There's a lot of both of those things that go with trying to become a published authour (isn't it weird how I always default to the British spelling?). And a lot of stress. I thought I knew stress after decades in the newspaper business, but this is more personal. I've spent the better part of the last year working on a novel, the genesis of which is an actual event in the lives of my grandmother and her sister. You'll likely remember from my earlier post that it was a finalist for a RWA Golden Heart Award (full disclosure, they don't read the entire book, just the first bit and a synopsis). I wrote that book, edited that book, edited it again. I submitted it to my critique group where I received feedback from a dozen smart and accomplished women. I edited some more. I sent it to my critique partner, CoeDee, and to some beta readers (think of it as beta testing a product before you release it). Then I ran the book through an editing software program that pointed out my many weaknesses (passive voice, over reliance on certain words ... you get the drift). And I was hopeful. Hopeful that my agent would like it. It wasn't dark like the book she loved that got me her in the first place. This book had damaged people to be sure. Damaged people are my jam. But it was more about human kindness. It had a love story. It was ... hopeful. And my agent "didn't love it". And I was disappointed. Very disappointed. Didn't-have-the-words-to-respond-to-her disappointed. Thick-skin-that-melted disappointed. Dagger-in-my-heart disappointed. I didn't have the presence of mind to even question her decision that she "didn't think she could sell it," I only managed to determine that she didn't have a problem with the writing. So it was the story. The premise. Don't get me wrong. I really like my agent. She's smart and a great person. But this. I didn't know what to do with this. So I gave myself a few weeks to grieve, eat chocolate and read. I read books that I'd been meaning to get to. Excerpts of books by writers whose books people were gobbling up at the moment. And I thought about STORY. I let the idea for a new book roll around in my brain and considered how best to make it stronger ... to make it a story that will resonate with readers. When I have an idea for a new book there are a couple of things I have to do before I can even start to figure out how to get from point A to point B. I need to get to know my characters. I invent them. Give them names, lives, backstories, character traits and personalities. I have to walk around in their skin. I have to know them as if they were flesh and blood. Then I sketch out the places they inhabit. Their home, their office, the hospital. I need to know how they move around in the physical space because I don't want to make those sort of decisions on the fly when I'm writing. If I pursue the idea that I'm kicking around, it will be a bit darker. I didn't plan that, it's just where the idea went. Maybe my agent will like this one better. Who knows. I will always write about damaged people. My main character will be a woman and she will have an emotional journey in the book that moves her from that point A forward. Thoughts and moments and bits of dialogue come to me and I pepper my desk with post-it notes. Two days ago I wrote the first paragraph. There are now words on a page. There is a working title. And I'm feeling hopeful. Again.
This post is long overdue. I did the once-in-a-lifetime thing I mentioned in my last blog post. I went to New York City for the Romance Writer's of America conference and awards. I've been back home two weeks now, but then my sweet, gimpy, rescue kitten died unexpectedly. Then a writer friend died unexpectedly (and far too young). My son broke up with his girlfriend :-( :-(. My daughter broke up with her boyfriend :-( and I've been trapped in the seventh ring of editing hell.
As we say in the south, "Grits happen."
In New York, I saw Tracey Morgan's $2 million Bugatti (impressive), nearly naked women in patriotic paint parading through Times Square (not impressive) and I stopped by the Good Morning America Window (would have been more impressive if I was a fan of George Stephanopolous.)
I must say, costs aside, it was cool as hell to be a Golden Heart Finalist. We were treated like freaking rockstars. Conference goers, seeing our badge or our Golden Heart pin would wish us the best, cheer us on and be generally amazing. Besides me, there were 49 other GH finalists (this is for unpublished books) and there were 8 finalists in my category (mainstream with a central romance) but Melissa (who ended up winning our category) had two books in the finals.
The women in my category were amazing and the high point of the trip was when New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley took us to Sardi's for lunch. That Sardi's. The institution with caricatures on the wall of theater greats old and new. She was so funny, kind, wise. All the things you want someone who has gone ahead and is reaching back to those coming up. She told us to block out all the noise and write from the heart.
After lunch we all stood outside the hotel and gave each other the quick pitches for our book. I'll keep that memory with me always.
They had so much scheduled for us that day. Meet and greets, cocktails parties, etc. I didn't attend a single workshop and that's okay because most of them were very romance-centric, and my category aside, romance isn't my wheelhouse. I may have a romance in my books (or not) but I don't write traditional romance with the HEA (happily ever after). My sister-in-law lives in New York and my sister came up from South Carolina so it was great to spend time with them, and they accompanied me to the luncheon the next day. And am I glad they did.
I kid you not, I nearly wet my pants when I walked into that ballroom. My modest Atlanta suburb ranch house could fit in that ballroom four times over. And there were easily a thousand people there.
I prayed I wouldn't have to get up and give a speech and god listened. Whew. Melissa did us all proud, however.
I believe things happen for a reason. I joined RWA six years ago when I decided I wanted to write books women might want to read. I looked around for an organization to join and because Mary Kay Andrews lives in Atlanta and she was a member of RWA, I joined. But I never really felt I belonged, so I didn't engage. But I kept my membership and in December I clicked open an email and saw it was the last year for the Golden Heart contest. And I had a just-finished first draft of a new book so I thought, what the heck. By the time I headed back home, the reason for all of this was clear. It was so I could be part of this amazing sisterhood ... the women of the Golden Heart class of 2019. The Omegas. And I couldn't be prouder.
On the off chance, you couldn't hear me scream from Atlanta all the way to where you are, I figured a quick blog post was in order. So, slacker blogger that I am, I see my last post was from October as I was gearing up for NaNoWrimo. I did it. 50,000 words in 30 days and enough to get my WIP (work in progress) to the finish line. The first draft anyway. Working title is THE SODA FOUNTAIN SISTER AND THE FLOWER LADY. I still have loads of editing to do and have no clue if my agent will love it but at least I've got the bones of the story down. Then I did something on a whim. I'm very active in WFWA (Women Fiction Writer's Association). This is where I got my first big surprise ... winning the Rising Star Award in 2017. I've not been so active in Romance Writers of America (keep that freaking word AMERICA in mind. It's big!) because I don't write traditional romance. Well, it's December of last year and I get an email notice that the deadline for entering the Golden Heart contest is coming up. Golden Heart is like Rising Star because it's for unpublished authors. Yes, I'm lucky to have an agent, but I'm not published yet. Insert sad face here. ANYWAY, it was a perfect storm. Deadline. Last year for Golden Heart. Finished rough draft on my computer. So being the practical gal I am, I thought why not send in this not-quite-polished manuscript. What have I got to lose? I promptly forgot I entered. Fast foward to mid-March. Get email that GH finalists will announced March 21st. Didn't really make much of impression on me, except to think ... oh yeah ... I entered that didn't I? Thursday morning I'm driving to work and a call comes in (hands-free, of course!) from a number I don't know. The woman introduces herself as a board member of the RWA and she hopes she's about to make my day. I almost drove off the freaking road. My book was a finalist in the mainstream category. Apparently this is a big deal. All the other finalists are all online screaming. There's a live twitter feed announcing all our names. I can see my name on the RWA website. I'm in the "GH club" now. It's been crazy. There's a big conference and awards ceremony in NYC the end of July. It's not cheap either ... especially NYC but I'm mulling. It seems like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. And I'm so grateful that on this journey, when I start putting on my big ol' suit of self doubt, the universe sends me a little reminder that I'm on the right path. If I listen close enough, my heart tells me that every day.
This month, I am trying to do NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world register at the NaNoWriMo website and pledge to do their best to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. For those of you shaky in math, that comes out to over 1,660 words a day. And if you fall behind on a day, woe be unto you, though you will lie to yourself and tell yourself you'll make it up on the weekend.
I've done this two times before and while it's fun in the same way it's fun to keep pushing that loose tooth around with your tongue ... it's hard! If you lived on a desert island ... okay, scratch that ... you wouldn't have internet. If you had no other obligations in your life it might be easier, because having a job, committments, kids, pets, and all that stuff makes it tougher to glue your butt to the chair. But because I'm a world class procrastinator, even if I had all the time in the world, I'd find a way to waste some of it. Plus, just because you have the time, that doesn't mean the words are going to flow.
I started two novels the last two times I did NaNo. I was pretty pleased with the results. At worst, it put me 50k into a new work in progress with each attempt. This time I am struggling. I'm starting in the middle of a book, having written about 42k before November rolled around and things aren't flowing like I'd hoped.
I thought the accountability of NaNo would help push me over the finish line of the first draft of this book. It's a story I care about, but it's miles from where it needs to be. Someone told me the other day that the first draft is you telling yourself the story. That made a lot of sense to me. I know there are whole bits that I'm writing that won't see the light of day (or my agent's eyes) and there are others that aren't in the book, because my heart hasn't found them yet.
I put so much of my soul into my second book that I wasn't sure I had any left. My agent, who is a swell person, emailed me the other day that she was "heartbroken that my book hadn't sold yet." I needed to hear that. My heart is broken, too. But I need to do some soul searching, some soul mending and some soul replenishing and go out and find the heart of my next book. It's a process. The heaven and hell are in the mix.
As hard as I try to stay positive, and not let things get me down, it's never a one hundred percent proposition. Submission can be a brutal process. Everyone says to write to keep your mind off it. Persevere. And yes, I realize this is a business and if a publisher doesn't think they can sell your book and make money, or are not sure where to place it in the market to sell it and make money, well then ... they're not going to take that risk, especially on a debut novel.
I still believe with my whole heart that this is a good book. A really good book.
My friend Alison, she of the same name as my main character and the person who led me to WFWA and also put my agent on my radar, is having a great month.
She got an agent just a few months back. She did her revisions and her agent started submitting her book. She got one, maybe two rejections, and then an offer from a publisher. So happy for her but a glaring reminder, that I don't have an offer yet. The thing to do when you have an offer, but other editors have your manuscript, is to let them know an offer is on the table. That usually will nudge the others one way or the other. In Alison's case, it nudged a couple of other editors to talk to her on the phone. She will probably end up with two or more offers. Nice to have choices.
If I have to self publish, so be it, but it will be a crack in my heart. Not enough to break it, but it will sting. I've been set on traditional publishing from the start.
If my agent decides at some point, it's not happening on this book, then I will seek her counsel and we will go from there. In the meantime I'll keep working on the new book, because it's what I do, what I need to do and so much damn fun.
The jumping off point for the story is something that happened to my grandmother. When she and her sister were very young (younger than the characters in my book who are five and six), they were abandoned by their mother in a soda fountain in Atlanta, Georgia. Their mom ran off to Baltimore with another man, and their father picked them up pretty quickly. I heard that story as a child and it never left me, so that's the catalyst for the story ... everything after is fiction ... made up. And that's the fun part. Well, off to write. I'll try to focus on the lovely view out of my window, the beautiful weather today, the cat curled up in my lap, my family's health and happiness. Even a temporary funk can't dim those good things.
I hate that I feel the need to write this blog.
I hate that someone said something awful and I let that make me angry.
And I wouldn’t be doing this here, in this forum, had it not had a direct impact on my writing.
I’m working on a new book. Typically I hire an editor on the back end. I thought it might be interesting to get feedback at the start and compare the two processes.
A woman wrote a book on writing. I read it. I hired that woman for two sessions. I send pages, she’s gives feedback. First session went pretty well. She seemed to have a sense of humor. She talked fast and a lot … but I was paying for her input and I managed to get a few questions in. I knew she bounced between California and New York and I admit, it flashed through my mind that she was probably a liberal, but it flashed right back out because we were talking about writing, not politics.
We were to have our second session in a few days. I woke yesterday to an email from her titled “refund.”
Apparently, she saw something I said on Facebook (why she was looking my posts, I have no idea) and she didn’t like it. She decided it was impossible for us to work together, hence the refund.
I can think of about 5,000 ways she could have handled this better. Let me throw this one out:
I’m sorry to have to do this, but I stumbled across one of your posts on Facebook. We all have a right to our opinion, but this left me feeling uncomfortable and so I think it would be hard for us to continue our working relationship. I hope you understand. I have issued you a refund for the remaining session.
I would have been disappointed. I would have thought her unprofessional, but I would have gotten over it. It would have been fine. It’s her company. She can do what she wants. If a baker is free to decline to make a cake on religious grounds, she can decline to read my pages on … whatever grounds these are.
But that’s not what she choose to do.
She started with an emotional diatribe about her granddaughter and how she was the same age as the crying child in a photograph from the border. She went on and on as if she were building the moral hill from which she was going to slay me.
Even that, I probably could have taken. But she wasn’t finished.
She needed to tell me I was a different “species” from her, and that she had no interest in trying to convince me of something I wasn’t “wired to feel”.
So this woman, that doesn’t know me … knows nothing about my life or opinions or how I came to hold them, decided she would sit in judgment and assume what I was capable of feeling.
Those of you who know me, know I could spend the day watching dog rescue videos and crying. I just rescued a feral cat with a wonky leg, and I’ve sponsored kids from the Philippines or Honduras since I was an 18-year old without a pot to piss in.
You probably also know I’m a conservative … Republican by default, but a live-and-let-live girl when it comes to social issues.
No, this woman doesn’t know me. But she choose to judge me based on politics.
This is what it’s like now.
“You can’t care about children unless you think like I think.”
“You can’t care about women, or race, or poverty, or anything, unless you think like I think.”
“And if you don’t think like I think, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to call you names.”
If you care about children, and the law, and the Constitution, it puts you in a quandary. I find it odd that some of the people screaming the loudest for diversity, can’t abide diversity of thought. Some of the people yelling for compassion and understanding seem incapable of exhibiting those traits themselves.
I’m sure this country had it’s share of problems in the early 1900s with the European immigrant influx. We’ve had economic and diplomatic issues since this country began, but I don’t know that we’ve ever been at each other’s throats like we are now.
It’s a sad state of affairs. And I don’t consider myself blameless. I’m sure I’ve upset some folks like she upset me. And for that I apologize and I can only try to do better and keep the discourse civil.
There’s a chance my path will cross with this person in the future. The writing community, while large, is tight. I will be … civil. But I will always be disappointed in her.
Her book made a nice trash can liner.
Since I started this blog to chronicle my journey to become a writer, I figure I'd better not bury the lede.
I have signed with an agent! And she's pretty damn awesome. I have a dear friend that loves this agent so I feel a bit like I've stolen her prom date, but she's been super gracious and supportive about it.
I was weary of querying ... it takes so much time (but unfortunately it is a necessary evil) and it's pretty much a crapshoot. Now, no more querying and more time to write. Win, win, people.
Now for the "journey" part of this tale.
When I decided to start writing, I figured it couldn't hurt to be part of a network. So I joined the Atlanta Writer's Club (went to maybe two meetings). I joined Georgia Romance Writers (never went to a meeting) and Romance Writers of America (entered a contest and judges said my book wasn't a romance ... that should have been my first clue that I was in the wrong place).
While I was querying my first book, I was working on my second. I missed the community of folks I had clicked with at authonomy.com (Harper Collins UK has closed down the site, sadly). The Women's Fiction Critique Group from authonomy migrated over to Facebook so I joined up with them. I had tried some face-to-face critique groups but I either didn't like the format, or there were two many genres. I did find a small group focused on women's fiction but the leader had to cut me and another woman lose after only two meetings when a couple of former members wanted back in. I guess "the more the merrier" wasn't part of their charter.
I digress :-)
Through that online critique group I met the aforementioned friend. Let's call her Alison. That's the name of the main character in my book. It just so happens to be her name as well.
Alison told me about Women's Fiction Writer's Association (WFWA), so I checked it out and joined. The women in the association were so nice, so talented and the group was very proactive in terms of helping their members so I took advantage of every opportunity I could find. Pitch Workshop. Check. Signed up. Alison came through with a killer pitch for me while I drank mint juleps by the pool (kidding on that second part). Pitch Week. Check. Ab out a dozen agents stop by and read the 50 word pitches. Got some nibbles. Yeah for fishing analogies!
Every year, WFWA has two contests for their members. Star Award for those who are published, and Rising Star Award for those who are not. I thought, what the hell, I'll enter. You submit a synopsis and the first 35 pages of your manuscript. I'm a designer so I know subjectivity. Obviously that comes into play in this type of contest. As does good, old-fashioned luck. It depends on the judges you get. And let's be honest. Your first 35 pages could shine and it could all go to hell on page 36 and no one is the wiser. Anyway, I kept my expectations low and entered. To be honest, I'd forgotten all about it until I read a post that the five finalists would be announced on a certain date at 10 a.m. I was about to head into the office and logged in to check when I got a phone call about a freelance project I was working on. So already, I'm going to be late for work and it was 10:20 before I could check the announcement.
Time. Stood. Still.
There ... among the list of the five finalists was my name ... and my book.
If you know me at all, you know I probably burst into tears. And you'd be right to think that.
I was shaking. I was incredulous. I was so happy. It was so ... affirming to have that sort of validation. There is a butt load of self doubt that comes with this journey so I was grateful to have this to throw in the mix! It would be another month before the awards were announced at the annual WFWA retreat in New Mexico. One of the finalists, Lainey, set up a live feed so that those of use not in attendance could watch the awards. I hoped I'd at least place in the top three and and had put a substantial bet down in Vegas on Lainey to win (JK). I was sick as a dog with the almost-flu so I had to crawl out of my bed at 10 pm and hobble to the computer. The amazing Peggy Finck, who ran the contest, came to the podium and announced the third place winner. When she awarded second place to the woman I thought would win, a small and hopeful thought entered my brain ... maybe ... just maybe? Then Peggy started reading my book blurb and I lost it. Right there on the live feed for the entire ... (well, there were only six of us :-) group to see. I don't think that many consecutive "thank you's" have come from my lips since my kid was born healthy and I was on anesthesia.
In addition to a huge kick-ass trophy, a few days later I got one big surprise. Peggy told me that one of the agent judges wanted to see my full manuscript. This. Is. Huge. Of course, I got a panic attack about the whole page 36 thing. But this was THE agent my friend raved about. I totally stalked her instagram page and she was just too cool for school. She's exactly who I'd want to be if I was ... thirty ... super smart ... beautiful with great taste.
You do know I'm totally assuming she'll never read this haha.
The one thing Peggy didn't tell me was the agent's email. Fortunately, I had her "work" (not personal) email from the pitch week submission guidelines. I sent my manuscript with a big subject line to her attention.
About a week went by and I started to worry a tad. Maybe a few more grey hairs popped up. By then, Alison the great (who I had told all about her dream agent) had given me the agent's personal email. So I put on my big girl panties and emailed her to check in and inquire if she'd received the book.
She hadn't checked the other email so was very happy I'd touched base. Since I'm on the other side of this, I can now say I was in for AN EVEN BIGGER SURPRISE ... one of those, is this really happening??? moments. Agent emailed me back. In a nutshell: read the book in one freaking day. LOVED it (her all caps). Could we talk on the phone?
I immediately went into freakout mode and emailed Alison, who was freaking out with me, but had the presence of mind to tell me that they don't call you to reject you. Good info.
Agent and I made plans to talk in two days. I had to drive to Candler Park to meet my daughter for a high tea, but on a side street, beneath an old oak, in the quiet of my VW Passatt, I called. She was so nice. So supportive and she wanted to work with me. Me. Me. Work with me. She would love to add me to her list. I know she was talking at normal speed and volume, but everything was in slow motion. She encouraged me to do my due diligence and check out the other agents that had my book (I had already :-) plus... did I mention I stalked her instagram?
I said yes, we both said hurrah and I went to meet my daughter. I walked up to her smiling like a mad woman and did my happy dance. I HAVE AN AGENT!!!
There are lots of things that have to happen to make it to publication. A lot of stars have to align, but I respect this woman, I have faith in my voice and my book, and I believe she wouldn't take a chance on me if she wasn't equally optimistic that this could really happen.
I am excited to see where this journey takes me. The past month has been one sweet, wild ride.
Love you all.
For the past couple of years I've been doing the soul-crushing work of querying my first book. In fact, if someone wanted to make a movie called "The Soul Crushers," the life of a hopeful, unpublished author would be a good place to start. I've had enough warm fuzzies along the way to keep me going, but 100 rejections is my magic number because that's how many Jodi Picoult got before she found an agent.
Lately I've turned my attention to my second book, because while the first book was meant to be more of a beach read, this one is more complex and I feel strongly about it. I've also been thinking happy thoughts, looking for fairy dust on the internet and praying to the writing gods.
And sometimes the Universe answers.
I belong to a great online women's fiction critique group and through the group I met Alison. (I liked her immediately as that's my main character's name!) Alison told me about the Women's Fiction Writers Association. I joined and right away felt like I found my tribe. It's well run, the members are super supportive and they do things to really help us on our journey. Recently, I participated in their pitch workshop. 80 of us helped each other fine tune our pitch. A pitch is your novel synthesized down to 50 words, hopefully with a hook that will entice agents to give you a request for pages. And yes, it's as hard to do as it sounds.
Alison came to my rescue again, and helped make my pitch better than I could have ever done on my own.
Once our pitches were solid, 80 of us participated in pitch week. We posted them online and about a dozen agents came by for a look. Sadly, a lot of folks didn't get request, but many got 1 or 2. A few got 7 or 8 and I got 5!! Thank you universe. Three of those have come back and requested the full manuscript.
Around the same time the WFWA announced the five finalist for the Rising Star Contest (unpublished authors...that's why we're rising :-) SHUT UP! When I saw my book on the list I seriously thought I was hallucinating. I'm so humbled, and the other finalist are so great ... we're all rooting for each other! Winner to be announced Sept. 22. Fingers crossed!
At the end of the day, I know publishing is a business. I know agents and editors and publishers want to be wowed. Maybe I'm not a wow kinda gal, but the affirmation I've gotten of late was much needed and oh so appreciated. This may lead to something...but just as easily could come up goose eggs. No matter, I'll keep on until I write that book they can't say no to.
In the meantime, if anyone knows where to buy that fairy dust, give me a yell. (This is the lovely badge the WFWA folks gave me to put on my website.)
The people that write the books want to write a good book. The people that read the books want to read a good book. Sounds simple enough. But in between point A and point B there is a lot of hard work that makes the actual writing of the book seem like the easy bit.
I was surprised when a friend found out I had written and book and asked if they could go get it at Barnes and Noble. (Dear Samantha on Bewitched: Could you wiggle your nose and make that happen, please?)
What really happens after you write your book is that you edit it ... look for typos, changes in tense, stupid mistakes, grammar errors. Then you rewrite. Again and again. Then you ask friends to read it and give feedback. Then you rewrite. Again. Then you join a critique group and get feedback from other people writing books. Then you take a pause while you lose your mind.
When you find your mind again, you rewrite. Then you start to query. This means you have to write a query letter. Damn. And a synopsis. Double damn. A query is the most important and best damn (but short and concise) letter you can write to sell your book to an agent. Prepare thyself for rejection. Lots of it. Think that boy in third grade that didn't want you for a girlfriend broke your heart? You ain't seen nothing yet. You can also go to conferences and meet editors and agents face to face. Most are nice and put their pants on one leg at at time. But that doesn't mean they're not intimidating. You stutter a lot and find out what little salesmanship skills you have. I got lucky at a recent conference that one of the editors I met was from the same town as me. She gave me her card and told me to call her when I got an agent. Ahhhhh. There's the rub. That means that instead of rejections you have to get an agent that says "send me your full manuscript." And they have to fall in love with it. I mean passionate love. And they have to take you on. Let's suppose for a moment you're lucky enough to find that special agent. Then they are going to most likely want you to change some things in the book you've already rewritten ten times. Then they have to have good relationships with editors and publishing houses and hopefully convince an acquisitions editor to take your book and sell it to the publisher. And then you'll have an editor who will .... take a guess ... wants some rewrites. Then if the magic happens and you're actually published and there is an honest-to-god book with a cover and your name on it, well then you have to market it. That bit actually sounds fun, but you're left wondering where in all this, do you find the time to actually write that NEXT book. (Publishers don't really like one hit wonders.) So do you do the thing that brings you joy and write and not really care if anyone but your best friend from high school and your Aunt Jo reads it? Or do you jump on the carousel and try for the brass ring, even if you are getting slightly nauseous from having gone around in circles so many times? I think, hope, pray it's a bit of both and I can find the balance. Wish me luck.
Wow. Only two months since my last post. That, my friends, is progress.
About eight months ago, I joined an online women's fiction critique group. Once a month, a member submits their work and the rest of us read and give feedback. The polite and proper thing to do is to return that favor and critique those kind souls who have given your work a read.
I'm trying to do the polite and proper thing but it takes up a lot of time. The good news is I finally figured out how to get the word documents on to my Kindle Fire so that makes the reading easier and I'm more mobile ... not chained to the Word application on my computer.
So, I just finished my critique that's not due until May 6th, AND just emailed my thoughts on a swap read with another woman in the group. I was fully committed to reading over the last few days (when I wasn't binge watching "Last Tango in Halifax." I may have a bit of a British TV addiction. Don't judge.)
I'm also half the way through "The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper" ... a novel of an elderly English gentleman who finds a charm bracelet belonging to his late wife and discovers each charm has a story that reveals much about her he didn't know. After that, I'm dying to read "Jane Steele." I peeked at the first chapter and it has its hooks in me already. A woman has committed a murder and she has a deep affinity for the title character in "Jane Eyre" (a novel I read once a year).
I also ordered "As I Lay Dying," as an attempt to get my feet wet in the waters of William Faulkner. My granddad was a big fan of Faulkner and I'm embarrassed to say I've never read him. Rumour has it he's damned hard to wade through but worth it in the end, so after googling "what's the best Faulkner to start with", I feel ready to push forward.
But for today, I'm putting the reading aside to concentrate on what I really love ... the writing. I simply can't write when someone else's voice is in my head. Now that the weather is nicer, I think I'll take a bike ride on the trail beside the Yellow River. If I forego my headphones, I can think about the book as I pedal. It's a nice palette cleanser for my brain, as it were. I can flush out those other voices and be ready to write when I get back home.
It's funny ... you tell some folks you've written a book and they immediately assume they can run out to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy. What they don't realize, and what I'm learning, is that the writing is the easy/fun bit. The rest is an exhausting process of editing, rewriting, querying, rejection, more querying, conferences, feedback, and then if you're lucky, an agent, and then if you're really lucky, a publisher ... and then a new round of edits/rewrites/feedback.
I know it's a business. I get that. I write because I've discovered what so many before me knew -- you write because you love it. Would I like to be published ... give readings ... go 'round to signings? You betcha. But Anne Lamont told me in her book "Bird by Bird", that you better do this because you love it, because you're never going to be published and you're never going to make money at it. Harsh words, perhaps, but it just means anything good that happens is gravy. If you love something, I don't think you can ever go wrong. In fact, it's the best reason I can think of for trying to get this right.
I've been a graphic designer for nearly 30 years and for some crazy reason I decided I wanted to write a book. So I did, and now I'm writing another. Looking for that one person to believe in me.
Glue YOUR BUTT
TO THE CHAIR
The ups and downs, small victories and major setbacks of trying to get your first book published. There will be laughter, tears and all that good stuff.