My Writer Birthday

 

 

Last Tuesday was my writer birthday. It was the first day of investing in myself in pursuit of a full-time writing life! Mind you, I’m still in the throes of post school year fatigue and would like to do little other than sleep, but my “sea legs” are coming back.  I’m still not fully able to get in the zone and write for hours on end as I once was, but I’m improving.

I worked this past week on my book edits, so I can send the manuscript to the agent who requested it. My goal is to send it by Friday afternoon. I don’t think I’ll ever be truly satisfied with it, (really, is a book EVER done?) but I’m giving myself this deadline and sending it along no matter how I feel. My friends have told me it is finished, but I am having a hard time letting it go into the world. As long as it is finished to the best of my ability to make it what I envision, then it is “done.” I just hope to get some good feedback from this agent.

I’m not only working on this book, however. I’ve been contemplating a number of new ideas, one of which won’t let go of me. Last year when I looked out at my patio I noticed two new birds on the trellis where the honeysuckle grows next to our garden, a pair of American Redstarts. They were only on the trellis for a moment or two, hopping about and flying quickly from one place to another, but they were new in my backyard so I took note. That’s when the idea for another book took shape. A young woman popped into my head, her name, her time period, her home (Here is Wisconsin!), the fact that she stutters but sings and whistles bird songs beautifully.  I have been bird watching again, mostly from my back windows, and noticing colors, songs, even habitat on my walks with Stella. Yesterday I found half a robin’s egg on the ground near our stream, a spot of clear blue on the brown sand. As I notice these things, I wonder what she would notice, how she would interpret them. The fermentation process has begun. Collected impressions of the natural world are percolating to the surface.  Although I haven’t devoted any time as yet to writing this story, I know the well is nearly full, and I can’t wait to begin drafting again! First things first, however.

I have a full list of writing “to dos” for the week. Really,  each week or even each day, I would like to move forward a few steps learning, writing, reading, contacting agents, and then writing again. Sometimes those steps will be concrete and measurable as a word count or pages ticked off in the editing process. Other times I may only come to a new realization or new understanding. Both are valuable. Here is this week’s list:

To Do Week of June 12:

1. By Friday finish editing  first novel for the last time before sending to round one agents.
2. Write several blog posts for editing later.
3. Work on my short story to send to Kristin Oakley for possible publication in The Write City E zine. Kristin is the editor of this publication as well as one of the founders of In Print Professional Writers Organization, and a dear friend of mine! You should check out her wonderful, award-winning novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois,  and her soon-to-be-released God on Mayhem Street.
4. Take notes on the ideas for the other books I have in my head to figure out how to get them out of my head!
5. Daily writing practice: 20 minutes each day.

I only included 5 items on my list because I think that number is doable for me. It isn’t overwhelming and will give me a sense of accomplishment when I complete an item. Since this is the first time I am sharing my goals, I’ll let you know how I do. Publishing them will, I hope, make me accountable not only to myself, but also to you!

How and when do you set goals for the work you do?

This Literary Child of Mine

Yesterday my husband and I were talking after a relaxing weekend, and he said something that gave me pause. We had spent a lovely weekend together and were rehashing how nice it was to spend time with a good friend and not have a deadline to meet. We spent Saturday with his college roommate Andy, who had come to visit. We spent most of our time outside either up to our necks in the river to stay cool and keep the horseflies off our skin or sitting on our back porch watching the fading light of sunset while we ate barbecue and homegrown salad greens. When it became too dark to see, I lit candles, and we continued talking well into the evening. It was a lovely day. Sunday my hubby and I took Stella for a long walk and spent a lazy day together doing nothing in particular.

Sunday evening as we were both dreading the start of another work week, hubby said, “I can’t wait ’til you get published and I can retire and you can spend all your time writing. I’ll make the hotel and airline reservations for your book tour and manage all that sort of thing for you.” What aspiring author wouldn’t fall head over heels in love with that kind of confidence? I love his unshaken conviction that I will be finish this book and it will be good enough to be published. When I doubt myself, I only have to remember his confidence in me. Hubby’s roommate also asked about my project.  He asked where I was was in the process. My answer? “I’m revising again.” That seems to be the only answer I give any more. I had a goal to polish this, my first book, and begin my second one before the end of the year. I’ve begun my second, but only just, and I am still plugging away at polishing this first one. I have a list of agents I’ve researched ready to go, but I know I’m not ready to contact them yet.

 

Even as I sit writing this post, I feel like I should be working on my book. I’m like a pregnant mother who is well past her due date and can’t wait to give birth to her new baby. I feel that same sense of restlessness and angst knowing I have a little while longer to wait, but I think perhaps that is not the only thing bothering me. I think maybe I’m a little afraid of what the next phase of my writing journey will bring. Will this be my only book? Will it be good? Will people like it? Will my students be proud of me or disappointed? Will it sell? If it does, will I find success like my husband envisions? If I do, I’ll be overjoyed, but I know the odds are against that kind of success, though it does occur. I know I need to hone my craft; I feel it in my bones. When I read some writers’ work and get chills at a description or a few lines of dialogue, I know I’m not yet there. But I will be.

The blessing in this whole sense of dissatisfaction is I love the creative process. I love feeling the words form seemingly of their own volition. I love feeling that only a few minutes have passed as I’ve been writing and looking at the clock to discover that a few hours have passed instead. In fact, I miss that. I think that is why I haven’t been able to polish this first book completely yet. Whatever the reason for my not achieving my goals as yet, I know I will succeed. I am ready to birth this book. This literary child of mine will be born this year, revised, polished and ready to go to a new home with a good literary agent who sees its potential. I am ready for the next stage of nurturing it. I’m ready for my book baby to take on a life of its own, a new life separate from me but always a part of me. Perhaps it will find the kind of success my husband believes is possible. Wouldn’t that be awesome!