Sunday, January 24, 2016

To Be A Writer

I've been slow to post lately, though I do have a pretty good reason.  I've been working on a novel, and after years of working on writing the story that comes after, I realized that what I really needed to tell was the story that comes first.  For an early Christmas gift my mother gave me a James Patterson writing class.  It's through a company called Master Class, and for less than $100 I was able to get tips from the author, interact with the class, and get feedback and resources all in one place.  It was interesting, and James Patterson is an engaging speaker. I loved the class, but the section on outlining was where I really learned something.  In my head, outlining involved paragraphs and supporting facts and a beginning and an end.  Mr. Patterson has a completely different method of outlining, and while I didn't end up using his method, it opened my eyes to the idea that there were many different ways of outlining.

I tabled the book I'd been working on and went back to the beginning.  I had written a short story a while ago, and loved it, but re-reading it made me realize that it should be the start of the first novel.  I took the short story and made it into my first draft during National Novel Writing Month, a whirlwind 30 days where you spend every minute of your life completing 50,000 words of your novel. 

Shortly before NaNoWriMo, my editor at The Good Men Project's All Things Geek, Alex Yarde, had shared the news that Her Universe, a female-centric chic geek apparel website founded by Ashley Eckstein, entrepreneur and voice of Star Wars Rebels' Ahsoka Tano, was branching out into publishing.  Her Universe Publishing was looking for female writers--that's me!--who had a fantasy or sci-fi manuscript--again, that's me!--with a preferably female protagonist--wow, that's me, too!

I sent along my information and a five page synopsis of the story, and set about the onerous task of waiting.  In the meantime, I wrote and edited--I've found that writing involves a LOT of editing.  In the back of my head, I was convinced I'd get the dreaded "no thanks", or "good luck placing it elsewhere."  This was my baby, my story, my people.  If they didn't like it, it was telling me I wasn't good enough.

Two months later they asked for my manuscript. 

I panicked.  It wasn't perfect yet!  I couldn't send it yet, could I?  I worked on it for three days straight, avoiding housework, cooking, children, husband, and in some instances, eating or sleeping.  I did what probably would be frowned upon in most cases, and sent them my first draft, explaining that it hadn't had any heavy editing yet.  In this case, the first draft didn't have enough conflict (I felt), so I set about rearranging a few sections to fix that while I await the response yet again.  

I dragooned a few people into beta reading to get feedback, and I did some more editing.  I figured out how to use Scrivener to make an e-book format for my novel, so I (and my betas) could read it on a Kindle. 

It looks so pretty on a Kindle.  All rights belong to this author.

If you write a lot, and you're looking for something better than Word for plugging your thoughts in, take my advice and buy Scrivener.  It comes in both Mac and Windows versions, and it makes rearranging sections, comparing chapters, and keeping up continuity throughout your novel a snap.  It even has a virtual cork board and an outliner if you choose to use them.  You can even try it for free!

So this is where I am, waiting for more feedback from beta readers and waiting for a response from Her Universe Publishing.  I've begun plotting the second book.

Here's the important part.  I began writing about this character in fits and bursts since I was twelve years old.  I know, that makes me sound a little crazy.  But it's true.  This is the first time in 31 years that I've completed this story (or at least one part of it) from start to finish.  I credit three things with my determination to finish:  James Patterson's Master Class, which gave me encouragement and new ways of looking at novel-building; Her Universe Publishing's willingness and desire to reach out to female authors of fantasy and sci-fi; and my eldest daughter's interest in writing.  I've determined as I wait that if HerUniverse says no, I'll try another publishing house, and another, but even if I have to self-publish, I want PunkGirl to see that it's worthwhile to follow that writing path.  To complete the story.  To be a writer.