19 July 2012

Weighty Waiting

We all know there's a lot of waiting involved with the writing process. Waiting for feedback, waiting for submission responses, and if you're lucky, waiting for publication...

But I think the hardest type of waiting is the type you're in complete control of. When we're waiting to hear back from others or for a fixed date, it's out of our hands. But when we are deciding whether our beloved WIP is ready to go out into the world, it's far more complicated. How many editorial passes should we do before querying? How many critiques are enough? How long should we let the novel rest before tackling revisions. Just how long is enough to spend before we launch our work into the world?

When we're in control of the process, it's so tempting to push our work out before it's ready. We're just so desperate to share it, to get some sort of feedback - whether that be from betas, agents, or the book-buying public. We feel as if we've worked on this WIP forever, and the temptation to share it can be overwhelming. It's like you're having a baby, but you decide how long the pregnancy will be. How much development is enough?

I don't have any answers, but I just wanted to share. In hindsight it's easy to see when we did launch something too soon. But when you're in the thick of it, your vision is far from 20/20.

How do you know when it's ready to give birth to your work?

13 July 2012

Wading Through the Mire of Craft Information

Writers these days are so lucky to have the internet as a resource. Apart from the community it provides and the ability to submit quickly and cost-effectively, there is a huge amount of information about how to write. For any aspect of the craft, and from authors of all genres, you can find information to help you learn and grow as a writer.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming. There are so many great blogs out there, and soon you can feel queasy at just the sight of all the unread posts. You feel pressure to read it all, just in case you might miss some golden nugget which will help you make a great leap. But if you spend all your time reading about how to write, you might never get any actual writing done! (never mind all the other distractions online)

So how to prioritise which articles to read? I'm learning that I have to focus on where I'm at. Here's the secret: there is generally something being written about the topic you need, at the moment that you need it. If you need to learn about story structure at that point in time, don't waste your time reading (perfectly valid) articles on character development. When you need to round out your characters, there will be other articles at that time. If telling (not showing) is your problem, don't spend all your time reading about how to craft a compelling beginning. Just mark everything else as "read", or favourite some posts for later if need be, but make sure you are learning what you most need at that moment, and then go back to your writing.

For example, at the moment I'm about to plunge into my second draft, and then I'll be engaging critique partners (and seeking more). And wouldn't you know it, there have been articles popping up about editing checklists and the second draft specifically, as well as lots of links to critiquing websites. It's gold. And for now I need to focus on those things, and only skim the articles about things like query letters or writing sequels.

So focus your learning, and be assured everything else will still be there when you are ready for it.

11 July 2012

Random Interlude with the Cookie Monster

This is totally random, but it made me smile. I love Sesame Street parodies.

07 July 2012

Your Unique Contribution

Recently there was a death in my wider world. And apart from the grief and loss of those around, the main effect was to make me consider my own mortality.

If I knew I was going to die, what would I do? What are the things I would regret not experiencing? Because I love to see the world, of course many places jump to mind. But not seeing those places wouldn’t change who I was. Even though life would be the richer for seeing amazing sights, I’ve seen many of them on TV, and it costs more than I have right now to experience them. What really matters, in terms of what I can personally contribute to the world?

It’s sort of a bucket list, but it’s deeper than that. If I was dying, what would I actually regret not trying to do? Something that only I can contribute to the world?

Have kids? Well, maybe.

But I know it’s been my dream ever since I wrote stories as a five year old to see my name in print. To have a novel published, and to have readers be touched by it, to have it make them laugh, cry and escape for a few hours.

That’s my biggest dream. My unique contribution.

So, back to work.