Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All Hail Orson Scott Card!

Okay, so I've been reading ALOT of books about writing lately. And they have seriously tainted the way I read novels. I've said this before, but it feels like when I read now, all I see are the blaring mistakes that authors make (never mind that I can't see these same problems in my own writing).
But every now and then, even now, I read a book that rises above the mental edits. Occasionally, I find a book so well written that it takes a concerted effort on my part to focus on the writing at all, because I'm so caught up in the story. That happened to me this week.
I have always been a fan of Orson Scott Card. But only recently have I realized what a great author he really is. I love his Ender's Game series, and all the spin offs that come from it. I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for a good science fiction/fantasy series to read. Seriously excellent.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing Conferences and Life in General

I'm at the Writing for Young Readers Conference up in Utah this week. I'm enjoying the conference, but battling some pretty serious emotions.
I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through my second manuscript, and it's good. Seriously. And my first chapter, my first paragraph-- pure inpiration. At least, I think so.
They had a first page contest, and the top two winners get to meet with an editor or agent tomorrow for ten minutes. Sadly, I didn't win. What's more sad, I was really hoping to. I mean, the stuff I entered was honestly the best I've got in me. I can't write any better than that (yet). So knowing that I didn't win makes me feel discouraged about how much farther I have to go.
One of my biggest frustrations is that as an unpublished author, you are starving for educated feedback. Analyzing your own work is almost an impossibility. You only see what you were imagining, not what's actually on the page. I recognize that I may just have a lack of understanding about the industry, but sometimes I wish they would understand that if they gave a little back, they might just find some hidden treasures. I have no doubt that there are numbers of great writers with great stories who just have a few weaknesses that need to be pointed out. Do I think I'm one of them? I hope so, but how should I know-- I never get any feedback! When on earth does that happen? You have to pay literally hundreds to thousands of dollars to get that kind of help, or you inch along through countless conferences (which still cost hundreds of dollars), and pick up the scraps that are thrown out by industry professionals.
It's agravating, frustrating, and pulls at the hope we cling to that someday our words will be read by others. That someday an agent will find our work worthy. That a publisher will think it has value. Or that it has value for us, even if nobody else ever thinks so. That there is meaning to the countless hours we spend in front of the computer.
So that's what's been hard about this conference for me. I gave my best, and I mean my very best, and it still wasn't good enough. I will continue to starve for guidance, I will continue to read and study writing and good literature, I will keep writing. And I will hope for better results tomorrow.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another Submission

I know that many unpublished authors like myself read books and think, "how did this get published and mine didn't?" I just read a book like that last week. And although I've already bid farewell to my last manuscript, I just couldn't help myself. I submitted it to the publisher of that book.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An "Off" Day

I am mourning my loss of free reading time. Like most people, I have so few moments to myself. I used to fill these precious moments with reading. There is something very enriching about escaping reality for a moment. It soothes the nerves, calms the mind, and sometimes can even offer a better perspective.

But now I take those moments to write. The problem is, writing is such hard work for me. It rarely soothes the nerves-- it feels more like I'm wringing my brain for every last drop of creativity. And without time to relax and escape, my brain is coming up dry.
I need a good, curl up under the covers, send the kids to the neighbors, hire someone to clean my house, kind of book to read.

If I could control the universe, every other day would be an "off" day. One day, my "on" day, I would do my motherly work, be a wife, work for my church, clean my house, etc. But the "off" day would be mine. My life would be put on pause while I spend a day relaxing in the bath, reading a good novel, putting a few hours into writing, and eating lots of sugar and baked good (made during my "on" day of course).