Showing posts with label Manuscript. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manuscript. Show all posts

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh Hello, Irony

There are times when the truth slaps you with a load of irony.

It goes something like this: First you're like, "whoa", and then there's this awkward moment when you realize you're going to have to admit you were wrong, and then you do and you feel SO much better.

At least, that's been my experience.

You may recall a post I wrote a couple weeks ago involving unicorns and writer's block. Well, the reason I was so desperate to overcome my creatively stuck position, was because something awesome was about to start and I had made a goal--a goal which I had shared with a major author and a couple thousand people.

Let's flashback a bit and this will make more sense...

Earlier this month, I responded to a blog post by Jon Acuff, in which he gave a Safety Not Guaranteed-esque call to those willing to go on an unspecified adventure. If you were willing to embark on said adventure, without knowing any details, you were to email him your name and mailing address. And in true clandestine fashion, the blog post was set to self-destruct in 24 hours.

Thus began the Start Experiment. A group of individuals from all over the world, taking a chance and ultimately being grouped together to encourage and assist one another in the pursuit of a dream or a goal, punching fear in the face in the process. One of the first things we were asked was what we were each willing to risk--what would our goal (to be moved toward over the course of 24 days) be? I immediately knew what mine would be: To write the first draft of my second novel.

Hence the need to be able to actually write.

The entire foundation of Jon's experiment, and the theme of his latest book, START, is that fear needs to be overcome in order for you to move toward your goal. So I was going to overcome the fear of stalling out, the fear of not being able to write, the fear of running out of ideas. Fear was going down!

And then a funny thing happened on the way to the fear smack-down. After coming out of the first week of the experiment with a super lame word-count, I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized that my risk was actually driven by fear. 

Helloooo, Irony.

You see, I finished editing and polishing my first children's novel in May, and queried my first agent the beginning of June. And instead of taking time to celebrate my accomplishment and focus on getting an agent/getting published, I immediately put a huge bunch of pressure on myself to write a second book. I convinced myself that one book wasn't enough to make an agent feel I was worth his/her time, that I needed to at least have a second one started to prove I was a real author and not a one-hit wonder. 

And then I wondered why I felt stressed-out, overwhelmed, uninspired and generally unhappy with my writing.

And so, after a jolly good laugh, irony and I parted ways and I took a new path. Now my risk is pursuing my dream of getting published by focusing on my finished book and preparing more queries to send out in the next couple of weeks. I've created a neatly ordered list of agents that I would love to have represent me, and I'm going to start tailoring my individual queries next week. I'm also continuing to write by working on some picture book ideas that I've been cultivating. This has been much less stressful and--hallelujah!--FUN. And come November, I will happily don my novel writing hat once more and leap into the literary abandon of my fifth NaNoWriMo. Until then, I will pour my heart and soul into a project fueled by hopes and dreams, not fear.

So, in case that was a lot to follow, here's a quick recap:

Fear 0 - Ashley 1


Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Milestones and Hope

I reached a new milestone in my writing career this week--I sent out my very first book query! *SQUEEE!* My book has officially left the nest to try and find its place in the world. It was a lot more nerve-wracking than I anticipated and I definitely felt some nervous jitters as I hit send. But that was nothing compared to the excitement I felt when the confirmation email popped up in my inbox.

My first ten pages are sitting in an agent's inbox right now. Whoa.

Now comes 6-8 weeks of waiting. For me, this is one of the hardest parts of being a writer. Not because I have a hard time being patient, but because I have a really hard time being optimistic. I'm much more of a realist when it comes to things like this. Part of me wants to believe my manuscript can and will be accepted by my number-one agency/agent pick on my first try. But the other part of me thinks, if it took sixty queries for a book like The Help to find success, who am I to think I'll find success right off the bat? Plus, there's this feeling that--besides it being statistically unlikely--it wouldn't be fair. After all, so many amazing authors have had to work incredibly hard to land an agent. Who am I to hope I could nail it on a first try? And isn't it better not to hope for too much, so I won't be disappointed if things don't work out?

But despite all of that, I hope. This time, optimism seems to have taken hold of me. I really, truly hope that this particular agent will choose to represent me. Sure, it might not happen. And that's cool. I'll find another potential agent, send another query, and hope some more. Because I realized something as I waffled between optimism and my perception of reality. Even though it may seem like I'm hoping for too much, what point is there in trying if you don't hope for--and even anticipate--success? If all you hope for and expect is failure, your dream is going to have a super sad existence. And dreams aren't meant to be super sad, pessimistic creatures. It goes against their very nature.

So...make your dream happy. Feed it some hope.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Scrivener (Or How to Make Your Life Easier)

This week I completed the final (for now) draft of my first children's novel and sent it off to some beta-readers for feedback. Though the idea and inspiration for this book came to me over three years ago, it was only six months ago that I actually sat down and began writing it. I was able to get a first draft finished in only 30 days, thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - which I will wax eloquent about later in the year as November draws closer. For now, click the link to learn more). But one of the biggest things that has made my writing and editing life so much easier, and helped me to keep up the pace without getting burned out and frustrated with the 50,000+ words sitting in front of me, is this amazing writing software called Scrivener, by the folks over at Literature and Latte.

I'm not kidding. It's amazing. It's phenomenal. I ask every single writer I come into contact with what software they use, and if they're not using Scrivener, I tell them all about how amazing and phenomenal it is.

If I were to detail all the great things you can do in Scrivener, the sheer size of this post would have you discreetly backing away without making eye contact. So I'll do my best to keep it short and sweet and focus on the top reasons why I love it, and how it has changed the way I write.

3 Things I love about Scrivener: Index Cards, Folders and Pages.

You see that? There on the left sidebar? Those are all the things you can get to IN ONE SCREEN. Gone are the days of having a million windows open in order to look at all your research photos, character profiles, chapters, scenes, and all the other stuff you have to constantly refer to as you're writing.

The Index Cards: There is a handy little index card attached to each folder. I used these to jot down the plot points I wanted to hit in each chapter. Not only can you add text to these, but you can label them (Idea, Character Notes, Chapter, etc.) and mark their status (First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft, or a custom status for those who need to note they're on the Eleventy-First Draft). If you're like me and need an outline in order to make sensible progress, but hate having to create said outline, these provide the perfect middle ground between pantsing and planning.

Folders & Pages: Each folder is a chapter. Contained in those folders are your pages for that chapter. Why is this awesome? You can keep multiple drafts of one chapter--on their own separate pages--inside the folder. You can keep your scenes separate--especially nice when you're changing POV's. But the best part about this: No more scrolling through a manuscript that is page after page after page of text! I want to edit chapter 16? Click on chapter 16's folder. BAM! (Let me tell you, it is so much easier to edit when your manuscript is cut up into nice bite-sized chunks and you can face 2,000 words at a time instead of having the whole 50,000 in your face, laughing maniacally over how long it's going to take you to fix everything you did wrong in the first draft.)

These are just the top three things I love about Scrivener. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the wonders contained therein. There's the compiling settings, which make it super easy to make your manuscript submission ready. The trash can, which removes the files and folders you select for deletion, but keeps them in the little can in case you realize, in a moment of panic, that what you thought was rubbish was actually brilliant. And oh, the wonders of full-screen mode.

And you don't have to be a novel writer to love this program. It has templates for scripts, research papers, short stories--you name it, if it needs to be written, it can be done in Scrivener.

At $40 for the Windows version and $45 for the Mac, this software will make your life easier without being hard on your wallet. You can even download a free trial before you commit. So pry yourself away from my totally awesome blog and go here to check it out.