Enjoying a leisurely start to my Saturday. I’m hoping to get at least 2000 words written before knocking off today. Though normally I talk about my Saturday Stacks, this weekend I’ll be pushing my reading aside. At least the fun reading anyway.
This might surprise you but in addition to my writing projects, I am trying to finish my degree in Psychology. Last night I was thumbing through my school bag and realized how much I’ve been neglecting my studies. I am two classes away from completing my first semester. For your typical college student it’s probably nothing to write home about but for a full-time writer, homeschooling mom and soon to be forty-nine year old, it’s quite an accomplishment.
I didn’t go to college when I graduated from high school. I had meant to but a series of things through me off the college track. To avoid a long, drawn out story, I’ll just mention that I ended up attending the Ultissima Beauty Institute and getting a hairdresser’s license. My career was short lived as I found out that I really didn’t like ‘touching ‘people’s heads’.
Despite this wrong turn, I was writing in my spare time and even freelanced for several local papers. Fast forward twenty plus years to my first year of marriage. I had just registered and been accepted to a local college when I found out I was pregnant with my son. As joyous as I was, I was also dismayed to find out that I was one of those women who not only had morning sickness, but morning, noon and night sickness. I could barely keep up with everyday life let alone school.
A few years ago I took some online college courses and found that not only was I enjoying it but that I was quite a good student. Like my quest for a book contract, I set out to get a perfect score. I will tell you that I did have a 4.0. Until I completed, of all things, a communications class. Would you believe it? A writer who didn’t get an A in communications? So that 4.0 has been knocked down to a 3.7 which irritates me to no end.
So today I will be skipping the stacks, ignoring my muse for just a little while and picking up my psychology text. It’s my hope that a weekend of immersing myself in school work will get me caught up. But on Monday it’ll be business as usual.
<Taking off my writing hat and slipping on my student’s cap> To my writer friends, are you moonlighting at something besides writing? What else have you got going on that might surprise your writing colleagues?
I doubt I’m ready to convert, but today I was blessed with a writing tool from author Julie Jarnagin. Julie mentioned today while tweeting that after attempting to ‘pants’ her novel she was failing and going back to her outline. Always hoping to learn from a pro, I immediately tweeted back to her and asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing her outline with me. Not only did she send me links to find out more about the method she uses ( Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method), but she attached a copy of the outline as well. Eager to see how she goes about writing her novels, I printed a copy to study. It’s on my desk and during my downtime this weekend you can be sure I’ll be filling in the blanks, hoping to power through my stalled story.
Aren’t most writers like that? Always eager to learn how another writer has done it. How did they write the story that sold? What is the secret to starting, finishing and selling a novel? What I’m learning as I continue in my apprenticeship in fiction writing is that there is no secret. Every writer will tell you his or her way to writing a novel and it may work for them. Will it work for you? Maybe. Maybe not. The only way to find out is to try it. Like looking for the perfect bathing suit (ugh) it requires a lot of trying on and discarding. Like the bathing suit quest, it’s going to take a lot of time. There will no doubtedly be lots of starts and stops and discarding of ‘the perfect technique’ until you stumble on what works for you.
I still haven’t found the one method that works for me. But unlike searching for the perfect bathing suit, each technique or method we try brings us one step closer to the perfect fit. I have a feeling that when I find what works for me I’ll be ready to dive in!
So for today I’ll leave you with a link to Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method and this old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.
Meet gracious author Julie Jarnagin at http://juliejarnagin.com/
In an email, a writer friend offered this suggestion in regard to my being stalled on my writing:
“Before you do any further work on bethel or especially start a new story — I’d like to challenge you to do some pre-plotting. You know you can finish a story, but in order to make it the strongest it can be (and this is a lesson I myself am learning right now as I work through this completed novel And am completely changing/adding some character motivation and conflict) I think more attention needs to be paid up front to the characters goals and conflicts.”
Funny, we must have ESP because I was thinking of something along those very lines. I actually took some time today to make up a character worksheet for each of my characters. After working on that, I sat down and made up a GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) worksheet for each character. My immediate thought while doing this was ‘if there’s no goal, no change in the character by the story’s end and that character doesn’t move the story forward, then I’ll ax them’. Who was it that said ‘Kill your darlings?” These exercises took several hours and though I still haven’t made my final decision on who will have to go, I have learned a lot more about my characters. I think this will truly help me decide if my story is heading in the direction I had originally planned and if every character in it is vital to the story.
This is what I love about being a writer. The camaraderie, the ability to shoot off a quick email and say ‘hey, I’m stuck! what do you think?”. Who’s your go-to writer that you know you can run to when you’re in need of some good advice?
It’s been a day! I’ve pushed aside my manuscript, Bethel Christmas Visitor, because I’m still feeling anxious about which direction to go. I am leaning toward continuing the story as I had intended, but for some reason I can’t seem to get down to business. I will. I just need a day or so to clear my head.
In the meantime, I’ve added a new chapter to Garden Variety, my women’s fiction manuscript. I’m enjoying this story. I’m actually finding it a great escape from life’s other stresses. Even still, today I found myself unable to sit for hours and focus. I don’t know if it’s the tease of cooler air that’s actually a pleasure to inhale, or just summer vacation mindset rubbing off from my daughter. By mid day I’d just about had it with myself. I’m not one to spend a lot of time playing on Facebook or following Twitter for hours but I did need to catch up on email.
Though I belong to at least a dozen Yahoo groups for writers, I am set to digest in order to cut down on the volume of emails that I receive. One post caught my eye. It was a fellow writer who mentioned how grateful she was not be an agent. She shared a link to Scott Eagan’s blog. Eagan is the founding agent of the Greyhaus Literary Agency.
For the type of day I was having it was well worth the time spent. I share the link here with you today. Sometimes we just need a little something to get us through the day. What do you do when you’re having a restless ‘can’t seem to focus’ kind of day?
The link to Eagan’s blog is http://scotteagan.blogspot.com/. Hope it gives you a good chuckle!
Though I had good intentions, today’s editing plans took a turn in a completely different direction. Even though in my gut I had a feeling my novel, Bethel Christmas Visitor, was going to go need some major changes, I have been trying to edit it as is.
I hit the brick wall that is doubt on Sunday, after spending Saturday night reading through the whole manuscript. Would a publisher be interested in this story? A story where a strange man drops in to town and convinces some of the people in town that he must be Jesus returned. Written for the Christian market, I began to wonder if this story would go against the particular guidelines of the genre.
On top of that, there’s the cast of characters. Though there is one main character who the stranger comes to stay with, my book is written in the style of a series similiar to Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street Books (a favorite of mine). It’s a rather large cast and each chapter focuses on two or three characters at a time. I love women’s fiction and this was my intention with this story. I love the inspirational market and this was my goal as well. To write an inspirational story for the women’s fiction market.
Do I need to cut characters? Will the Christian market be receptive to the idea? Maybe I should cut that character out of the story completely and rebuild a story without him? Of course this would change the story but I love the town and characters that I’ve created. I could focus on the stories of the other characters. All of these changes would call for a complete rewrite. Do I want to rewrite the story or should I just stick to it as is, a story that I’ve loved from day one? Every time I pull that story up I still get that tingling feeling I got as I wrote it, my hands flying across the keyboard most days.
Unfortunately, I tend to over-analyze everything I do. So I’m going to ask my writing friends and followers for their advice.
What would you do if you were facing this dilemma? And what do you do when you smack into doubt head first?
Share your thoughts! I’ll be back tomorrow and who knows? Maybe I’ll wake up in the morning with an answer myself!
I should have been writing. I think I’ve mentioned in the past how I dread Mondays. It’s a leftover mindset from childhood that I really need to shake. But until then, I have a tough time getting to work on Mondays. I’m sure I’m in good company LOL.
What did I do today instead of hitting the keyboard? I went to my local Borders. I asked my daughter if she’d like to come along. The poor girl has gotten my bookaholic gene I’m afraid. She couldn’t get in that car fast enough!
We were looking forward to 50% off sales only to be somewhat disappointed that most books were only being reduced between 10-30% at this time. I have no doubt that as closing time gets nearer those numbers will be closer to 50%. Regardless, we spent hours browsing the aisles. It’s amazing how much inventory has already been snatched so far. Many once bulging shelves now look skeletal as they hold on to their limited selections. The only books I could seem to find that offered the largest discount, 30%, were the paperback romance. I suspect this might be because romance is one of the most widely read genres out there and they need to move their inventory. But even with only a 10% discount, the books my daughter searched for on filmmaking were slim pickens.
The irony of the day was that after I got to the store, I realized that my list of ‘books I want to read’ was at home on my desk. It put somewhat of a damper on my shopping spree but, being a book lover, I managed to ‘make do’.
To Borders I must say I’m sorry to see you go. It’s a sign of the times and as a writer, I believe it’s never a good thing to lose an outlet for one’s work. To the employees I can only wish you much luck in your endeavors to replace your livelihood.
Now it’s after 5pm, and I’m sitting here drooling over my day’s finds. But I’m going to have to suck it up because when you play, you pay. I just hate to put a big fat zero on my calendar so I’m going to get to work on that word count.
Tomorrow I’ll let you know how it goes!
Disconnecting! That’s what I’m doing today. After a rather aggravating day yesterday spent fixing the mess of my hacked Twitter account, I woke up this morning with an aching head and jaw. It’s been quite a while since my TMJ has flared up like it has today. I was feeling twinges of pain yesterday so I shouldn’t be surprised. I shouldn’t be surprised because I know from experience that whenever I’m highly stressed it flares up. So today I’m disconnecting from the world wide web into my own little world – a backyard that consists of a vegetable garden, my flower garden, a pool and big patio with an umbrella to shade me from the heat and sun.
I realized this morning that it’s almost August and I’ve only swam in my pool once this summer. I’ve basically been glued to my seat. And that’s good for productivity but it’s bad for my health. Everyone needs down time and it shouldn’t come in the form of a sick day. We shouldn’t wait for our bodies to tell us we need to slow down or stop completely. By then we may not be able to enjoy the break we need.
So this writer is going to slow the pace of her quest, if only for one day, and jump into that pool. I think a swim will do me good, both body and mind. It’ll be a great workout for tense muscles that have been sitting and clenching for days on end. And it’ll be good for my mind, to prevent burnout.
I’m going now, but I’ll be back tomorrow to continue my quest for that contract. Wherever your ‘world’ is, I hope you’ll be able to retreat to it and enjoy a day of summer fun!
See you here tomorrow!