I’d Rather Be Writing

I didn’t take a 2 and a half month hiatus on purpose. In fact, for a few weeks after the writing conference I wrote everyday. I won CampNano in July with 50,000 words of a YA Thriller. That was a fun ride. I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything with the beginning of that story, but I sometimes think about it now and then, so maybe it’s worth going back to someday.

The distraction of CampNano kept me from doing a lot of revision work, but really, I could have made the time. I avoided it like the plague because I was so tired from the pre-conference work I’d done. Writing, then rewriting, editing, and revising my first novel in just a few short months. So when I got the news an agent wanted to see the novel I’d pitched AND this other novel, panic set it and the ability to work left me angry, and uninspired.

On top of all that I’ve had some strange health issues that are still unresolved. So I took some time away from writing to focus on myself, on healing, and on learning what I really wanted. I put so much pressure on myself to finish my book, find an agent, publish publish publish, and all on such a short time frame, that I lost my love of writing. I made it something I had to do and not something I wanted to do.

I’ve still been going to weekly writing groups, but I’ve slogged through maybe a page or two of revisions and started journaling again. Until recently I just felt so eh about writing.

But then a few things happened around the same time. First, I read an article about remembering your passions. And I thought about how I’d always wanted to be a writer. Then I got an email from a writer I’d met at the conference and she invited me to join a no pressure writing group and told me about an upcoming writing retreat. Then I threw away my beat sheet and my notes for revision and committed myself to just rewriting the second novel. I discovered that I’m not good as revising until much later in the process. From now, second drafts will be written from scratch.

Giving myself permission to veer off course, a friend reaching out to check in about writing and offering to support me through it, and a gentle reminder from the universe that I love writing and can do it without putting loads of pressure on myself have all brought me back to the bright side of life.

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Life After a Writing Conference

If you ever have the chance to attend a writing conference I cannot recommend them strongly enough. I learned so much and met so many new people; the networking alone is enough to spend the money and go.

Here are a few take-aways-

1. If you can swing it, do the optional classes/sessions before the conference gets into full swing. I went to a the Pitch Perfect session with Chuck Sambuchino from Writers Digest and left feeling like I had a great bag of tricks for writing and presenting a solid, yet interesting pitch.

2. Bring business cards- I did not and wish that I had. I talked to so many great people and took their cards with the express purpose of reconnecting with them once we’d left the conference. I put all the cards in one place and was able to email people one by one and check in with them a week late. This networking will help me build a great base of writing partners, writing friends, and beta readers. And the more we stay in touch the more likely we’ll be to buy and read each others’ books. But, I didn’t have a card, so my email address is swimming around lost in notebooks or on the back of a napkin that got thrown away.

3. If you have a very personal question, please wait until after the panel or speaker is through to ask it. Personal questions are best left for one on one conversations and not so great in a ballroom full of people.

4. If an agent, editor, or otherwise expert speaker says something you didn’t understand, please ask them to clarify. Please do NOT start arguing with them in the middle of their talk.

5. Be prepared, do you homework, know what you want to get out of the conference. If you are pitching to an agent or editor be sure they represent the type of work you’re pitching. Don’t ask questions that can be easily found online or that you should know if you’re trying to break into the writing business, like the difference between an editor and editing your book for submission.

6. If you’ve got a great story to tell, by all means do- but keep it brief. When you’re sitting around at the workshops, panels, and speaking sessions everyone is very friendly. I was able to practice my pitch and get feedback with lots of different people. I was also happy to be  a sounding board to people who wanted to practice their pitches. I know, as writers, we’re all in love with our books and could probably talk forever about them, but please don’t.

Now that the conference is over I’ve got a lot of work to do. I pitched to two agents and both responded with requests to see my work. One of the agents also wants to see another story I wrote last year.

Now that I’ve received feedback and gotten the request to send an older manuscript, I’m busy with the revision process. The book I pitched needs some work in the middle and end, though I think those changes will be fairly easy to make- maybe 10- 20 hours worth of work. The other manuscript needs a complete overhaul. A lot of the scenes are salvageable but the plot is changing pretty dramatically.

Oh, and did I mention I signed up for Camp Nanowriomo with my writing group, so I’ve also committed to writing a brand new story in the month of July.

I’m hoping to be finished with rewrites, revisions, and edits and ready to submit in early September. That may be a really ambitious date, especially since I haven’t done any work on either manuscript in a week. So, instead of blogging I should be writing. Well, you know, writing writing.