Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I haven't talked about writing lately

Well. It's been a tough summer, writing-wise.

In June I sent off my manuscript with great optimism, thinking it was ready for the big show.

It wasn't. When I looked at it with all honesty, I hadn't given myself enough of a break between end of draft and revision (1 week) or end of incorporating revisions from crit partners and sending it out there (1 week). I was so dang excited about the concept and the book I didn't give it enough time, or room to grow and deepen. I didn't give myself enough time in any sense.

So that's what this summer has been about. On the writing front I was drained, and a little bit broken. So I took about a month and just filled the well. Read without guilt, spent time outdoors and on vacation with my family, watched movies, watched Buffy, all that good stuff. In the background, occasionally, I thought about the book--but not much. I let it be.

Then I took a month and went back and did research. I needed to add a lot more worldbuilding (in a contemp book!), so I read nonfiction stuff on the topic, first-person accounts, histories, newspaper articles, videos. When I finally felt stuffed with knowledge and restless to get started, I re-crafted the plot to reflect the research and my thoughts, and realized how very much of the book I wanted to change.

But you know...when you haven't really written in two months? It is HARD to get back in the saddle. Especially for a substantial rewrite. Your routines are gone. Your discipline is flabby. Your confidence--my confidence--was very, very wobbly. Is.

I'm finally getting it back, if still more unsteadily than I'd like. Along the way somehow I seem to have changed tense. (!) But I have a good, solid plan for how to make the book stronger, by far. The voice is still in my head. I am going to make this book work.

And if I make it work the way I see it in my head, I sincerely hope y'all will get to see this one someday. This book? It could be a kicker. Will be, I hope.

THANK YOU to Agent Sparkle Shark and Team Sparkle--Courtney, Emily, Linder, Scottopher, Tiffany, Victoria--for seeing me through this difficult summer. If y'all don't have a Team Sparkle to help you through the rough times (and in this business, I can guarantee there will be rough times), GET ONE. Writing friends are invaluable. They send you virtual cupcakes for the highs, but they also send you virtual whatever-you-needs for the lows. Encouragement. Confidence boosts. Chocolate.

I do keep whininess and personal disclosures to a minimum here, but I thought it was important that other writers see that there are struggles in every step, and you just have to keep going. So that's where I've been, and where I am. I'm ready to start climbing again.


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan. Just loved your post. This journey is filled with obstacles. I so much agree that you need a supportive team.

I wish you much luck on your rewrite this fall :-)

Ann Marie Gamble said...

No joke on it being tough to get back in the saddle--well worn and familiar though that saddle may be. I had gotten into a good frame of mind about it being okay to take a break, but how hard, and how slow it's been to get back to it has been an unpleasant surprise.

Linda G. said...

Great post, Suzeroo. So glad you're back in the saddle. :)

Jonathan E. Quist said...

Just remember: when you get back in the saddle after some time off, there is no rule against talcum powder.

Ride 'em, cowgirl!

And happy trails.

nova ren suma said...

I'm so glad you made it through this summer and sound so positive on the other side... all that time off seems to be exactly what was needed, for you and for your book. Best of luck to you. I hope this is the one for you.

Deborah said...

Ah, Suze. Been there. Done that. It's NOT fun. So I am SO glad to see you clawing your way out.

I've read your work. It will find a home. You just have to stay the course, rocky as it is at times.

Take care,

Amethyst Greye Alexander said...

Um, Ms. Susan? How DOES one get a Team Sparkle, because I am totally at a loss.


Tiffany Schmidt said...

*Passes you crampons and an ice pick to make the climb easier*

And Of course we're all here holding the harness ropes.

I've loved being a part of your journey -- I can't wait to see where this book takes you next :)

pseudosu said...

I admire your perseverance Susan. I've never quite made it back into the saddle after shelving my last WIP and actually deciding YA isn't really where I want to be after all. I'm still in the *not really feelin it* phase of my ~break-up~ I guess.
Good for you-- sounds like you've got some good stuff to chew on.

lkmadigan said...

I'm trying to gear up for my rewrite.


Anonymous said...

~*sparkle-confetti*~ for revisions, rewrite, friendship, and any moment requiring chocolate(insert scene from Willy Wonka where Augustus Gloop shoots up the hot chocolate pipe).


Luv you, Suze! SO glad you're there for ME when I need you!!

Samantha VĂ©rant said...

I feel ya, girl. I had some rough and tumble times myself. That's why we surround ourselves with people who get it. ***sparkle*** ***sparkle*** ***sparkle*** ***sparkle***

Get writing, girl!

Bill Cameron said...

So many of us have that dark summer of the soul, sometimes fall or spring or winter, but yeah. As you say, those times are much easier to handle if you have a crew to get your back. I'm glad you have such an amazing crew!

Susan Adrian said...

Paul: Thank you. I will take that luck!!

Ann Marie: No kidding, right? I suppose it makes sense, but it's pretty disheartening.

Linderoo: Thanks, bb. ((HUG))

Jonathan: I will take that as GOOD WISHES and scoop them up. Thank you.

Nova: Thank you!! I know you know what it's like. I so appreciate your positive energy!

Deb: Thanks, darlin. ((HUG BACK))

Susan Adrian said...

Amethyst: I hope I answered this well enough on Twitter? But Team Sparkle is both crit group and (mainly) group of writer friends. Invaluable.

T: *accepts the crampons and ice pick gladly* Thanks, bb. So much.

Sue: It is tough, isn't it? I know you can do it if you want to. (though I am in awe of your creativity in your art!)


Em: Aw, bb. Sparkle confetti and chocolate, hoo-rah!! (thank you again)

Samantha: Sparkles HELP.

Bill: It really makes all the difference. Thank you!

courtney said...

bb, THANK YOU. You put so much good out there, I know you'll get it back. You're talented and wonderful. Everyone goes through this stuff and what you choose to do next is the important thing. And the choices you make always inspire me. ~*~

Trisha Leigh said...

Thanks for sharing, I've just had a similar experience and am trying to figure out the logistics of this revision.

Scary, yes, but I want my manuscript to be great. My confidence could use a workout too. Perhaps we should hit the elliptical together.

Thanks for the post; its great to know other writers are going through the same things. If I'm crazy, maybe everyone else is too :)

Catherine/Suburban Vampire said...

I've gone through the same exact experience, Susan: I got excited, rushed too much, and didn't send out the best book possible. My current book is out with my last critique partner, and part of me wants to send the manuscript to my agent next month to make sure I don't miss out on the paranormal historical bandwagon. The other part is telling me to wait until at least the end of the year. Your post is a good reminder that waiting is often the better choice. Hang in there!

P.S. I just read Scout, Atticus, and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy and learned that Harper Lee had to revise To Kill a Mockingbird for two years after it was accepted for publication because it was nowhere near being in any shape to put into print. That also made me feel better about taking my time.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I've had to take breaks like that at times and it does help. You'll get back into it. Thanks for sharing your struggles this month. You're right. You just have to keep going.

Lola Sharp said...

I think we've all felt variations on this theme and I'm betting we will continue to do so.

It's a journey, a process. And I think we need to be kinder to ourselves when we hit the rough patches.

My rough patches always come during what I call Revision Hell, or the RH. When I hit a snag, and I'm tired of slogging through that same damn chapter AGAIN, I start pulling out all my Procrastination Techniques. You know I've hit DEFCON 1/Advanced Proc. Tech. when I start cleaning the tracks of my sliding doors. (easier not to feel guilty if I'm being 'productive'/cleaning. But, I'm on to my little game. Which of course leads to more mental self-flogging.) Then somewhere in the middle of dusting my plants (WHAT?! Who does that?) the clouds part, the angels sing and I have a writing breakthrough. And I get my butt back in the chair.

I apologize for taking up so much space in your comments. I hope you know you're not alone.

I'm glad you're back at the keyboard.

I'm new here. *waves* Nice to meet you. :)