Monday, October 20, 2014

Finishing My Novel: "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore

Question: "How do you eat a whale?"

Answer: "One bite at a time."

Now, I personally haven't actually 'eaten a whale', but I have finished writing a novel....novels, in fact. I have also finished several HUGE creative projects and continue to find news ones to tackle.

People often ask me, "Where do you find the time to do ______________ ?" <writing, painting, sewing, or whatever project of mine we happen to be discussing> I'll be honest and say that I've never been one to sit idle - well, even if I'm sitting still, my brain is still churning out ideas and stories. The plain and simple truth is that I HAVE to do something creative everyday or I feel like my head will explode. Some people feel the same way about exercise. (Why couldn't I be blessed with that specific drive? Ha!)

It never fails, whenever I first sit down to start devouring a new whale I feel a swirling mix of anticipation, excitement, and (dare I say it) dread. Standing in front of that blank canvas or sitting in front of the blinking cursor in a blank document, I always pause to give myself time to fully commit to the task in front of me. I will toil for weeks on this project and I have to be 'in it to win it.'

Eventually, the engineer in me kicks in....when writing, I start an Excel spreadsheet to track my daily word count and progress towards my goal. When painting, my inner engineer envisions the finish project and deconstructs the object to methodically produce a plan of attack.

Finishing is critical. How else can you learn and improve if you don't complete the process? Especially with writing, often the last bits take an unexpected turn that requires some pre-seeding in the parts you wrote months ago.

I finished writing my third manuscript this spring, took a month off to let it marinate, then started editing and polishing. By the end of summer, it was ready to go out for submittal to my short list of dream agents.

And now, I wait.

Waiting for a reply is the worst part of this process. Agents and editors are busy people. They have bills to pay, clients to meet, and networks to groom. And like any job, you give attention to the projects that are making money, not the slush pile that might bear fruit. Mostly, I submitted to folks who requested my work via one-on-one meetings and pitch sessions at conferences. I also submitted to agents recommended to me by one of their authors. My hope is that these meetings and personal recommendations will keep my manuscript out of the general slush pile.

But still...I wait.

And let me tell you, patience is beyond a virtue. Patience is tortured anguish, wrapped in calm frustration, drenched with silence.

Still, I find solace in that fact that I FINISHED another book....and that, my friends, is farther than most make it on this journey to publication.

"Ain't It Fun" by Paramore

I love it when a song's lyrics reveal a deeper and opposite meaning to what I initially thought. Like when a mellow song has biting lyrics or when a peppy song is about depression. Songs that immediately come to mind are "Linger" by The Cranberries, "No Rain" by Blind Melon, and now "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore.

Like this song laments the realities of growing up, as a writer you quickly learn how hard it is to get traditionally published in today's market. Now, before you put on your rose colored glasses and question why I'm not self-pubbing - trust me when I say that in many ways self-pubbing is more work than the traditional route IF you want to do it well. In the end, this is my dream and hope for a new career path - so I really can't complain...too much.  :D

"Don't go crying to your mama, 'cause you're on your own in the real world..."

Miner's masks for my latest steampunk adventure!