This is a test post.
I haven’t posted anything in awhile seeing as my time is limited and I’m trying to focus on the actual writing/editing/revising part of writing and not the blogging/tweeting/facebooking part. Not that I’m discounting the fun or importance of the latter but if we don’t have actual work to write and tweet and facebook about, then what’s the use?
Every now and again I write about my writing journey and today I felt compelled to share a bit of the journey thus far. I’ve already shared it on private loops and I thought I’d post it here as well.
This past weekend I went to The 2012 Spring Fling Conference held at the Marriott, in Hoffman Estates. It was an amazing conference put on by The Chicago-North Chapter of RWA and some of my very best friends. I thought I’d share with you some of the things I was able to take away from the experience.
1. Pitched well, received a request.
2. Had very cool/interesting conversations with authors, agents and other aspiring writers.
3. Saw my heroine for an MS (not yet written) very clearly during SEP’s workshop.
4. Got heated up at the “Hot Night” reading, where authors share 5 pages of their hot scenes. I joined the “spicy” category, of course
5. Came away with two very personal things.
1. That the only thing that really matters in the end is your quality of work. Focus on the work, without it nothing else matters. That gave me a great sense of control and hope. I don’t have control over how an agent’s day is going when they read my query or if an editor that I meet likes my blouse. What I do have control over is the quality of my work. If I write and submit and it isn’t good enough I can make it better. I can learn and grow and revise and better my work. I can put my heart and soul into it and at some point, for someone, it will come through and it won’t matter if I’ve tweeted, or facebooked or blogged. My work will speak for itself.
2. Two years ago, at my first ever conference, I had only ever read one recent romance (maybe a few when I was a teen), and had barely a first draft under my belt, and I sat there amidst the workshops and speeches, writers and published authors, and felt completely out of my element. I can’t say it was inspiring or life-changing. I kept wondering where among the romance addicts and those who aspired to be a writer for their entire life I belonged. It certainly didn’t make me stop but it didn’t renew or motivate me either. What I was at least able to do was take a step back and look at all these people and say, “If they could do it, I could do it.” So I kept on.
This year was so much different internally and externally. It could have been my inner-self, could have been the awesome workshops and headliners that spoke to my heart, could have been I was surrounded with the best group of writer friends ever. I’m willing to bet it was probably all of the above, but it was wonderful. I didn’t question if I belonged there amongst so many smart and talented women, I didn’t question if I was a writer or deserved to be called a writer. There amongst so many I was considered a writer, some even looked to me for advice and knowledge, and that blows my mind. So in the end, I am a writer and I felt like one too, and I even got a really cool button in my conference bag that says, “I write.” And yes, I do.
And that about sums it up. I’m going to go and update our chapter’s website now and do some more writerly things, stopping only to pop back in and talk of my journey but I can’t promise a weekly blog, quite honestly that’s just too much,but I can promise that I will work and I will write and I will put my soul on paper and maybe one day it’ll get published, but nevertheless I will write.
I realized after rearranging my site and looking back on past blogs that I never finished my submission story. How could I? I left all two or three of you hanging selfishly So, let me catch you up. In March I did complete my first full-length novel, huzzah! 334 pages of…well I’m not really sure, but I finished it. I sent it to the editor who had requested it and 3 very long weeks later I received my first rejection. I’ll admit, I was disappointed but not surprised. I knew it didn’t fit in with their line, but, you never know…
So, what do yah do after a rejection? Well, you eat some ice-cream, drink some wine, whine and lament. Then you pick yourself up and dust yourself off and try again. Such is the life of a writer seeking publication. Then you polish a little, seek some advice, tighten a little, and query. But as with anything there are eventual pitfalls. Energy draining, blood sucking, self-doubt pitfalls. Some days you find yourself sitting there wondering, why? Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I working so hard? Then you realize as other artists do. You have no choice. You are compelled by some unseen force inside of you that says you must go on. You are battered in the morning, noon, night, while showering and trying to sleep by other characters in your head that must have their story told. You press on to tell your “heart story” there’s no reason, no rhyme, you’re not getting paid nor getting glory. You sit there in your chair typing away, pouring your soul out on paper because you simply, must. That is why. No one but another artist can understand this lunacy. But it is a common thread we all share.
I have blogged about what a joy it is to have writing in my life. To be a writer. Yes, I said it. I’m a writer. I’m good enough, smart enough and creative enough. I will believe I am a writer. I will believe in myself, my stories, my compulsion. And for the most part it is a joy, except when you have to draw your sword and battle your demons that hover, lurk, stalk you from the inside and wait for just the right moment to attack and drain you of your drive. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Recently, I have read posts by other writers who have had similar experiences and their words are bright shining beacons to cling to. Thanks to one of my friends Isis for her inspiring post.
For the most part I’ve kept a good outlook on my journey, this beautiful, dreadful journey. I want to remind myself, my critique partners, my friends and cohorts, and everyone, that it shouldn’t be so much about the end result, and in the particular case of the writer’s journey, publication. I advise you to love, savor, immerse yourself in the journey, sink into each moment of it. And in thinking about this reminds me of a song some of you may know. I am well aware that some of you will think it’s cheesy and juvenile, and so be it, but it speaks of the journey.
The Climb – Written by: Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe, Performed by: Miley Cyrus
I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
“You’ll never reach it”
Every step I’m taking
Every move I make, feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb
The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going
And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on
Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith
So, savor your climb, live in the present of your journey whatever it may be. Because when you finally reach the top, it is the journey that you will reflect upon, the journey that will have made you what you are, the journey that will have taught you the lessons and fed your soul.
Feel, experience, be, the journey.
I never knew that when I started out on this journey. This beautiful, fulfilling, tear out your hair journey of writing that it could give so much. It has done so much for me, my mind, my soul, and what’s even more amazing is that it affects those around me, or dare I say, I affect them.
It started when I decided that I would tell the people around me my new life path, I had to. I had to accept myself as a writer, and to believe it myself I had to be accountable to others and maybe have them believe it too. This fabulous thing happens when I start to share what I am doing. My eyes light up, I’m animated, and if I didn’t know better I’d say I glowed from within. I show passion, speak with passion and exude a passion that people notice. And this inspires those around me to follow their dreams and if not pursue them, think about them, toss them around in their head and dream that delicious dream. How wonderful that I can be this, if nothing else. Not only do I get to better my life but the lives of those around me, how great is that?
And it’s not a selfish passion either. I want those around me to share in it too. I can’t tell you the amount of people I know who have said to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” “Do it,” I say. “If I can, then you can.” Some have even started.
I tell yah, at this point I don’t know where I’m going with this or how I’m gonna get there. But I do know I don’t want to be anywhere else. And if I can help just one person feel half as lucky as I do then I just made it that much better. So do something, anything, do that thing that you always wanted and tell someone about it, share it, even if you think it’s stupid, risk it, and inspire someone else to really live.
I don’t want to sound like a song out of a fairytale or a bad version of a graduation speech. But really. I have to say writing has brought me much more than I ever expected; something so intangible and wonderful that I burst and explode when someone asks me. The ability to dream again.
When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina, dancing in my tutu and spinning around. Then, I fell in love with all the old movies and the glamorous Hollywood starlets, the Ginger Rogers, the Judy Garlands, and the Vivien Leigh’s of that era and of course wanted to be a movie star.
In college, I majored in theater and even started to pursue a career in it. It still eludes me to this day, why I stopped. I guess it was a combination of a lot of things. I transferred colleges, re-thought the idea of the struggling actress waiting on tables, and fell in love with my abnormal psychology class, but all in all, my guess is that I caved. I kowtowed to a world around me that asked, “So, when are you going to get a REAL major?” I guess I did it because I wasn’t ready to handle that kind of battle. So, I majored in something practical, got a job, got married, had a kid and then what? Life, death, finances slapped me in the face and I found myself eking by; just existing from one day to the next, from one paycheck to the next. Sure, there are things that make you happy, the touch of a little hand, sweet butterfly kisses and of course, chocolate. Through it all there’s always been chocolate 🙂
But I realized I had stopped dreaming, stopped asking, “What if,” and stopped imagining anything other than what the present held. I didn’t window shop or catalogue shop. I never said, “One day I’d like to get that. One day I’d like to go there.” Life had sucked that kind of dreaming away from me. In my heart, I felt that I would never have “that” because I needed to buy my son new school clothes, and I would never go “there” because I could barely make the mortgage. The ability to see anything beyond my cloud ceased to exist, then, I stumbled into writing.
I can’t express on paper…er…computer screen what writing has brought to me. All I know is that I get this wistful look in my eyes and I can’t stop talking about it when I’m sharing something about my writing. I’m filled with joy, and…dreams. Dreams that I dare to dream, now. In reality, I know that getting published is a long shot. I know it could take years. I know that it’s extremely difficult, but you see, it is a possibility. It exists. The idea that one day, just maybe one day…and that means more to me than anything.
I’ve found something new and exciting, beautiful and challenging that I never knew existed in me. Every day I battle self-doubt, self-sabotage and the non-stop beckoning of my pillow to come and take a nap, for nothing other than to have a beautiful dream and feel alive once more. When a song inspires me, or a commercial, or some situation triggers a new story in my head, it’s as if live wires were connected to my brain from something outside me, and it’s invigorating. I feel so lucky that my best friend pursued her dream and let me share it. Now, I share it with others, whether they want me to or not, and have been told more than once that I am an inspiration. Wow. That’s one of the best compliments that I’ve ever gotten.
Not too long ago, a co-worker asked me if there was “a buck” in what I was doing. And what I had been doing was toiling over a manuscript for about a year, sinking in my blood, sweat, and tears. My very soul. My response, “No, I’m doing it for the love of writing…” Sounds kinda corny and cliché’ but for the most part it sums it up, but not entirely. Writing has given me new air, new life, a new existence. Whether it’s the act of creating, the ability to share it or helping others to create it, it’s a new path. A new path with dreams and aspirations, the intangibles that somehow got lost along the way. So, my advice to anyone who reads this. Find it, find your passion, and dream. You won’t regret it, it’s delicious.
It’s been quite a long time since I updated my blog. Sorry. Yes. I am still plugging away and no, I still haven’t sent in my MS. I’ve had three or four deadlines for myself and have passed each one up. Damn life gets in the way. I can see how writers would like to barricade themselves in a cabin in the woods or by the beach and write/live/eat/sleep with their stories. But alas, this luxury is not allowed to most of us. Most of us have jobs that pay the bills. We have families, husbands, pets and children. All of which require our attention and gets in the way. Yes, we love them but they do get in the way no matter how you look at it and that’s where perseverance comes in. The ability to get on the move again when life deals you something else.
It’s also when you feel like you’re writing poorly and you still push when you want to quit but you still tell your story. If you’ve ever had to put yourself on paper you know what I mean. You pour your soul out. I laugh with my characters, I cry with them, it’s exhausting…
I can’t tell you what it’s like to push forward and write. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted. It’s like putting your innards on paper for all to see and critique. One day I read something that I wrote and I say to myself, “Wow, that’s actually good.” The next day I could read the same paragraph and say, “What a piece of crap! Who’s gonna wanna read this crap?”
You have to push past your own resistance and self-sabotaging ways and continue. I recently read a great book, “the WAR of ART,” by Steven Pressfield. If you are struggling with pushing through a difficult time in any given task I recommend that you read it.
Well, there seems to be light at the editing tunnel and hope to send my MS out by late February, hoping the editor still wants it. I know it’s a been some months since she requested it but I couldn’t send her something less than my best. And it’s a good possibility that my best will get rejected but like I said earlier, I will just have to persevere some more and find someone who won’t reject it and then write another one and so on…
So, I left off at my epiphany. How I decided that writing was my new life path or rather how my muse made me sit up and listen.
Well, the next step on my journey was the contest.
I had been writing for five months and found out that I’m not a plotter but a pantser. I prefer to call it “flying into the mist” as one author called it in the RWR. There’s no outlining of the manuscript, mostly just writing what comes to mind. This works for a while but then at some point you have to connect the dots, which I did about 3/4 of the way through. I tend to be an emotional writer, the emotion and sex is easy for me the conflicts and other stuff, hard. So, I wrote the scenes as they came to me, they meet, she saves his life, he gives her a gift, they have sex. I thought it sounded good but my partner read it and I laugh every time I repeat her words, “I hardly know this man” she typed in her critique of my scene. My response…”OK, exactly how many times do they need to be together before they can have sex?”
Next, we decided to learn more about the craft and took Lori Wilde’s online workshop on Layering Scenes for Maximum impact. We learned A LOT! Can’t thank Lori enough, it was an eye opener.
So, then this contest comes along. The Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America’s “Between the Sheets” contest. My partner sends me the link and says that I should enter it. Contest schmantest I exclaim. Then she explains to me how important they can really be and I mull it over. At this point I’m not signed up for RWA, I have no home chapter, I’m just getting knowledge secondhand from her and writing on my own.
Then I decided that if this was going to be my life path I better get myself out there and declare it as my path. I joined the RWA despite the fact that I might not be able to really afford it living check to check and all. I rationalized paying the fee, thinking that if I needed the money that I sent I would just not pay my credit card for that month, (luckily for me I didn’t have to avoid paying my credit card). I filled out the contest application and began to polish my sex scene, not only polish it but cut it down as well. I submitted the application on February 2nd and the deadline for submission was the 14th, Valentine’s day. This seemed pretty short but to make matters worse, my son’s 7th birthday was on the 12th and I was planning a Clone Trooper celebration for the 13th. So, with shopping and planning and cooking and only having one car to do this with (meaning I had to drive my husband to work and pick him up when I needed the car), oh and taking a workshop, it was pretty challenging.
My scene started out as 9 pages, not too bad, you have to submit 10 and a 1 page set-up but it was missing some major parts like, oh, talking. So, I had to add to it. I stole some parts from my manuscript and had a complete scene, the page count after all that was 19 pages. 19! Crap, now I had to cut out 9 pages!!! Well, it wasn’t in manuscript format so after doing that it was decreased to 15. Still. I had to cut it to 10 pages and so I started. I learned while doing this I had WAY TOO MUCH narrative so some of it was easy to cut. I had to sacrifice some of the naughty parts too but it was for the good of the contest and I knew I could put it back.
So I worked for hours and hours, pouring over this one scene and by the time I was done with it I couldn’t stand anymore manhood, or thrusting or anything. I was done. I submitted it on the evening of his party, Saturday February 13th 2010.
Why did I enter? To begin to put myself out there, to put myself on the chopping block, to see if I was on the right track. I didn’t think about winning, I mean I had only been writing for 5 months. But I was proud of those 10 pages. I had worked my ass off! Well, the closer it came to the announcement of the finalists the more I wanted to win but it was too much to hope for to actually final. I was so new, so inexperienced, it could never happen.
Never say never because it did. I just about died when I got the email that TIMELESS had final-ed. I had to send it to my partner for her to verify that indeed is what it said but first I called her up and said, “we did it!” “We did what?” She said with excitement. “We final-ed!!!” “I think I could vomit,” she said. Yah, me too, I thought. That was unbelievable, it was just her and me muddling through and we had done it. It was so validating that all my work had actually paid off. Next were the final judges, my stomach knots just thinking about it.
I won’t make you wait for the result. I received 4th place (honorable mention) which was disappointing, I wanted to make it in the top 3 but the fact that Senior Editor,Patience Smith from Harlequin asked to see the full cushioned that a little bit. OK, A LOT!!!
One thing though, it wasn’t done. Meaning 1/4 of the story was still in my head. Now, I didn’t enter to buck the system. They always say (but I didn’t know that at the time) don’t enter a contest or pitch if you don’t have a finished manuscript. I entered to get some feedback, that’s all. So, I worked very hard and as quick as I could to actually finish it. Now that I think about it, I may not have finished it if I didn’t have the push of the request behind me.
And that’s where I am now. I am editing and revising and polishing to send it off to her and at the very least take my next step in the Romance Writing World and become PRO. But it IS delicious to dream of the alternative…
Hi everyone, this is my very first blog. Yup. Now that I’m a writer I was told I should blog. OK. So now what? What do I blog about? Who wants to hear…er…read my blogs? Maybe no one I think but I’ll blog anyway.
I decided to start off with my journey into writing. I figure that I’ll put it down in writing…er…blogging…er…cyberspace and I won’t have to remember how it all occurred.
Let’s go back a decade or two to my best friend. You see, she was/is in love with romance novels, read them like candy, wrote about them in journals, reviewed them, etc. I find this behavior quirky and cute all at the same time.
Now, fast forward to 1999/2000. Her and I started to go to the Renaissance Faire. Ever been to one? It’s the most fun one can have while being dressed 🙂 We fell in love with it from the moment we stepped in the gates. We bought outfits, joined the clubs and websites, we made friends and most importantly for my story here wanted to learn the language. We decided that we would write emails to each other in Old English only, nerdy yes, but fun too. The problem was that it’s extremely difficult (at least for newbies) to talk about day to day modern stuff in Old English. So, I started to make up a story as we went along and she followed suit. We sent each other daily or almost daily emails continuing our story. We even have a name for it, Letters to Violet. Well, we wrote about 30,000 words and then life got in the way and we tabled it. Don’t worry we WILL pick it up again someday and finish it.
Fast forward to 2009. She has this epiphany, not sure what exactly it was but she announces that she’s going to write romance novels. She jumps into it head first, starts to write, joins not one but two RWA chapters, goes to the biggest convention that you can go to for romance writing and her passion and joy is intoxicating. And mostly because this behavior, this joining and networking was usually my job in our dynamic duo relationship but now it was all her and I was loving it. I was loving it but I wasn’t joining. Even though she had encouraged me and told me it was better to embark on this adventure with a partner I wasn’t buying. This was her dream not mine.
She shared all her new found knowledge with me and I listened and filed it away. I served as her beta reader and gave her feedback on her stories. But I just didn’t have the time to do it myself. My son was in half day kindergarten, I carried about 30 hours a week at work and I didn’t really have any writing talent, that I knew of anyway. I hadn’t ever considered myself a writer. And my choice of genre was all over the place. I read V.C Andrews and Koontz in H.S. My tastes now ranged from A Knight in Shining Armour to the Celestine Prophecies (which I believe now gives me a broad range to pull from). I really wasn’t a romance reader let alone a writer. And I loved film. I actually favored movies over books. Now…don’t string me up just yet. There’s actually a reason. You see, I have problems sleeping and when I read I never sleep. I actually preferred movies for the instant gratification of the end being somewhere in the 2-3 hour future. Believe me, I have the utmost respect for the written word, which is why I never thought I’d be able to do it.
Well, maybe 6 or so months passed and I was having a banner year. It all started with the toaster (which will have to be a title of at least one of my stories) and went on from there. Well, I didn’t need a brick to fall on my head to start writing, I needed a tree. Yup. A tree. A fifty foot, dead ass, rotting weeping willow.
You see, I had no car, no air conditioning, no toaster, a dead cat, a broken CD player, no money, there’s more I just blocked it out and lastly at the end of August after an expensive, exhausting and fabulous 40th luau birthday party that I threw for my husband (had to, another story) my willow tree decided to fall. Have you ever paid to get a tree removed? Not fun. There’s nothing quite like spending money, $1100.00 to be exact to remove a dead tree. You have nothing to show for it, just an empty space where a beautiful work of art once stood.
I found myself at one of the lowest points in my life, not quite as low as after the death of my Mother but pretty close. I can remember the day I had my own epiphany very clearly. I had just finished up the Twilight Saga (yes, I am a huge fan). I devoured the entire four books in 9 days and it lifted me somewhat. I found a spark, a spark of that old nostalgia for the beauty of love. I was enamored with the Twilight soundtrack. Robert Pattinson’s soulful crooning touched my core. I credit that experience along with many others as a push in the right direction.
I sat there that day in September lamenting and wishing for hope but I had none. I longed for the passion for something like my best friend had for writing. But what was my passion? What was my purpose? I found myself thinking that maybe I’d get into an accident and find it. Sick huh? Yes, but it had a basis in reality. I remembered all those expose’s I saw on people who got in some sort of crash or tragedy and started painting angel pictures or something and are now billionaires. I wanted that but then I thought that was kinda crazy to wish for a tragedy and all when I was having such a crappy time of it as it was.
Anyway, I started to put pieces together that day. Gee, my friend is having the time of her life and she’s writing. Gee, Stephanie Meyer is so inspiring. Then I saw an interview with the author of the DaVinci Code. Yes, on that very day and I kid you not, I never watch daytime TV, but I did that day.
I remembered how I had talked about the writing of Twilight with my friend. She shared with me that Stephanie had a dream about the meadow and started to write her story from there. I had shared that with my friends at work too. Then I remembered how often my friend repeated that info to me and I got to thinking. Gee. There was that day I had that pseudo dream. I say pseudo because I was napping and it was the point at which you aren’t awake but aren’t quite asleep either. I don’t know what I was thinking or fantasizing about at that time but a little snippet of a story crept in and I thought, hmmmm…that might make a good story someday and tucked it away in the recesses of my mind until that day in September.
I thought, maybe just maybe I could write about that. Maybe I had my own story in my head. Could it be that easy? Is that my life path? I didn’t know but I could sure try. People tell me I’m witty and funny. People say I articulate myself on paper very well. I wonder if I could put that into a story? I thought about it all as I cleaned my house, listened to the Twilight soundtrack and let the juices flow. It was like wires had been connected to my brain and fed it energy and thoughts. It sizzled. I cleaned and I formulated a story, my own story. I sat down that week and cranked out 20,000 words.
I was afraid to tell my friend at first. Afraid to be a dream stealer but I wanted to share it with her and get her feedback for she was indeed my inspiration. Well of course she was ecstatic and welcomed my participation because the battle that is art was getting the best of her and my email came at the most opportune time and now we officially call ourselves writing partners and we’re in it together for the long haul (which could be another story, how a partner lifts you up when you are down).
So that’s it up to my ephiphany. I’ll start it from there next time I blog. There’s plenty of off shoot stories beginning with this one and I’ll just keep blogging what’s on my mind, maybe someone else, some day will read it besides her 🙂