Writing Over the Hurdle of Life

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A friend in my Copperfield Critique Group advised me to treat writing like a job. Meaning, go to my favorite spot for eight hours a day and write, write, write. Sounds like an awesome plan. Is this what best-selling authors do?

My only hurdle, however, is life.

For one, I am a voice-over talent. Two, I am also a Realtor. Both careers are flexible, but clients need me at various times of the day, and I am more than happy to help them. But it doesn’t end there. I must also attend weekly marketing meetings and send mail-outs boasting my services. Not to mention, I am also at the tail-end of planning a humongous wedding, before heading to Florence, Italy for two fabulous weeks.

All this, and A-D-D too.

So what’s an unpublished author to do? How do we balance both life and our craft?

My thought is… the best we can. No guilt. No regret. Just push yourself through the muck of the day, every day, until your book is done.

The Red Ink, Blues?

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DO BETTER. Those were the two words scrawled on the very first draft of my young adult novel, many years ago. I was new to the craft and had yet to experience the sometimes brutal, always remarkable insight of the critique world. Let’s just say I learned the hard way, military style, with zillions of Track Change bubbles and plenty of red ink screaming at me from every direction. One particular scribble challenged me to simply DO BETTER. Imagine my horror.

But my beloved editor friend was right, and when I read my manuscript again, I did so with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. Now, I am the one with the red ink writing DO BETTER on my own manuscripts.

In other news, I left the SCBWI-Austin conference feeling more hopeful than ever about my young adult manuscript. The agent who critiqued my first ten pages/synopsis LOVED it, and invited me to send the final draft when done.

My pleasure. 🙂

I credit my friend’s two wonderful words. Now, I am paying the challenge forward to you, my new writing friends. Never fear the red ink. Instead, force yourself to always DO BETTER.

Writer vs. Outline/Synopsis

Every conference, there is always one editor who advocates writing an outline or a synopsis. One editor almost convinced me, too. But my own mind prevailed and I have gotten away with writing manuscripts without such confinement.

Until today.

An upcoming conference deadline put coals under my feet. I am scheduled to meet a pretty awesome agent there, and our first ten pages plus a synopsis is due by THIS THURSDAY! My problem is that I only have twelve chapters written. Even though I know how the story will end, I had no real idea of how it would get there.

Now I do.

Thanks to the required synopsis that must accompany my ten-page submission, I had to make some decisions and make them quick. What emerged was a strong climax and much stronger ending than what I had originally created. A lip quiver and a tear followed my last sentence so it must be good!  😉

Although my manuscript is not yet finished, my hope is to get professional feedback on its beginning and a possible invitation for the full manuscript once it’s done.

My fingers are crossed.

Now, I am a full believer in writing a synopsis even before I start writing a manuscript. Meanwhile, the outline can still suck it. 😉

Writing With Attention Deficit Disorder

I read today that the real-life Bella is cheating on the real-life Edward with the real-life director of SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN. Ouch for poor Cedric Diggory whose heart was mutilated more by Bella than it ever was by He Who Shall Not Be Named.

And this is what distracted me today while I sat in Barnes & Noble for a cool two hours trying to tap words into my iPad.

I am always impressed by those who can sit for hours and days on end, finishing their novel in a matter of months. My goal is to finish MOONSAULT by the end of 2012. I am only 11 chapters in. My trouble is not my drive nor my passion; I have both by the truckload. It is my battle with Attention Deficit Disorder and my attempt to handle it without medication.

Most days are a success. I sit wherever the vibe is right and I tap, tap, tap away, until my brain reaches a lethargic, fuzzy place. And since I edit as I type, I tend to squeak out only one chapter at a time, never moving from a sentence or a paragraph until the flow feels right.

But today, I struggled. From the love woes of Robert Pattison to the small audio vibrations of those around me (ie. pencils rubbing paper, fingers on keyboards, pages being turned, etc.), I simply could not find my stride. Even now, I have chosen to write this blog because I cannot focus enough on the manuscript I am so eager to complete.

I can best describe the struggle like this–I literally see a million butterflies fluttering around my head. I see them all clearly. But they are all fluttering so fast, I cannot catch any one of them, even though I have a large, tightly woven net and an extra long handle. It feels impossible.

But it’s just today. Experience has shown me that sometimes my mind will slow down enough to let me write. Until then, maybe I should consider the meds my awesome NYC therapist had put me on. I only stopped taking them because my brain started depending on them more and more, and I was uncomfortable with that. But perhaps its worth it?

Either way, Robert Pattison is so much better without her.