More Than a Year Later

So, I'm not a blogging expert. I just wrote an entire post and deleted it. Sigh. It's been more than a year since I last wrote here. I didn't exactly forget about the blog, I just didn't have (or make) time to write in it. That's because a month after my last post, I began a new story. The idea came to me and I started jotting bits of it down, then it just kept coming and coming, and I kept writing and writing. I began getting up at 5am to squeeze in daily writing time before the kids woke up so that regardless of what happened during nap time, I'd know I'd at least gotten my writing in for the day. I finished the manuscript in December. Its working title is The Hideaway. At this point, I am editing it and sending it to readers. I'm much more confident in my abilities as a writer this time around. Writing that first manuscript taught me so much--I think I even learned more than I realized, because my second manuscript was much tighter and more streamlined even without me trying to make it so. It just came out that way. I think the first one was so incredibly wordy, I had no where to go but...well, down.

In my hopes of becoming a better writer and polishing this manuscript, I'm participating in my second fiction workshop class right now. It's been fantastically helpful to be in the company of other fiction writers--we critique each others work, give feedback and suggestions, and generally have a lot of fun. I've also joined a writers' group here in Birmingham. We're all young mothers with little ones at home, and we fancy ourselves as writers. Actually we are writers--one even has a publishing contract (a traditional one, not an Amazon ebook--not that there's anything wrong with that!) and a book coming out next year! It seems ludicrous for me to hope for the same thing for my little book, but oh I do!

My first manuscript, titled A Soft Place to Land, is still, sadly tucked under my bed. I hope it sees the light of day again, but I know it will require a LOT of reworking if it does. I have a soft place in my heart for that story, mainly because it was my first one that I actually completed, and it would be nice if I could make it into something lovely.

All that to say, I'm still here, and I will try to make it back here more often. I began this blog as a way to document my journey to publication, and it still is. I just have so precious little writing time these days with two very active children that any time I do get, I spend working on my actual manuscript, not the blog. But I'll try.

Thanks for visiting!

Editing...Again

My house is littered with tiny socks, coffee cups, and various brightly colored plastic toys, but I'm stealing a little time while Sela is asleep and Kate is at school to go through my manuscript. I received the edited version back from Joy a little before Christmas, and she gave me SO much feedback. She was brutal, but I asked her to be. The last thing I wanted was for her to say, "It's great, I liked it!" I wanted her to tell me the truth so I'd know what I needed to focus my energy on as I edit and tighten. There's so much, it's hard to even kno where to start! I'm reading through her notes for the first time, then I'll go back into my document on the computer and start reworking things.I'm in the easy part right now, which is basically slashing big "delete" symbols throughout the pages. It took a subjective eye to show me that my MS is very wordy. Cutting out words makes it much tighter. I said this is the easy part because the harder part will come later--actually reworking sections of the story. That part makes me want to stuff the MS in a box under my bed! Sometimes I look at the two-inch-thick stack of paper and think, "How in the world did I get all that out? Where did it come from?" I don't know if I'll be able to go back in and change plot points and make it all sound cohesive. Part of me thinks it'd be easier to write a whole other book rather than change this one in any meaningful way. But I don't really want to stick it in a box under my bed. I know many people say any writer's first book belongs there instead of on a publisher's desk, but it would make me sad if all this work never finds it's way out of my house, except to other friends' desks. I want someone important to read about Elizabeth, Fletcher, Ray, and Andy and to tell me it's good work. Good enough to find its way to a bookstore bookshelf. Or to Amazon's cyber bookshelf, since that's the way things are going these days. I just hope other people can read my story and enjoy it. But between me and that far off dream stands a TON of work. And with family matters taking up about 90% of my time, and laundry, cooking, errands, and Downton Abbey taking up the other 10%, I'd say I have, oh, about 6.5 years of work on this book staring me in the face! I think I hear Sela waking up now.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

My manuscript for A Soft Place to Land is on it's way to my friend Joy in Chicago at this moment. I mailed it at the end of last week, and it should arrive tomorrow. I'm both nervous and itching with anticipation. Nervous, because she may hate it, but anticipating her reading it, marking it up, making loads of comments, and mailing it back to me. I also have another copy headed to Atlanta this weekend to go to my friend Anna Cate. I trust both of them and their opinions because they're both writers and avid readers. Joy sent me her book manuscript last year, and I have a portion of Anna Cate's with me now. I have one other friend I may send the manuscript to later on, but it'll have to be after I've whipped the thing into even better shape--he works in NYC in publishing, so it has to be perfect before he sees it. Because the manuscript is officially out my door, albeit it temporarily, I don't want to make too many changes to it, so I'm avoiding reading through it. It seems every time I look through it, I find things to change, but I want to wait until I have Joy and AC's changes before I go back in and start revising again. I can hardly wait to get the packages back from them.

Lately, I've been feeling the urge to start writing something new--or at least pick back up on something I've put on hold. Yesterday, I went to a coffee shop for a couple of hours to do some writing, but I was frustrated to find that nothing would come. I went back into "The Brightest Porch Light in Texas," a story I began while I was revising SPTL, excited to add to the story. I settled down in to the comfy chair with my cup of coffee and cinnamon roll next to me, earbuds in ears, white noise on the iphone...and nothing. I couldn't write a thing. I just wasn't in the groove for that story. At some point during the writing of SPTL, I got out of the groove. I think I had been sick, or Kate had, so I had taken a couple of weeks off from writing. When I finally got back to it, I was dismayed to find that I just couldn't get back into the story--I wasn't "feeling it"--and I was worried that SPTL would become just another story beginning that I abandon when the "groove" leaves. Thankfully, the cloud passed and I "felt it" again, and I finished the book. That was just a couple of weeks though--it's been months since I've written in BPIT, and that's probably a large part of the problem. I have to stay in it, write every day, in order to keep a story going. If I take too much time away, it's a goner. I really like the premise of BPIT though, so I hope I can get back to it at some point.

Sitting here during Sela's nap with a major case of writer's block, I instead wrote my Star column for January. I think it turned out pretty well. At least I got some words down on paper (or the screen) even if it wasn't for a book. Writing is writing, and as long as my fingers are moving across the keyboard with purpose, it counts.

Obligatory First Post

Since this is probably the fifth or sixth blog I've started in my life, I won't wax poetic about all I'm going to do here and all I hope to accomplish, because it may or may not happen! With an extremely active two year old under foot and another baby due in about three months, I don't have super high expectations of writing in this blog all the time.However, I would like to keep it up, because I'm on a mission of sorts. I've accomplished one of my lifetime goals--to write a book. More specifically, a novel. It's fiction, and I like it. I'm in the editing/revising stage now, and I'm guessing this stage will take a while. Especially once I send the manuscript out to a few readers and get their feedback. My goal is for this blog to be a place where I can talk about my journey (futile attempt?) to finish it, find and agent, and get the thing published. And who knows--maybe one day I will get it published and this little blog can be where readers can come to find out what I'm reading and writing about. So, welcome!