Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Shout Out To James Frey

Over the summer, I had the chance to FINALLY read A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. I was blown away by this book. BLOWN AWAY. This man is constantly brought up at conferences (especially those panels dealing with Creative Nonfiction), and usually he is the black sheep of the party. Everyone says "Creative Nonfiction in the world of James Frey," and things like that-- "Tell the truth, the whole truth. Don't just make things up if you're writing Creative Nonfiction!"

From what I'm gaining in understanding, every fiction piece has more truth than you'd like to believe and every creative nonfiction piece has more lies than you'd like to know about. It's how writing works. We put ourselves into our characters. For Creative Nonfiction, we do our best to tell the reader the truth from what we remember, but memories aren't always reliable.

If you're unaware of the controversy surrounding this book, just type "A Million Little Pieces" in your search engine. You'll find a TON of articles saying the author embellished various sections of his "Memoir". But honestly? I don't care about that. I was aware of all of these things before I bought and read the book, and I finally found it in a thrift/used book store last year and sat down to read it.

Here is why I loved it, and consequently, James Frey:
I'm an expert at self loathing. Like really...I don't usually like myself (If you read my Creative Nonfiction pieces, I'm usually a raging bitch...because I am in real life). Frey's account of self loathing, being unable to look in the mirror...everything...his need for self destruction, drinking, drugs...I could relate. At the end of the day, I feel like as writers, that's all we want --Our stories to be relate-able--. I don't care if he wasn't arrested, or if a girl slit her wrists verses hanging herself....the fact is, she's still dead.
James Frey was able to bring you into a world, maybe a world he thought was real...or felt real to him. If you don't like that it was (or is?) called a Memoir, take it as fiction. I still think you should read this book. He made the story relate-able and brilliant and powerful. As a writer I think he succeeded, where as at the level of a Creative Nonfiction writer, he may have failed.  
Everyone is so angry with him for changing the game that they don't really even look at how awesome his work really is. If he had marketed the book as Fiction, everyone would have been raving about it. But I think to him, it wasn't Fiction. Maybe he's starting to creating Partial Creative Nonfiction. Or Exaggerated Creative Nonfiction. Are we as writers allowed to make new genres? After all, if you read any agent's blog, they're always asking for "What's next?" "What will be the new hot trend?"...I think Partial Creative Nonfiction would be pretty sweet. (I'm not kidding). 

A quick warning about the book:
The start was pretty hard for me to get into because of the way it's written. Another reason I am giving him a lot of props is because he used very basic words and with the use of repetition and various other devices that made his sentences so strong, I felt like I was getting sucker punched as I read.

Another warning:
Some of what he says and experiences is pretty graphic. I do not doubt his level of self hate/mental health/addictions. This book will make you depressed while you're reading it. Even if you take him as just a narrator and just a story (rather than a partially or fully true story), it is very intense and if you don't understand addiction or self hate...this is a good step to attaining that knowledge.

I still think about this book a lot, and some parts were difficult for me to read. I recommend it frequently and want more people to read it...even if it's fiction (or part-fiction). Honestly, I don't care. James Frey wrote something, made it a very powerful piece, and I say good job.

On a side note (still related), I just got My Friend Leonard for $0.50 as a thrift store yesterday. I was so excited I asked the woman at the counter to hold it for me so I could run home...and steal money from my sister. If it is anything like his first book, I'm very excited to read it. Even if it's not wholly true.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Official...

As of yesterday, I am a member of PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association). I'm pretty excited for a couple reasons: 1) It's saving me $40 on the cost of admittance 2) At the conference, I'll be able to put out my business cards ***WHICH CAME IN THE MAIL AND LOOK AWESOME***(and try to promote this here blog until I possibly land an agent) 3) I can now write that on the bottom of query letters 4) At this conference, I'll be able to speak with agents and editors!!

It's sort of lame because I don't live near Seattle, or Washington....but there are a few of their perks I'll be able to indulge in. I'll take what I can get. :)

Some more competitions are coming up on March 31st, and for my birthday Mike is footing the bill for one and loaning me money for the others, so I'm pretty excited about that. I CANNOT wait for my income taxes to come back!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How To Interpret Rejection

So, there are several ways to receive a rejection letter. Yes, I won't lie to you, it's hard..even for me. But at the same time...there are different ways to take it.

If you've received a form rejection--(For those of you who don't know, a form rejection is the pre-typed letter that essentially says, "Thanks, but no thanks" only nicer):

1) Remind yourself that you were brave enough to submit your work to someone. Congratulations. Take your fifteen minutes, get back up, re-work your query or your pages, or whatever may be lacking, and resubmit. Some agencies allow re-submissions. Some say wait 6 months. Do your research if you're submitting to the same agency. Otherwise, find new agents.
**Remember. Each time you get rejected it hardens your skin. Each time you get rejected you feel it a little less. Look forward to rejections. It means you submitted. Allow people to tell you Jordan got cut from his JV team, or research authors who collected a million rejection letters. When you get published, find something creative to do with them.

2) Are you offended (to any degree) by the rejection  you're holding/looking at? If yes, then that is AWESOME. Why? Because if they're hurting your feelings, it means you believe in your work, which is a thousand steps ahead of the average Joe. Congratulations.
**Remember. Even if you LOVE and ADORE your work it may still need editing. Don't be afraid to do it...AGAIN. You're only making your submissions stronger.

Alright, now, if you've been asked for a partial, or full, or....and still get another form rejection read the above passage and now this--

1) Once again, you're ahead of the game. At this point, I've received like 17? I think? rejections and have had one partial request. This tells me that my ideas are good enough but my pages need more work. For some reason, the readers are not connecting with my character. I (the author) need(s) to remedy this. Do I love my story? YES. But does it need work? (**Grits her teeth**) Obviously. Sadly. Here we go into the editing process again.
**Remember a partial request is AWESOME. Even though there's still a chance of being rejected, be excited for the request. It's huge! Congratulations, again.

2) If you managed to receive some feedback, feel BLESSED. Beyond blessed. I've read many agency blogs that say, "We're just too busy, I'm sorry." If an agent is willing to offer feedback, I'd suggest listening to it. I would suggest doing everything they say (unless it's something that you feel goes against your story).
**Remember, 99% of the writers who are submitting aren't getting any feedback. If you've gotten even a sentence, consider yourself lucky!

So...after these lengthy explanations, the moral of the blog is that REJECTIONS ARE YOUR FRIENDS. I feel like if we didn't get rejected a few times, we'd be the cockiest people...EVER. There is an agent out there for you. He or she wants your manuscript to have a happy home and a long shelf life. Don't give up hope. Edit, resubmit, hold your breath.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another Interview With Myself (This Time About Igniting a Firestarter)

When did you write this?
Igniting a Firestarter was what emerged from my trying to write a novel in 20 days. So...I started it in February. Finished it in March. I am currently in the process of editing it, and have sent it to my first round of readers.

So, the main character doesn't have a name...why?
I always have a really hard time with names. I think this one pulls it off a little bit better because most other characters have names (mom is Mom, dad is Dad, then there's Allison, the narrator's best friend (Firestarter), Alec, potential love interest (Shredder), Jennifer, (sister and Decoder), and Mackenzie (another friend, also Mirror). But the narrator is just "I". I kind of like it.

How many rounds of editing has this piece gone through?
Thus far, it's still technically on its first round.

And what is the novel about?
It's about a fourteen year old girl and her relationship with her best friend, Allison. There are four legions in said story; Firestarters, Mirrors, Shredders, and Decoders. They all are kind of like people I encounter every day, or encountered every day in high school....It draws the boundary lines between family and friends, and who you choose to protect and associate with. The narrator is one of those people who tries to see people for who they are rather than what they are.

What is your inspiration behind this?
My friend Jennifer Olson and I had a conversation this summer about being Mirrors or people who feel other people's feelings. I've also met some people who after I've conversed with them, I was pissed off and I said to myself, "She's a Goddamn Firestarter" (which actually made it into the story). Then there are people who are virtually human lie detectors...I started taking notes on my iPod one day until I heard the narrator's voice and started writing. Then Patrick Gagnon and I were chatting and I said "I wonder if I can write 10 pages a day...I feel like I have a pretty good start" and he told me I'd be crazy if I was able to write a novel in 20 days....which I did :)

20 Days, eh? What was your biggest obstacle?
Hahahah....the return of my sister, excessive drinking, and the Wii fit. Also working 40 hours a week, taking care of my doggie, writer's know, the usual. But really, it was nice catching up with Laura, I missed her a lot. She's kind of the inspiration for the narrator and Jennifer.

What do books do you consider to be similar?
Ha. This is kinda like Gossip Girl meets Harry Potter...or something like that? It's magical realism on the surface, yet...I think everyone can relate. We've all had those people steal our boyfriends/girlfriends. We have people intentionally hurt us. This is an amplification of that...where words really can cut you, or light you on fire. They really do wound. I don't think that people give enough credit to the damage we do to one another on a daily basis.

What is your target age group?
The narrator is 14 years I tried to channel what I felt at that point in my life. I think I'm aiming for fourteen and older, then. Or whoever else wants to read it :)

What other things are you working on?
I'm always submitting things (hence the blog being called The Submission Process). I'm waiting to hear back from several literary magazines, as well as agents for Confessions of an Immortal Heart. I will keep on submitting, and I currently am awaiting my debit card in the mail so that I can finally buy my place for the PNWA conference and LitDay!  
March 31st is the next deadline for two short fiction contests. I'll be editing/writing those until that day.

So.....What happens if this gets published? (This question is copied from the previous interview with me)
Well, hopefully I'd be able to do a book tour. I've moved around a lot, so I have three solid fan bases: in the towns of Shepherd, Mt. Pleasant, Auburn, and Bay City, Michigan (my home state), so I feel like that would be a good place to start. (I'd LOVE to have a book signing at Book Mark in Mt. Pleasant, or somewhere in Bay City, and I feel like I would have a good turn out.)
In Biddeford/Portland, Maine, where I attended the University of New England (getting a Med Bio degree!). I have a lot of friends that way who constantly say, "When you get published, I'll be in the store to buy it!" When I was published in Zephyr, a few people made me sign their copies which was HUGELY flattering. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a signing at Bullmoose. And then on the Outerbanks of North Carolina where I currently reside. It's a smaller following, but I work for a pretty big company (Kitty Hawk Kites), so I feel maybe we could do a co-thing? Try to get both of our names out there?
Thankfully with these places, I feel I'd be able to set up the book signings myself (with maybe some research and direction from an agent/editor...but if they don't have time, I could figure it out. It's not that hard to call places and I'm familiar with the areas in question/the bookstores.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Things I Am Looking Forward To:

Usually, my days tend to be kind of bllllaaaahhhh. Work 9-5, clean the warehouse on my days off, ogle agents and people who are published. with my sister or my dog...or the Wii Fit

But, these days, I'm constantly finding myself jumping up and down (no, I have not yet landed an agent, nor have I heard word back from the magazine competitions...which reply closer to April or May)

Early April:
The lovely agents at FinePrint Lit will be announcing their winner for the Backspace Query Competition, also Burnside Review and various other magazines/competitions will be announcing their winners.

April 12: Rebecca Rasmussen's novel, The Bird Sisters is released!

April 19: My birthday!!!!

April 26--Take Action Tour:
Silverstein and Bayside concerts in Raleigh!

July 13--LeakyCon 2011, LitDay
John Green, Scott Westerfeld, Kate Schafer Testerman, plus other awesome people and agents, and publishers (I'm swooning right now!)

August 4-7--PNWA Conference!!
You get to speed pitch, listen to speakers, meet agents, SOCIALIZE, make friends....I cannot wait. I cannot wait. Not only this, but I will be staying with my lovely friend, Jennifer Olson who I have not seen in far, far too long. (Yay!!!)

Things I will need for the writing conferences:
  • My voice recorder cleared out (currently has battery acid) so I can have fresh batteries and record notes people say to me. Also so I can be all Dirty Work and say "Note to self..." (Or so I won't have to call my voicemail and say "Steph, this is Steph. This is the idea for a story/novel/portion of your memoir I was thinking of while stuck in stop-and-go traffic." Driving a stick is hazardous (sp?), talking is not.
  • Business cards (awaiting them, any day now!)
  • Pages of two FINISHED and EDITED novels: Confessions of an Immortal Heart and Igniting a Firestarter
  • Speed pitch--written, practiced, verbalized (at PNWA it's 3 minute sessions. Gotta talk quick! Be ready to provide pages. This is what I learned from Janet Reid's blog).
  • Confidence
  • A good hook
  • Nice clothing (thank you tax refund!)
  • Money to buy books! And apparel! And awesomeness!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 20: Judgement Day

Today is Day 20 of the project. I worked a 9-5pm shift at the warehouse. I talked to some fun customers, had fun with my manager...I picked up my tax information and found out I'll be able to attend LitDay as well as the PNWA conference (in Orland and Seattle, respectively). I'm am SOOOO excited words cannot express. After this endeavor, I went boxing because I'm out of shape (and getting sore from playing too much Wii Fitness).

All in all, I didn't start writing until about 7pm. Then I made dinner (which was awful, sorry again, Laura) which took another hour. But...

I did it! I wrote a novel in 20 days. Granted, it needs some SEVERE editing, but it's done!!!

---The progress---
Pages: 200 (Kind of lame, I know, but that's what editing is for)
Word Count: 56,300 (ish) (Not 60,000, nor 70,000. I hope editing will fill some of this in)
Pace: 2816 Words/Day

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 18: Buisness Cards!

Today is Day 18, and I'm still finding myself distracted (though still able to write, at least). I got an e-mail from VistaPrint that said "Free business cards!" so...I took advantage. I am now awaiting the arrival of my 250 pretty business cards that say:

Stephanie Lynn(e) Schmidt
Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry

Yea. Cuz I'm awesome. (Not really...but the cards are pretty so it leads me to think so!) Either way, they'll arrive before the PWNA conference in Seattle (if I'm able to scrounge around $495. Plus, this would lead me to the wonderful Ms. Jennifer Olson!), and LitDay in Orlando ($125). It would be awesome to meet people and be all 'Here's my card! Let's keep in touch!' Oh you influence me! :)

I haven't written as much today as I had hoped. It's midnight though, and I have the day off tomorrow so I may stay up for awhile. As it stands I'm on:
Page 185
Word Count: 51,836...which isn't too bad. Especially if I'm able to write A LOT tomorrow. 

Alright, that's the baby update. Back on task!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

50,000+ Words, Day 17

It's DAY 17 today and still early. I just surpassed the 50,000 word mark! Which means, I need to get at least another 10,000 in 3 days (to reach the 20 day mark). That sets the pace at: 3333 words/day (at least). Double that if I'm hitting the 70,000 mark. (Confessions of an Immortal Heart finished up at 73,000). This of course is negating how far I get by the end of today :)

This daylight savings time crap is throwing off my groove. Well, that and my sister's presence in the Outer Banks. We stay up too late and it's distracting. (Although, technically, I can say it's my narrator has a sister :) ). It's been awesome having her here, but I need to ration my Laura time and increase my WRITING time. It's kind of pivotal now, right?

Getting back to the topic of the blog...Submissions stand at...
Submitting to an agent earlier this morning.
Submitted Breaking Myself Down last night after some heavy edits. Yet another $15 submission fee :(, but oh well. Hoping to win a contest sooner or later :)
I've also submitted to three other competitions this week (different pieces)...which brings my submission fees up to a whopping $72. Yackkkk. I'm also missing my debit card, which is SUPER lame. I may need to order another.

I'll keep you all posted on the progress :)

Also..I'm not sure if you've noticed. I really like smiley-faces. I REALLY, REALLY like the :/ face, which on some chat forums doesn't turn into a face. Either way, it's my favorite.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Early On Day 16: Excuses, Excuses

For Igniting a Firestarter:
47,677 Words
169 Pages (Running A Little Behind...Fully Intend To Catch Up!!)
(This now lowers my page to 3,178 words/day and 11 pages/day)

Now...the excuses as to WHY I'm so far behind:

As previously stated, my sister has come back and we've been spending a lot of time catching up (via Wii). Outside of that, as this blog is called The Submission Process...I've been doing that; submitting.

This week I've entered into three competitions: Creative Nonfiction (their subject is Anger and Revenge. How awesome is that?), as well as a poetry competition from Southeast Review, and their short-short story competition.

There are many deadlines coming up on March 15th and March 31st, so I'm trying to get a head start and the novel project has kind of taken a back seat. I fully intend to catch up between today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 13: Distractions

Last night around midnight my sister, Laura, graced the Outer Banks with her presence. As such, I went to work today and she came in around noon. I was on Benedryl (spelling?) again so I was super tired all day (and thankfully, less itchy). When I got out of work, she still had another few hours left. I went home, cuddled Baxter cuz I was tired. Then Mike came over and we took a very long nap.

Laura came home and we all decided to go out to's now almost 11pm and I've barely started working on the story. Which, is okay because I'm far enough ahead that I can slack off a bit today, HOWEVER, tomorrow, there is a wedding I'm supposed to go to as well as reception and I'm wondering how I'm going to time manage all of this and still hit the 20 day mark.

Guess we'll see...

Side note, she stole my computer and wrote an ending for Igniting a Firestarter:

And then people lit each other on fire. And the whole world ended. There was, however, one survivor. He reproduced asexually, and dominated the planet. Then, his progeny spread to other planets. Then, the whole entire universe was a monoculture of this one guy’s offspring. A huge, man-eating disease that targeted monocultures came by and killed everything.
El fin.  (She told me this is "The End" in French...I was unaware...)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 12 Of 20

Today is the 12th day into the 20 day project. Here are the standings at the moment:
147 Pages
41,652 Words

I have the day off today, so I thought I'd be able to shell out 20 pages or so (which has become a common occurrence on days off. My dog doesn't appreciate the days I spend at home any more because I'm plugged into my computer. All. Day. Long. Which interrupts his beach playing time. Or fetch. Or begging for food. Or just being pet all afternoon. Okay, you get the idea...) I'm starting to think I'll be lucky to hit the 3,500 word goal today....Here's why:

It's Fat Tuesday. I spent the morning going to Starbucks and McDonald's (SHAMROCK SHAKKKKEEEE!), then running errands with Mike. When I got home, I started washing my sheets and blankets because of my dog, Baxter. Beyond that, I've been trying to prepare my sister's soon to be room (Laura is making the 16-17 hour drive from Michigan to the Outer Banks of North Carolina as we speak). I have massive amounts of A.D.D...

Other than the errands, my loving dog seems to enjoy nothing more than a fabulous romp through poison ivy patches. Hi. My name is Stephanie (Lynne) and I am highly allergic to poison ivy. When I was younger I got it once a year and it was hell. Well...Baxter, my adorable pony sized dog...shares my bed with me (thankfully it's upgraded to a queenish size bed rather than the twin we used to share. That was awful...). Which means, I wake up in the morning with my neck itching, or my arms covered in fresh reddish-pink splotches.

It's gotten to the point I'm considering quarantining myself so I don't have to go out in public. Mike and I talked today and he told me to cave in and take some Benedryl (spelling?)...after a mad search of my messy, messy room, I found it.

Now I'm exhausted. I've even had coffee today (I'm severely caffeine intolerant. One cup of coffee usually means I'm up for three days. Not. Kidding. Ask my sister, I hallucinate). Because of the medication in my system...I'm soooo tired. And I can't even take a nap right now because my bedding is either in the washer or drier. Baxter's head is resting near my leg as I type this. I'm a little jealous that he's snoring. I want to be snoring, or productive and writing.

Let's see if I can focus before passing out. :)

The 20 Day Project

It's technically midnight (therefore March 8th), but I haven't slept yet, so I consider today to still be March 7th. I will be writing for a few more minutes then taking a hiatus known as sleep. 

So, here are the most recent stats (or what I've figured out):
In order to stay on task with an approximately 60,000-70,000 word novel I need to write about 3,500 words a day. 
To write a 200 page novel in 20 days, it'd be 10 pages a day.

Here's the pace thus far (thank you dear Word Count tool)...
Day 11
I'm on page 144
Writing pace: 13 pages/day
Word Count: 40,620
Word pace: 3,692 words/day

 If I keep up at this pace, I may have a novel in 18 days :) But, things happen, so I'm still aiming for 20 and no less than that. Besides, if I finish early, that means I get to start editing faster :)

Right now I have the beginning written, most of the middle, and the end finished (or at least the last two pages of the end finished). I need to now connect the dots from middle to end. 

I'm pretttttttyyyyyyyy exxxxxccccciiiiittttteeeeddddddd. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Just Because You Are A Writing Maniac"

My good friend Tammy Henry wrote me a very nice e-mail the other day, that completely made me smile. She's given me permission to post it here:

This e-mail made me smile and I even made Lora and Aimee listen to it while I read it a loud for them because it made me so happy! I am so glad to hear that you finished the edits and that you are happy with the finished product! :) I will now be reading it again, when it is printed, bound, and in book content when I see it on the bookshelves at the local bookstore, which when I purchase it I will say to the local bookstore worker, "and THAT this VERY BOOK I AM HOLDING..... just so happens to be my sister.......just sayin......she is bad ass!" I cannot WAIT for that day!
Good luck with all the submissions and good luck with all those future readers who will be reading it.....I am sure they will all love it as much as I do!
I know there is someone out there who will be proud to publish all 220 PAGES 72,624 FUCKING WORDS OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I LOVE YOU STEPH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tammy Tam

Friday, March 4, 2011

100 Pages in 8 Days

As the previous blog states, I'm trying to write 10 pages a day to shell out an approximately 200 page novel in about 20 days. As of 3/4/11, I am on page 100 (and it's still early in the evening, so I may get even further). 

I'm not saying that on the 20 day mark what I've written will be worth reading. At that point I may have some of my readers read the first edition so we can edit together, but I am very pleased with my ideas thus far. Today I was even so productive I named novel number three:
Igniting a Firestarter

Yes, Fire and Starter are supposed to be two words, but read the book and you'll understand. :) I may try to post the first few pages, but I'm undecided (I'm deathly afraid of people stealing my work...especially before it goes to print...which is stupid, I know, but if ya'll wanna read some, shoot me an e-mail).

This novel is also directed at the Young Adult audience (the narrator is 14, potential love interest is 18). Remember how bitchy people were in high school? And how people would talk behind your back, or do things just to get a rise out of you? Well, this novel covers that...and makes it so those awful things that you say actually create damage. Thus, the genre is magical realism. It's supposed to be somewhat believable....hopefully.

Once again, the narrator does not have a name, however her sister does (Jennifer), and the love interest bears the name Alec. Her parents are Mom and Dad. Mackenzie, a friend and classmate sits next to her in her dreadful Genetics class. Her frienemy is named Allison.

I'm glad because I know how the story will end and what the big conflict is. I'm also stoked because this story has the potential to be a series (or one very, very long novel). There's a lot of different directions I can take. It's fun to play out different scenarios between the characters.

Okay, that's all for now! Have an awesome day!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trying To Write A Novel In 20 Days (Or Under)

The novel I'm currently submitting to agents (The Dying Process/Confessions of an Immortal Heart) took a total of 6-8 years or so to write, edit, find people to read, to take a break from and live life for awhile, re-read, write an appropriate end. I can't really remember exactly the year I started it (my journal is in my storage unit in Maine), but I know it was in high school.

Some Quick Math:
It took four years to graduate college.
It's been almost a year since I've been out of college.
I did not start that novel my senior year. 
So...I'm gonna say it's anywhere from 6-8 years of progress.

So I've been editing Confessions of an Immortal Heart/The Dying Process like it's my job (which it's not by the way. I have a full time job through Kitty Hawk Kites). While Tammy was finishing up edits/reading for me I myself got sick of it (which happens when you've nearly memorized every line, to the point that someone could say to me "You have a spelling error in this sentence: ' _______'" and I could recite the sentences before/after and go directly to the page to fix said error. Yea, I had been eating and breathing that novel....) So, I decided to wait for Tammy to finish up so I could take some time away then finish up as well.

Moral of the story: I feel like that was WAYYYYY too long to finish (mainly because I kept not having a suitable end, which I do now). Now, I want to kick it up a notch (and actually try something most people have said is crazy, or crazy awesome.)

But then I wondered....what to do with my spare time?

At AWP one of the panelists said "Just keep writing. It's the best thing you can do." So, taking that advice, I started writing something that's been going through my head a lot  (this was last Thursday).

Day 1--I wrote 6 pages before deciding to call it a night.
Day 2--I wrote over 12 pages.
Day 3--Wrote all day where I was able. Stayed up til 2am without tiring. It was this day I decided to set a goal:

Write 10 pages a day/night. 

Why? Because 10 seems like a reasonable number. And because my first novel is 210 pages. And because at a pace of 10 pages a day, I'd end up with a novel by around March 14th (right now I stopped last night at page 81, and will be picking up when I'm done with this blog.) And because I think it'd be cool to say, "I just wrote my second 20 days. Care to read/edit it?" (Okay, sort of kidding. After it's written, I would edit it myself....and then ask for readers :) )

Therefore, it's official. I am trying to write an approximately 200 page novel in 20 days or under. Thankfully, I have two days off a week if I don't meet my goal or if something comes up.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reading Out Loud

I'm an anxious person. I hate talking on the phone, I hate talking in person. I used to have anxiety attacks when I was in high school and had to present anything to the class. 

So what'd I do? I enrolled in a Forensics class (the kind that gets you in front of the class, becoming emotional, writing things, reading things, presenting something each week). Then enrolled in a communications class. I can now combat the urge to vomit, ignore the fact that my heart is beating out of my chest. It makes me feel like superwoman. 
Since that time, I still get anxious when I know I have something to interject to a crowd. But, I still push myself out of my comfort zone because I feel my voice deserves to be heard. 

With attending AWP for the last two years, I've also set the goal of being on a panel at some point. Which means, I'll get to speak to a room full of people. Which means, I'll need to talk clearly, slowly, and intelligently. Why? Because I have things to say, and I would love to discuss the marvels of writing, or the chaos of trying to land an agent, or getting rejection letters and KNOWING that I'd make it through (Oh my Gosh!! It's not the end of the world!).

But I have a problem. 

And that is reading out loud, or even speaking out loud. 

I read too quickly and my mind fumbles around with the words, and I put in words that aren't there. I need to relax, and slow down, and think "They'll still listen to you."

So, because of this, I've been calling my mother and reading her chapters of my new novel. I've been calling my sister during her 20 hour drive and reading selections. I have my not-boyfriend sit beside me and listen to me read. I try to read out loud when I'm alone, (though that's rare now, so I usually find myself reading to my dog, Baxter, who is a lovely listener) because when the moment comes, I want to be able to speak in front of my peers (other writers), and know that I am worth listening to.

So...if you ever get bored and wanna hear a reading...lemme know :)
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