Writing the End



(When I open my vein caffeine concentrate pours out.)


Monday night was a big deal for me. A very big deal months, no years in the making. But it almost didn't happen.

Life is what writer's do in-between edits and big ideas. Bills are the arch nemesis of most aspiring writers, their only real competition being computers with viruses and dried up ink pens. But the willful overcome this to claim their dreams for their own.

I always knew I had a dream of publishing, I didn't always know I could do it. And I haven't done it, yet. But with a little help from my friends (shout out to J. Engle) and never ending tolerance from my family (shout out to my homies that live in my home), I've taken the most satisfying step toward that goal.

I've finished my first manuscript. I wrote The End at the bottom of my Pages document and I meant it.

Cannot tell a lie, I was teary eyed while standing in line to print that 94k beast. Never an emotional person, I immediately remembered that I don''t have allergies, therefore; the motion of carting a box filled with months of hard labor had done something to affect me.

Memories flooded up. Memories of me slogging away in front of my Mac while the world around me watched television, read books, left the house and did fun stuff. Memories of me on numerous occasions chugging coffee at work trying to erase yet another sleepless night. I'd hide behind my coffee cup, but my dear coworker, Damjoef, always knew when I'd been up all night writing. She said it was because I'd have a tell-tale smile, right beneath my bloodshot eyes.

Memories of being halfway through my first draft and thinking I was too tired to write anymore. My life was happening, my work ringing the phone off the hook, my e-mail box miserable from being too full. My house lay somewhere underneath an inch of dust, my kitchen closed off by a mountain of dishes. Okay, it wasn't nearly that bad, but any neat freak who spends a week removed from her vacuum will feel that way. And there I sat in a house coat and sweats, upping a word count on something that only I may ever read. And that feeling is worse than the one I got from surveying my neglected house.

Actors suffer from fear of failure, so do dancers and public speakers, but I am none of them. I can only speak as a budding writer to tell you that beneath six dozen edits (maybe more) and a stack of rejection letters that could dwarf a small car, you will find a writer in the fetal position somewhere, bear hugging a half finished manuscript. And when you find that writer dig her out, dust her off, and tell her not to stop.

Sit her back down at her desk and make her a cup of coffee. Because she is almost there. And the thing she needs most right now lies at the end of her manuscript. I had the good fortune of being surrounded by people that believed in me more than I did. People who may or may not bother to ever read a word I write, but were ever ready with droves of encouragement. That is what got me to Monday night, and the best feeling of my professional life.

All those sleepless nights, compounded by the daily grind that followed them, were now justified. My manuscript is finished and now I know I can actually finish writing a book. And that is all the motivation I need to do it again.

You can do it. You can finish your book. You may end up with bags under your eyes, a dreadful addiction to Starbucks, and be so far removed from the real world that you survive a zombie apocalypse by accident, but you can finish your book. Note: Should the latter scenario occur though, I'd advise putting your manuscript on a flash drive and immediately packing it in your zombie survival gear.

Don't ever give up. Writing The End is so worth it.

Thought for the Day

As a beagle owner I've come to believe that Charles Schultz wasn't a comic writer, he was a dog memoir writer.

What Makes a Story Good?

On the Premises has a great article on their blog about what makes a short story good.

I think it is really important to sometimes remind ourselves of what a reader's involvement in our stories looks like. As writers, we spend most of our time viewing our stories through the lens of the creator and trying to make sure we cover all the critical elements of story telling.

This article goes beyond that and reminds us of what the finished product is supposed to evoke in the reader. The article also spells out the inverse, what happens when a writer fails and what results that causes in a reader.

And both of these views are essential to a story's success. Because all the mechanics can be right and a story can still be a snoozer. If Michelangelo spent all his time making sure his sculptures met artistic expectations, but never breathed a bit of life into them after that, no one would be snapping pictures of them today. No one would have cared back when he finished them either. People seek the best in entertainment, art, and culture, not the "B" version. The "B" version is what you get if you try to logic and checklist your way through a story. The "A" list is composed of people who had the craft and the cunning to push themselves to the limits of their art, know how, and the frail edges of exhaustion to make sure their work had life in it.

I know that description doesn't make the "A" list sound like much fun, to most people. But there are a handful of writers out there who know what I'm talking about and their mouths are salivating over the thought of making it to the end of that crazy feat.

So take a moment and read OTP's view of what makes a story and stand out and what makes a story a dud. It's a really great article. Check it out, then go make your short stories even better.

The Writer's Dig

NanoWriMo is in full swing and Writer's Digest is here to help. One of their blogs is offering tools and tips for writing a novel as downloads every day this month. The Writer's Dig is a great blog to read on the regular, but this month it offers excerpts from great books, tracking tools, motivational resources, and author interviews on top of a humorous blog to read. Take a look, download some stuff and then get back to writing!

Author Interview: Melissa Turner Lee

I am pleased to announce the first author interview for this blog is devoted to Melissa Turner Lee, author of the following fiction works: The Difference Between Night and Day, The Earth Painter, and The Man Painter.




1. What do you think it is about the nachos and soda scene in, The Difference Between Night and Day that everyone loves so much?


Do they love it? I didn't know. I don't get lots of feedback on that one. The first person I sent it to said that scene was too quirky. but I like quirky characters. I mean how often do we think someone is just strange until we get to know them?

2. The Earth Painter has been called original, unusual, and has received rave reviews. How does that feel?

I'm always happy to have readers enjoy my work. It thrills me.

3. Are the scientific overtones in, The Earth Painter a hint at your personal interests?


Umm...no not at all. I live with a guy who loves loves loves Biology and so do our kids.

4. As a writer, were you concerned about having Christian and paranormal overtones in your YA novel?

I write what I want to read but can never find. I am a Christian so my beliefs are always wi th me but I don't want to write only for Christians which is what Christian fiction is--fiction for Christians. I write that but I also want to write books everyone can enjoy.


5. The Man Painter is also being received very well. Did you always know that, The Earth Painter would have a sequel?

Yes, my stories usually show up in my head with a beginning and end.

6. If your novels were turned into movies, would you be interested in writing the screen plays?

No no no, I write novels. But I'd love to have input so my characters and such didn't go off in a different direction.


7. Do you prefer to write or edit?


Write.

8. What was the most nerve-racking part of the publishing process?


Finding editors I can afford. And I still need another edit. *sigh* I hope to save up for a more extensive edit of them all.

9. If you could only give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?


Write. Don't wait for it to be the "right time" for for it to be "easy." Will never happen if you wait for that.

10. Can you tell us about your next project?

I'm writing a Fantasy Steampunk with author, Pauline Creeden. We have a debut and giveaways coming very soon. You can keep up with that on my facebook page Melissa Turner Lee or my blog MelissaTurnerLee.blogspot.com.





Melissa's books are available for purchase at: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million


This interview wouldn't have been possible without the awesome website Goodreads.com and Mrs. Lee. Thank you both so much!




Widget you Need

My accountability partner and I just reset our end of the year writing goals. It is unfortunate that we weren't going to make our previous ones, but life happens, even to writers.

I'm serious about this new goal, and to keep myself on track I've downloaded a free calculating widget for my Mac. This interactive graph will keep me up to date on my progress and count me down to my self imposed deadline.

Everyone at times needs encouragement and a reason to pat themselves on the back. Everyone at times also needs something to kick their tail into high gear, this widget does both. I can't argue with the numbers, if I'm behind I'm behind, and I need to get going.

If you own a Mac and want to download a widget like mine for free, visit: http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/. PC users should have no trouble finding freeware that does the same thing. I'm using Countabit and I'm pleased. If you can't find a generic counting widget, try to find one intended for weight loss that will let you change the titles. There's tons to choose from.

Happy writing,

C

A Glimpse Into the Creative Process

This is a car engineering commercial, but it's also a glimpse into the creative process for a driven person. Writers, watch the commercial and get motivated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOclC9bbeQU

Book Review # 4

Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell was a good read, however; the first section of it I felt like I'd read before. Only the back third of the book focused on revision and editing, the first part was a thorough review of the basics. Frankly, after reading no less than twenty-five other books on the basics of novel writing, I rarely find more than two or three new ideas or concepts in those sorts of books.

However, I did find the review refreshing, especially the action tags section. I remembered this chapter from Bell's book, Plot and Structure, but found the second time through worthwhile.

The revision section provided some useful insights, but what I was really looking for I found somewhere else. I wanted a checklist to streamline my revision process. Shout out to J. Engle for finding a solid article online that spelled it out. I'll get the mechanics and devote another post to it, but basically the idea is to break the editing process into phases and go after issues in a specific order, instead of slogging through your ms fixing everything line by line as you go. Think about it, does it really make sense to fix up sentences in a paragraph you may end up cutting entirely in the end?

If you haven't read Plot and Structure you can kill two birds with one stone by reading this gem instead. As always, Bell's explanations are humorous, helpful, and inspiring. He remains one of my fave teachers and I remain his young padawan.

The Comma Issue

Commas will be the death of me. Something about researching and remembering commas rules is beyond me. It's a never ending frustration.

On The Premises just posted a great blog article on the topic: http://onthepremises.blogspot.com/2012/11/fun-with-commas.html. My hope is that their view on commas is the widely accepted version, because their take is so similar to my personal writing style.

On the Premises recommended this Wiki article too, if you want the dissertation version of the comma argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma.

I hate commas, end of story.

C

Update

Last night I finished my first round of edits on The Barfly From Apartment Twenty-One. I'm really excited about this story. It's cold, but it's beautiful at the same time. My goal is to enter it in the Glimmer Train short story contest, once it's ready.

This story has proven to me that as a writer I'm growing. Compared with my work from just a few months ago it's infinitely better. Writers, keep at it and read about the craft. It may not be apparent at first, but over time your skills solidify. Then one day you and I will be those writers that make writing look so easy to beginners.

The whole evolution reminds me of when I began running. It didn't seem like I'd ever make any headway. I gave in to the idea that I would forever be out of breath. Then out of nowhere, after two horrible months of plugging away it and running daily, my run times plummeted and I could hold a conversation after a three mile course.

Of course it's never easy, but it might get easier.

Cheers,

C

SCWG

A few weeks back I joined the Space Coast Writer's Guild. This is my first experience with a writer's organization, but so far I see lots of positives. Associations, such as SCWG, have annual conferences, writing contests, and provide a list of safe genre specific local writing groups. SCWG also has guest speakers and online writing articles. Most guilds or associations will invite you to attend a meeting or two before making the decision to join.

Even if I never read their articles, visited my writer's group, or entered a single contest, the discount I will receive for their annual convention is worth a year's dues. The convention boasts publishers, published authors, and a half dozen prominent literary agents. I'll be able to attend their guest lectures, dine with local authors, and if I choose, pay for one on one time with publishers and agents. Doesn't get better than that, in my humble opinion.

I will continue to blog about my experiences with SCWG. Take a moment and google writing associations in your vicinity, joining may help you to grow closer to writers in your community. But be sure to check their legitimacy, no point in shelling out dues to a guild or association that isn't worthwhile.

Pleasant Distractions

Sometimes we need a laugh to reboot after a day from hell. These sites have all made me laugh till I cried:

http://pinterest.com

http://www.damnyouautocorrect.com

http://www.dogshaming.com

You should also check out Iman Crosson on http://www.youtube.com and Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson. They're hysterical.

Laugh, cry, then get back to writing.

C


Halo 4

Halo 4 came out today. A large portion of the population won't know the results of the election till like three days from now.

Get Off the Internet Article

Just going to reread this every time I feel the urge to surf the inter web:

http://www.latimes.com/features/books/jacketcopy/la-et-national-novel-writing-month-advice-20121101,0,4722674.story

Blogs you Should be Reading

The internet saves the day again. Found some great blogs to share.

This one is by Jenny Bent, a literary agent with a soft spot for new writers. Her twitter feed is humorous and inspiring too.

http://jennybent.blogspot.com

This one is by an author whose been around the block more than a few times. He's landed agents that weren't able to sell his work on four occasions. His articles are pretty spot on, so take some time to read about how to construct winning query letters. His views on the biz are intriguing as well.

http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com

Happy Reading  : )

Crazy, crazy, and more crazy

Things have been absolutely crazy lately. Hectic is the new norm around my place. However, that doesn't keep the heartsick writer too far from her Macbook. I've just made crazy even crazier by staying up late or getting up early trying to put some black on white.

I had another off the wall dream that I've been working into a short story. The dream was interesting to say the least, Ben Affleck in a double dose (he had a twin) and J. Timberlake, but none of that really made it into the story. I'm a hairpin from having this story down and starting edits, but just can't seem to squeeze in the time. It's a great story though, think The Notebook, but younger and colder.

If all goes well, this weekend I can get back to work on my zombie novel. I'm incredibly close to finishing the first draft, if life doesn't get in the way. With the three day weekend I truly believe I can get to those tiny, special words for the first time ever on a novel length ms, THE END. Oh yeah, with those words you get shouty capitals in italics.

More to follow--

C

Word Count Gold

Every time I take on a different genre I find myself scraping the interweb looking for a solid take on word count. I know that word count isn't the end all be all, but sometimes it feels like it. My work always comes in on the low side, and having some magical number to aim toward is incredibly helpful for me. It's a finish line to run toward.

Here's the best word count article I've ever come across. Enjoy!

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post?et_mid=587728&rid=233872724

Thank you Writer's Digest!