Sunday, April 29, 2012

5 Things Do While You're Waiting

Personally, I think one of the hardest parts of being a writer is waiting.

And waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

Waiting on feedback from critique partners. Waiting for a response from the agents you've queried. Waiting to hear back from the editors your agent has submitted to (or waiting for that stage to begin). I have a hard time waiting for my nails to dry. Needless to say, my first few weeks of querying were absolutely excruciating. I checked my email hopefully every five minutes, only to be miserably disappointed every time. And waiting for responses to partials and fulls was even worse, since agents can take up to four months with those. At one point, I remember thinking to myself, "I wish Ms. Superagent would just reject my manuscript already. I'd rather have some response than...this." wish came true.

My parents always know when I'm waiting for something, because my phone bill for that month skyrockets. At school, I constantly check my email between classes (and during classes--that's me, living on the edge). In fact, I read the email in which my agent first offered representation during Global Studies, while I should have been doing research on Haiti. And being the suave, collected person I am, flipped out and yelped, "Oh, my God!" loud enough for my entire class to hear. Then I lied and pretended to be all excited about some piece of information I'd just discovered about Haiti's government (for those of you who read my last blog post, you know why).

Waiting sucks. It really does. And I've spent countless hours staring at my inbox, wasting time I could have used to do something, you know, somewhat productive. For those of you who are querying or waiting on something else, here are five things you can do instead of spending every waking moment wondering why you're being ignored:

1. Social Media: Go commiserate with people who are going through the same thing on Facebook, Twitter, whatever. A great writer's community is, which has a forum especially for the submission process.

2. Start working on your next project: Pour your efforts into a sequel or new idea. Remember that character who wouldn't leave you alone while you were working on your ex-WIP, but you had to ignore because you were already committed to a manuscript? Connect with them. Listen to their stories.

3. Get out: Go do all of the things you had to skip out on to entertain the voices in your head. Grab a few friends and go shopping, the movies, whatever. Personally, I go to the tennis court and play for a few hours, because I tend to get my best ideas when I'm physically active.

4. Watch a movie/Read a book: Give your creativity a rest and enjoy what someone else has poured their blood, sweat, and tears into. When I'm waiting on something, I always, always watch Get Smart. Steve Carell is my hero.

5. Connect with your book: When I'm writing or revising, I'm always on a strict schedule, and as soon as I'm done, I'm on a strict revising schedule. Waiting gives me time to make maps of my fantasy world, sketch out my characters and settings, compose music for the lyrics in my manuscript, and find other ways to make my world come alive.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Map of My World!

Guys! I've just finished drawing a map of my the setting of my novel (I was bored waiting for my beta readers to get back to me, alright? Don't judge), and I'm so very proud of it that I'm posting it here!

I usually sketch out a map when I'm writing my first draft, especially if it's a fantasy novel, because it helps me visualize the setting and the characters' physical and emotional journeys. I've actually drawn this particular map three times already, and this time I think I've finally go it right. I was a bit more obsessive drawing/artsy-wise while working on this project because it offered a lot of opportunities for me to create visuals (I've also drawn out prison blueprints, building faces, and castle floor plans for my WIP), and frankly, I'm more attached to it emotionally. And for whatever reason, I enjoy drawing these maps :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Writing is writing is writing is writing....

I've just finished my revisions for my agent! And I'm exhausted. Of course, I still have do some surface revising, to make sure everything makes sense and take care of any logistical errors (and there's always a few), read every one of those 130,000 words out loud to find spelling/grammatical errors, send it to my beta readers, take care of their critiques...

Sigh. Even more exhausted now. I really need to train myself to like coffee.

Quite honestly, though, I don't mind doing revisions. It's amazing how much things can change between one revision and the next. There are at least three characters who played large roles in my first draft who don't even appear in this last revision, and conversely, at least three characters who play large roles in this draft who didn't appear at all during that first draft.

This was my eleventh rewrite. Yes, rewrite, not revision. Usually, I don't create a new document labeled "Revision X" unless there is a change I want to make to my manuscript that's radical enough to require me to start over from a blank screen. Which isn't to say that I don't reference it to past revisions, or copy and paste parts that still work. For whatever reason, I've always thought that it's less work to start with a clean slate than to try to comb through an old revision.

Revising takes guts. That was something I struggled with tremendously at first (and still do), because I would grow so attached to certain scenes that I would force them into the new version, even though they didn't flow well with the rest of the novel. As a writer, I think one of the most difficult and necessary skills to have is trusting yourself to write things that are even better than the things you cut. Why? Because that speck or ocean of pride exists in all of us, and it's human nature to want other people to see the beautiful things we've written. As Ray Bradbury once said, "You have to trust in [that] secret self as a writer, or you shouldn't be doing it."

So if you're wavering over a line, or a scene, or the entire second half of your manuscript, don't be afraid to put it aside and open a fresh document. You will write something just as wonderful, or even better. And besides, you'll have no choice but to do it anyway, seeing as most agents and editors require it nowadays.

Now. I think I'm going to make someone drive me out to Dairy Queen and get me a Blizzard. I feel like I've deserved one :)

And then I'm going to go sit back down at my desk, do any other necessary revisions and read throughs, and hopefully send it to my agent by the end of next week. And then I will cross every appendage I have as she...(cue dramatic music)...starts shopping my project to publishers!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Game of Sevens

So, Meredith Barnes has posted a game for authors on her blog (see here). The rules are:

1. Go to the seventh or seventy-seventh page of WIP.
2. Count down seven lines.
3. Copy the seven sentences that follow and post them on your blog.
4. Tag seven other authors (on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr--up to you!).

So, here are the seven sentences that begin on the seventh line on the seventy-seventh page of my manuscript. Enjoy!

As we remount, Aro calls casually over his shoulder, "You're the only thing keeping me from riding after your men, little girl. Remember that. If you care at all for their lives, you won't throw your own away so carelessly."

My teeth clench, but I say nothing. The impulsive decision that had seemed so lucid just a moment ago has faded to foolishness, and my cheeks are burning with my inanity. I glower at the back of Aro's head as Eras hovers beside me, ready to catch me if I decide to launch myself off the cliff again. But I'm not going to throw my life away so easily. Not yet.


Oops. Guess that was eight sentences. I'm such a cheater.