Thursday, December 31, 2009

Story of 2009

Quick note: I’ve been talking to Lisa Schroeder about her third novel in verse, Chasing Brooklyn, and she’s agreed to an interview on Jan 5th, which will be our first interview of the new year!

I went over my goals for this year and was pleasantly surprised at how many I accomplished…I submitted both short stories Delirium and The Eye and even (maybe! Lol) got The Eye published. But other goals I never even tried to accomplish, like editing Shatterbox, subbing it to agents, and building a web presence.

See, 2008 was really about getting myself back in the game. I finished a novel, started gearing up this blog, and was all ready to make 2009 the year that I initiated my writing career. There was a third and important step that I was skipping, though. In 2008 I’d focused hard on the requirements of becoming a publishable author, the way you go through physical therapy after a bad accident. I had to retrain myself how to write. But then I had to take a step back and remember how to be a writer—how to find inspiration, settle on my own pace, figure out when rules should be broken or kept.

So this year, instead of starting my “career,” I took a step back and tried to get rid of all the pressure I’d gained the past months. This was hard for me. I truly thought I was going to take a month or two off and then kick back in gear. But then a family member gave me some painful advice about how I’d let writing consume my life—in a bad way. What was wrong, she said, with just having fun? Why did I feel the need to push so hard?

And I realized I needed more than a month off. I needed to forget everything I’d learned about the rules of writing, publishing, and being an author, so I could figure out who I was as a writer.

It was hard. It was scary. What if I stopped writing, and didn’t want to start again? Wasn’t I tearing down all the foundations I’d fought so hard for? The perfectionist in me had watched other people do exactly this, and frowned at them for it. Worst of all—if this wasn’t the year I’d start my career, when would the right time ever come along? Was I just going to keep postponing this forever? Didn’t you have to set your foot down at some point and take the plunge?

I spent the first months of 2009 thinking about it all. My family member was right. I wasn’t having fun anymore, and that was stupid, because Shatterbox had gotten so complicated that it needed time to fix itself anyway. I had nothing to start my career on. And really, I’d given my career to God way at the beginning when I was thirteen and finished my first novel. He’d led me into a passion for writing. If He led me back away from it, I knew it would be for a reason. That may seem weak to anyone who’s not a Christian but all I can say is, this was the only decision I felt at peace with.

So yeah, I spent a lot of this year drawing back. I put this blog into semi-retirement and wondered if she’d ever breathe again. I stopped reading blogs and visiting writing forums because I knew they’d only make me frustrated that I didn’t have a novel worth submitting. That was big, and I’m so glad I did it, because it gave me a self control that I didn’t have before. Now I read publishing advice and don’t feel the urge to run off and follow it RIGHT NOW—there’s perspective.

One of the most important things I did this years is I didn’t force myself to write anything. I made myself stop trying to find a story and just waited for one to come to me. That was one of the big scaries. My friend over at TOMORROWVILLE has talked about how ridiculous it is that some writers are afraid to stop writing in case they like it, but it’s true. We’d all like to exercise, but isn’t it more fun to sit on the couch and munch potato chips? It’s the same with writing. The experience of writing is great—but it’s so much easier, and sometimes more fun, to just think about writing and never actually do it.

Eventually though, I got tired of not writing. It was like being hungry. I just wanted to do it. I started editing some short stories (Delirium! The Eye!) and then began experiencing inspiration that came to me in growing spurts. Nothing big. Nothing novel worthy. One day, I finally decided that I wanted to write something, even if it was stupid. I sat down and did one of this things where you start typing and hope it goes somewhere, then I posted the results on a FanFic forum.

By the first 5,000 words I knew this was a real story and I had named it Mirrorpass.

At 40,000 words I took it off the forum and decided I would see this story through the to end.

By around 50,000 words I started college. I decided I would attempt writing through the semester—no pressure, no strings, just try and see what I could do. Weekends saved me here, but so did the awesome betas who kept reading (KK! Lossy!) and inspiring me through midterms and those insane finals. I’m very proud to say that as of this post, Mirrorpass is at 75k. I plan on finishing at around 82k within two weeks.

So despite meeting less than half of my original goals of this year, I am so happy, and so proud at the way this year went. It has literally been one of the happiest in my life. And instead of being wasted, so many good things happened.

I WROTE A NOVEL! A novel I love! A novel that maybe (maybe maybe) is the one!

I interviewed 21 authors—14 posted this year, 9 left to come.

I learned how to enjoy writing again, and developed a healthy relationship with the world of publishing.

I got free author swag from Joelle Anthony, had my first giveaway via author Cindy Pon, won my first book contest (an ARC of The Line, which I found out about today! Whee!), and I got a shout-out on an author’s blog.

I submitted more, got more rejections, found that a nonfiction article was already published, got The Eye accepted for publication, and even had some scholastic acknowledgement about my writing by different teachers at college.

What a better way to end a decade?

I do have goals for next year. But I don’t want to call them goals so much as stepping stones, places I’d like to hit as I walk through the year, or even test dummies I’d like to play with.

-Finish Mirrorpass

-Edit Mirrorpass completely

-Submit to agents

-Go to a writer’s conference (they scare me, and NYC scares me, so I’m making a compromise and hope to find a good one outside NYC)

-Possibly turn Headdesk into my personal writer’s blog, and possibly get myself a website

-Find a home for Delirium and re-publish The Eye

-Interview an author almost every month in 2009

-Possibly write a new novel—possibly the sequel to Mirrorpass J

See everyone next decade!

Truly and always,

-Creative A

4 comments:

ralfast said...

Wow, an interesting year to say the least. Hope 2010 goes even better.

Terresa said...

Congrats on all you've done in 2009! Getting published is such a great feat.

Here's to a blessed 2010!

Creative A said...

Thanks to both of you! I hope you enjoy your 2010, as well. :)

-Mandy

KK said...

*Sniff* I'm so proud of you. :)
-KK
(since I cannot remember my username, tee hee!)

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