Two weeks ago I set out to edit, revise, and add 12,000 words to my Holiday Novella. And I just typed those lovely last words that every aspiring author dreams to reach: "THE END"
Of course we writers know that it's really only the beginning, right? There's never an end to a Novel only a "I can't read this thing for one more second, please get it out of my sight!"
Well, I'm happy to report that I exceeded my goal, adding 13,000 words and finishing two weeks early. I'm so excited.
I get lots of writers who ask me how I do it and every time my answer will be this:
I'm one of those crazy writers who spends an unhealthy amount of time thinking about my characters, wondering what will happen to them, and just really enjoying their world as it develops.
In short, I write exactly what I'd want to read, how I'd want to read it.
I don't focus on trends, in fact, there are projects in portfolio that are considered to be dead Genre's and I'm certain I will never make me a dime, but I sure had a blast writing them.
If you're one of those writers struggling to finish your novel, you might have to ask yourself the same tough question I had to ask myself about UNDISTURBED.
Who am I writing/revising this story for?
My answer was: So the agent will like it. (Incorrect)
I've been battling with my UNDISTURBED rewrites for nearly a year now and it is literally painful, panic inducing, "I wanna eat my entire refrigerator" type of anxiety, which I know that it shouldn't be this hard.
Why don't I have as much fun editing UNDISTURBED as I did my Holiday Romance?
Because I wasn't doing it for myself. I think you lose something really special when you start trying to write to other people's taste.
So here's a promise to myself:
I will stop focusing on what I "think" the agent wants to see in my story and write what feels right to me. I mean it was this type of thinking that led to writing a novel that agents were actually interested in reading and gave me feedback on.
And let me say that their advice has been 100% spot on in making UNDISTURBED a much better story. The problem is they can only give me notes and suggestions. The words have to come from me, which means I have to be judge of which words feel right to me.
If marriage has taught me anything, it's that you can't read another person's mind, so don't bother trying.
So, dear readers. The next post that you will see from me will be the completion of my UNDISTURBED edits. With my head in the right place and my priorities reset. I feel stronger than ever to finish my rewrites once and for all.
Well March is almost done and my edits are not. This is the point I would usually be freaking out, but I've developed a new belief system when it comes to writing and it's simply to "Let the words come."
I don't know about you all, but I have spent countless hours staring at my unchanged pages, trying to forced something to come to me which is usually doesn't. I panic, diagnose myself as mentally challenged and profess that I will never be blessed with another good idea again.
I completely stress myself out over it and in the end, the only thing gained were increased levels of self-loathing and carbs.
So here's my new plan:
1. Chill Out: a fruitless writing session doesn't mean I'm finished. 2. Dig Deeper: I find that most of the scenes that give me anxiety are simply because I haven't put myself in the characters shoes. If I what readers to believe it, I have to make it believable. 3. Take your time: Setting deadlines is important to this business, but I once hear an editor say to enjoy the freedom you have. Write at your creative pace. Sleep with a notebook beside your bed and jot things down in the dark.
Overall, I've learned that pushing back from the keyboard is less stressful than trying to force my imagination.
So I've still got 100 pages left to edit for UNDISTURBED, they just so happen to be the most crucial part of the book. If I rushed through them to meet the deadline in my head, I wouldn't be confident in the choices I make. Plus, it's not like a Novel is ever really finished. three years later and I'm still thinking of lines and scenes for my very first novel.
The key is Quality. Most of us prefer a good product to a rushed one, and you can always tell can't you. nearly 90,000 words written, revised, cut, and re-written is a very, very large investment of time and energy. It's the reason why writers get so bummed out when their hard work is some easily rejected.
I say make your investment count by taking your time to create something entertaining, well developed, and professional quality, even if that means missing a deadline or ten :o)
Kelbian Noel tagged me over on her blog. She's introduced me to something called the Lucky 7 Meme. I'm supposed to do something really embarrassing. Share a sample of my unedited writing. Yikes! I figured what the hell. It's kind of fun looking at your story in snippets.
I decided to pull a excert from my revision of UNDISTURBED.
The Lucky 7 Meme:Rules
Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP Go to line 7 Copy down the next 7 lines--sentences or paragraphs--and post them as they're written. No cheating. Tag 7 authors Let them know
Here goes nothing:
That had to be a hallucination.
“Please, please don’t let it really be there,” I whispered. I would have preferred psychosis to any possibility of the flashes I’d seen or the fear collapsing my chest being real, but when I opened my eyes the card was there.
This was stupid, probably the stupidest thing I could be doing today, but I needed feel something other than sick to my stomach. My head was still spinning over my family reunion/ambush and Tony was my only diversion. I’d been sitting outside the boy’s locker room for twenty minutes and cursing myself the entire time. This wasn’t me. I wasn’t this girl, but I needed him.
(P.S. it's one line over, but I refuse to break an excert mid-sentence)
Well, bad news is I didn't get into the 2012 SCBWI Mentor Program, but the good news is now I'll have more time and funds to put towards the GRIEVANCE launch.
I'm taking my own advice from the quote I posted earlier this week. Yes, a huge part of the writing process is dealing with rejection. It does make you question what you're missing, but the truth is that it's all so subjective. One person's "No" doesn't speak for the entire world. And honestly that's a hell of a lot of weight and power to give one person, or in my case two.
One of my favorite quotes is:
"Stopping to count your stumbles will prevent you from finishing the race."
I believe in it more as a writer than I even did in college, because it's about the time and dedication I give to my stories. The life events I've missed out on, the friendships I've neglected. If I were to give up after a few rejection letters, I would be saying all of it was a waste.
I may be a severely delusional optimist, but I honestly don't know how to believe in anything other than succeeding. It's true no one wants to envision their own failure. I'm sure there are those who fought for their dreams with everything they had and didn't live to see them come true, but I like to believe that they were at least proud of their efforts.
And that's really what it's all about, living a life you can be proud of.
For me, that's sharing my stories with as many people willing to read them. So everyday I write, read, and learn how to make them better. It may take a thousand or more No's before I get there, but I'll never give up.
I'm off to the Mesa Comic Con today in search of an illustrator for my e-series GRIEVANCE. With the launch slated for Sept. 2, 2012, I've got no time to waste. Everyday is full of planning, sketching, research, and web designs. I really can't wait to share this amazing story with you all.
If you know of an illustrator, preferably a teen, I'd like to give some young artists the opportunity to display their talent, please have them Contact me .