Little Darlings & Why They Must Die…for REAL

Kristen Lamb reminds us not to fall in love with the sound of our own voice. Great advice.

The Writing Privilege

Early one Saturday morning just several weeks ago I got this overwhelming feeling about my novel due out in just under a week.  Suddenly there were passages that I had to change before anyone else saw them. I mean, I knew I was pushing deadline, but I had recently read some awesome articles on fiction writing and realized, suddenly, that there were parts of the book that screamed revision. I figured if I started early that morning and worked into the evening I would have changes complete and to the editor by Monday. (When I’m focused I’m unstoppable.) She wouldn’t be happy about it. But hey, when it’s necessary what can you do?

The feeling was so great to get this done, I pulled out my laptop, perched myself quietly to one side of the bed and got to work.

It was then hubby looked at me sleepily and said, “What are you doing?”

I explained that I was working on the book, told him about all the changes that needed to be made. And instead of a gentle smile, you know the kind you expect your spouse to give you when you’re standing on the edge, he bolts from the bed and says, “Nope. No you’re not.”

Say whaaat? Do you hear me when I said I found this article that said—

He shook his head back and forth and said with the gentleness of a pit bull, “Good. You learned some new stuff. Big deal you’ll put it in the next book. But you’re done with this one.”

I was too tangled in the head to protest.  I humbly submitted and realized he was right. I guess I was like a performer who is about to go on stage and wonders if he’s rehearsed enough.

It made me think of this writing privilege– the privilege to be read, to have your written words, your private thoughts splayed on pages for the world to absorb. When I think of the energy people vest in the intimate thoughts of another, I realize that this privilege is no small thing.

Yep I’m aware that there are writers who churn out books like General Motors does cars–factory-style. I know that some are in it strictly for profit as they jump on the latest genre flavor of the week in hopes of cashing in. I also believe when their 15 minutes are up they will either bow out or run fast. But that isn’t my concern—really. There are the rest of us, who take this gift, this privilege to have our heart speak to the heart of others quite seriously. I don’t mean to sound sentimental; I mean to do this for a living, there is this thing called money involved. But there is so much more. As I speak through the written word, I pray that I’m authentic and complete in what I have given—at this point.  I pray that my readers will see I have given my all and held nothing back.

I have learned so much on the craft of writing, and will continue to do so. But today, at this moment, In Three Days represents a pivotal point in my growth.

Nursing Your Preemies: Publishing Your Novel

Preemies. We pity and hope for them at the same time. For some reason, today as I was driving I thought about preemies, those that are underdeveloped, sickly and not ready to stand alone. Often we grieve for what should have been, or could have been–an ideal of something we wished for, but never actualized.

It is our hope to create something pretty awesome, a novel that will leave readers breathless as they flip to the back of our book, gaze at our professional-looking photo, read our profile again and think, wow.

In our mind’s eye we see the words: best-selling author.

But somewhere, maybe it was in the middle, the plot grew weak, or we realized we didn’t know enough about the subject to make this story as rich as it needed to be. It could be we just didn’t have a story…yet. Still, we trudged on; it’s what good writers do. And at the end it was lacking. Oh, yes a story was there, but as we turned those type-written pages we knew it wasn’t ready to be published…yet.

Sometimes others will appease us (you know, because they love us and all). They tell us our work is great, stellar, people will love it! It is not until we get it under the microscopic eye of an editor or objective reader that they began to point out specific flaws. Ahh…there it is. Often we cannot see what is missing at first glance; we just know that something is definitely wrong.

O.K., they are so honest you almost decide that writing really isn’t your thing and maybe peddling insurance to people that don’t need it for the rest of your life isn’t the worst you could do. This is not the time to have a fit–then again, go ahead and cry if you want, throw something, clean the house, talk to yourself. I’ve done it enough times to know that it does help to relieve the pressure; puffy eyes become war wounds, a clean house a sign of controlled anger. But get back to it afterwards, rework your novel and fix what is broken; add what is lacking. Rewrite. Re-evaluate and make things right. Who said getting your novel published was easy?

Preemies deserve to develop and have a full and vibrant life. The public is brutal; the last thing you want is to put that preemie on the shelves, only to watch it die a sad and slow death, as people assault it or worse yet, ignore it altogether.





Writing Therapy

I could easily be reclined on the couch of some therapist staring up at the wall peppered with all of his or her framed accolades, pouring from my soul. I’m sure you could confess to having the same opportunity. But I have chosen writing as my therapy instead. Writing is therapeutic in ways that cannot be touched by a simple one-dimensional dialogue between two people. This is not to play down the benefits of a good therapist in any way. Everything has its place, but the writing effect pushes you to explore deeper like no other form of communication.

Everyone who writes will not become published writers. Most choose not to display publicly at all. But that’s the beauty of it; in private you can tap at a keyboard and vent everything from your subconscious, your mind and back again. There is no one analyzing your words and opinions. What you think or feel won’t be forgotten because unlike conversations, it is inked forever.

Getting the words on paper is a way to expose our demons and give voice to those things we cannot talk to others about; there is no judgmental eye, raised brow, no opportunity for any real retaliation unless we allow it into our space. In the solitude of our thoughts we can express ourselves uninhibited.

It is the crux of the social media craze, is it not? It’s like crank calling: anonymous, secretive, seductive and satisfying. It is the opportunity to behave cowardly while disguising it as bravery. People expel their opinions and expertise while hiding behind avatars of their pet schnauzers and their cousin’s babies because as a people, we want to be liked. To be disliked forces us to either find a new group of acceptors or stand alone. We are naturally social beings and our worth is often not intrinsic but based on what others think of us. When we write or vent in private it is a way to relieve ourselves without the repercussion of being disliked, judged or shunned.

At its best writing is cleansing. It allows us to get it out, reveal truth, and express pain or pleasure, or purify by getting rid of that which is toxic, decaying or useless. And even when writing fiction and telling stories that are not our own, we see that we are all connected and in some way that story does belong to us.

Allowing our minds to explore the hidden and dark places has a way of exposing and then identifying. Sometimes putting a name or face to our pain helps us to resolve matters. Writing is therapeutic when it is for us, first.