Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A TRUE Writer

I've been noticing a trend in the comments section of agent, author, and editor's blogs that I find interesting: many people immerse themselves in the "industry" long before they've even written a book (or at least edited it into something readable).

Now, everyone is different, so I don't mean to impose my own ideals on others. And as it is, I have a hard time calling myself a writer even though I have two books completely finished and a few more on their way. But since I don't have an agent yet or a book contract, I rarely tell people what I spend hours doing during the day (i.e. writing). So I don't understand calling myself a writer without finished products like some of these commentors do. Not that it's bad--it's just not what I would do.


What really surprises me in these comments on the blogs is that when people write "their book," it sounds like they are saying "THE" book. As in the only book they have in them. This is all fine and well if you want to publish just the one book and then move on with your life, but I've also noticed something else about the writers I would deem successful (aka writers with book contracts or books in print and usually the blog authors these others are commenting on). These writers don't have just one book. They have a gagillion ideas and are working ceaselessly to get them all on page. They also have a few complete and ready to go. They've paid their dues to the muse.

Shannon Hale, who is one of my writing heroes (though I've only met her once) has written in her blog that when one book is done, another is started right away. I think since her career began, she's only been without a project once and that's because she knew revisions for a finished project were on their way from her editor. Jo Rowling has said that when one HP was done, she would move on to the next book the very next day.

I think there is a very good lesson to learn from these two examples. True writers can not stop writing. They have so many projects to get out, that they can't stop themselves. They have to/need to write. And even though I consider myself an extreme hobbyist with writing right now, I find myself finishing one project and moving on to the next right away too. It encourages me that maybe, just maybe, I'm setting myself up to be a TRUE writer.

I hope this post doesn't sound pretentious. I only even post it in the hopes that this observation will help other wanna be writers. That they'll not put all their trust in one book and forget to expand their abilities. Because I think I did that at first.

Now I put the most pressing book ideas in five phases. In Phase I, the story is still in idea form, usually written up with a hook and set in the stew pot I like to call my brain. There are a lot in this phase right now, but here I can rank them so as to help me choose the most delicious ideas first. I'm researching pertinent information here too. Phase II is the outlining stage, with most of the research done (though I consider the research never done). Phase III is the actual writing and the other phases you can guess are rewriting and submitting. Maybe it's over-the-top organization, but it seems to work for me and keeps me excited about many projects.

So there is my observation of the week: I think one of the signs of a true writer is constant writing, constant story flow. Sure there will be lulls, but I don't think any real writer would stop at just one book. It's just not in their hard wire.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure Part III

On April 10th, the girl’s birthday, she neglected to choose a winner for the 133 follower’s prize. So as promised, chose another winner. Terresa, author of The Chocolate Chip Waffle, is our lucky winner of a $20 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. Thanks to all blog followers, who were entered in, every one of you.

These are certainly days to rejoice about! The good weather, so many contests floating around the blogosphere, and the beauty that comes from a day spent writing and playing with children. As a capstone to the joy in the girl’s heart was the horde of awards her blog friends had sent her.

Go to the awards.

Choose Your Own Adventure Part II

The girl was so grateful for the heart-felt outpourings of comfort from her blog friends that she felt compelled to share with them her mother’s status. Because, hey! Things were looking up. The sweet mother/grandmother made the four hour journey to Albuquerque and received a more hopeful second opinion. The new oncologist was a specialist in gynecological cancers and enrolled her in an international clinical trial where she’ll be able to receive the two chemos she received before (which worked) and one new drug in Phase III FDA approval, Avastin. Though chemotherapy is no great joy to go through, the treatments are immediate and after six months, they will be over. The best part about having the new doctor is the Dr.’s philosophy that Ovarian Cancer is a chronic illness rather than a death sentence (which was the previous oncologist’s view).

These were days to rejoice about! The weather, the good news about her mother, and the beauty that comes from a day spent writing and playing with children. As a capstone to the joy in the girl’s heart was the horde of awards her blog friends had sent her.

Go to the awards.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fake it 'til you make it

My latest work-in-progress, the Lithuanian folktale, is such fun to write and research. But the writing is bad. Really bad. I keep hollowly assuring myself that it's a first draft and it's supposed to be poor, but it's little solace when I have the music in my head and can't put it on paper. I'll work through it, but right now the rough draft feels more like an outline than actual writing because it's so incredibly, horrifically sub-par. Fake it until I make it, I guess...

And keep moving on.

Meanwhile, we have so much snow at our house that I can't get out of my driveway. Cabin fever is incrementally creeping in....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hi, my name is Jackee and I'm a bookaholic...

I love books.

I assume most of you are the same way (since you're reading this blog). I usually have to leave my wallet in the car if I go to a bookstore, or at least take my frugal husband along. And never is the there more danger for checking account overdraft as there is at Christmas. Not because of Christmas presents, but because of books for myself and kids. I just can't help it! I see all the gorgeous Christmas books and I lose control, like hundreds of dollars out of control. This year is particularly bad because there have been some very great books that have come out. Here are a few that my kids and I have loved this year:

We love Marley, and if you need a non-Christmas one for a child, check out Bad Dog, Marley.

This is definitely a favorite of the year. The rhyming meter starts off a bit rough, but the rest of the book makes up for it. Particularly the pictures: they are beautiful and my five-year-old will read anything with dinos besides.

This was my favorite of the year. It's short, but it made me both laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm still looking around for miracles, after this read! :)

These aren't new, but they're are yearly reads that we love:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weaving threads of words, setting cogs and wheels in motion

When I'm writing, I have a mental image in my head of braiding strands of hair (or thread at a loom, if I knew how to do that). I can sense the words blending and turning together as eight locks of hair between all my fingers. With each weave, I'm integrating all the elements of the story and writing. I'm trying to use literary devices, good word choices, fitting dialogue, foreshadowing, backstory, perfect verbs, and most of all, I'm trying to move the storyline forward. It may seem silly, but it does feel like weaving. My sister sent this to me last night and instantly it reminded me of writing too. A lot of things are always happening at once, balls bouncing and cogs twirling, as I write the bare story. They're not all necessarily what the reader can see. And for that matter, what the writer can see in the moment either. Sometimes it's not until I go back that I see something magical that was happening within the story I did not "mean" to happen.

And those are some of my favorite moments of writing.