Friday, January 29, 2010

The End...I think.

I finsihed my final edit last night...I'm pretty sure, I mean. I'm also pretty sure I'll be going back and making more changes because that's how I am. I can't seem to find satisfaction in the finished project. But for now, it's as good as it's gonna get. So for now, November Rain is done! (Still not even 100% on the title, but it fits.)

I'm also unsure about the first few chapters or so. Not too sure how it's going to be taken, if the way my characters meet is silly, or unfitting for the rest of the book. I've been going back and forth so much. I re-read it and I absolutely love the book, but the first bit I still question. I love the idea, but as always, my problem is--will everyone else?

Well, okay....so I'm realistic enough to know not everyone will. But hopefully, some people will. The people that have my taste. But as I've been working extremely hard lately on not worrying about what anyone else might think, I know it shouldn't matter because I'm writing what I love. In an agent's blog I follow (I follow quite a few to stay current), the advice she gave to writers for 2010 is to follow their guts and stick with it--trust it. So, that's what I'm trying to do.

I need some readers, people who can give me the editing advice I need--nothing formal, just opinions. I have people in mind and have even already asked a couple, but I haven't decided how far I want to take that route yet. A few people I want to ask haven't even finsihed my first book (that I know of), so I feel like I'd be bombarding them if I asked. However, I'm tempted to say to those people, "Put it down and forget it." I'm not extremely proud of it and don't think it'll ever go anywhere anyway. If someone's going to read one, I'd MUCH rather it be this one.

This project is just so near and dear to my heart, in a much more real way than my first. Season of Change was dear to me because it was my first--it was my canvas of learning. But November Rain took me to a place I didn't think I'd go and in falling in love with the characters and the story, it's become a part of me. Which is also one reason I'm extra anxious for opinions. I'm anxious because I want so badly for people to love it as much as I do (granted, I know that probably wont happen), and am a little leary on hearing negative criticism. But I definitely want it--all the feedback I can get. And while it isn't action-packed or fast-moving by any means, it's heart-felt and I hope others feel it as I did when writing it. Maybe I live in a bubble and I'm way outta my league and thinking it's more than what it is. And if so, oh well. I wrote what I love.

So, next is writing the synopsis, mini symopsis, agent research, market research, and query letter writing. Fun stuff. Not really. But it's worth it. However, I think I might take a breather for a bit before I get to that stuff. Maybe wait for some opinions of people who've read it. I also think I need to give my mind a break for the time being. Anyway, when I have written the mini synopsis (the few paragraphs I'd be putting in my one page query letter), I think I'll post it so I can get some feedback. I want it to be as perfect as it can be.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for the support! I have the most amazing family and friends and your support means THE WORLD to me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

All Good Things Come To An End

It's late and I should be getting to bed, but I'm too excited just yet. I had to blog that I just finished my novel! Once I got back in the groove the other day, the rest flowed out and I realized I was closer to the end then I thought. So, even through my exhaust tonight, knowing I only had the epilogue left, I had to finish.

Now, one more final read-through and edit to make sure it all fits, and I'll be done!

Next, the grueling process of querying. Gulp. Not so fun...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bump in the road...

It's late and I'm tired, but because I haven't written anything in a few days, I feel the need to write something...anything. I'm stuck in my novel. I've reached a spot where I have ideas, written some, but I can't go further until I figure out whether I really want to keep things or not. Feeling stuck makes me feel unstable inside. LOL. Things have been flowing so smoothly that it's throwing me off to feel in a rut. I think sometimes my mind is so crammed with ideas and the constant flow is bound to jam sometime. Maybe a few more days without writing will get me back on track. Who knows?

Sometimes I just wish I could step outside myself, sit back and read what I've written as me (because I know my taste), but as the me who hasn't written the story and doesn't know it forward and backward, behind and front. It's hard for me to say if it's really good, if people (people who like the same things as me of course) will actually like it--or if I'm just dreaming. Sometimes it's hard to trust myself.

I start second guessing myself and think, even though I like it and it is definitely something I'd read, I'm afraid everyone else will think it's boring. They probably will. It lacks suspense and action...that kind of stuff. But it's full of emotion, loss, love, betrayal...all the raw human emotions--and just what I like to read about.

So, I guess I have to tell myself, just like I said before, that if I like it, there's got to be other people out there that like those kinds of things, right?

I also worry that because I've written this one so quickly, that it's flowed so well, it stinks. Do you have to have spent months and months on a book to make it good? Hmmm...

Oh, to be someone else in myself for just a day, so I could read it and know...and know what direction to take with this road block! Grrr....it'll come.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Full of thoughts...

Feeling alone most of the time in my bubble of writing, I decided in order to release the pressure that seems to build, I'd blog about it--about all the struggles I experience, my insecurities, confusion, thoughts...basically anything that has to do with my measly writing career. I'll save the other stuff about my kids, etc., for my other blog--my other blog I rarely update. :/

The writing community is a big and scary world and I feel completely inadequate to take it on. However, I am bound and determined to follow the dream as long as my family life allows me to do so. That's the trick--not getting swallowed in it. There are so many times I have to audibly reaffirm to myself that "I am a mother and wife first, a writer second." Sometimes I blur the line, and it's that I'm desperately trying to work on.

It's hard when you have something brewing inside you, a story you have to release, and you feel like if you don't you might self-combust. As with any artist, writing is my outlet and I feel a thriving need to submerge myself in it daily or I'll lose myself, lose the flow. Sometimes I feel it a struggle to explain that to my loved ones, that they don't understand, but it's my "anti-depressant," as my best friend put it. :)

Chloe, my wonderful best friend of thirteen years, is also a writer--one of a couple select friends of mine who share that same passion--and though we don't talk nearly as often as we should, when we do I feel lifted that there IS in fact someone else out there who experiences the same things as me--so similar it's uncanny!

The way I was drowning in the unknown when writing my first book, unsure of its worth and second-guessing myself constantly, the way I went about things COMPLETELY the hard way--she experiences it, too. Everything I feel, the concern about what other people might think, especially loved ones, feeling as though at times it's all you want to do, getting so lost in a story and in the beloved characters you've created that it's all you can think about--I'm not alone! Even in my constant giving excuses I'd do when someone would ask to read it. Before I handed it off, I felt an annoying need to apologize ahead of time or explain myself for its imperfections and mediocrity.

Though I feel like I am the only one harboring this stuff, it helps immensely to know someone else, and someone I love, is experiencing them, too. Maybe that's why I wanted to blog. I love to talk about this stuff--need to, in fact--but feel as though it would be an enormous bore to most of my loved ones in my life, people that don't understand. This way, I get my feelings out there, exploit my struggles without bothering anyone who isn't interested.

An awesome story really quick about Chloe and I...

The first two years I wrote I kept it basically to myself, only told those closest to me. It all boiled down to embarrassment and inadequacy. It'd been something I'd never attempted, and have never even taken classes for, but it was something I'd longed to do for a while and decided to try it out. It felt safer not telling anyone. That way, if I really sucked, I didn't have to let anyone, including myself, down. :)

But turns out it was becoming a serious passion that I had no idea lived inside me. I learned and grew a lot as it progressed, but still held no mention of it, unless someone else mentioned it first. I'd talk to Chloe every few months (we haven't seen each other in years), but never mention it (I think my biggest fear was someone saying "Ooh, I want to read it!" and feeling too insecure in my work to let them). Then about four months ago or so, we talked for the first time in months, catching each other up on the latest news with our families, our high maintenance children who are all too similar, and I decided to mention it.

The funny thing is, a few days before that when I was thinking about Chloe, I imagined telling her and had this fairy-tale idea that it would be so crazy if she I found out she had been writing all these years, too. Neither of us had in the past, but we always seem to be on the same page with things in life, even though our lives are not connected by more than phone calls these years, that it seemed fitting. I laughed that off, and thought nothing of it.

But when I mentioned it to her, we were both surprised to learn we have BOTH been writing out first novels (mine was done at the time)! Almost everything in our situations is the same, except her knack is writing creative fantasy and mine is writing real life (sometimes I wish I had the creativity and imagination to write fantasy...).

Anyway, we talked again today, both feeling lifted by the end because it helps so much to share that with someone else that can relate. Our husbands that don't fully understand, even in their support, our families and friends whose opinions you value highly, but don't always turn out the way you wish.

I've written one novel, one short story, and am almost finished with my second novel, and it's all been a huge learning experience for me in finding my voice and the avenue of writing I want to follow. Now, in my second novel, I feel I've finally found it. I always felt insecure about my first one and even now when I look back at it I still do.

But as I said it was my learning experience. I will always love the story, hold the characters near and dear to me, but I will be realistic is admitting it doesn't show the extent of what I feel my literary talent has developed into. It was my first, the roughest of drafts, and in learning the "way of the business," it helped me in more ways than I can count.

I was serious about getting it out there, not about to give up no matter what rejections I got, but 10 submissions and 8 rejections later I've moved on, given up on it going anywhere. Not given up in a quitters kind of way, just realized it's not marketable. I've used it as the lesson it was, gained what I needed from it, learned a LOT about what not to do, and have moved on.

I have SO appreciated everyone's help and feedback who've read it. I've gotten nothing but good comments (and great advice from a good friend, Steve, who is also brilliant in my opinion), but I always referred to it as "juvenile," for lack of a better term. Then in talking to Chloe today, she mentioned the word that I feel fits it perfectly: easy. It might appeal to many because the story is simple, and the writing easy to follow--even to those who've not had much experience reading. It's a cute story, but in reality not marketable.

I look back on it now and almost cringe. I feel as thought I have come leaps and bounds since then and have finally found the voice I desire to represent myself. Part of finding that was in writing my short story (really short story--under 2 pages). I was extremely proud of it, the writing on the page sounding just like I wanted it to--unlike Season of Change, my first novel, where I constantly second guessed myself, read it back and wondered if it really sounded the way I wanted.

And again, with the amazing help of my friend Steve, I was able to learn a lot more about writing just from that page and a half (I told Steve after that that I should pay him to be my English teacher to make up for not ever having one). However, though in literary terms I felt immense satisfaction, I realized not everyone will feel the same way. Others, especially those who don't make reading a passionate pastime, may not get the double ended meanings, the symbolism. Others may be bored, unable to break it down and see the writing the way I intended.

I realized that when Dave, my wonderful, supportive husband, read it and had absolutely no comment. It was hard not to laugh at myself, get discouraged, but I had to come to terms with the fact that Dave has no English or literary background whatsoever, and that avenue is not up his ally by any means.

I've even started reading him my new novel, feeling ten times more confident than when I read him my first, and oddly I've come to the sensation that he doesn't see it for what it's worth, that he actually enjoyed my first, less well-written novel more! I didn't understand and it made me start to second guess my gut that told me it was good. I started doubting myself, thinking it must be horrible, but again, in talking to Chloe today I realized that though he might be biggest supporter, it's just not his genre. Dave doesn't read much, has always hated literature, so I can see why this might be more boring to him.

I realized that there are ALWAYS going to be people that don't fit in the group that will love your work--even if they are your family. What I've learned (and not just from Chloe, but I also had a stimulating conversation with my sister, Heather, about this a few days ago) is that you can't appeal to every audience. You just can't. But there IS an audience out there that happen to love reading what you are writing and have been waiting for it.

Ultimately, my goal in writing what I love is to write something someone else will love--even if it isn't my family and friends. That's what it all comes down to. I've also learned that writing is the fun, easy part and after that's done, that's when the real work begins. At least I know what to expect now. For the most part.

Something else that has been weighing inside me lately (and this is the gist of what Heather and I talked about) is how to uphold to my standards as a member of the LDS church and still write what moves me. Now, I am not one for sexually graphic books. I find them extremely offensive and they just plain make me sick to my stomach. The few times I've got a novel, started reading it, and have found it actually a smutty romance novel, I've felt like I had to shower afterwards just from stumbling upon the words. It's extremely disappointing to be into a good story and have to stop it to preserve your sanity.

Anyway, so what I'm saying is I don't write that stuff, never will. I will also never use the "F" word or take the Lord's name in vain in a novel, because some things are going to far in my opinion. However, I feel as though I'd be cheating myself if I didn't hit on the realities of life--the sometimes dark and sinister, less clean ones. I haven't censored myself much in my new novel (besides those strict guidelines I mentioned earlier) and have been worried about how that might look to other people--I can think of a handful of family and friends who I worry might be "disappointed" that I've "let values slide," or not portrayed my faith in my writing.

Let me point out, because I'm sure I'm making it sound MUCH worse than it is, that to a normal person, what I write is perfectly normal and respectable. I know many people that have high standards as I do that read projects of equal content and enjoy them. My concern is that, will people hold me to a higher standard, knowing I'm a member of my church?

I shouldn't worry so much, but I can't help it when I think of certain people reading my book and coming across an occasional cuss word, or less respectable thoughts of the characters.

We are all human, all have flaws, and in my writing I enjoy that I can expand on that. It's real life and that's my liberation as a writer--to write what moves me. As Heather so brilliantly put it, I am not writing to represent the Faith I am a part of, but I am an INDIVIDUAL who is writing about life, who just so happens to be a member of the church I am.

I always got annoyed with people when I was younger who would appreciate something less "worthy" because it was "art," but now I can say I understand (to a certain degree, of course...let's not get extreme). I love to appreciate literature for its brilliant writing quality, despite the fact that some of its content might be hard to stomach (besides the written pornography I mentioned earlier, of course). Good writing is good writing and should be appreciated.

Where am I really going with this? Haha...I'm not so sure. I kind of went off on a rant. But I guess that's what the point of this blog is, right?

Anyway, even before I started writing, I always thought that if I did become a writer, I'd want to keep my religion separate. Writing about things and relating them to gospel principals scares me, frankly. The last think I want to do is write something and have our religion--the thing I hold most near and dear to me--judged or taken out of context because I inappropriately represented it. I think it's great that people can write good, LDS related stories and I commend them for that. I just don't feel I'm up to the task, and honestly a part of me doesn't want myself to show through my writing. My writing is something I've created, not me in any personal way.

Anyway, that being said, I am a devoted member of my church and know it to be true with all my heart, and therefore intend on keeping my stories at a level where I won't "compromise" mine or any of my readers values, regardless of some of the raw material in my projects.

Being the peacemaker and pleaser I am, I felt the need, though probably unnecessary, to put that disclaimer. :) I know this post probably beats most in longest blog post of the century, but now that it's started, I'm sure shorter posts are to follow--little blurbs and vents about my thoughts here and there. And thanks to anyone, if there is anyone out there, who has the patience to read it. :)