Friday, March 27, 2009

Healthy Competition

I am proud to announce that my friend Rebecca now has a contract for her book. Her personal challenge to "beat" me paid off. In a matter of months, she will have an ebook published. Could she have done it without me? Yes, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun, I bet.

And, really, I had nothing to do with it. She wrote the book and the query letter. She expended the energy to send it. I get the pleasure of watching her bask in well deserved glory. I can learn from her experience. So really, I may get more out of it than she does, in a matter of speaking.

But more importantly, I have learned something about myself from our healthy competition. Everyone needs goals. When you are a writer, they can easily elude you. Distraction is my excuse to avoid the hard parts. I have a manuscript screaming at me to revise it. But I let it sit. Why? Because it's a lot of work. Add to that my feeling of inadequacy because I am a novice, and you have one writer who is doing everything to avoid her heart's desire.

This week, I finally admitted my feelings of self-defeat. My husband listened as I whined about how I have nothing to show for all the time I have spent typing away. And then, he showed me all of the things I do have and why they matter. I love him and am grateful he is supportive!

So, today, I am going to challenge myself. I set out to write a book to see if I could do it. I did. Now I have to revise it. But who should I compete with? Maybe myself? I wonder, though, how long that would last. So I'm thinking I'll challenge Rebecca again. My book will be revised before she is in print. That sounds reasonable. So, how 'bout it Becc? You still up for some healthy competition? I hope so, because in my mind it's a done deal.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Heat is ON!

It was nearly thirty five years ago. Two girls took their first breaths within hours of each other. One was supposed to be named Rebecca, but her mother changed her mind at the last minute. Instead, she chose the name Lorettajo. For years, Lorettajo hated it because it was so different. Oh, how she wanted to have a normal name, like Rebecca, but apparently that name was meant for someone else born that day.

Through the years, Lorettajo and Rebecca crossed paths. They went to the same parties and hung out with the same crowd. But, for some reason, they never met. Or, if they had, it wasn't significant enough for either to remember.

Their lives merged one day in an exercise class. The two girls, now both women and mothers, hit it off. They chatted after class and found out how much they had in common. Both married young, had husbands named Mark, and loved to write.

Rebecca encouraged Lorettajo to attend the writing class she attended. Lorettajo had no writing experience, but in spite of her fears, she went. She had started a novel the month, just to see if she could do it. The time was right for her to move ahead.

Weeks of class turned into months and quickly became years. The two girls bonded easily; their children followed suit. Life moved them along and before either one of them knew it, Lorettajo found herself in love with writing more than ever.

Over the years, Rebecca had finished her own novel and revised it many times. She sent out multiple queries. She received more rejections than she cared to count, but still didn't give up. She continued to revise, resubmit, and survive through it all. Lorettajo progressed right along side her. She finished her novel and began revising it. Rebecca noticed.

So, now, these two women, living underneath the same astrological sign for nearly 35 years are in a race. Rebecca swears she will get published first. Maybe so, but the heat is on as two Aries charge towards the next phase of their lives. Who will get their first? Only time will tell.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Revising... Realizing

Last week I thought I was going to lose my mind while I prepared an application for a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) grant. I needed to write a synopsis, fill out an application and prepare my first chapter for submission. It was a lot more work than I expected, mostly because I am a perfectionist. Nothing is ever good enough for me. Nothing is ever "ready". So, faced with frustration and a shortage of time, I gave up. I was going to send it in no matter what I thought of it.

But, alas, Sera, my one of my dearest writing friends wouldn't let me. She insisted upon reading it over. I wanted to scream. I did not have time for this, nor the desire. Why did she have to make my life so difficult? Just let it be! At the same time, I was secretly relieved. She offered the help I couldn'tbring myself to request.

Together, we scrambled through multiple files and a ticking clock. After each sentence was checked, we had trouble printing it. I thought I was going to cry. Instead, I went home, printed from there, made the necessary copies at Staples and ran to the post office with an hour to spare.

This weekend, I crashed. I turned my focus to laundry, the hint of spring in the air, and my family. And today I realized something. It wasn't Sera who frustrated me. It was me. I have trouble accepting help. I despise it, as a matter of fact. I pretend I don't need it when I really do.

I should have asked her, but I didn't want to "bother" her. Ok, really? NO! I didn't want to take the chance she would say "no". It hurts me too much for some stupid reason. I have to get over this; I have wanted to for a long time. It seems not that I don't have a choice.

My private goal of writing was to learn more about myself through story-telling. Now it seems that the revisions are showing me more than I had anticipated. I wonder if this happens to all writers or is it just me? Maybe I am being overly dramatic. Or maybe I'm on to something. Either way, it doesn't matter. I know now that I need to revise myself in order to realize writing success. It's a good thing I like challenges. It's going to be a bumpy road.

And then..I found this! Oh, how true it is:

"In the beginning you may be writing around what you want to say instead of getting to the core. Keep writing. The route may be circuitous but after you zero in on what you truly want to say, you'll see that during all those false starts and detoured storylines, you weren't wasting time, as you feared. You were developing as a writer, developing a discerning eye and ear, finding your own voice, learning to respect self-imposed deadlines."
Madeleine Costigan

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Next Step

My novel is back in my hands, complete with a 6 page, single spaced, typed letter AND line-by-line edits on every single page (There are 220 pages). My mentor has specifically laid out a challenge I can't wait to tackle. THIS is what I have been needing!

THIS is more than I think I can handle.

I might think I can't handle it, but I KNOW I will. It's the next step towards my dream and nothing is going to hold me back.

The Dean of Undergraduate Nursing once said to me, "You'll never make it as a nurse."

But I did. I still am.

Someone, someday WILL tell me I won't make it as a writer.

But I will. And I will show them!