Monday, September 14, 2015

Mark Every Milestone

Congratulations to a new blog reader, Chris Hoerter of Chapel Hill, NC, who won the autographed copy of The Nine Pound Hammer. He attended John Bemis' class at Central Carolina Community College last year and now will have one of his books!
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Warning: Reading this blog may get the tune, "Climb Every Mountain" the the Sound of Music in your brain. 

Two weeks ago I finished the fourth major draft of Half-Truths. Writers are encouraged to celebrate each milestone and this one feels particularly significant to me. I read through the entire draft for the first time since starting it in January. And I am excited. It feels like a book!
But this draft did not happen without a lot of work as well as some writerly anxiety.

The week before I finished the draft, I was writing a brand new scene that would occur at the end of the book. I had a few sleepless nights when I was plagued with, "What if I can't write this scene well?" doubts. At night I worried that the magic wouldn't happen the next day; each day it happened! It seems somewhat silly now, but as I wrote to my friends Kathy Weichman and Rebecca Petruck, I was full of questions."What if my book is not as good as I think it is? What if I can't find an agent or publisher?" 

Here are their wise responses: 

Kathy wrote: "Carol, all those questions you ask yourself, I asked myself for decades. And my responses from editors made me question myself even more. The only question you really need to answer is "Why do I write?" If you can honestly say you write because you love it, you want to, or it satisfies that creative something inside you, then you keep doing it. If you answer "because I want to be published" or "I want a lucrative contract," then step away from the computer. There has to be a joy in the process or surviving this business will be brutal. It took me 39 years of submitting novels before I was offered a contract, but they are 39 years I would never trade. I enjoyed putting words on the page and crafting stories. I learned a lot about writing and about myself. I met fantastic authors, editors, teachers, and readers.

So stop questioning, stop worrying, and just write. And enjoy doing it. 

Rebecca wrote: "This sounds like "what will they think" anxiety which...snap out of it! You CANNOT IN ANY WAY CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. Maybe it will take a long time to find an agent. I have friends at it for YEARS with DIFFERENT manuscripts that are all good. It's a totally subjective crapshoot out there + market trends so you CANNOT KNOW OR PREDICT anything related to an agent or selling the MS. I know it's hard but let it go. 

You won't write a new scene great the first time, especially an important one. When I wrote Diggy and Wayne leading the steers to the packer's truck the first time in Steering Toward Normal, a hugely important scene, I cried the whole time and did it in a scant 3 pages. It was terrible, but now the bones were down and I could go back when I was calmer to flesh it out (and cry some more). Point being: You won't get it right. Don't worry about it. Getting it right is for later. 

I hope this helps. Go! Write, my friend. All will be well. 

Kathy's and Rebecca's boosts got me through my last mad dash of writing. Then I edited out over 8,000 words and sent it to Rebecca who (as some of you know) has been enormously helpful through this process of shaping my story. 

Now I'm celebrating. How?

#1 - NOT tweaking Half-Truths. (Well, only a little teeny tiny bit.) 

#2 - Doing some things I've pushed into the corner. Clean my house. Finish my presentation for the SCBWI-Carolinas conference on "Using Your Own Diversity" with Linda Phillips. Get the next issue of Talking Story together with Joyce Hostetter. Work on a yet-to-be-announced writing workshop with Kathy and Joyce that is going to be awesome. Create a writing wiki for Alexander Christian Academy. Go shopping. Take in a movie. Make my husband take me polka dancing!

#3- Using John Bemis ideas from last weeks blog I may start brainstorming my next book which I hope will be a prequel to Half-Truths. 

So join me in celebrating and remembering that books, like mountains, must be conquered one step at a time, and don't say I didn't warn you!


20 comments:

Barbara Younger said...

Congrats MARIA!!

Dianne said...

Wow! This is so neat. You're writing a book! I wish I would've asked about this yesterday, but didn't know to ask! :) Did you know my mom wrote a book? Her autobiography. :) Congrats!

Rebecca Petruck said...

Honored to be part of your journey!

sheri levy said...

Carol, You have accomplished a huge task. A slow and arduous task that you enjoyed or you wouldn't have lasted this long! Kathy is right in saying enjoy the moment.
So proud of you and I've learned much from your wonderful blog! Many times you kept me motivated!!
See in soon!
Sheri

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks friends--all your comments and encouragement have helped keep me going!

Vijaya said...

Congratulations Carol!!! I am sure your husband will be very happy to polka with you. Enjoy the little hiatus and all the other activities. I'll miss seeing you at the conference this year.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Vitaya! Actually--I think I liked the polka more than he did! :) Will miss seeing you too.

Linda A. said...

Congratulations! You are such a hard worker.

Thanks to your post,I'm even singing "Mark every milestone" to the tune. I can't help it.

You have earned a little vacation from this project, although I imagine you find time for some writing every day.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks so much, Linda! Yep...Gotta keep on writing one way or the other!

Young Authors Program said...

Way to go, Carol! I can't wait to get a copy of your book in my hands! :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Dorothy for your vote of confidence. I can't wait either ! :)

Rosi said...

I love this post. I'm going to bookmark it and read it again. I particularly like what Kathy had to say. Very inspirational. Congrats on finishing your rewrite.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks so much, Rosi. Now you see why the quote on your blog resonated with me. We writers need to keep encouraging one another on our journeys!

Lois said...

Great post, Carol. These are things we all need to keep in mind while we climb those mountains.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Lois. Glad you liked this!

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

Wow, I'm impressed you are already thinking about working on the prequel!! Climb every mountain for sure.....

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Congratulations on completing your book! Cheering for you, Carol!

I love what Kathy Weichman wrote to you! She is so wise.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Clara. Yes she is! And thanks for cheering me on. Means so much to me!

kathleenburkinshaw said...

WOOHOO! Congratulations Carol-that is a HUGE achievement :) The advice that Kathy Weichman and Rebecca Petruck gave you is spot on. Love the reference to "Climb Every Mountain"! So looking forward to seeing you at the SCBWI Carolinas conference next weekend!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Kathy! See you soon.