Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Harder Than It Looks: Lessons Learned in 2011/12


I’m closing in on a full year (in May) of THE NEW DIRECTION.  Last year, over a wonderful weekend with some equally wonderful friends, my buddy Dennis told me I was doing it wrong.

He gets to do that. He does it right.

I’d become unhappy with what I was reading and writing in the genre I’d settled with (romance).  I’d started to believe I was crap at writing sex, but was great at writing relationships and humor.  I’d begun to hate what I was doing while missing it at the same time.  So I was given a challenge: try THIS.

“THIS” was writing humor, mystery-thriller in first person.  I’d never done anything like that, but had this idea about a woman who worked as a profiler, who comes home to solve a crime, and has a catharsis.  So my pal said “I dare you to write me three pages, first person, in the voice you blog with, tweet with, facebook with.”

I wrote three chapters in a few hours and fell madly in love.  Writing was not just a thing I wanted to do, it was the driving, burning need it had been years ago, when I scribbled in every blank notebook I could lay my hands on.  I finished Cry Uncle last summer, and started promising a book out by the fall.

That was my big learning opportunity, right there.  It was READY by fall, but I wasn’t.  I wanted to sit with it a little while longer.  A good friend who is also a professional editor offered to swap with me (I was an editor, too, ages ago).  We each took a month to do first edits, and another to do final edits.  I sent the project to a professional formatter and designer. (I’d done my cover images, but they needed tweaking, and formatting is my kryptonite.)

Her mom passed away suddenly at Christmas-time.  I delayed release.  She had some terrible family issues to deal with and returned her fee.  I ached for her, and decided to focus on two other projects, try my hand at formatting on less important projects, and delayed again.  And again.  And again.  FORMATTING SUCKS.

While I was waiting some things changed in the Catholic church in my area, where Cry Uncle is set.  It required I make manuscript changes, and tweak some scenes, since the church figures prominently in future books and Cry Uncle sets them up.  One of my protagonist’s brothers is a priest, and an important character.

So… Cry Uncle, my soul-project, the novel that my heart and spirit wrote… wasn’t done-done.  But it is now.  And I am paying to have it formatted, and should have the first Create Space galley soon.  It feels like it has taken forever, and the forever feels very close to failure to someone like me, a hyper-perfectionist.

But it’s been a year.  Two novellas, one on the best-sellers list on amazon nearly non-stop since December.  I’ve finished one novel completely, and two others in first draft.  More importantly?  I’ve learned that writing isn’t as hard as what comes after it, and a year is not as long as we think from this position.

So… much as I hate saying it AGAIN… soon.  And, in retrospect, that’s a success, even before done-done becomes DONE.

1 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Alan Ryker said...

I agree, and add that if you're not enjoying what you write, there are easier and more profitable jobs.

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