Friday, July 31, 2009

down time

I find it fascinating what comes to you when you sit and stare at the wall for a while.

Recently, I have been occupied with an upcoming confrontation between the sisters and their stepmother, wondering about dialog, letting my mind wander. Then I checked my email and got an absolutely hysterical note from my niece about some problems they had with their realtor's lack of communication. Her statement to the realtor was sooo rude, it's perfect for what Yvonne would say! As I've mentioned before: writers are thieves of other people's words and actions, so...I'm stealing my niece's comment. It's just too funny, being just the sort of thing most of us would long to say, but wouldn't unless the gloves really came off. When you let your mind wander, sometimes God delivers the best stuff right to your inbox! For it is by grace that we are saved, and by grace we write our novels. (Apologies to the Apostle Paul.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

editing, rewriting, and reconstruction

Any writer who's accomplished anything tells us they rewrite and rewrite and sometimes throw the whole thing out and start over after all that work. I figure by the time anyone is published, they must make about 25 cents an hour on the deal--if that. Evan Marshall in The Marshall Plan Workbook, a book about structuring not just your novel, but your writing career, has a great first section that brings home the financial reality of most writers' lives: "Any of us can name writers with healthy six-figure incomes who have no need to undertake any additional work to support themselves. And as an agent I can tell you that many writers who are patient eventually work their way up to advances and royalties large enough to live on. But to expect this kind of monetary reward from your novels one, two or even five books into your career can be a big mistake."

FIVE books in? Heck, I'm only a half a book in and I already know there's no money here unless someone buys it for a film. I'm not writing the kind of book that is going to be a crazy, trendsetting novel. I'm writing a romantic comedy, a mostly light, sometimes thoughtful expose of a looney woman who has to write fiction, deal with her relationship with her father, and juggle a day job. In that sense, it's mostly biographical. Except that she's nothing like me in personality--or is she? I've discussed that before. I never know how much I'm revealing about myself, but I do know that I have to finish the book before I can start the real work on it--editing, rewriting and reconstructing in part. I already did the part of throwing most of it out, so I hope I can skip that this round.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The value of friends

The critique group met again this morning. I read my latest few pages and it was pretty quiet. When that happens, I usually assume they are all struggling for the most creative way to tell me it sucked. This morning, however, they really liked it. They pointed out a couple of things that needed tweaking, but I felt quite gratified by their accolades. There are so many times I think, man, I just don't want it to be mediocre--if it's going to be mediocre I want to skip it. Thank God for a critique group whose motto is "Friends don't let friends write mediocre books." And friends give friends the encouragement to carry on with a process that requires continual persistence.