Okay, so the last time I wrote an entry for this goal I mentioned my unfortunate habit of spending too much time in the Internet’s publishing industry community. I cautioned myself that such a thing was an easy procrastination device, and one that has a way of making an aspiring writer feel productive. Self, why didn’t you listen to your wise Self of two months ago? I’ve discovered that one can pretty much burn all free time by reading author and agent blogs, perusing message boards, memorizing every agent listed in AgentQuery, etc. I suppose I have learned some useful stuff. I know a whole lot about query letters, agents’ timetables, and current trends in the industry. But I still don’t have a finished manuscript, and I’m not much farther along on my manuscript than I was last time I moaned about it to 43T.
So that’s it. I’m declaring a moratorium on my time spent reading about the publishing industry. I know enough about it now. I know who my favorite contemporary authors’ agents and editors are. I’ve read too many other people’s triumphant stories of publication. No more! I’ve got to work on my own book, or I’ll never have a reason to put all my pub. industry knowledge to good use!
Adam challenged me to have the novel’s first four chapters finished and polished by next Monday. If I don’t, I have to buy him a package of bacon. (Ick.) It’s a tight deadline, but if I stay away from the blasted Internet, I think I can make it.
since I’ve been able to add to my “visited states” list. But yesterday I booked a trip to Seattle! Next month I’ll be able to check Washington off the list.
Indeed, I’ve done a lot toward getting my writing out into the open in the last few months. Back in February I printed out several chapters of my novel and did an informal writing swap / critique with several friends of mine. We sat at a coffee shop and read each other’s writing and then discussed each piece. I asked specific questions about each of the characters—“What do you think is going to happen to X?” “What’s your impression of the relationship between X and Y?”
About a month ago I went to the spring conference of my local SCBWI chapter (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I missed the deadline for the professional critique session with one of the visiting editors, but I did take part in an informal critique session with several other women who were writing YA novels. I was the youngest one in the group by far. I was also the only one who was writing contemporary YA (versus historical or fantasy literature). Reading my piece out loud to the other authors had me internally shuddering at how bloody WORDY it was. A good revelation to have; I’ve done a lot of pruning to those chapters since then. The feedback I received from those writers was quite valuable.
After that, I did some polishing on chapter two of the novel and read it out loud to Adam. Less hiding, more feedback! And last night I was complaining to him that I hadn’t made much progress on the novel all week, so he challenged me to have the prologue and the first four chapters finished and ready to read to him by next Monday, April 9. If I’m happy with them at that point, I’ll probably share them with a few other people—a couple friends, maybe my sister, maybe even the “Share Your Work” forum on the message boards on AbsoluteWrite.com.
It feels like it’s been a long time since my last burst of fear about sharing my writing with others. Phew. This phase of my writing life is most welcome.