Friday, October 28, 2011

What I've Learned About Myself as a Writer...

#1: I can bribe myself to write more chapters in one sitting if I have something like a kit-kat or oreos on hand. And then I have to be firm with myself, "One or cookie ONLY after finishing a page." Suddenly my paragraphs get much smaller.

And there are a lot

of lines

like this.

Ok. Not really. But I do work well with bribes.

#2: If I'm having a problem with the story, trying to connect the dots or find a solution to one thing or another or maybe find some way to make a scene more exciting, I find it helps if I can drive somewhere. Alone. And then talk to myself.

Can we all agree to pretend this what I drive?
Hmmmmm, this has been my dream car since the Spanish
Club trip to Mexico my senior year of high school.
There are VW bugs all over that country.
And so naturally, I decided I had to have one day.

Do the drivers around me assume I'm talking to someone on speaker phone? Not sure. Oh well.  If you see me driving the streets of Cedar, gesturing with my hands and/or looking rather intently at the road, I'm probably either pretending to be one of my characters (yep. I do that.) or just enjoying a lengthy conversation with myself about troll potty humor.

#3: I'm a happier writer if I write every day. I know. This seems pretty obvious. But in the past I've set goals  like, "Finish Chapter 3." And since I can be obsessive about finishing things, I will stay up until the wee hours to Finish That Chapter.

But my sanity is grateful when I simply tell myself to write for two hours. I still get a lot done. But it eases the pressure quite a bit.

#4: I'm not a good judge of my own writing. At all. Period.

How many times have I gone to my writing group sooo sure Lana and Em are going to rip my pages up* and light them on fire?

Every. Time.

Ok. There might be a few times I thought I was doing pretty good.

But mostly, I'm sure they're going to have to search really really hard for positive comments. One time I was just sure of it.  My turn was last. Lana said something like, "Emmalee and I were talking on the way here."

Pause. Ack. Don't you hate pauses? Especially Meaningful Pauses. blech.

"And we think..."

Now I was sure they were going to tell me I needed to bury that chapter deep under a rock. And never let it see the light of day. Ever. Surely, Lana was searching her brain to find some way to tell me nicely that I stink.

I cringed.

" need to start submitting."

Wait.  What?

At that point I started laughing. And then said something like, "No, it needs a lot of work." Um, can we just say that is a huge understatement?

So, yeah, I obviously can't tell if my chapter is working. At all.

Except for last night. My chapter had major problems and I could see those. There was a scene that was waaaay too underdeveloped. We giggled about that (yeah....we make fun of each other's writing....heh's pretty fun.)

#5: This is hard. This novel thing is really hard. All the bits and pieces to think about. I have a whole world in my head trying to get out and breathe and walk around and Make Sense. I'm trying to layer in tension and humor and a budding friendship. I'm trying to hook readers and raise loads of questions in their minds so they can't possibly put the book down. Throw in plot points, character arcs, snappy dialogue and a satisfying climax and, yeah, it's a lot to think about.

And I wonder, if I had known all this Novel Beast entailed, would I have started in the first place?

Probably. I'm an optimist**. I would have thought something like, "Oh, I'll figure it out."

*sigh* And I hope I will.

I want to write the kind of books I like to read.

Funny, quirky and chock-full of magic.

I better drive around town more....

*Lana and Emmalee would never light my chapter on fire. Nor rip it to shreds. No, I think they'd be more likely to throw it under an oncoming train. Or maybe just flush it down the loo. 



  1. I wish you could step outside of yourself for a few minutes and read this post. If you did that, you'd see that YOU ARE A GREAT WRITER! You are a part of the craft. All those things in your head will eventually spill out on the page and they will make sense. Heck, they'll more than make sense - they'll be fantastic. And people will read your first book and then be really irritated when they find out they have to wait for the second one in the series.

    In other words: GO ERIN! YOU ARE MARVELOUS! :)

  2. Two members of my group are going to start querying instead of doing NaNoWriMo. Maybe that would be a good option for you, say you will query __ number of agents before the end of the month.

    What are you waiting for?

  3. Wow, Mellissa. Thanks! You are the best. The. Very. Best. That made my day.

    Tasha, I would love to start subbing in November. But I hear agents get upset when they ask for the rest of the book and it's not finished. heh heh. :) I'm hoping to start subbing soon. I'm in the middle of rewriting the manuscript. I'm planning on sending it out into the world in January.

  4. You are the most fun girl ever. Or should I say funnest? Or chock-full of fun?

    Go ahead and submit -- more people need to know about you. (If you do get a bruise in the center of your forehead from the imaginary brick wall, Kit Kat fixes that pretty well.)

  5. Paige, why can't you live in Cedar City? ugh! That would be awesome.

    Yes, I will start subbing soon. Even though it will be super painful. Ok. I don't want to think about that. I'll continue to live in the imaginary world where agents will fall madly in love with my book. Madly, I say! :)

  6. At least you know what you need to do and you know its hard! That sounds dumb but #5, I wouldn't have even thought about all that stuff!! That's why I'm not a writer nor will I ever be, but....YOU are!!!

  7. Erin--I loved this! I'm glad other writers feel like this. I can never tell if what I've written is any good.

    I just finished a revision and am trying to submit (plus, Mette told me to), and it is even more painful than I expected. I was told that many agents take weeks to get back to you, so I was preparing myself for a painful wait--only to get 3 rejections in 72 hours. Yep, I guess I'm that good. :)