It’s happened before and it will happen again

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They are gone. The words from my beloved muse have disappeared from the recesses of my brain and left behind a stagnant pool of mush. I want desperately to write and, ironically, the only thing I can come up with is a post about not being able to write.

I have been in this situation before. After sulking for a few days, my muse returned ready to fight the good fight again and we wrote. Sometimes the writing was light and other times it was a frenzy of words fighting for their space on the page but, regardless, we wrote.

Now my fingers dangle over the keyboard waiting for inspiration, that divine breath, to whisper those words into my ears but the silence is deafening. I want to smash this writer’s block into a million tiny shards of concrete and hope that each piece holds a story that will get me back on track.

I put my faith in the phrase, “this, too, shall pass” and await the return of those nagging voices that make me rise at 5:00 am to do their bidding.

Listen to those who have been there

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Knowledge is power, this is a universal truth, and over the last few days this truth has made itself extremely evident.

I have been immersing myself into a world that is new to me and there is a huge learning curve as well as many veins of information that branch out from that curve.  To gain as much knowledge as I can, I have been spending a great deal of time travelling down those arteries of wisdom and storing as many nuggets of information as I can into the recesses of my brain.

Every author I have spoken to about getting published has said the same thing – it’s really all about luck and timing.  I have no reason not to believe them because they’ve been there.  They have pounded the same pavement on which I now find myself so they know this route much better than I could ever claim to know.  I have been spending a great deal of time learning about different literary agents, what they like and what they don’t like, and only adding those agents who may be a good fit for my book.  I have been spending much more time on Twitter as that seems to be a more popular social media site for those in the writing world and last week I was introduced to the hashtag #PitMad.

PitMad is a pitch party where authors have 280 characters to describe their unpublished manuscript.  If an agent likes your tweet, you have the green light to send them a query based on their submission guidelines.  I tweeted my first pitch and sat back, hoping for the best.  But then I wanted to know all I could know about PitMad.  It turns out, you can send a maximum of three pitches for the same book, so I carefully constructed a second tweet and sent it out into cyberspace.  When I checked back a while later, my second tweet had a beloved heart below it.  An agent liked my tweet!  I had the go-ahead to send a query and I did that as quickly as I could so my story was still fresh in her mind.

Luck and timing magically combined and, when I got home from work that day, there was an email from the same agent requesting to read my full manuscript.  I’m not under any illusion that her interest in my book is going to mean that she is going to take me on as a client.  I am quite grounded in reality.  I am, however, under the illusion that her requesting my full manuscript means that my writing has enough merit to make her want to see where I take the story and THAT is a huge step for a new author.

I follow “LitRejections” on Twitter and they post very encouraging tweets to help authors keep writing and survive rejection.  This tweet is the one that got under my skin and keeps me going ~ “Rejection of your writing will not break your spirits. You are going to do this. You will not quit. You WILL be successful.

Where is it written?

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Writing is a portal into the deepest reaches of our imagination.  There are no rules, apart from grammar and sentence structure, so a writer is free to craft a story about anything that tickles our fancy.

I really began my writing journey when I was eleven years old.  I loved the fact that words could take me to far away places, places that I had created, and that I could get lost in those words for hours.  It didn’t matter, back then, if the story was silly.  All that mattered is that I was transported into another world by words, captivated by ideas and compelled to chase the feeling of elation I got by writing a story or a poem.

I still get that same feeling of euphoria when I write.  Some days the words don’t flow as easily, but on the days that they do my fingers can’t type the words fast enough.  I love to look back at the beginning of this blog to see just how much the voice of my writing has changed.  I didn’t know that the stages of writing included puberty but I certainly found that stage and my writing voice changed to become the one I have now, the voice that wrote my book.

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I am hopeful that becoming a published author is something that is written in the stars, for me, and not written in the sand.  But if the writing Gods have scribbled my name on the beach, only to see it washed away by the tide, I will always have my words.

 

January showers bring publishers emails

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I awoke to a sound not typically heard in the snow belt regions in late January ~ thunder.  It was shortly after 3:00 am and the lightning made my room light up like Chevy Chase’s front lawn in Christmas Vacation when Beverly D’Angelo finally hit the right switch.  Carved into the newly formed shadows was the outline of my storm-fearing dog.  We cuddled for a while, listening to the pouring rain, and eventually fell asleep again as the storm moved on.

When I woke up at my usual time, I was greeted by a misty, grey day instead of the usual crisp, white blanket of snow for which January is famous.  I have lived here for 42 years and I can’t recall a more turbulent month since it began with three consecutive days of feeling like -43 with the wind chill and we are now hovering at a balmy +3 degrees Celsius.

Weather can certainly affect our moods and today was no exception.  Our morning walk was shorter than anticipated because of the rain and our drive to work was somewhat daunting since the back-roads resemble a cross between a sheet of ice in a curling rink and a luge, depending on your trajectory.

But my morning improved significantly when I arrived at work and checked my email.  Sitting innocently in my inbox was an email from a publisher in the States.  After reading the first three chapters required for initial submission, my story was intriguing enough for her to want to see where I took the rest of the story.  She wants to read my book!!

I have calmed myself to the point that I can craft this blog post while reminding myself that she may not like the remainder of the story.  But I am allowing myself the high of knowing that someone who works in the world that I am attempting to enter has opened a small door for me to be able to peek into the other side and I have to say, so far, the view is fantastic!

 

Life gets in the way

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I made myself a promise that I would post a blog every day through the  month of November and, although I gave it a good run, I have failed.  Yesterday was the first day I didn’t post something and, although I feel slightly disappointed, I am not going to beat myself up about it.

Trying to find something to post about every day is difficult.  Sure, I could rely on old posts or memes to get me through but that would not be me and yesterday was a busy enough day without having to make time to create a meaningful post.

Having posted every day for 18 days in a row has been a blessing.  It has re-awakened my passion to write.  It has helped me to harness that creative flow within me and has given it a chance to speak again.

Life gets in the way of our best laid plans but, if we can keep the big prize within our sights, we can overcome any obstacle to make that plan a reality. I want to write.  I want to be published, and life is not going to get in the way of that.  Even if  I miss a day or two of blogging, it just means my creativity is being stored for the days that my words will have more meaning.

Me scribere.

 

Just writing is just right

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I knew it wasn’t gone completely.  Lying dormant, somewhere in the back of my brain, was my drive to write.  It happens to me every autumn.  I begin to realize I have more time to write but, because the summer and fall are so much busier at work, I have been out of the habit of sitting down and writing every day.

With the lull of November upon us, I now have time to retrain my brain to generate the phrases that have been trapped in its confines and send them coursing through my fingertips onto my keyboard.  When I say coursing, I mean slow dribbles of words that may string themselves into a sentence, but it’s a start.

I have a writing project ongoing with our local library that I am anxious to rekindle and a second book that is a mere shadow of what it will become.  I still have many query letters to compose with the hope of finding an agent willing to take me on so I can get my first novel published and I have the desire to continue putting words together to string together a meaningful essay to represent my life.

I have taken the first step by promising myself that I will write a blog post every day for the month of November.  Here’s hoping…..

 

 

Unplugging for a while

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It crashed.  It simply crashed and, for a few panic-stricken moments, I didn’t know what to do.  The internet went down at work yesterday afternoon and I felt like a Roombot slowly spinning in circles, bouncing off of walls and random pieces of furniture, lost in a world that was absent of instant communication.

I was moderately frightened for myself when I realized how much I have come to rely on technology.  The increasing ease and speed at which we can sail through mundane tasks makes me forget my humble beginnings of pen-pals and library sessions with encyclopedias and the Dewey decimal system.  I have become a member of a mutated generation that is driven by immediate knowledge and gratification.

I feel somewhat sad that my nephews, who are currently 17 and 14, and like-generations, will never understand what we had to endure to communicate with our friends.  Gone are the days of writing letters in long hand (do kids today even know what that is??), putting those letters in envelopes, dropping them into a giant mail box and waiting weeks, maybe months, for a response.  Making long distance phone calls to a town 15 minutes away is a thing of the past.  And don’t even get me started on the friends who didn’t have answering machines.  I’m sure I still have phone numbers burned into my finger tips from dialing them incessantly on our rotary phone until somebody finally answered.

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Our society has gracefully surpassed hand written letters, DOS programming and the annoying pings and beeps of the dial-up connection but throughout that process we seem to have lost a bit of our patience.  If a text message is not responded to immediately, we think we are being ignored.  If an email goes without a response for 24 hours, we question if we have offended the recipient in some way.  And (God forbid) if the internet crashes, our world seems to crumble right alongside of it.

I am certainly not saying that technology and all of its advancements are not wonderful things.  If that were the case, I would not be pontificating my polysyllabic profundities through this medium.  I am simply stating that we are so anxious to feel instantaneously connected to everything and everyone that we forget how to merely connect to ourselves and slow down the pace of our lives, if only for a moment.

As ironic as it is that I am writing this post on my laptop, I feel the need to purposely unplug for at least a few hours. No Kindle, no texting, no television, no surfing the web.  I want to put a touch of history into how I spend the hours of my evening.  I want to write a letter, a real hand-written letter, to a friend I know who will only send letters this way.  I want to hold a paperback novel in my hands and I want to be able to have my brain work the way it was trained to work and not just be distracted by the millions of images on the internet.

The internet may have changed how we communicate, how we learn and how we conduct business, but it should never have the power to change us or the things that make us infinitely human.  Technology is just a tool.  And although it can teach us many things, patience and a capacity for perseverance are not contained in its syllabus.

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!

Where the hell were you guys 10 years ago?

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I have had my book idea for well over ten years.  Every so often, I open it up, dust it off and think ‘this is going to be it’.  I write a few paragraphs, get distracted by  life (or a rerun of a good sitcom) and the book just seems to close itself up until next time.

But something has drastically changed this time.  I purposely suspended my satellite service for six months in the hopes that I would read more but what has happened has been mind-numbing.  In just over a week, between working full-time and volunteering a few hours a week to make meals for the food bank, the characters have come to life and are pushing each other out of the way to tell their story.

In the past decade of developing this idea, I have come up with its inception, general direction and 9,000 words.  In the past week, the characters have become extensions of my brain and I have feverishly typed 16,000 more words and they just keep coming.  If I can keep this up, this book could potentially be finished by the end of April (because I periodically take time to write a blog post or two and work so I can pay my bills).

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It is an exciting process.  I have written my fair share of short stories, but getting involved in something as detailed as this is fascinating.  I get excited when a new idea pops into my head that weaves into the novel to give it a bit of a twist and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.  I have a general outline but when I sit down to write, I just go where the story takes me.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Gotta go….the characters are calling.

I have resolved only one thing….

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I am not a fan of making resolutions for the new year.  I have never followed the time-honored tradition of making a list of things that, once they are scripted, seem somewhat ridiculous and marginally unattainable.  I have known enough disappointment in my life to know that setting myself up for a possible failure, in a manuscript penned only by me, is not an option.

But this year something changed.  A small cog in the wheel of my thought process became stuck for a short period of time and had me reflecting on the past year and the role that social media played in perpetuating a plethora of misguided and angry posts.  No topic was sacred and no member of any social media outlet came out unscathed.

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Friendships have been lost or irrevocably changed.  Lines have been drawn in the sand and sides have been taken.  The majority of posts I ignored and would not engage in a battle, political or otherwise, without the benefit of being able to see my opponent.  It is easy to send a cascade of beliefs out into the cyber world without having to actually face your adversary.  There is a level of comfort enjoyed when you are typing your emotional mitigation without the burden of having to face a rebuttal.  You can simply turn off your device and ignore the reply.

So my resolution this year is simple and it came as no surprise.  I have resolved to not post any negative statements this year.  This does not mean I will not have strong opinions on many topics.  It simply means I will hold my pessimistic views about any issues until a fair and just way of sharing those sentiments presents itself in a personal and neutral setting.

Social media makes voicing thoughts far too easy without taking that extra moment to calm down before we type.  Just thinking about how many eyes may read what I write has made me want to be much more culpable for the content of my posts.  Fingers crossed I can hold my tongue if the need arises!