Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Quit or Not to Quit...

I'm not big on rejection. Apparently, my extremely sheltered life led me to have an extremely not-thick skin. So you can understand why querying the story that holds most of my soul is so hard. Lots of rejections.
I told myself that I would try for a year and a half. I could quit on my birthday, and then no one could tell me I didn't try, right? Right.

My birthday is a month away. Only one more month of trying. And I'm scared that the month will be over and I'll have failed, but I'm also kinda relieved. Or at least, I was.

Cue conversation with my daughter on the way to school today:

She was telling me all the things she wanted to be when she grows up. And then she stops, mid-sentence: "Mom, what did you want to be when you were little?" "A writer." I smile. "Me too. I want to be a writer just like you when I grow up."


And then, "How do you get to be a writer?" I answer what every parent is supposed to answer when kids ask how to chase their dreams, "You can be anything you want to be. Just work hard and never give up."


So now I'm at an impasse. How on earth can I quit in a month and still tell my daughter to chase her dreams?    

Monday, August 6, 2012

That Feeling when You've Eaten the Whole Elephant

You know the saying, "What's the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time." That is also how you write a novel. One word at a time. 
I have been writing my whole life. And I love it. Absolutely love it, in fact. 
Until two years ago I had started probably over a hundred stories, but I had never finished one. Yes, I was slacking. But then I had a lot of free time on my hands when all I could do was sit and think (so actually, NOT free time.) Baby #3 didn't like to sleep for the first nine months of life, so we spent a lot of time in the dark, by ourselves, when I could do nothing but daydream.
I came up with such a fantastic story. I loved it. I loved all the characters. I had the whole thing, from start to finish, in my head. And I thought, "Hey, now that baby is sleeping for an hour a night so I'm not totally zombie-ish, I should write this down." 
Just a side note - starting a story when you have a brand new baby is not really a brilliant idea. 
I started it. Then I quit because I was too tired. And then I picked it up again. And then I quit because I just didn't think I could really finish it. I mean, really? Who did that?
But I had a writer friend who dragged me to her critique group, and in order to have stuff to critique every month I had to keep writing. 
And then I realized: I was almost done. 
So then I really picked it up. I wrote every time anyone would leave me alone for even two seconds. The day I finished it I sat there in shock for like fifteen minutes, and then I wandered around wanting to tell everyone and make everyone read it right away. It was such an incredible feeling. 
The reason I was able to write it and finish it, when I had never finished anything else, was because I believed in the story. I loved the story. The characters would bounce around in my head telling me to write their story if I tried to quit. 
And the way I finished it? One bite at a time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Staying on My Feet in Query Trenches

I have loved to write since I could write, and before that I just passed stories on to my stuffed animal friends by word of mouth, like my ancestors (the word of mouth part, not the stuffed animal part).
So because I have been writing so long, I thought I was a good writer. I won awards in high school, I did amazingly well in English classes (you'd never guess, now, judging by my spelling capabilities). I majored in English and even worked at a publishing company for four years.
And then I wrote Feudlings. After being awake for nine months straight with my new baby, and spending a lot of time in my own head, I had the whole story bouncing around my brain. I wrote it because the story was in my head and I loved to write. I did NOT write it with any intention of getting it published. 
And then I let family read it. And I let friends read it. And they loved it. They encouraged me, because they are good friends and family. And I decided, after much terror and tears and whining, that I would try to get it published.
It was exciting, at first, before I knew what I was doing. I went to conferences and there was so much to learn.
But now I've been at it for a while. I don't like rejections, I never have, but especially rejections on my writing, which is the only thing I'm good at! I'm tired of querying and being told no. I'm becoming jaded. I see bitterness in the future.
The worst thing is that, for a while, I didn't want to write. I didn't see the point, if I couldn't get Feudlings published, why keep writing? It took my nine-year-old to remind me that I write because I love it, and not because someone else should love it.
So. I took a deep breath. I started writing again. I started to feel better. I kept querying, but I sought professional opinions on my work (I was going to say professional help, but I know what ya'll would be thinking).
I still don't love querying. Of course I still long to have someone say yes, to say they love my writing as much as, say, my sisters or niece or husband do. But I think the most important thing when querying is to remember that all those "no's" do NOT define your writing or who you are. When you start writing for someone else, you lose miss out on the true gift of writing, which is the ability to bring to life the stories in your head. Whether or not the world ever sees those words, it's a gift you give to yourself.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Brilliant Story about Unicorns

Today is the second day of my 15 minutes a day challenge. I realized last night that 15 minutes is nothing. I have a group of friends that I sprint with and we write in 30 minute increments. Of course, I usually spend at least half those thirty minutes staring dejectedly at my MS while I try to figure out how to write myself out of the corner that I've, um, written myself into. 
No, 15 minutes is okay. It's the every day bit that is hard for me. My brain gets tired. It needs a break. Clearly, my brain needs serious weight training.
My 15 minutes today has been spent free-writing. I want to write a story about unicorns. I love unicorns. I have always loved unicorns and I have so many little unicorn figurines that they creep my husband out and he mumbles in his sleep about unicorn eyes always watching. 
My problem is that I like to write urban fantasy. And I can't, for the life of me, come up with a storyline that includes unicorns in an urban fantasy. 
So I have two options. One - keep searching for an idea. This isn't going so well.
Two - write outside my comfort zone. Write an epic fantasy or a high fantasy. This, you think, sounds like good character building for me. But I don't wanna do it, and one thing I've learned about me is that if I don't wanna do it, I probably won't (I was the youngest child. I'm very spoiled. This is just the way things are). 
If anyone has any brilliant story ideas about unicorns, PLEASE share. I'm getting desperate, and no one wants to see the spoiled youngest child desperate now, do we?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 15 Minute-a-day Writing Challenge

I have this weird thing. If I know I'm going to be bothered at all, I can't write. My mind will only work if I think I'm going to have the next hour or two open, no interruptions, no kids, no dogs, cats, neighbors...needless to say, I don't get to write much because that kind of time block just doesn't happen. So when I stumbled across Laurie Halse Anderson's blog about fifteen minutes a day for a month, I thought, hmm. Interesting. (
So I'm gonna try it. Also and conveniently, I am also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this August. 
Every day, I will write for fifteen minutes. AND. It might be about nothing.
It might be about something important. 
Today, I am writing a blog post. Also, I'm working on my story, which is much more fun than blog posts. No offense.

If you think this is so much fun and want to join me, mention it in the comments! We can compare notes every day and see how we're doing. You can push me forward when I get lazy. I'll sweetly suggest you get your butt in gear if you fall behind. See how that works?