Monday, June 27, 2011

On Friendship

I brought chapter thirteen of my work-in-progress to critique group today. Have I mentioned how much I love my critique group? These talented writers and true friends help convince me I know what I'm doing, and they encourage me to keep going. We brainstorm ideas, and when I try to take the easy way out, they don't let me. Nope. Not gonna happen on their watch. That impossible scene I thought maybe I wouldn't have to write? Guess what? I have to write it. I love these women. I could not be on this journey without them. Just sayin.

So I come home from critique, feeling inspired, and I take my dog for a walk. I'm plugged into my iPod, and I'm listening to the soundtrack from The Book of Mormon, and everything's lovely. Then I hear someone call my name from a passing car. I look up and wave, and that's when I see this 16-year-old kid stick his head out of the driver's seat window and make a mean face at me. Seriously? This punk used to bother my daughter back in middle school, but that was years ago, and - newsflash - I'm not a kid. I'm the kid's mom.

I am honestly flabbergasted by this snotty, unprovoked disrespect toward an adult. It's so odd that it brings me right back to when my daughter was in middle school. Though my daughter was no angel, the way the other kids and parents (yes, the parents were the worst offenders) treated her was unbelievable. If I ever wrote about it, you would never believe it because it's a case of the truth being way stranger than fiction. Sometimes I even wonder if it all really happened the way I remember it. But today, with this jerk making a face at me out of the blue, I'm reminded that yes, what happened was real. And it was completely unfair.

I'm so grateful that we were able to find a different school in a different community for my daughter. One where she is free to be herself, to learn and grow from mistakes, to explore her passions, and make good friends. Friends who, like my wonderful critique group, will hopefully encourage her to do her best, believe in her abilities, and never take the easy way out.

As for the punk in the car... all I can do is shake my head and laugh. I hope he grows up someday and learns the right way to treat people.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What I Say to Myself While I Write a First Draft

Who do you think you are, writing a book like this?
You'll never get published again. You might as well quit.
Even if someone publishes this book, it won't get into Barnes & Noble. It won't be popular. You won't get rich or famous or even slightly rich or slightly famous.
Maybe someone will write the book for you. Then you could revise it. Or even better, you could read it once it's published and on the shelves.
You're not talented enough to write this book.
The characters are flat. The plot is stupid.
You don't know what you're doing.
You're going to embarrass yourself.
You might have an interesting idea, but you'll never translate that idea to the page.


You've already written 150 pages. That's pretty freakin awesome.
You can definitely write 50 more. Then you'll get to revise.
As terrible as this first draft is, you know you can improve it in revision.
You aren't in any rush. You can take your time and work on the manuscript until it's the very best you can make it.
Nobody else can write this particular story except you. It's yours. That's why.
Even if it's not a blockbuster, it will be someone's favorite book.
You're enjoying exploring the themes and the characters.
You're stretching yourself with new writing challenges.
It's always this hard.
There's no other job you'd rather be doing.

These thoughts run through my head every single day. It's a little crazy-making. Anyone who thinks they might like to be an author should proceed with caution as well as wild abandon. It takes both.