About Me

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J is an unpublished author, represented by Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. J's first novel is a YA fantasy horror, regarding a siren who must choose between the haunting life and humanity. J draws on occasion, reads quite often, and is a founding member of the critique group 'Thoughtical Verbosity.'

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Out of Sight

Yes indeed, I have been rather out of sight of late...sorry!

You may recall that I was approaching my self-appointed deadline for completing my manuscript. Well, mission accomplished! It was absurdly early/late in the morning, but I reached my goal and for the first time in my life completed a novel. I then awarded myself a couple weeks of writer's vacation so that when I went back in to do the polishing, I was going at it with fresh eyes.

This is why no one on the mighty internets have really heard from me. I was on a media binge (many, many movies and TV shows), dabbled with the idea of getting more Phil Innis work done (I did, a little) and separated myself as best I could from my big triumph.

Now, I'm back in the saddle, and I feel fantastic. It's so nice to be in this final leg of the solo-journey, I can't even tell you! I handed out the polished version of Chapter 1 to the lovely ladies in my writer's group last night, and began work on Chapter 2 this morning.

The 'polishing' stage is so...fulfilling. Why? Here's the way I see the whole process:

Creating: The most fun part. For me, this involves listening to inspiration and a whole lot of day dreaming and pages and pages of notes and preparation. Who are the characters? Where are they from? How good are their manners? What colors exist in this world? And so on. It's guilt-free, commitment-free, limitless and giddy.

Writing: This is where the first taste of 'work' comes in. Writing is so fun for me--it's making all of those ideas and feelings from the 'creating' stage exist in the real world. Granted, it's just on paper, but now you can truly share it with other people! But the knowledge that there's no easy take-backs puts a little stress into the mix. This is the craft part; it's where you realize whether or not you have the talent/drive/pure-mean-spirited-gumption to even make the whole 'writing' thing work.

Editing: Blarg. This is the real, nasty, nitty, gritty, why-am-I-doing-this-to-myself work part. I have a strong dislike for editing. Everyone has that internal editor who is so often condemned by the cheer squad, but this is where you have to let the little demon loose. You see all of your mistakes--in plot, in grammar, in form--and have to scour them from the soul of your baby with a red-hot scrub brush. Obviously, there are some people who enjoy this task. Equally obviously, I am not one of them.

Polishing: This is where I am now. And it's the first time when I've felt that I'm not just tapping out some silly story for my own sake. It's the real deal. I have a product which I am perfecting so that it can be sent out! Oddly enough, this was the part of the process I was truly not looking forward to. It just seemed so unnecessary--why would I pour my heart and soul over something when I'm inevitably going to have to watch some other editor scrape it off? But now I see it differently. This is the stage where I reacquaint myself with my little world. I've worked hard to get this far; this is the last stop where it's just me, the story, and everything that's been built up between us. Like a last chat with a dear friend before they go off into the world.

And that's where I am now! I'm incredibly happy with the situation. Heel clicks and flower necklaces all around!

And just in case anyone needs a boost, enjoy this darling little cartoon that absolutely requires two watch-throughs:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Short Story

Hello :)

So, things are still going well with the book writing adventure. I have a solid, actual deadline of having a complete working first draft finished within the next ten days: so by the 15th! Then the heavy editing begins, and glimpsing back at some of the first chapters, I can tell you it is going to be heavy. But I'm rather looking forward to it.

 Hint: I am not the dumbbell in this analogy.

In all honesty, being as far as I am came very close to not happening. I had a really easy time getting the book started; I went through the NaNoWriMo program, and if you don't know what that is I suggest you look it up! It's rigorous, and a great way to leap off the safe end of the writer's dock and plunge into the icy pool of productivity.

When NaNo was finished, I took a little break. Then I sat myself down with the idea that I was going to be serious about this, finish my novel, and leap into stardom sometime before lunch.Then I found out that my friend Amber was into writing, too, and we gleefully set up a writer's group.

Well, the first meeting came and went. The second meeting came and went. And the fourth, and the fifth, and I was beginning to notice a pattern about the reviews I was getting.

A photocopy of my notes, with quotes from readers.
 I went through about a bajillion edits, rewrites, and pity-parties, trying to figure out where I was going wrong. One of the few things I'd ever been consistently told that I do well is write. If I couldn't get the ideas in my head out in an appealing, much less understandable, manner, then what did that mean about my dream? Or me, as a person?

My spirits sank lower and lower as I simply could not hammer out the problem. Then one night, I had a (sort of) chance encounter with my sister, Sandi. That conversation scooped me up from my sunken sanctum of the soul and in a huge way guided me onto the path where I have taken Ze Book. Immediately after, I wrote down the conversation just so I could go back to it if I ever needed to. Well, that need arose the other day, and while I was reading it I thought it might interest a few others to scope out.

So, if you are at all interesting, here is a short nonfiction story (which I honestly never thought I would ever be presenting):

                She was exactly where I had left her that morning.
                “Hey,” I greeted from my position at the counter. I didn’t expect her to lift her head; according to my mother, the patterns she was working on were due on Friday. I set down the grocery bag and put away the bagels. By putting away, I mean set them relatively close to the kitchen wall. “How was your day?”
                “Hey,” She returned. Her eyes didn’t stray from the screen, covered in neat letters and lovely shades of strawberry. “It was…good. How was yours?”
                I repeated her words verbatim, with the same uncertain pause.
                “What’s the matter?” She asked. She didn’t need to and I didn’t expect her to, but I think we both knew she would.
                “Well,” I decided without hesitation to skip over the boring details of the day job. There was something much greater at stake. “I have an almost complete copy of the new Chapter One finished, implementing all of the advice that you guys gave me.”
                “All of the advice you didn’t want.” She had lifted her head now, and was shooting me that amused smile that came from a teasing truth. It was one that was often flashed in this house.
                “No, I wanted it, I just didn’t like it.” I smiled back. I leaned against the counter, feeling sorry for myself and knowing it showed. But my chest had not yet lifted from the heavy weight that was settling over it. A weight that came from knowing you’re licked. “Anyway, I had Zach read it. And it still sucked.”
                “What do you mean?”
                “He said basically the same thing that you guys did. It was all over the place, he couldn’t catch onto it, but it’s a good idea.” In other words, unreadable. Which was a big problem when you were writing a novel. She stared at me. I stared back, feeling that feint urge to cry and not wanting to be a big baby about the whole thing.
                “It is a good idea. You’re a great writer, it’s just, for some reason-“ She interrupted herself abruptly. “I mean, I was talking with someone on the phone today, and she said, ‘You know, I read that blog your sister wrote,’ and I kind of laughed and said, ‘Oh, very funny,’ and she said, ‘No, the other one, the one you posted. I asked my daughter if she read it, and she’s just very good.’”
I hesitated. I wanted to believe the words. I wanted to believe that someone out there who had no reason to care about me or my writing hobby really enjoyed whatever I typed out. “Really?”
“Yeah.  So you’re a really good writer. It’s just—the book, for some reason—I just don’t get it. I get everything else you’ve written—the podcasts, the blog, the short stories—but I just don’t get the book. In the blog and the podcasts and everything, you’ve still got that snarky humor, but I GET them. There’s just something wrong with the book.” There was no malice in her words. Just that brutal honesty that I had asked for since the beginning.
Of all things, I couldn’t help but smile. It made sense. My sister had always been honest with me about what she thought about my writing, and other than safeguarding my feelings (something I had always appreciated her not doing) she had no reason to lie now. And she was right. There was something different I was doing when writing the book. Something I was trying to shoehorn into my regular style and failing at.
“So I just need to research myself a bit.” I smiled some more. Nirvana was melting that ache in my chest.
“Yeah.” She smiled briefly, and turned back towards her own work. “Which is better than saying you need to research someone else.”
“And better than saying, ‘hey, you might want to reconsider the ‘dream’ a bit.’” I added.
We laughed. We exchanged a bit of small talk. Rather than hugging her, I commented like I liked the strawberry color on her pattern. She thanked me, and I trekked downstairs.
Whatever tension it was I was trying to add to the book, I realized I needed to let that go. I needed to write the way I write everything else; changing my style so that I fit in with my contemporaries was stupid in many, many ways. I needed to just write the darn thing. And starting tonight, that’s exactly what I was going to do.