about her father, his love of writing and his threatened feelings of failure with respect to being published.

It occurred to me that I have erroneously likened publication to successful writing. Here's the truth as I am struggling to see it. Success in writing is measured by the response of the reader to what you have created. If my intention is to create a character that the reader has strong feelings about (whether negative or positive) and evoke these, then I am successful. If I create a story that remains within the readers' minds long after the book has ended, I am successful.

In short, success as a writer is measured by the ability of the writer to take the reader on a journey through the lives of her characters and suspend them on every emotion and event with the full flavor of having experienced it themselves.

Have I mastered this thought, idea, or intention of success? Absolutely not! But I am working on it. Everyday as I add to the pile of pages that will constitute my 'mile', I will think on this. Hopefully I will be free of the tyranny of 'publish or perish'. Until then, I will continue to celebrate with my writing buddies as each project comes to life. And if I get published along the way...GOOD!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another step on the journey. My husband asked me a very important question. Is writing a chore because I'm trying to make it a business, or do I write because I enjoy it? After some contemplation, here is the answer.

I write for the joy of it. I love having stories and characters alive in my head. Getting it all down on paper in a form for others to share in them can sometimes be difficult. And, putting them on paper in a manner that is marketable seems impossible, at times. But the long and short of it is, I love it.

I would love to be published. Seeing my books on a shelf in a bookstore, or better yet, seeing them pulled from the shelf by children to read would be the rush of a lifetime. But knowing that they will be enjoyed by my grandchildren for years to come is also great.

I just have to get beyond the feeling/belief that publication is the definition of success. I have to get it all into perspective. Tough job.

My new goal is to see writing and publication they way I believe about relationships and sex. (Oooo, you said the 's' word). Publication is to writing as sex is to relationship. Writing is the cake and publication is only the icing. You can eat a lot of cake, even use it as bread for sandwiches, but try to eat as much icing alone, you'll only get sick.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wow! Have you ever stopped and counted your blessings? I have. And they add up to quite a few. I have such great support. You wouldn't believe it. If you go to my comments you will get a small dose of the kind of blessings and support that come my way.

Sometimes things in my life look ugly and bleak, but it doesn't stay that way for long. There is always someone to remind me how great life really is.

Writing can be very hard and there is little gratification other than the joy of a story well told. So what keeps me going? Just that. When I read a story that has come from musings, or a see character that appears out of nowhere, I am amazed. Or what really gets me going is when I read a chapter to my critique group and they respond in the way I had intended. That is really juiced!

Then there are the times that I listen to their work. I am so blown away just knowing that their minds pulled it out of nowhere. Creativity!!

The wonderful minds that I get to watch work reminds me of the greatest blessing of all...IMAGINATION. When was the last time you let yours run wild? Try it. But I have to warn you, it's addicting.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Okay, I'm back to being me. Rejection is so stinkin' hard. It is really hard not to take it all personally. But I think I'm ready to give it another go.

Last night while driving home from work it occurred to me that I am limiting myself. I told me that I had to jump through an additional hoop in order to submit to another agent. Why should I? I've decided to send it to her anyway and if they figure out that I may have done it 'not quite right', so what. If they really like it and want to take the work, it won't matter anyway.

So I'm off to the store to get more ink. I will write ! And write! AND WRITE! Hang them all! I am going to flood them with so much stuff they'll have to notice. Some day someone's going to see it and wonder how they overlooked it.

I think I just set a new goal for myself. By my birthday, 2008, I plan to write a mile of pages! There I put it in print, so I have to do it. It's a goal.
What are yours?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Okay, this is just bad. I'm feeling totally inadequate to continue. I can't face that piece again. (Of course you don't know which piece I'm talking about. It hasn't been published, yet!) Every time I think about going in and making the changes needed, I just want to cry. Or maybe blow up my computer. Not a good idea.

I've been searching myself all day for answers. My brain and my heart are just in shreds. I feel so discouraged. I don't think I can do it.

Then I got this really crazy idea. What would happen if I just didn't touch it. You know, work on something else. Something that's new and exciting. I think that maybe what I need is a change. Change of view, perspective.

Thinking about the next piece feels better. So off I go to let the new project grow in my head. I may not find peace, but at least I've gotten my 'achieve' voice to sing a different tune.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hi all. Working on getting over the latest disappointment. This is so tough. I was talking with a friend and telling her how this feels so impossible. I compared it to the graduate process and earning a doctorate in psychology.

That process was difficult, but there were guidelines and information along the way to determine my progress and success. There were ways to know if you were completely wrong or at least in the ballpark. Nothing like the process of writing and getting published.

But hope springs eternal. Yesterday I got some information that might help. I found out that there is a possibility of obtaining a writing coach. I'm not sure what that entails and the possible benefits. I'm still researching it and I'll keep you posted on how this turns out.

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Aaaaugh!!! I just heard from the agent I submitted to. Another 'no thank you'. I can't believe I keep subjecting myself to such rejection! It is incredible, and not the good kind. I work at improving and see my writing actually getting better and still no takers.

The only other opportunity is the agent that critiqued the piece. I would love to send it to her, but there is a problem. I submitted the piece to her about a year ago and without her express permission I don't believe I can send it in again.

Since then I have completely revamped it. And in her critique she liked it and even said that the manuscript was "pretty clean". I have looked everywhere to find a physical address to ask permission and no luck. I'm ready to pull my hair out. It seems that no matter where I turn there is another roadblock to the writing career I'm seeking.

Boy, earning a doctorate was a lot simpler than this. I sometimes think about giving up, but that's not likely to happen. I want this too badly. I wish I could figure out just what I'm doing wrong.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I haven't posted in forever. The truth is that I've been tied up in my writing and not paying much attention to this. I know, not good. The best thing is that I have returned to attending writing events.

Saturday I attended Agent's Day. It was awesome! I took advantage of having a chapter critiqued. The best part is that the agent liked it. She made a few suggestions to improve it and I have begun making those changes.

When I enter the world that I have created and begin communing with the characters, it's like taking a mini vacation. I get a rush of energy that is unbelieveable. But I think I've been making a big mistake.

I've been waiting to 'finish' the current project to begin the next one. If polishing is on-going, then waiting to 'finish' before beginning something new could take forever. I think it's best to start the next one as it comes to me. It will probably cut down on the discouragement and boost the enthusiasm.

What do you think? Let me know.