Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dancing with Failure

These past few weeks have been interesting for me. I've had the highs of feeling brilliant and the lows of feeling like a failure. There were moments when even at my highest I could sense failure breathing behind me ready to pull me back, a dance partner I was able to spin away from briefly. No matter how much I have accomplished there is always the whisper that I could have done more.

But I've concluded that dancing with failure is not necessarily bad, as long as I am in the lead. If failure leads it can whip me any which way and I am unable to escape, yet by changing my own attitude from the dread of failure to the acceptance of my shortcomings I am able to look failure in the eye and guide it where I want to go.

Failure is not something to fear, rather something to learn from. Money lost can be regained, time wasted can be restored and dreams shattered can be rebuilt.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Growing in Confidence

Editing Process: Polishing the Beginning
Favorite Book of the Month: Gregor the Overlander By: Suzanne Collins

I have taken a short break from editing for sensory detail and have turned instead to re-polishing, if that is a word, the first 50 pages. So far things are going well. Although a few days ago I spent an hour crafting this paragraph only to realize it was all backstory and I had to cut it. I sat there for a moment wondering if I could get away with it. There were only four or five sentences.... Instead I gave myself a few seconds to savor the newness of my paragraph and then cut the cord and removed it. Today I feel no regrets.

So here is my question. Is the reason it take most writers so long to get published because of how long they have been writing? Do all those years of trying to find your voice, your plot and your genre lead to an increase in confidence? Then, once you know who you are, your confidence sells your story for you.

When I look back there were probably years of my writing career where I would have kept that paragraph, never recognizing it for what it was. Just as there were years of writing experiments, most only serving as what not to do in the future. Now I have learned from all of them and the rules I would have to consciously remember each time I picked up my pen come naturally, replaced instead by deeper rules where I am still growing. My confidence has grown as I have grown. Now all I need to do is sell my work....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Meeting Deadlines

Editing Process: Started making corrections to my digital version and still working on highlighting sensory detail.
Favorite Book of the Month: Gregor the Overlander By: Suzanne Collins

I missed another deadline today. Not a writing deadline. No, in my mind by now my story should've been a glistening manuscript ready to wow any editor at first glance. Instead I am settling for a finished draft and the editing process moving; even if it is moving slowly at least it is still moving. The deadline I missed was the last day I could call the college I am transferring to before they fine me for being late.

Believe me when I say I wish I could only think about how to edit my story. I have a hard time concentrating when my focus is split. When I'm doing school work I am thinking about my story and when I am editing I'm stressed about finishing school work. It is a perfect circle that is determined to see me die at a young age. Perhaps if I didn't care about my responsibilities....

Some people love deadlines, some people hate them. Where are you and do you have any advice on how to meet them?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Palm Trees

Editing Process: Still on sensory stuff.
Favorite Book of the Month: Gregor the Overlander By: Suzanne Collins

So there I was sitting in the middle seat of the airplane while we waited a half hour to take off. I don't know if this has ever happened to you, and this probably only happened because I couldn't get to any paper, but the creative switch in my mind was flipped on. I sat there trying to peer out the window, determined to savor my last glance of Arizona and palm trees. During those minutes I must have come up with a dozen ways to describe that tropical tree. A feather duster, a fancy arrow, a poodle's tail, fireworks, an upside-down mop. The list went on and on.

Then we took off and I had to commit as many of these descriptions as I could to my overflowing memory. I like to think that the main reason I write my stories down is so I don't have to remember them anymore and to make room for new ones. I've heard writers say that once an idea hits them, if they don't write it down, it is lost forever, but I prefer to believe that it is still there hiding among the dusty corners. One day the analogies I have forgotten will be reused, even if I never remember where I first found them.

Do you have a method for retaining your flashes of inspiration?