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Monday, June 29, 2009

Revision Road

Last night I finished another revision of Thrown, my novel. This should be an exciting time. A time to celebrate and brag. But this is my third trip through the novel writing process and I've learned enough to know the end is still a long way off.

Remember the long distance running scene in the movie Forrest Gump? He ran from his home in Alabama all the way to the ocean. When he got there, he turned around and kept going. When he ran to the other ocean he turned around again and kept going.

The first revision is my initial run to the Pacific Ocean. It's a nice place to be, but I know I'm going to turn around and keep going. The second draft is the run to the Atlantic. I'm usually in better shape and it goes faster. I pause to breath in the salty air before turning around. Again.
And I don't know when or where the journey will end.

In total, Forrest ran for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours. When he finished he turned to his followers and said, "I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now."

So far, Thrown has taken me six months and twenty-nine days. And while I'm pretty tired, it's not time to go home. I'm heading back to the sandy beaches of the Pacific (or is it the Atlantic?).

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Writing Vice

As a relatively unpublished author (I estimate that I've published 2000 of the 500,000 words I've written in the last 7 years) I have little advice to offer other writers. No substantiated tips on editing, publishing, or reaching new readers. However, I can share my tricks for motivating myself to produce.

This started last summer when I was doing a seventeenth edit on my second novel, "My Life According to Barbie." An editor from a big name NY publishing house had requested some changes. A lot of changes actually, including the title which might be my favorite 5 words in the entire book. I agreed to this next revision even without a contract, but I found myself having a difficult time getting motivated. So I developed a vice (or a system of vices).

Coffee. I didn't allow myself a cup of coffee in the morning unless I was parked in front of my laptop. Caffeine addiction can be a real motivator early in the day.

Peanut M&M's. To get editing done during the afternoon nap time I lured myself to the desk with peanut M&M's. And now they have dark chocolate peanut M&M's. I'll write a chapter for a handful of those treats. (Note: M&M's also work well to keep the word count up. Try one M&M for every fifty words produced.)

Red wine. Ohhh the benefits of a pinot noir... It's good for your heart and really gets the creative juices flowing. So when the house was quiet I'd pour a glass and get to work. One bottle of Estancia can last three nights of productive writing.

My vices will not work for everyone. A writer needs to develop her own. Gummi Worms. Smoking. Tequila. Chips and salsa. And hopefully too much of a good thing will only lead to a higher word count.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Weight Watchers for Writers

If you've never been fortunate enough to attend a WW meeting, here's how they work...

When you arrive at your weekly meeting, you get in line for your weigh in. (Usually you commiserate with the woman next to you about how "bad" you were that week.) Then it's your turn you step on the scale - not before removing shoes and emptying your pockets of cell phone, keys, change, and lint. Only the WW employee can see your weight. She jots it down in your progress folder. If you lost weight, she'll congratulates you. If you gained weight she'll ask you where you went wrong?

After your weigh in you join the others for your "group session". A WW leader kicks off the meeting by giving out prizes (like bookmarks, stickers or key chains) to those who've lost 5lbs, 20lbs, 10% or attained their goal weight. If you are a success this is your chance to share your story and receive polite applause.

The final portion of the meeting is run by the WW leader. She gives out recipes and advice for the upcoming week. (Fat-free Cool Whip plus fat-free pudding plus a can of light fruit cocktail equals 3-point Thanksgiving dessert.) Your hour is over. You say good-bye to your fellow WW classmates and vow to do better next week.

This is the kind of writing group I need.

Each week I'll carry in my typed pages. As I wait in line I'll ask the guy next to me, "How did ya do?" Of course, he'll have done great - finishing his third novel of the year.

When it's my turn, I'll hand over my pages to the woman running the word-count machine. I'll make excuses as the calculator churns.
"The kids were sick."
"My in-laws came to visit."
"HBO ran an Entourage marathon."
The woman behind the table will shake her head. 819 words. Not a good week when my daily goal is 1000.
"Stick with it," she'll say to be encouraging. "Everyone has an off week." Or seven.

I'll sit alone as the meeting begins. I won't want anyone to ask me for my numbers. The leader will hand out pens to those who wrote more than 10,000 words in the last week. A new journal will go to the few who've completed their novel. And a paperweight to the one gal who signed with a New York publisher since our last meeting. She'll receive around of jealous applause. (And I'll be certain to ask for a reference when I get to that step of the publishing process.)

The leader will then pepper us with encouragement and advice.
"Get up early and write before anyone else in the house is awake," she'll say.
"Set daily goals and share them with your spouse. Ask for support."
"Don't waste time writing in a diary and definitely do NOT blog."
"Write what you know."
"Remember JK Rowling received 12 rejections on her first Harry Potter book."

And even though "12 rejections" is nothing. I'll leave the meeting feeling revived, enthusiastic, motivated, on-my-way to greater things, and a bit hungry. I'll rush home to my computer (with drive-thru in hand) check e-mails, pop on Facebook, update my Blog (something really short), check the clearance sandals on and then, if time allows, I'll write.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Launch

Thanks for visiting my blog. I have some high hopes for this site and would love to hear your feedback. You can comment here or send me an e-mail.

Please come back and check out my online drama "Step". (A continuing saga about a fictional step family.)

I will also be chronicling my writing career. Cry (and drink) with me during rejections and celebrate (and drink) with me during the small successes.

And of course, there will be the occasional family anecdote. How can there not be?