There are things I want to say and share but I can't. Not yet. But because I'm antsy, I want to share something so I'm sharing some of my favorite words and quotes by others via my pinterest board. Words have an incredible power to soothe, hurt, heal, inspire, build up, tear down, linger, and last. That's why how we use them, where, and when matters so much.
I seem to have a severe case of writer's block. I don't believe it's catchy so it's probably self-induced. I'm trying to come up with theories as to why I can't write all the words I want to. Here's what I have so far:
1. I can't actually write and my brain just realized it.
2. I can only think/write in 140 character sentences (I wanted to count that just now)
3. I've watched so many episodes of Good Luck Charlie that I my brain doesn't understand adult romance anymore.
4. There are no more words or original concepts in my head.
However, what I really think it is that I'm in a holding pattern. I'm standing on the edge of the page waiting to see if it'll turn, if I can turn it, or if the book is closed. I'm part of an anthology being released very soon and I'm curious-nervous-excited about how that will go. I have my latest full manuscript, my best one I think, out with six agents by request and a partial of it out with another agent. And not just any agents-- amazing agents. I feel like I'm waiting to see if everyone comes back and says no. If that happens, I have to figure out why. I have to reassess what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. I have to reassess if I should be doing it. My brain might be imposing a self-preserving hold so that if the rejections start coming in on Damaged, I haven't tied myself into another piece of writing that truly matters to me.
Over the last year, I've realized that even when I say I'm going to quit, I don't mean quit writing. I may quit querying and putting myself out there for a bit just to gather some perspective but it's impossible to imagine that I will simply stop writing. It is not easy to put a piece of yourself out there for others to assess and judge. It's also not something I would have imagined myself capable of even eighteen months ago. But the process has made me stronger as a person and a writer. The trick, for me, has been to take the feedback and apply it to my writing. It's hard not to take it personally, because writing is personal, but when you're querying agents you want to stand behind you and your work, it's also a business. They know what they're looking for, what excites them and what they can sell. It is hard to disconnect yourself from your work enough to realize that when they reject your writing, they aren't rejecting you.
So, maybe my writer's block is stemming from my mental preparation to face these facts should the ending not go the way I want. Or maybe my overactive-relentless-non-stop-worrier-brain just needs a break. I'll let you know.
This has been an interesting week for querying my contemporary romance manuscript. I've received 1 "No thanks, not for me, best of luck" rejection and 1 "The writing was clichéd and I did not connect to your main character" rejection (OUCH...that one hurt). However, in the good news column, after entering the pitch contest on Brenda Drake's website, I received three requests: one followed up by requesting the full manuscript the day after I submitted two chapters. It is quite the paradox to have two people tell you they don't want your writing while trying to convince yourself that one of three will. So I'm distracting myself in the best ways I can and thought I'd share some ways to wait because, let's face it, waiting patiently and forgetting that my manuscript is in the hands of three people that showed interest, is not going to happen.
Ten Ways to Wait
What did I miss? What do you do to keep from going crazy? There's a great line in The Search (by Nora Roberts) that I love: "[We] worked on keeping each other from going crazy." Find someone or something to help you channel the crazy that inevitably comes along with waiting. Now, taking my own advice, I'm going to go read Jill Mansel's Staying at Daisy's.
Sometimes, writers have nothing to write. You can call it writer's block, but sometimes, it's just a matter of having nothing to put on paper (or screen). Fortunately, being a writer, you can come up with a long-winded way to share that you have nothing to say.
See, I just did a whole paragraph on how this blog is, technically, about nothing. The beauty of words. So, since I had nothing of particular importance or consequence to say this week, I thought I would try a Top Ten List (not laminated, of course, because I often change my mind). Once I decided to do a top ten, I started wondering what the list should be about.
I won't give you the top ten list of my ideas for top ten lists. Instead, I'll skip ahead and tell you that I've decided, as part of my attempt to establish an online presence as an author, that my list will just be about me. Don't be disappointed. If you've come to this site, you have some reason to want to know about me; hopefully it'll one day list my top ten children's books that I've written, but for now, it'll give you a clearer idea of who I am.
Top ten things that make me happy
10. Having my counter tops clean. This may seem random, but my counter tops are rarely visible. They have homework, planners, piles of books, papers, treats, lunch kits, and many other things on top of them. There are these moments, each week, where I get them cleared off and it's really enjoyable to look at the open space. I now take pictures when I do it, so I can remember what it looks like.
9. Re-reading the mushy, cheesy, adorably-sweet, romantic moments in all of my favourite books. I go back and just re-read these parts. No matter how many times I read the part where he realizes he loves her and says the perfect thing, I get that little flip-flop in my belly.
8. Finding Dawson's Creek re-runs on T.V. I actually have all of the seasons on DVD but that makes watching it seem intentional. This way, I can say I was just flipping channels and happened upon it.
7. Winning at a game-any game. In particular a game I'm playing against my husband. He wins at everything. I win at nothing. But every now and then, the unthinkable happens (and it doesn't matter that it might be during a game of Sorry) and I win. That's a good moment.
6. Doing absolutely nothing with the people I love. It's not that I want to do nothing, because I actually am not very good at doing nothing. However, I really enjoy just being in the same room with the people I love. They don't have to pay attention to me; they just have to be there.
5. Being on time. This rarely happens, unless you include work. I show up on time for work. But that's about it. Sad, because I do think that being on time for things is important and respectful. The ability to pull this off on a regular basis elludes me. Our friends now invite us over and expect us on "Holford Time" (about a half hour late).
4. The moment on a T.V. show when your favourite characters FINALLY get together. Love that. Truly love it. (See Mer & Derek above)
3. Snuggling in bed with my whole family when it's raining outside. I hate the rain. It makes me morose. But there's something about laying in bed, together, snuggled up, cozy and warm, listening to the rain beat down on the house and not having to go out in it.
2. Writing. I have to put it on here because it's silly not to point out that it is one of the things, and definitely in the top ten, that bring me inexplicable happiness. On the flip side, it also brings nerves, self-doubt, and uncertainty. But mostly, it brings me happiness. Especially when I write a story that my girls love.
1. The people in my life. I am reminded, daily, through a number of actions and words, how lucky I am to be surrounded by people that get me, accept me, support me, love me, and take me as I am, even when I'm not always easy to take.
I've never shared my writing with many people. In high school, I wrote poetry (like every angst ridden teen) and some plays. One play was performed by a group of us, so I did share it a bit. Once I went to university, my writing, other than for academics, came to a standstill. As I finished school, I might get the odd burst of need to write something down. A few years ago, I really got back into writing by taking a university writing course to meet my Post Bac. Degree requirements. I started writing short stories, poetry, and short and full length plays. I suppose that was what reopened the door for me. Since that course, I have played with writing now and again but about two years ago, I started feeling more driven to write. I felt like I had to write something. Having said that, the time I wasn't writing, I was posting articles online and some in the newspaper so I suppose writing has never really exited my life completely. Still, I've never felt such an energy for writing as I do now. I started a couple years ago with a story about my oldest daughter and it kind of snowballed from there. After attending a writing conference this last October and being blessed enough to receive representation from an agent, I decided that now is the time. If I'm going to write for anyone other than myself, now is the best time to do that because I have someone who is in the industry willing to read my work and guide me.
I'm becoming better at sharing my writing, as a result. And as a result of that, my writing, itself, is becoming stronger. Before I send things to my agent, I want to make sure I'm not wasting her time. So I send to my very best friend and another close friend for revisions, edits, and overall impressions. I specifically asked that they not be gentle with me because there's no use pretending something is good when it isn't. Besides that, I have a feel for it anyway. Kind of like when you cook something that tastes awful and people say, "No, no, this is good." I know when food doesn't taste good and I know when my writing is not at it's strongest. However, the benefit, I've found, in sharing it, is that 'beta-readers' do more than just provide edits. They provide questions and they act as your audience. They help you fill in the gaps and see that maybe you're not presenting what you meant to.
A lot of people, now that I am letting them see it, ask where I find the time to write. This is the question I often ask of people who say they work out an hour a day. Where do I find the time? In tiny little pockets that show up and in time that is provided for me by my lovely husband who will sometimes take the kids out for a bit.
Sometimes, it's a real challenge; I will admit that. I get that feeling that I have to get something down on paper but that doesn't mean I don't have to cook dinner, give baths, make lunches, do laundry, do marking or planning, or read to my kids. So, I look for those pockets and I make the most of them. Kids gone to the park with dad? I'm writing. Husband watching T.V.? I'm writing. Actually, if I'm watching T.V., I'm often writing as well. I'm often writing while my daughters are asking me three dozen questions or telling me about the life cycle of some animal I've never heard of.
I want (and need) to believe that my writing doesn't throw anything off balance. I hope that my kids don't feel like something is missing, but honestly, I don't think they do. We spend lots of time together and one of the most wonderful things that has happened as a result of my new-found desire to write as much as possible, is that my kids are writing; A LOT! My ten year old wrote a beautiful song yesterday. My six year old wrote about saving the Wood Thrush (she's a little hooked on Wild Kratt's). It's a pleasure to see them spend time and energy on something that means so much to me. It's also nice to see them work this into their schedule; should I write or watch T.V.? Write or play? Write or color? Write or drive my sister nuts while she writes? That last one often wins out for my youngest.
So yes, it's a balancing act; but I wouldn't/couldn't change it anymore than the person who absolutely has to get their work out in or manages to walk their dog at 5 a.m. (I could NOT do that). When you love something though, when you feel like something is an essential part of you, balancing it does not seem difficult. In fact, while I'm balancing everything else, it often seems feels like it's the break I need.