Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't Listen to the Negative

Years ago, my husband and I wrote a mystery called Beginner's Luck. We entered a contest and won first place. That first place awarded us a read and an interview with an agent who told us the book/story/amateur detective was mediocre and couldn't compete with the many shelves of mysteries in Barnes and Noble, Borders, BAM and other bookstores. We listened to him. We believed him. We never finished that book. That agent knocked the wind out of us, discouraged us and we allowed him to do it. We put our story aside.

When I finally acquired an agent, and after she sold my first book, I created a 3-book romantic series. One of my characters was a literary agent. My agent told me no one wanted to read about a literary agent. She didn't try to market the series. I let her discourage me.

Awhile later an amateur detective series hit the stores. The sleuth--a literary agent. The series was written by the first agent who rejected my so called mediocre book. Evidently someone was interested in reading about literary agents.

And round and round we go. Where we stop, nobody knows.

I have always put professionals on a pedestal--the doctors, lawyers, policemen, teachers, editors, publishers and literary agents--and assumed all knew more than me. I was wrong. I know a lot. And there are times I actually know more than the professionals. I'm the authority when it comes to books I want to write and the passion I feel for them.

I believe all ideas are good. Some are better than others. Most need tweaking in some way. I believe ideas bounce around until someone grabs them and does something with them. Don't waste an idea because your agent or editor doesn't like it. Tweak it until they do like it.

Learn from my mistakes. Don't quit. Don't allow anyone to discourage you. Write your passion.

And never, never, never give up.

The writers who succeed are the ones who refuse to buckle under the failures that are heaped upon them; who reject the notion that they aren't as mediocre as industry professionals say they are. ~Jodi Piccoult

Monday, August 20, 2007

Revison: The Neverending Story

Revising my book, Miranda's Mistake, is probably one of the most challenging things I've ever done. Yeah, I might even put it up there with natural childbirth. Revision isn't as painful as giving birth, but just as scary.

I'm trying to keep the big picture in my mind. To do that, I need total silence and absolutely no distractions. I'm finding even the whir of the central air conditioning annoying. Am I creating bugaboos? Probably.

Last week I went off on a tangent, adding a vein of intrigue that doesn't work in my story. All the time I was doing it, I knew deep down in my gut that it was wrong. Still, I traveled that wrong road until I could go no farther. This week I'm cutting it.

I would say it's funny how desperation puts us on the wrong track, but it's not funny at all. I'm not laughing. Last night I printed out the entire book again--clean pages to read and mark up. One more time.

How do you keep the big picture in your mind when you're doing revisions? Don't tell me you only see one chapter at a time. How can that be when each chapter affects the next and the next and the next?

I thought I was being smart by just getting the story down as the pantsers advise. But the plotters might have the better idea 'cause there's something to be said for knowing where you're going and revising as you go.

Just get it down on paper, and then we'll see what to do with it.
~Max Perkins

Yeah, right! Revision. For me, it really is a never-ending story.

I lift up my eyes to the hills--from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

I feel better already. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Revision - What Fun!

The first draft reveals the art, revision reveals the artist.
~Michael Lee

Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.
~Bernard Malamud

In working on a poem,I love to revise. Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this, but in the process of revision I discover things.
~Rita Dove

There's different styles of writing, and then there's rewriting. For me, it comes from the heart first, from what I feel needs to be said, and from there I can shape it based on the reality that I live in.
~Omar Epps

Rewriting to me means, if I work on it for three days, I've rewritten it.
~Jules Shear

Rewriting is a large part of the whole job. And get rid of stuff that's not working. Just pare it down until it's a beautiful thing you can hand in, probably late, to your editor.
~Kurt Loder

The process of rewriting is enjoyable, because you're not in that existential panic when you don't have a novel at all.
~Rose Tremain

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
~Elmore Leonard