Staying True to Your Writing Style

I’ve been editing my YA novel, based on a few agents’ suggestions.  I have incorporated some of their suggestions but I have constantly been asking myself, “How true do I stay to my own unique writing style?  How much do I alter?”

Sure, I want to get published so some will say, “Do whatever you have to do in order to please people.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to please.  Yet, I don’t want to gut my novel so much that readers miss the subtleties in the characters.  I still want it to be my work.

There’s a limit to how much I’ll do.  Now, once I get signed and a professional editor reviews my work, they can change whatever they want to (grammatically speaking).  But, for me, it pains me when I make a change I don’t believe is pertinent to the story so I avoid those at all costs.  I’m just too close to my work.

So, I’ll do what I can and then be satisfied, hoping a professional can add the sizzle after wards.

Any other thoughts?

Ephiphany

Nothing in my life has come easy.  I only earned straight A’s in high school because I studied hard every day.  I only survived college projects because I worked hard.

So why I thought writing would be ANY different is beyond me.  For whatever reason, I thought it would be easy–you sit down, write a book, find an agent, and wha-lah, published author.  But, I was wrong, very wrong.

Writing the book is not easy.  The first draft is easy.  It’s the twentieth draft and beyond that is not.

So, as I start my umpteenth ‘final’ revision, I have realized this is how it’s supposed to be:  hard.  So, I’m gonna suck it up and get to work!

The Power of a Good Book

I just finished Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.  It was really good.  The ending was great.  There were a few parts that dragged but it was good.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if I could ever do that.  Sure, that’s my dream but with no one exactly knocking on my door to publish my stuff, it just makes me question if it will ever come true.

I liked being sucked in and I wonder if I could ever do that.  There’s just so much I don’t know–about my future, the stories I fill pages with, what God will put in my head to write about…

Answers would be nice to life’s questions, wouldn’t they?

Music and Writing

When I first read Twilight and Ms. Meyer gave credit to a band that she listened to when she wrote the story, I just didn’t get it.  I like to write in silence so I was confused at first.  Yet, lately, I’ve gotten it.

Ever since my husband got me my IPod, I’ve been listening to the same 10 songs over and over.  These are the songs that most speak to my heart about my life right now and where I want it to head.

Needless to say, they do inspire my writing.  I listen to them before I sit down to write and all throughout the day as I ponder what I will write.  They take me back to the time and place I need to be…the time my story takes place.  They re-new the feelings I had, the ones I’m trying to re-create, and they center me as I type.

Some songs encourage me…telling me I can do this if I only keep trying.  Some songs remind me of who I used to be.  Others tell me what’s important in this life as I try to convey these messages to others.

What about you?  Do you listen to music as you write or are you inspired by music?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Still Resisting…

I am still resisting with every ounce of my being my re-write of my YA novel.  Yet, I’m pushing through it.  I fixed the first chapter (the major issues I found) and have yet to re-read the entire thing and fix the little things.  This is the part I am not looking forward to.  It’s the getting pulled back into my story when I had already put the characters to bed for the night that is the hard part.

I had intended to do that this morning but my son is awake and sitting on my lap and I really have to desire to cry over my story with him here.  Plus, I have to plan homeschool for next week, clean my house, and we have early soccer games so I will postpone this until early tomorrow morning.  I like to work early in the mornings when all is quiet and (supposedly) all is sleeping.  It’s easier for me to work in big chunks of time than lots of tiny ones.

I hope to finish this up soon because it is weighing me down.

Writing is a lonely craft and I’d agree with that.  I’ve been advised to join a writing group and have my work critiqued, which I know is the smart thing to do.  Yet, with all my other responsibilities, I just don’t have the time.  Trust-worthy baby sitters are hard to come by and those are usually reserved for doctors appointments and such.  Plus, I’m HORRIBLE with criticism.  I’d rather stab myself than hear my work critiqued.  I know it’s necessary but when your characters are such a part of yourself, it’s like someone is stabbing me anyways.

Yet part of this is about me.  It’s about seeing how perfect I can create something and then having an editor pare it down.  If I had the spare cash, I’d hire someone to edit it for me.  So, for right now, I’m going solo and trusting in God to guide my hands and write what He believes is important.

One More Time

I was discussing my novel last night with my husband who tried to convince me that people don’t want to read about dark topics like my YA novel.  I threw out counter-examples like “The Road” in my defense.

So, I went to sleep last night debating whether or not I should completely scrap my entire novel and just start over.  But God will just not let me let this one go.

So, I awoke with many numerous ideas flitting through my mind and I’m willing to give it one more good edit before it’s laid to rest like the rest of my works, destined to be just a word file on my computer I suppose.

What has happened is that I’ve cut out all the beginning/introduction in order to make the new beginning pop.  Well, now I realize I may have cut TOO much and need to re-work it.  My task has become:  make the first five pages sizzle so I can get someone to actually read my novel completely because I know the rest is good: the plot twists, the ending, the ups and downs of the characters, the arc, etc.

Now I need to add some stuff back in but yet in an interesting way, not necessarily chronological.  I may have to increase a character’s flaws (which is numerous as it stands but not prevalent in the beginning) and edit my superfluous writing style once again.

I wish I could say I’m looking forward to this–but I’m not.  It’s another necessary evil on the road to publication.  I am praying fervently for God’s guidance in this one.  I will need it once more.

Time to Pray

I so think my story is done (my YA novel that is).  I don’t want to go back to it.  Yet, I just got more suggestions from an agent who said I was 90% there and said it was too “heavy-handed” with the characters and I needed to eliminate some things.

To be perfectly honest, I really don’t want to.  I have re-written this story so much by now that it’s amazingly pathetic.

My only consideration is, “Is this the story God wants me to do?”  If so, then I need to obviously take her advice and work on it…again.  But, part of me is ready to move on to my next story.  Part of me feels this is just such a waste of my time when there are so many other things I could be doing.  How long does one follow a pipe dream?  How badly do I want to be published?  How badly do I want this?

Yet, if I didn’t feel this story wasn’t worth telling, I’d have moved on long ago.  Yet something about this one–the potential power it holds–keeps me working on it.  At what point do I say, “Enough already?”  I am so torn up over this project that I’m having trouble describing how I feel right now.  I’m very sad and beaten down by it all–the process, the story, the memories, and the hope (fruitless?).

I know there is something here, but do I have the fortitude to keep digging until it is crystal clear to readers?  Part of me wishes someone would just tell me my writing sucks and stop dangling out hope that maybe one day I’ll get it right.  It is so much easier to just give up rather than fight through the pain I feel every time I work on the novel one more time.

All I know is it’s time to pray…some more.  I don’t have the answers.  My characters can’t tell me what to do.  It’s all in my mind and I have to determine how best to reconcile it all.

What do I truly want with this story?  Is it finished?  Is there something more…something missing?

I don’t know anymore–what I want or how badly.  I really don’t know anything right now.  I’m so emotionally drained from this whole process and adverse to re-visiting the world I created that I’m unsure if I can make it any better or if I can emerge from it all.  I don’t know where my heart lies or anything…

Coincidence or Fate?

Lately, I have been so discouraged with trying to get my novel published that I have been fighting daily to query.

So, today I sat down to try again the the 30 minutes I had before I had to start dinner and the first agent I came upon offered up encouragement.  I clicked on her site and the subtitle read, “A published author is an amateur who didn’t quit.  Don’t quit.”

This hit me hard as this was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.  It spoke to me as if a God-thing.  The agent’s name is Mandy Hubbard and her site is http://mandyhubbard.livejournal.com

I have been questioning if this whole writing thing is worth the time, effort, and emotional toll it takes on me when I pour my heart and soul into something I truly believe in.  I don’t deal well with rejection and I’m just tired of being told, “No, sorry, not good enough.”

But Ms. Hubbard’s site was wonderful.  I queried her immediately as I thought, “Maybe she’s the one, the one God brought me to.”

Only time will tell if she likes my work or not.  Regardless, her words touched me and I was happy to promote her book on my website as part of her contest.  I hope she succeeds immensely as one day I know I will too.

The Enemy

Lately, I’ve been very discouraged with the progress of my book.  It’s done but I’m still trying to find a literary agent to no avail.  Every time I sit down to query, I’m just overcome with a sense of hopelessness and despair and the rejects that occasionally still filter in do not ameliorate the situation at all.

So, church today was about the Enemy or Devil and how he comes against us and we are in a constant struggle (usually invisible) against him.  This made me immediately think of my novel because I completely agreed that it’s the Devil at work on my will to get this published.  I do believe this book is a strong book for all people and will help them in their struggles and it does grapple with the question of God’s role in our lives.  Thus, I think the Devil may be upon me every time I try to work on it (be it querying, editing, writing, etc).

Step 1) is being aware of this battle and how it’s the Devil focusing on my weaknesses (which are aversion to criticism, my writing sucks, I will never get this published, etc).

Step 2) is depend on God’s strengths to overcome and not yours.  This is important, especially since writing is such a lonely craft.  I do feel alone sometimes in my struggles with this book.

Step 3) will be to use God’s protection to win the battle over him.

I am excited for this next series so I can learn some tools in order to put my mind where it needs to be to create and do God’s work–ultimately your life’s purpose.

Why Should You Blog?

Blogging is a catharsis really.  It allows you to put your thoughts on paper and maybe realize some things about yourself you wouldn’t have otherwise.  You can organize your goals as well as think deeper on something you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Blogging is what you make of it.  I use it as a tool and a record of where I’ve been and a guide for where I’m going.  I’ve gotten some great comments on others’ thoughts I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

It’s a stress reliever and helps with my sanity when I’m having a mommy moment.

I’m hoping my blog at some point helps others, even if just to show them they are not alone in their trials in this world and maybe to see it from another perspective.