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.