Friday, February 17, 2012

A Novel Beginning: Weeks 10 thru 13

Weeks 10 through 13 were quite an emotional rollercoaster for me with many ups and downs…

Frustration: I had an eye injury which limited my time on the computer; Satisfaction: once my eye was better I was able to get in some good blocks of writing time so that I felt like I was moving ahead at a good pace; Excitement and Anxiety: I entered my first short story into a contest, causing me a huge amount of excitement and anxiety all rolled into one; Grief: my emotions were dealt a blow after hearing about the death of a loved one; and Apprehension: after keeping my writing life a secret from friends, I finally gained the confidence to tell someone.
Week 10

I truly hoped to finish my book so that I could enter it into a contest in November but I guess my hopes were a little high.  One major distraction recently was an injury to my eye so that I’m having a very difficult time working on the computer, much less writing.  Typing is difficult due to the strain it puts on my eye so I have to take time away from the computer for awhile.    

Week 11

On to a new month of writing.  I have bills to pay so I hope to be working more this month but with the holidays coming up it is most likely a possibility that work will slow down.  If it does, I guess I will have more time to write.  I should make a New Year’s resolution now because if I wait until the first it will be too late…I resolve to finish my book and enter it into contests the first part of the year.  Then, I will move on to my next book while I wait and hope and pray. 

I’m finally at 200 pages now so I’m getting close to being finished, I think.  I find as I write that I sometimes need to go back a few chapters to remember what a character said or did or who they spoke to and when.  The main topics of conversation and scene development are not the issue, it’s the little details I might forget about but which the reader will easily notice.  I am now working on a timeline of what the characters have done in order to easily track their movements.  I should have done this from the beginning so it’s just another lesson learned. 
Week 12

I love my story.  I truly hope others do too.  I would be disappointed if those in the know say no to my book but I have faith.  Of course, I’m going up against others who also believe in their stories.  However, my book, once it is completed, will be an accomplishment, whether it’s published or not.  Only time will tell.  Until the book is done, it’s not ready to be read by anyone.

Today is a holiday and I’m taking the day off…from real work anyway.  I decided to spend the day writing and it was a very productive day.  I think I wrote more today than I ever have and I even worked backwards and edited some.  I know I planned to wait but as I continued to write there were areas I wanted to touch back on based on how the story was coming along.  Plus, I had to finish with the timeline of what the characters have done/said already.  Now the timeline is up-to-date for future reference and I can continue to add to it as I write.  Overall, I am very pleased with the amount of work accomplished.  If every day could be like this, the book would easily be finished by the end of the month.  Life, though, is a fickle thing so I’ll just take each day as it comes along.

Week 13

I received an email today from one of the magazines I regularly read.  The email informed me about a contest for a short story.   The catch?  The context closes tomorrow!  I went through my book of ideas and found one I thought I might be able to condense down to a short story.  Only after I began writing did I realize how difficult it would be to write a short story.  The limit on the word count was only 1500 words.  By the time I wrote the first draft I had 2500 words.  This was a very tough exercise but a good one because it gave give me a better understanding about how to eliminate words or phrases or even whole scenes in order to make the story move rapidly.  I spent most of the afternoon on the story, getting down to 2000, then 1700 and finally close to 1500 words.  Once you play around with something long enough you begin to question yourself:   Did I do enough?  Did I do too much?  Is it good enough?  Should I change it again?  I finally had to set it aside so that I could read it again in the morning. 

I have never felt my heart thump as hard as it did today.  I finished my short story and went through the process of filling out the application.  It took a few minutes before I felt brave enough to click on “submit” and I was surprised at how terribly scared I was of the whole process.  What is it about putting yourself out there?  You want appreciation but you don’t want your hard work to be criticized so much that you decide it wasn’t worth it.  You don’t want to put all your time and energy into a project you truly believe in only to have someone tell you it just isn’t good enough.  This was just a short story, no strings, just submit and wait and hope.  If you win, it’s great.  You receive money and publication in a magazine.  If you don’t win, you don’t receive any type of criticism or feedback so the only negatives will be the rejection.  It’s just ONE contest.  There are many.  Will I have this feeling every single time I enter my work into a contest?  Do I really care that much to have my work published?  Do I really care what others will think of my work?  Yes, yes and yes, is what I believe the answers to be.  I will always be anxious about releasing my work, I would love to be published (who wouldn’t?) and you have to care what others think because it’s others who will read, criticize, enjoy, and ask for more.  I write for myself but ultimately, my work will be for the enjoyment of others, I hope, and it will be their delight in my books that I will greatly benefit from. 

Last night before heading to bed I received a phone call.  Late night phone calls usually aren’t good.  As it happens, it wasn’t.  The call was from my grandmother to tell me my great aunt had just passed away.  My great aunt was 93 and she had a wonderful life, enjoying each moment and each day like it was her last.  My great aunt had a very, very strong faith and she had already made it clear to those she loved that she was ready to go Home.  It is the family and friends she left behind, who loved her so much, who will feel the greatest sadness because we will miss her company, her love, her laughter and her wisdom.  Her memory will live on because of how much she meant to us.  Strong characters like my aunt give writers great ideas for the characters they bring to life in their books.  Maybe one day I will include a character who is much like my great aunt so that I can share with others how much of a wonderful person she really was. 

Although I’ve told some family about my writing, I haven’t told any of my friends.  Quite awhile ago I told a good friend that I “wanted” to write a book but that was before I finally took the plunge and made the decision to do it.  I have had the fear of telling people, whether it’s because I’ll have to explain my desires, explain my future plans, try to explain I have more than a dream…I don’t know.  I’m sure most of my friends would be supportive so that’s not what I fear.  It’s just that I haven’t been willing to share that part of myself.  Today, however, I made the decision to finally tell one of my good friends.  She has always been there for me and will always remain a truly dear friend.  Whatever her response might be I hope she appreciates the fact that I have literally bared myself to her as I have done for no one else at this point. 
It is weeks like these that can make writing difficult. However, my eye did get better, the contest was a temporary distraction but also a learning experience, I miss my great aunt, which is a loss only time can heal, and obviously, since the last post, I finally made my secret about writing known not only to family but to all my friends and now even strangers.  No matter what happens in life, we heal, we move on, we learn as we go and we even find the confidence to battle the doubts raging inside of us.

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