Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't reject me... You wouldn't like me if you rejected me! (Okay, a very poor tribute to the Hulk's famous line!)

Rejection sucks! Is there something in the human body that sends out a flood of horrid hormones when the sudden bad news hits? Because, honestly, the moment the words hit my eyeballs, I feel totally sick to my stomach, I am dizzy, depressed, and I suddenly start snapping at whoever is in my path about absolutely nothing ("Why is there only one barrette in your head? Can we not keep two barrettes in your hair? They're like lost socks in the dryer, for goodness sakes. Am I made of money that I should keep buying more? Next time you wear pink you're just going to have to wear one pink and one purple, because I am not buying more! Do you hear me??")

I get a full-on headache that feels like some construction worker just started a jackhammer in my skull. My entire motivation to power on is sucked dry. I immediately go to that bad place. ("I'm not ever going to make it! I'm a horrible writer!")

No, I didn't start sending queries again, but for those of you out there who are, I feel your pain. I forget, sometimes, those brief minutes - or hours - after a rejection when everything in you shuts down. It may not take long to bounce back, but that period of time before the resiliency is worse than awful.

This all started tonight when I returned from a very pleasant and unexpected night out when I had a great conversation with my husband about a really positive critique I'd gotten on a submission to my Formerly Lame Internet writing group (heretofore called my FLI group). I was feeling confident. My husband told me I need to stop saying all the time that there are a million better writers out there and that the odds are stacked against me. I started to listen.

Then I opened my email. And there, in all it's ugliness, was one of the worst critiques you could set your eyes on. Not only a slaughter of my writing, but rude and snarky comments as well, such as "
Can I suggest you Buy a copy of Bobbie Christmas “Write in Style” and study it in depth" and "I suggest you read aloud to yourself and then edit before exposing your work to a critical audeicne." (The typos are his) Here's another favorite: "Same problem with this sentence, three commas + And. Do you sue a grammar style checker, such as the one on MS word? " The snarky comments doubled the size of my work.

The worst part? Some of what he said was true, and I knew it. Never mind that the majority of what he said made no sense and that he obviously didn't read my preface where I said this was the third chapter in a book and that Travis, named briefly here, was her husband because he kept telling me he had no idea who Travis was and what the heck was happening? The point was, some of what he said did make sense.

And the delightful, empowering conversation with my husband went out the window, and the headaches, dizziness, sickening feeling, and irrational crabbiness ensued. And I remembered how much this feeling sucks.

And then, as I was fighting to claw my way out of this hole, another email arrived. A private one from someone in the group, who told me to ignore everything this guy said, that she thought my writing was really good and he didn't know what he was talking about.

And, like that, the scales balanced out.

This, I suppose, is how we manage in this business. With friends. I thought today about much things have changed for me in the last year. A year ago I was writing on my own. I knew no one else who wrote. I had no one else unbiased that could read my work. It felt like me against the writing world. And then I met you all. I met the members of my Fab 4 Four Corners group. I met a few stellar individuals in my FLI group. And suddenly I am not alone.

So thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for hoping with me, and seeing a great future when I can't. Thank you for saying something positive even if you have to dig deep to find it. Thank you for sharing your work, your hopes, your fears, your rejections. Y'all rock!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Adapt and Overcome

During the school year I made a habit of writing every day in the quiet room of my local library. It's a luxury I no longer have. Now I write on the fly, whenever I can. I'm not sure it's working well for the novel, but it's important for me to keep the dedication.

These are the places I've worked on my novel in the past seven days:

A hotel room in New York, every night after everyone else went to sleep.

My kitchen table, with only the light of the laptop screen after the electricity went out.

The customer waiting room of the Honda Service Department.

And my favorite, here:

This is the table I sit at when we go to the pool. I write overlooking the Potomac River, take a dip in the pool when it gets too hot, and still be a great mom.

So where do you writers write? And how do you adapt when life gets crazy?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Over at Other Blogs

Over at Editorial Anonymous: a brilliant deduction of how poorly written (and edited) books by fairly well known writers still end up on the shelves. You know it happens. You can name five books on one hand that should have gotten the boot at the publisher door. Yet still they make it when your own brilliant, genius writing can't find a decent agent.

This is what Ed Anon says:

The editor who looks at the newest manuscript from this person wants to send it back and say, "I love your writing, but there's no character development or plot arc in this. You can do better." But the editor knows that (a) if the manuscript was published as-is, people would still buy it. A lot of people. And (b) if the editor says no to this, there's a fair chance the author would just turn around and sell it to some other publisher. Then that other publisher would have the mediocre book and the pile of money, and the original editor's Sales and Marketing people would be Highly Displeased that those sales were not theirs. Highly. Displeased.

Who has the guts to say no to money? The truth is, not a lot of people, especially in a business that's low-profit for pretty much everybody involved. And, more's the pity, those of us who want to Just Say No are under some serious pressure to say yes. You can get kicked out of school for not taking these drugs.

No deduction why us readers continue to buy these books.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Age Old Question: To Agent or Not To Agent

Someone in my internet-generated writing group brought an interesting if not well-argued question to the table: Why bother paying an agent 15% when you as an author are more invested and have more passion to sell the book on your own?
My first reaction was to roll my eyes and say, "he must be new to publishing!" But in an effort to be magnanimous and fair, I began to think, are there times where it is better to forgo the agent? After all, all of my opinions about how valuable agents are come from agents. Hmmm.... there is something a bit biased there.

BookEnds Literary Agency has a post about the value agents bring here and here.

Interestingly, Miss Snark has a very open-minded post about it here, in which she does give circumstances (or types of books) in which it is acceptable to self-publish.

An editor writes from the publisher point of view here about how important it is to have an agent bring your manuscript to them for consideration.

I also found an excellent blog written by a publishing consultant (who knew those existed?) who also details many different facets of publishing for profit, both agented and non.

After researching the possibilities, this is my take on the issue.

If you are writing non-fiction, it is easier to get published without an agent than if you are writing fiction. I'm not talking to the non-fiction side because I don't know that as well, and I have a sneaky suspicion it is an entirely different beast (the way people think all diabetes is diabetes, even though type 1 and type 2 are entirely different).

If you are writing fiction, there are options, but you have to weigh what it is you really want, and how much money and time you are willing to pay or give up in order to reach that.

  • If you want to have a publisher publish you, as opposed to paying a vanity or POD or equity press, you're options are very limited. Most big publishing houses won't accept unsolicited manuscripts. You could have the next Harry Potter and it will used to break in their new shredding machine. No one will even look the teensiest look at it.

  • You can go to smaller presses. The competition here is fierce, but you have more of a shot than the big houses. You don't, however, get the same level of marketing expertise or large print runs. Depending on whether they decide to publish traditionally or Print On Demand (POD), you may not have a shot at even getting your book into a bookstore. They also can't afford the masses of editors and layout experts, and often can't even afford people who are trained in this, and as such, your book is much more likely to be fraught with typos and strange layouts.

There are upsides to the small press, though, which include better communication and author involvement, and more personalized marketing. A much more comprehensive article about small presses is here.

In short: small presses offer opportunities to get published for the novelist, but if you want to make real money, you may need to later look for an agent who can then sell your book to a large press. Also, if you want to sell foreign language rights or movie rights, it behooves you to have an agent in your corner for that, as well. If your book sold well you have a better chance of landing an agent than if you hadn't published at all. If your book didn't sell well, you'll have a harder time landing an agent.

My instinct, though, with this gentleman who initially brought this question up, is that he thought it would be better to self-publish and market the book yourself. Take your boxes, if you will, and sit in front of a bookstore or a library and peddle them yourself. Which, frankly, is something many agented authors do anyway.

  • The downside to self-publishing, unfair or not, is that is has a really poor reputation among the publishing community. If you self-publish, most agents and publishing houses do not recognize that as published. You can't go to them and say, "I have published one book, and now I want you to re-publish it, or publish my new one." As most self-publishing presses accept almost anyone who wants to shell out the money, you buy no credit with those who are picky.

Here is a great article on what to beware of in vanity presses. They are fraught with sneaky, thieving companies who prey on an author's desire to see their words in print. Some are fine, but many are not. Be very careful who you go with if you choose this option.

  • Money is the thing other than reputation that makes this seem less viable to me. You end up paying for these publications more than most authors can recoup selling. Unless you are an amazing seller, in which case maybe you should be doing something else other than writing.

Let's take Lulu, which is one of the more popular self-publishers these days. If I want to publish my 300 page novel in paperback book form the size of a regular paperback (and not a trade), the cost per book is $49.95. For 25 copies, it's $1,238.25. For 500 books, it's 22,135, about $44 per book. I'm not sure how I am going to peddle that in front of Border's when someone can go inside and buy one for $7.99.

I recently read a book published by ACW Press, a reputable small self-publishing press which includes cover design and ISBN number so you can supposedly sell it in a bookstore, if one would take it. They also say they have professional editing, but the book I read had many typos, and occasionally the wrong name of a character or grammar issues which were most definitely not intended stylistically. If I wanted to publish my 300 word book there, POD, I'd have to pay $1,799. That would get me 15 books, which I would have to sell at $119 a piece. I could order more at $10.28 a piece. If I wanted a traditional press run of 1,000 copies, it would cost $10,220, which is only $10 a book to break even, if I could sell them all. There are extra costs, of course, which range from .10 to 3.50 per book, which you almost certainly would want.

I'm not saying this isn't viable. I just think it would be very difficult to break even, money wise. I didn't get into writing to become wealthy, but I certainly didn't do it to lose money, either.

I'm quite sure I didn't cover everything, and I am equally certain I probably got something wrong, but in my own opinion, agents make their money, and it's worth waiting to get one. I'm not expecting Spielberg to pick up my book for a movie, or fifteen European countries to snatch up French, Italian and German translations. But if they did, I'd want someone who knew what they were doing to take care of it. And frankly, I'm too busy writing to figure out all these details. Maybe if I only had one book in me, and wanted to spend the next ten years peddling it.... nah. Even then, I'd need someone else looking out for me.

At least that way I have someone else to blame other than myself! :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

God Is Calling Me To Get Back To Writing My Book and Quit Lurking Around the Blogging World (but will I listen??)

Either my attention span is getting shorter or there are a whole lot more blogs on my bookmarks list. I used to be able to hit them all every day, at first just lurking and eventually branching out a little to leave comments here and there.

Suddenly, I've had to prioritize. There are only three agent blogs I hit every day now, and three or four personal/writer ones. The rest I read when I get around to them, skimming the previous weeks to see if there is anything I can't do without.

Today I checked in on Rachelle Gardner's blog and found several really good posts.

One post is about voice. I'm beginning to think this is the "thing" for this year in writing. Everyone wants a great one. No one can define what it is. It can't be taught, but it's essential to a good book. Everyone seems to want to weigh in on it: agents, authors, publishers. Trying to grasp what it is is like trying to hold water in your fingers. It seems to slip away as soon as you think you've got it.

Rachelle also did a 100 word contest. With a twist: she gave a photo as a prompt. I didn't participate (obviously, as I wasn't on top of my blog reading enough to catch it in time), but it is really fun (maybe particularly because I didn't enter) to read the very creative entries, as well as what Rachelle thinks are outstanding.

My favorite, however, is one that may not even effect you, but was entirely funny and useful for me. It is called God Told Me To Write This Post. It touches on faith and writing, and how NOT to use that as your hook to get agents to notice you. She's been getting a lot of queries where people start with, "God told me to write this book." I was shocked to hear people actually use this line in a query.

I liked it particularly because I agree that God may call people to do things other than the obvious. He may really want you to write a particular story. But not necessarily call you to publish it. Why? Because the process of writing may be more important than the publication. The discipline, the insights, what we get out of writing, how others close to us are affected by us writing.... these may all be more important. This isn't to say we shouldn't get published, or try to anyway. Just that we shouldn't tell an agent God told us to. Which, I would think goes without saying.

(Rachelle is, by the way, an agent for WordServe Literary and reps mostly Christian authors, whether their books be overtly Christian or not. If you are a writer, even if not a Christian, she's worth the read. She is funny and snarky and sharp and deep, and she doesn't blog particularly to a Christian audience).

I really like Rachelle's blog. Everytime I stop by her blog I laugh, I think, I ponder, I come up with 50 things to blog about on my own, but never have time to. I think this is why she's not one of my regulars. She takes time. But even if it's only once a week or so, it's worth it.

Maybe God is calling me to get published by a Christian agent after all. Hmmmmm.... I might mention this if I query her...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Give Me Your Poor, Your Tired, Your Huddles Masses Yearning for Benches and Foot Massages

We go back home tomorrow. I have officially survived New York. I think I've walked more than a hundred miles these past few days. And that doesn't count all the hours I had to stand on the bus and the subway and the ferries. My feet may never be the same!

We came amid fierce thunder and lightening storms and Brooklyn was hit by flash flooding and wind blew down power lines and uprooted huge trees, so we felt right at home!

We've spent much of our time praying the rain will hold off, and our timing has been very blessed. It poured only once on Sunday, right when we were standing under the overhang of the South Ferry subway stop, and we rode out the storm there. Today every time it rained we happened to be inside somewhere, and when we came out it stopped. All the same, it has been incredibly overcast and grey, and the haze is hanging so low the visibility is nil. Great for walking around and not sweating. Terrible for photographic shots of the city. Most of my landscape photos are a fuzzy gray with indistinct building. Even with a great camera, you can't take fantastic pictures of something that isn't there.

Of course, there were plenty of puddles. So here is the city the way we saw it most often:

It's been a roller coaster emotion trip. I haven't been back here since 9/11 and I get very sad just looking at the city from across the water and thinking, "What skyline is this, because it's not New York." I miss those twin towers. I have a lot of memories there, and even when I get away from the ugly hole in the ground, I can't get away with the lack of them... wherever you are in the city you notice they aren't there.

I do love the American flags though. I don't remember whether or not it was like this before. I suppose that's one of those things you take for granted and just stop seeing, but now I notice. Some cities are all up in arms about the Iraq war, and very anti-Bush, and anti-government. Here, it is still very pro-America.

We ate in a deli right next to ground zero today, which had been remodeled since the towers fell and essentially blasted out the adjoining buildings. A fireman from Ladder Company 10 directly across from ground zero recommended it, so how could we go wrong? In the days immediately after, the restaurant was turned into a medical facility for the rescue workers. Today, the makeshift "medical service" sign spray painted on scrap wood hangs prominently in the deli, along with photos of people that died, letters from businesses in the world trade towers, photos of the wreckage as seen through the doors of the deli, and memorabilia from the rescue workers who came and used the restaurant during that time. It felt almost sacred eating there.

I'll not be sad to leave though. It seems as though people who live in New York breathe the city. It is in their blood and they would never dream of living anywhere else. Me? I think I'd have a heart attack after a year or two. It moves so fast! I'm not that much a country girl, but man it seems frenetic here! And my feet are about to fall off. And it is so noisy.

I never made it to the literary agencies. I planned on stopping by a few office buildings just to see where they were, to get a mental picture of where my book might end up. And maybe take a picture. In a really not-stalkerish kind of way. But I never made it. Too much to do, and after more than forty blocks of walking on Sunday there was no way I was cramming my size six feet into four inch red heels.

So in the end it was a purely family vacation. I did do some writing at night when everyone else was asleep, but for the most part, it's been a vacation from that part of my life too. All fun, but I'll be glad to get back to home and the writing and catching up with my writing groups. I think this time away has stirred some ideas and I am ready to go!

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Friday; It's a Good Thing

I am off this week to New York City. It's a family trip, and not a publishing one, but all the same I'm packing my red stilettos and my completed manuscript, just in case!

Things this week I am thankful for:

1. Electricity and running water. I used to think it would be really cool to live in the past, when life was simpler and more basic. Then lightening struck and I realized modern luxuries, like a flushing toilet and fridge that keeps the milk cold, are very, very good things.

2. Quiet time. Okay, I haven't had any of that this week, which makes me realize how much I need it. Trying to squeeze in writing time or reading time or even sorting-the-papers-that-are-invading-and-taking-over-the-counter time is hard. The only quiet time I get now is after 11:30, and frankly, though this used to be my favorite time to write, I'm really bushed by that time.

3. The Pool. It's 105 degrees. The water is like ice. Enough said.

4. Compliments. Encouragement. A very good friend, struggling a bit in life these days, wrote a heartfelt email and ended with this: You are the lighthouse in the storm of my life. I think of these words everywhere I go. Could anyone say anything better?

Go, all you, and find someone you love and say something amazing to them. Not something you say all the time. Not a generic "I love you," unless you've never said it. (In that case, it is the most powerful thing you could say!) Go say something they will think of for days to come when they are down, that they are not expecting, that will let them know that at least for a moment, to one person, they have made a difference.

And now, I'm off to NYC. I'll post photos from my most awesome new camera as I can.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is Bigger Always Better?

I've excused myself from critiquing this week as I've been critiquing more than writing, and this week is getting strained with obligations as it is. I've followed only the bare minimum of blogs. But I found a good blog post you writers should read (especially those in my writing groups, you know who you are!)

Author Jennifer Hubbard (writerjenn) posted an interesting blog on how much materials you should have fellow group members critique. Interesting, because I've had the same concerns: if you send only a few pages, you end up focusing on things like grammar and sentence structure, and if you look at the entire project you focus on large scope issues like plotting and character development and pacing.

She also points out that she never exchanges rough copies. She makes sure she has thoroughly edited and reviewed the work.

I think these are two entirely different kinds of critiques. If the first three chapters are wandering and hard to get into, if they are vague or the characters are unlikeable, if the conflict is not even hinted at, don't you want to know this before you write 250 more pages? If the tense or point of view doesn't work, don't you want to know this early on?

And yet, I think maybe the whole manuscript thing is important also. Chapters may be brilliant on their own, but not fit together as a whole. Pacing of a scene may work well, but not in context. It important that characters develop over the course of the work, that subplots intertwine with the main plot. Symbolism should be carried through. Themes developed.

But the thought of all these great writers I know sending me 300 pages of brilliant writing??? I'm feeling faint and overwhelmed at the suggestion!

And yet... intrigued. What think you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In walks faith

The amazing thing about writing a novel is how it takes on a life of it's own. There comes a time when the characters begin to speak on their own, and act on their own, and as a writer I am just the pen and paper keeping track of it.

Most of the time, this is a good thing. I am thrilled with the development of characters, caught by surprise by the way the story is unfolding, better than I planned it. I get to uncover secrets. I get to fall in love with characters I thought I'd hate, or even ones I didn't give more than a passing thought too. This is the fun part. So far in my writing, this is mostly what happens.

But sometimes it isn't fun. Sometimes it takes you to a place you didn't want to go. Sometimes characters die. I remember reading an interview with Madeline L'Engle many years ago when she described the first time she read her developing story to her kids, and one of them got really angry that the character of Adam died (I believe this was her YA book, ARM OF THE STARFISH). He wouldn't talk to her for a week, other to insist that she change it. She told him that she couldn't change it. She didn't intend for Adam to die. But when the end of the story came, that was what had to happen. This happens to me sometimes, too. At the end of my first book, I found myself actually crying over one of the characters, wishing things could have been different for her, and feeling really angry that one of the other characters ended up with such a crappy life that he so didn't deserve. I really loved him, and wanted better.

And sometimes, it's just complicating. Today, I ran into complications. Since the beginning of this book, I intended Bab's faith and church to play a role in the book. Faith is part of many, many people's lives, and to leave it completely out of a book seems false to me. So it was a part of the story, but not the kind of thing that throws the book into a Christian-publisher-only realm.

Until Pastor Joel walked into the story today. And suddenly, faith became more important that I realized it was going to be. God is more important to this family than I believed. Scripture is swirling in the air. And suddenly I am caught in a conundrum I didn't want to be in: is this a Christian book? Is it now unsaleable in the secular marketplace?

There are other books that have made it in the mainstream with faith integral to the plot, although I think these days it is not usually Christian faith. There is a greater tolerance, at least in America, for other faiths that can be passed off as more cultural than spiritual. But even so, there are a few, like the Mitford Series, that do make it.

I'm not afraid of being a Christian author. I am, however, afraid of only targeting a Christian audience, because that is not what I feel like my mission as a writer is. But this book is what it is. To take this emerging faith out would be to strip it of it's soul.

For now, I continue to write. We go on with the path that we are on. But I am thrown for a loop, here. It's one thing to learn someone dies in the book, or that the rebel turns out to be the genius, but it's quite another to realize you may have to look at an entirely different group of agents. I don't want to pigeon-hole the book yet. It's still way too early. Who knows what other surprises are in store? I suppose, like Babs, I just have to have faith.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rejection is Inevitable; Humiliation is Optional

I was going to write a It's Friday; It's a Good Thing post, because it's been a while since I've done that and I have so many things I am grateful for this week; but life is taking me a different way today.

Last night I received the email no author wants to receive: the one from a fellow writer who's just received a rejection.

It's made me think a lot about this industry, and how public, even in our privacy, we fail. I haven't read of a single author (that wasn't already famous) that didn't get rejected at least a few times before they were first published. I'm sure there are some out there, but it isn't the norm. Even after publication, the information is floating around out there: before they succeeded they failed. In other words: someone didn't think their writing was good enough.

It's almost impossible to write without people knowing. It's not as though I introduce myself to people and say, "Hi, I'm Heidi. I'm an aspiring author." But my family knows. My friends know. Moms who ask why I disappear into the library ever day during preschool with my laptop know. And the inevitable question comes: When is your book coming out?

In the writing community it is even more personal. Have you sent queries out yet? Who did you send them to? Have you heard anything yet?

And, at some point, most of us are going to have to utter the depressing words: it was rejected.

It feels like humiliation. Even when my proud son declares to people that I am writing a book, and even when he knows I am rejected, he says, "Well, they probably got, like, 5000 queries this week and were in a bad mood. There are lots of others." I want to cringe, even though I realize, he's right. At least partly. There are lots of other agents. And better, there are lots of other stories in me waiting to be written, and maybe one of those will be the one to break onto the scene and pave the way for my first, less flashy but more substantial book.

When we post on a blog that we are writing, we inevitably have to write that we are querying. And then we have to post the outcome. Which isn't always pretty.

But why be ashamed? Why feel humiliated? When I started writing, and telling my kids what I was doing, I wanted to be an example to them. Follow your dreams, no matter how big, no matter how out of reach they seem. Do what you love. Don't be afraid that your dream is bigger than you.

So they know my dream, and they are watching. And now I have to do it gracefully. When they stumble trying to attempt something big, I am never ashamed. I am proud at the attempt, and I encourage them to keep at it until they succeed. If I act humiliated by my own failures, by the rejections that inevitably come, what am I teaching them?

For all the writers out there who dare to dream that their book might actually find a place on a bookstore shelf, who put themselves out on a line and tell the world, I am writing! I am submitting! You have guts. You should be darn proud of what you've done. You've done what most people say they want to do, but never get around to doing.

The rejections... well, they most likely will come. But feeling humiliated about admitting that? Well, that's something you can control.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Clutz strikes again: The Bad Day Continues

So if yesterday morning wasn't enough, the day continued to go downhill.

When I put my daughter down for a nap, I laid down too. Which is highly unusual, but I could barely function. I woke up less than an hour later to find the bright, sunny day had disappeared behind killer clouds and a green-grey sky. Lightening was flashing so brightly it seemed like camera flashes were exploding. The thunder shook the house. The electricity was off.

At three in the afternoon the house was so dark I couldn't even read the newspaper. Hurricane force winds (up to 80mph) blew the trees in our yard dangerously, and eventually felled at least three, one of which found its new home stretching from one side to the other of our driveway. Rain poured down so hard a river formed in front of our house. (We live on a hill... it is a virtual impossibility for there to be water there... and yet there was... enough to raft down)

When we have no electricity we have no water. We operate on a well system, which pumps the water from our well into our house by - you guessed it - electricity. So no electricity means no water. No light, no computers, no TV, no toilets, no air conditioning, no running water, no fridge.

It continued all night. We made it to the recital, where, completely drugged up and soaking wet, I managed to play through the pain and give my kids a great night. At least, it was memorable.

We came home to a dark house (except when the lightening flashed) and dropped into bed exhausted.

I woke up to a still-dark house with no water and a very throbbing finger. However, we didn't manage to burn the house down with candles, and no tree fell on anything we would need to rebuild, and the sun is shining. And I am at my mom's house, taking a shower, charging my phone and computer, and in general trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

And wondering if one of those famous Texas thunderstorms might make it into my book. And maybe Babs will cut her finger off. You never know....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Clutz strikes again

Today is my children's piano recital. It is the one big hoopla of the year. I am playing duets with both of them, and we have been practicing for two months. I am probably more nervous than them.

And today, when trimming flowers for their teacher, I sliced off most of my fingernail and the top of my finger with a razer. And not one of those insignificant fingers (not that there are any in piano). I sliced off my pointer finger.

It's been two hours and the bleeding has finally stopped. It alternately hurts like heck and feels numb. Or both at the same time. I can't touch anything. In addition my head is killing me from the rush of adrenaline and the hormones that tried to send me into shock have sent my blood sugar plunging. I'd like to crawl under a rock and sleep.

But grandparents are on their way. My five year old is home. The house is a mess and the dishes aren't done (water is NOT a good thing for an open wound), and I really, really need to write. Except I can only type with one hand.

On top of that, I have to figure out how to refinger the duets so that I can play without using my mangled one.

This is not turning out to be one of my better days.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm A Believer

Well, who would think that whining and complaining about something would get you nowhere?

Not me, anymore.

And who thought writer's groups were useless?

Not me, anymore.

After blogging (and whining) about my barely-there writers group, and coming to the conclusion that pretty much it isn't for me, some friends came to my rescue, dusted me off, and in a flurry of emails the likes of which my inbox hasn't seen in a good long time, we formed our own group.

In a whirlwind of a few days I went from nothing to the dream team.... what my husband dubs "THE FAB 4" and which we modestly call, Four Corners.

(As an aside, 4 must be the perfect number for a group like this, because when you accidentally hit the shift button the 4 becomes $. Fitting, I think! :) )

We are a group of writers who all have one book under our belts, the query process partly figured out and entered, and the commitment to keep writing, and keep querying, and keep getting better. We live in three different countries on two different continents. We met on the internet, spent time getting to know each other a bit, and then jumped into the shark pond together.

And now, I am a believer that good writer groups actually can work. I doubted it. I'd never actually experienced writers critiquing each other to work. But it does. Over the weekend I submitted, they critiqued, tall building were leaped, impossible passages were hammered out. And now I have a first chapter that is so much stronger than it could ever have been on its own.

I'm over the moon excited.