Of late I’ve spent my time in the backroom hunched over my computer tapping away on the pink Kuzy keyboard cover. In the front room—Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram and Pinterest—have carried on, made lots of noise, called, cajoled, beckoned (almost begged) for my attention. I confess to being enticed. I longed to read blogs, book reviews, discover new writers, but most of all I yearned make new virtual acquaintances and hang with the cool kids. I yearned, but despite my longing to play, I stayed the course.
I promised myself at the start of 2015 I would see my first novel published, would find a home for the second one, write and finish a third, and began a new book.
Here is where I ended up:
Nothing is Lost in Loving will be released April 13, 2016. WOOT! BRAVO! WTF… I did it.
The second book, despite the positive feedback, is still looking for a home. I sent out query letters to (only) four agents/publishers. All four opted for the entire manuscript immediately. All four declined to pursue, but each wrote a personal rejection letter with suggestions. Of course, none of the recommendations from the four were the same, each had different dislikes and likes. It was wonderfully thoughtful that each took a moment to provide constructive feedback, but the lack of consistency left me perplexed. The rejections, I hate to admit, derailed me for a few months. I wimped out, whimpered, and nearly gave up. But the outline I had written for the third novel beckoned, pulling me out of my slump.
While working on the edits, the final edits, and reading the galleys for Nothing is Lost in Loving (more coming on my book later) I managed to finish the third novel and started a fourth. I didn’t accomplish out that I set out do, but I came damn close.
As for the rejected one, I worked with a developmental editor. As expected, her suggestions were different from the others. However, she made one observation the others did not, which proved to be the one suggestion to give me the insight I lacked. I now have a plan. I have more to say on process in the coming weeks.
Now for the lessons, I learned while hiding in the backroom.
Writing Habits to Nurture
The usual suspects:
- Read: when you can’t read listen to books.
- Write every day. If you struggle with the rigid daily commitment, write as often as possible, making your irregular schedule a homecoming, a haven from the impossibility of your life.
- Observe the world you walk through every day. Pay close attention to the people around you, the young girl with streaks of blue in her hair, the gages in her earlobes and the trail of tattooed stars that begin at the base of her neck and end somewhere beneath the ripped Grateful Dead T-shirt she wears. Notice the nervous man standing in line at your favorite Barista and fit him out with a story explaining his jumpy disposition. Mentally note the color of the sunset you see each day but often fail to appreciate. Notice the street you walk or drive down everyday in route to the office and ask yourself if pressed, could you describe the block in minute detail with your eyes closed?
- Be fearless, take yourself out of your comfort zone. Breathe in new air and surroundings regularly. You need not cross an ocean, sometimes venturing to a new neighborhood is on par with riding a jet plane to an exotic destination. I found my urban girl with streaks of blue in the Castro (San Francisco), which is dangerously exotic with its vibrant inhabitants, boisterous soapbox philosophers, corner musicians, and the miscreants suspiciously eyeing tourists from under their hooded jackets. The flamboyant greetings and behavior of the residents, were in stark contrast to my sleepy neighborhood the other side of the Bay. The outing inspired me to take a leap of faith and to spend an hour with Vivie of Mobile, Alabama, the girl with blue hair.
- Block the noise from your head. Move Ms. Demoralizing Doubt and Mr. Frankly A. Failure, to the outer banks of your mind, and write unencumbered. Write freely. Write passionately. Write honestly. Soar on the page as your thoughts do would when the sun burns into horizon where possibilities are endless, your hope boundless, and failure is inconsequential.
- Limit your availably to families and friends; prohibit social media intrusions–ask yourself if the world truly wants to know what you had for lunch?
- Listen to music, watch documentaries, indulge yourself in an afternoon of movie watching, take a screenwriting or poetry class (assuming you are not a poet or a screenwriter, and if you are, try something contrary to your comfort zone), cosset your muse, feed her/him delectable morsels: read words aloud from favorite authors, look through a coffee table book filled with black and white photographs of faces–study the eyes and invent their story.
- Invest in you, in your passionate self and the dream to soar above of the confines of the life you accepted without consideration. Dreams are the gateway to our ethereal selves, the wings that allow us to take flight, the key to surviving the churn that sometimes accompanies the day-to-day drudgery.
- Taste, Touch, and Feel, use all of your senses; inhale all that surrounds you. Revel in the sensations. Close your eyes and see the world without your eyes.
- Believe. Hold on tight to your belief in yourself, as if your life were hanging in the balance, as if you were walking a tightrope, as if your next breath hinged on your trust in yourself. A writer’s ability is questioned daily, battered, beaten, kicked around, stomped on, drug through the street’s gutters, tossed carelessly into slush piles. If your faith wanes, even the slightest fraction, if your heart quivers, if you permit your psyche to linger in the shadow of doubt, if you question your passion–at all, even once, the crippling virus of defeat takes root and festers. Don’t let it happen–believe.