Ready…Set…Go!

 

“There’s a book in you that only you can write.” 
Chris Baty

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal is to start November 1 and write 50,000 words before the end of the month.  Basically, a whole novel. Yikes!  That is a lot of words in a very short period of time.

My friend and critique partner has been telling me about this month long event for years and encouraging me to give it a try.  Nope.  I have always resisted.  I didn’t want the pressure, didn’t want to write words just for the sake of writing words and couldn’t imagine how this would help me.  Besides, I have this teensy, weensy little personality quirk that makes me rebel whenever I am being told I have to do something.  The thought of NaNo always threw that personality quirk into a frenzy .

I don’t know what changed for me this time.  I would like to think I matured (Ha!), but it would be closer to the truth to say I just stuffed that pesky personality quirk into a box and taped it shut. It was annoying anyway.  Or, maybe I just rebelled against my inner rebellion – who knows. 🙂   Either way, I signed up this year.  I need to do NaNo.

I have been lazy these past months.  I thought about writing, even had scenes mapped out in my head, but I didn’t sit down and transfer them to a page.  I spent too much time flopped on my couch channel surfing for mindless entertainment.  It was like having a bag of potato chips and trying to eat just one, you know?  I got in the habit and couldn’t seem to break it.  The worst part – I got bored very quickly. The horrifying part – when I did sit down to my computer the words were elusive and everything I wrote seemed pedantic and trite. It was discouraging.

Maybe the idea behind NaNo is not so crazy after all.  Giving myself permission to turn off my inner editor and write whatever comes into my head might be just what I need.  I have to do something to break through and get the words flowing again and the brass ring of 50,000 words by the end of the month is a great stretch goal.

The novel I have in mind is going to be more in the range of 80,000 when completed.  I have a lot of story to tell, but the idea of meeting the NaNo goal does have a certain appeal.  It is a huge chunk of my story and makes the original goal (yes, I do occasionally set them for myself) of finishing the first draft by December 31 more attainable.

So, I am lacing up my running shoes and standing ready for November 1st and the start of the race.  I expect some bumps in the road and words that refuse to cooperate, but I am also hoping the path will get easier as I get those writing muscles back in shape.  Besides, remember my friend?  I am sure she is going to be nudging me along and refuse to let me quit.  Thank goodness.

If you are interested in being a NaNo buddy my handle is KylieW.  Look me up.  We can race together.

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

~ Christopher Columbus

 

imagesI like the above quote.  It reminds me that taking a leap of faith is not without risk, but the reward can be incredible. Today is Columbus Day and history would certainly be different if ole’ Chris C. hadn’t decided to leave that familiar shore.  I am sure he was more focused on the journey ahead than his place in our history books, but his willingness to risk it all, his desire to push the limits, compelled him to do something extraordinary.

We all have that potential within us.  That passion to take what we imagine and make it a reality. We see it every time someone stops talking about the novel they plan to write and actually sits down to do it.  It takes courage to put yourself out there and jump into uncharted water.  Writing a novel is not for the timid and faint of heart!

As with  every journey you have to make corrections when you drift off course and I can’t count the number of times I have been surprised by what can happen.  Sometimes I love the new direction, but there are times when I have to retrace my steps to get where I need to go.  It can be discouraging or exhilarating, but none of it would have happened if I hadn’t allowed myself to lose sight of the shore and step away from my comfort zone.

So, for all of you beginning your writing journey, for those that continue to pursue their dreams and for those contemplating their next published work – congratulations!  Like Columbus you have the courage to pursue your dreams.  What wonderful adventures await you!

A Golden Rose

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

                  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

I stopped by and checked out Melia Alexander’s wonderful blog today. She was hosting a friend and fellow author, Jessa Slade.  The subject was something near and dear to my own heart, The Golden Rose Contest.

GR2013 Banner for NOR

Not only is this contest sponsored by my home chapter, Rose City Romance Writers, but it is one of the first contests I ever entered.  If you have ever wondered if a contest is worth it then let me tell you my personal experience with this one.

Every time the contest was mentioned in our chapter meetings my heart would race. I had been waffling on whether I should take the plunge and enter my recently finished manuscript .  I knew first-hand the quality and talent of the judges and the kind of thoughtful and insightful feedback I would receive. I also knew I would get an honest evaluation of my work.  There’s the rub.  Was I truly ready to hear any criticism of my baby? Even if the feedback was right on the mark? What if they hated it?  What if I really couldn’t write a decent story?

I think there comes a time in every writer’s journey where we take a leap of faith and do something that scares the you-know-what out of us.  This was it for me.  I filled out the submission form, took a deep breath and hit send.  And promptly freaked out!

Yes, we writers can be a neurotic lot 🙂

I am not kidding when I tell you waiting for the results can be a tad stressful.  I did a lot of mental gymnastics talking to myself.  No matter what, I declared, I would look at the feedback, consider it without emotion and then go back to work on it.  Ha!  Writing is all about emotion, we plumb the heights and depths every time we sit in front of our computer and put words on the page.  So don’t kid yourself and think you won’t react strongly when your results come in.  Just remember to breathe and give yourself permission to think about what comments were given.  You will survive, I promise.  More importantly you will have more of an idea on how to improve your work.

When I got the call telling me my manuscript was a finalist I was so surprised I wondered if there was a mistake.  Truthfully, I don’t think I quite believed it until I got the scores back from the judges.  Even as a finalist there was a lot work still to do on my manuscript.  Weaknesses were pointed out through excellent feedback, along with areas I did well.    I had a little time to look over the comments, make any changes I wanted and then the manuscript would be submitted to the final judges.

I didn’t win the ultimate prize – The Golden Rose, but I took first place in my category.  The final judge said some lovely things about my chapters and I thought maybe, just maybe, I might be a real, honest-to-goodness writer!

The real prize in all of this – I had judges looking at my work and giving me the benefit of their experience as writers.  I got feedback that helped me strengthen my story, a cross section of opinions that gave me a broader view of what another might see in my work and the knowledge that leaping off a cliff is not without risk, but the reward can be, well…the courage to take another step toward publication.

There are a lot of contest out there.  Do a little research, find one that meets your needs and give it a shot.  Take that leap.  What have you got to lose?

Don’t Give Up!

Don't Give UP

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

There is no easy path to getting published.  It’s a simple truth. Every single one is littered with stones to trip the unwary, blind corners and snags.  There are too many forks in the road to count and each one promises to be the answer.

It is easy to become so overwhelmed we are unable to move forward or we simply give up because it seems too difficult. What is the point?  Why should I continue to spend hours in front of my computer trying to put words around what I see in my minds eye?  It can be very tempting to walk away.  Who wants to be published anyway?

Yet, that quiet voice in our mind continues to entice with another story and we find ourselves starting to pay attention. There is simple joy in writing the perfect description, snappy dialogue and in having characters jump off the page and demand attention.  We wrestle with writer’s block, sagging middles and protagonists refusing to do what we want them to do.  It is glorious and frustrating and mixed in with all of it is our wish to know our work is being read and enjoyed by others.

If we are lucky we have a great critique group or partner to help us flesh out our story and make it shine.  Heck, maybe enter it in a contest or two to see how well you did and then use the comments to polish it more.  Definitely submit to agents and editors in the hopes someone will love what you have written as much as you do.  And learn.  Learn from every critique, every painful rejection and fellow writer sharing their path to getting published.

Difficult though it may be, we need to keep moving forward.  We need to know when to let go of a beloved story and move on to the next.  We need to always find ways to grow as a writer, to hone our craft, to keep submitting our work in the hopes of publication.

For me, being published is the realization of a dream, but the truth I discovered during this incredible journey is I will always be a writer whether I am published or not.

It is non-negotiable.