Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is YOUR baby...

Picture this:

You're a brand new parent.  How hard can parenting be? You've read books on parenting, you've seen other people parent. You're pretty sure you can be at least as good a parent as them... and probably better.

So, there you are, with your brand new babe, who's now screaming like a banshee. You think you know what to do, but no one seems to agree with you. Hubs tells you to rock him, Mom tells you to feed him, and Grandma tells you to let him cry it out.

Then, it's time to dress the brand new babe for an outing.  You've picked out an outfit, but it's just not right. Aunt Edna tells you to bundle him up so he doesn't get a chill. Uncle Albert tells you to take off his coat so he doesn't overheat. Your BFF tells you you're crazy for taking him out at all.

You hope bed time is easier.  It isn't.  Your cousin tells you the baby should sleep with you.  Your in-laws tell you the baby should sleep in his own bed.  Hubs doesn't care where the baby sleeps, as long as it sleeps.

You throw your hands up...  exasperated and exhausted.  You thought you knew what to do, but it turns out parenting isn't quite as easy as it looks.  You know you need help but who do you listen to when everyone's advice is contradictory?

Writing your first novel is not much different.

Everyone has different opinions on what your characters should look like, what your setting should be, and even which dialogue tags (if any!) to use.  Sure, it's great when everyone agrees (Xoltenirvanamon is not a good name for a main character) but what happens when they don't?  What happens when one of your CP's is sure your MC's hair should be blonde and the other one insists on brunette?  Or if your writing instructor is sure starting your novel at Chapter 7 will get you a very nice book deal, and your other instructor thinks Chapter 7 should be cut and shredded, never to grace the inside of your manuscript again?

You go see your therapist, who listens and nods and glances at her watch every ten minutes.  At the end of your session, you ask her who you should trust.  She tells you to trust yourself.

Trust myself? Are you kidding me?  What do I know about writing a novel?   I'm a florist/engineer/accountant/fill-in-the-blank.  I'm not a writer.

Truth is, you are a writer.  Once you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you are instantly transformed.  And as a writer, especially the writer of your story, you have to trust yourself to be able to tell it better than anyone else.

That said, I often listen to my CP's and writing instructors.  They have given me advice that makes my MS stronger than it would have been had I not had them.  I'm incredibly thankful for their wisdom and non-bias opinions.  But, that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything they say.  At the end of the day, I have to listen to my gut.

My gut isn't always going to be right, but at least it's mine.

I'd love to hear how you handle contradictory critiques!  Meantime, check out another blog post I wrote on trusting your intuition.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Did I Get Here?

I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up! And it only took me twenty years.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a little kid. I even knew when I started college.

And then Real Life intruded.

Surely you've met Real Life. Real Life is that guy who tells you that what you want to do is unrealistic. Real Life says, "That's not practical." Or "You can't make a living doing that."

I entered my freshman year of college as a Creative Writing major. I'd excelled in high school writing classes, and I was constantly writing stories, poems, or song lyrics (I look back now and wonder who that sappy, overly-romantic, slightly insane girl was).

But I digress...

The point is, I always loved to write.

But Real Life got it the way.

Just before the start of my sophomore year, Real Life paid me a visit. "You can't become a writer and get paid for it," Real Life said. "You need a Real Job. And to get a Real Job you need a Real Major."

And, because I was 21 years old, I believed him.

So I changed my major from Creative Writing to Communications.

And I graduated college, and I got a Real Job. In fact, I got lots of 'em.

I went into Public Relations and Marketing, and I'm darn good at it (if I do say so myself). Even though I enjoy my career, I still felt something was missing.

And it finally occurred to me why.

I wanted to write.

No, I needed to write.

So, after much soul-searching, career-concerns, and financial-fear... that's what I did.

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote until I finished the first draft of my first novel, a middle-grade fiction book called The Secret Seventh Key.

I was elated when I wrote the last line. I did it!

Little did I know... My work had just begun.

And that's why I started this blog--to share my dream with you in the hopes that you'll share yours with me.  And then we can take this journey together.