I haven’t posted anything in ages. It seems that I kind of bailed on 2017 which if we’re all being honest, many of us did. It was a strange year personally however, I did manage to get some major stuff done in the world of my writing.
I finished my novel which took three years of writing (lunch breaks, late nights, vacations, weekends — sometimes sitting in my car or the train). Then it was almost a year of heavy edits — leaving it for months sometimes so I could look on it with fresh eyes. I had intended to finish it 6 months earlier — but then I almost died* and that delayed it a few months more. But then I didn’t die so alas, it’s done!
*Note: I know that they say when you are close to death your life flashes before you like a pretty little slideshow. That was not the case. My first thought was, I’ll be sad to leave my husband and son (my poor son orphaned so young! — yes, I know he wouldn’t have been a true orphan, but still my thought). My second was — Fricken figures that I will die before I finish that damn novel and either no one will read it or a good meaning friend will finish it as a tribute and I will spend eternity thinking, “that’s not how it goes at all!”
I joined a local writer’s group born out of mostly alum from my MFA program. It took a great deal of persuasion for me to join as it’s really a commitment, but this was a small group (five in total) and I finally relented to my friend’s insistence. It was truly a great move. I was slightly worried since the other members were all YA writers whom I had never met before, but I soon adjusted and found the meetings to be something I really looked forward to. My advice is that if you are a writer, seek out other like-minded writers who give you honest, critical, and insightful feedback. I was struggling with my ending and after one night of genuinely solid feedback, I realized that the real end of the novel happened three chapters from the end. The final two chapters were merely tying up loose ends that weren’t necessary and didn’t add to the overall story. I cut them and it made all the difference. You have to assume your reader is intelligent enough to come to the conclusion you’ve hinted at. Or not. That’s the experience of reading a novel, after all.
Although, I have since temporarily stepped away from Write Club (as we fondly call it), I still regularly reach out to these friends and ask them advice when I hit a wall (and while I query agents — which is a time when moral support is most needed). I’m hopeful that I will return to full membership as soon as this second novel takes shape. While writing is a solitary art, you must have your own little tribe of trusted advice givers who you can meet up with for a coffee and (OMG – Jason’s incredible brownies from a box) and discuss writing — even if it is just gossip over the latest literary twitter wars.
I also spent the better part of the year writing articles of the local chapter of a national food magazine. It was a lot of fun and you can read most of my articles here. It was nice to meet other creative people who were living out their passions and taking some major chances in the pursuit of their dreams. It was truly inspiring, and it really fed my creative energy, but unfortunately that kind of writing (the paid kind with deadlines) also pulled me away from working on my next novel and of course, blogging. Still, it felt pretty legit, when my accountant listed “Writer” (and self-employed) on my taxes.
I’ve also returned to reading — as in devouring books – both physical and audible. It’s a difficult balance to read and whittle out time to write, but absolutely necessary. I try not to think of my time as either reading or writing, but rather reading feeds my writing. If life experience is fuel then reading is like oil for your creative engine.
One last thing — my seven year old had his first Writer’s Workshop. I am a super proud mum! I asked him if he liked writing and he said, “It’s really hard work and it takes a long time!” Welcome to my life, kid. I hope he also finds it equally rewarding. This particular story was part mystery and part thriller. There was even a car explosion on page 3 of this 6 page story.