Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Stubbornness Has Always Been The Source Of My Biggest Roadblocks In Life.

Feeling good after today. I made great progress on my book. Progress sure helps lift spirits when the metaphysical mud has been sucking at your feet. Writing happens in surges for me. I have periods of rapid progress followed by days of slow to no progress.

Today marked that switch. I finished a couple chapters after struggling on one for the last week. The slow periods usually happen when something needs to be removed and I am resistant.

My stubbornness has always been the source of my biggest roadblocks in life.

I always have to learn things the hard way because I think I know everything until I figure out I don't. As a child, my mom told me I would regret wanting to grow up so quickly. I just knew she was wrong, until I turned 18, moved out, and had to start paying my own bills. My dad told me I should wait to get married back in 2002, I said he was wrong. I discovered my error when I joined the divorce statistic in 2005. My mom told me my mind would change when I said I never wanted children, I said she was wrong. In 2007, God blessed my husband and I with the most beautiful baby boy. I love being a mom.

So it is with writing. My muse tells me that something isn't working for my story. I insist I can make it work. I spend days beating my head against that metaphysical brick wall, until finally I concede. As soon as I remove the offending scene, my muse and I move into perfect accord and the magic happens.

A new scene is born.

Suddenly, I am looking up at the clock. Five hours have passed. I have 20 or more pages to show for my efforts. So I get up and do a happy dance. What a fabulous day!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Self-Editing: A Process With No End

My friend, Angela, and I attended our monthly writer's group meeting yesterday. We were fortunate to hear Steffie Corcoran, Editor of the magazine Oklahoma Today, talk about self-editing. Ms. Corcoran emphasized the need for writers to think like an editor when polishing their manuscript.

I took notes and enjoyed what she had to say, but I must admit that my favorite moment of the meeting came when Ms. Corcoran had us do a writing exercise. We were asked to bring a piece of our current work in progress or we could choose to work on a piece she brought with her.

Ang and I both chose our own work.

We were told to take the first paragraph or two and rewrite it. The point being to come up with a fabulous opening sentence. Initially, I sat in my chair completely stumped. I liked my lead line. Then I remembered one of the things Ms. Corcoran had just told me. "Kill all your precious angels. If you are emotionally attached to a lead, sentence, or character then get rid of it." So I re-read the first two pages of my manuscript and did as I was told.

I got rid of the lead line I liked so much.

Imagine my amazement when what she said actually worked!!! I not only came up with a better opening sentence, but I now have a whole new opening paragraph for my book. Though the other was not terrible, this is so much better. I know you are curious, so why not share. Here is the old and the new opening lines for my prologue, which is the very first page of my book.

Old lead line: Ashra crouched invisibly against the wall behind some of the Zimri-Lim soldiers.

New lead line: Ashra watched her best friend fall to the floor in a puddle of blood.

I'll admit that when I first read this new and improved opening sentence I felt a little irritated with myself. This prologue was supposed to be finished. Yet here I sat after one writing exercise finished and proof that Ms. Corcoran was right yet again when she said, "Self-editing is a process with a start, but no end." Though I'll eventually reach the point where it will have to be good enough, that point is obviously not right now.
So I'll continue suppressing the need to pull my hair out when something else I think is finished, turns out not to be.

Thanks to Steffie Corcoran for her wonderful advice on self-editing and thank you for reading my blog. I hope you have enjoyed its contents and will share it with friends that you think might be interested.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Writing Buddies

Writing Buddies.

You know who they are if you are also a writer.

Those priceless people who are not just friends or family that support your dream. They are people who have the dream to be a writer like you. They understand when you send them something to read, you are really sending them something to critique. They understand that you are waiting on pins and needles to hear what they have to say, so they do not put off reading it for weeks. They understand when you hit a metaphysical wall and freak out. They also help you pull the wall apart brick by brick.

I have two of the greatest writing buddies in existence. At least that is my opinion. If they were your writing buddies, I know you would agree with me.

 Angela and Erin are two great writers who have the same dream that I do. We support each other through the hard stuff that our non-writer friends just do not understand. We support each other when one of us feels the need to go on about our book because something just is not quite right. We support each others need to talk about our writing ups and downs no matter how many times we already have before.

Here are my two writing buddies blogs. They have fantastic works in progress. I know becasue I have read them. I took the liberty of putting my favorite pictures of them with the blog address so you could see the faces of two future published authors. Aren't they beautiful?! Believe me when I say that this beauty is inside and out! I can never thank them enough for the invaluable feedback and support they give me on a daily basis.

Angela Christina Archer


                        Erin York

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Half Full vs Half Empty...The Epic Battle

After this last weekend, I am drained. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I yo-yo'd between extreme ends of 'glass is half-full' vs. 'glass is half-empty' frame of mind. In other words, I hit the metaphysical wall and completely stalled out.

Most of the time writing this book is so easy. The writing just seems to flow out of me like water. The ideas just seem to be sitting there waiting on me to let my guard down so they can flood my mind with all the possibilities.

The last four days were different. I experienced an epic battle between knowing I can do this and feeling like I am delusional for daring to think that I even have a fraction of the talent needed to write a project like mine. I felt bruised and beaten.

Every time I would sit in front of my computer to write, my head would begin pounding. I tried to force the words for three days. Negative thoughts flooded my mind. I felt depressed. I had no idea where to go with the scene I was supposed to write.

My world wanted to come crashing down. Negativity cut me to ribbons with its razor sharp sword, doubt. My glass was definitely half-empty. I wallowed in my own self-pity. Then the thought, "Maybe I should quit" floated through my mind and something in me rose up like a tsunami of rage.
I lifted my metaphysical sword and attacked. I AM NO QUITTER! I parried and thrust my way past doubt. I shredded negativity.

I reached out for support from my writing buddy and good friend, Erin.

Why had I not done this sooner? I have no idea. However, if it happens again, which I am sure it will, I will make sure to reach out sooner. Not only did she understand, but she suggested a solution to my problem. That terrible wall on which I had run up against could be scaled!

So today, I am armed with dagger in one hand and sword in the other. The 'glass half-empty' side has lost this battle. My world is safe...for now.

After all...the glass is ALWAYS full, isn't it!

Thanks Erin York! You're the best!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Favorite Books

I have been told by other authors that one of things an author should remember is to KEEP READING. It is so easy to get wrapped up in your own writing and not make time to just enjoy reading a book that is not your own. I thought this was common sense, but I have run into writers who say they do not read as much if ever since they began writing.

How sad! There is so much you can learn from reading work from other writers...especially within your own genre.

I have been so caught up in my own writing that I failed to realize until two days ago that my favorite author is releasing a fourth book to my favorite series! What!?! How could I have been so negligent?! At the same time, I wish I could go on being ignorant of this until November when the new book comes out, because I am ready to run out and purchase it now!

I will admit to not reading as much as I work to get my own debut manuscript finished, but I still manage to find time. I would not dream of ignoring the release of this book. Every time I read the Mistborn Trilogy or any other book, I learn something new. Brandon Sanderson is truly a fabulous fantasy author. I can only hope my work will be enjoyed by someone as much as I have enjoyed his books.

If you are a writer, I hope that you still find time to read for pleasure. Imagine the worlds you are missing if you do not! Good luck with your writing, but most of all...happy reading!!!