Sparks. I had expected to be done in June, but it took almost five months more than I planned. Clearly, my estimator is broken. Still, I'm thrilled. Last year this time, the novel I planned to build from the first draft I'd called Sunrise on the Pier didn't even have a name. I had only spent a little over a month working my way through notes from an extremely thorough editorial critique, which by the way, blew the entire budget I had set aside for editorial services and conferences. For me, it was well worth it, because I obviously needed the help. It's not that the critique itself was a magic bullet - I worked very hard to both learn and benefit from it. From November through March, I used the notes as I developed my outline and scene table. Scene table? Before I started working through the notes, I hadn't known that I wanted one. From April through November, I used the outline and table for a scene by scene construction of Sparks. Why? Working that way just felt natural to me. Along the way, I wrote weekly blog posts about process and craft that I will always use. For me, 2011 was a year of excruciatingly hard work, but I loved every moment. Whatever the outcome, I am now an author.
Unnamed new novel. I had started it in October 2010, and then put it aside for Sparks. This past November I came back to it, and instead of going full bore through a first draft, I now prefer to work with my outline and scene table as writing prompts for the scenes. Getting started with this new story is a bit rocky because I'm trying to figure out how to structure it; spiraling among the various short narratives, the outline and the scene table. It's like working through a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Every time through, I'm bringing more order to the chaos. Though playing with my puzzle, I still write each day, I'm just not making a cohesive story at this point. I write whatever I choose, and if it fits, I'll use it. If not, it still breathes life into the characters and the story, and provides fodder for my blog posts.
Confidence: This is the accomplishment that I most value. I now know that I'm able to write more than the one book. After invaluable input and advice from a range of professionals and friends, the responsibility for the words on the page lies only with me. I'm the one who decides how to receive and use criticism to improve my writing. Much of it I deem valid and learn from it; some of it I toss to the side. The business of authoring and publishing is as harsh as any other. On occasion, words are meant to hurt and debilitate rather than instruct. I celebrate that I've come to understand that. It's not a matter of having thin or thick skin, it's simply the ability to recognize which comments and criticism have substance and/or are relevant to my writing. The pen finally feels at home in my hand.
Patience. Failure is a hell of a teacher. As I have come to accept, so is patience. An added bonus? It doesn't have failure's public humiliation factor. :-D I badly want Sparks to be published. On the other hand, I want to give it the best opportunity to attract the most readers. So I'm not going to rush it. Will it be traditional or indie? We shall see. The task I've set myself for this year is to learn how to publish. A WHOLE YEAR? Yes - that's where patience comes in. I'm still new to this business and for me, learning to publish is at least as important as learning to write.
Next year this time, I hope to be able to share the publishing date for Sparks, and that being an author is my only profession. Wish me luck - and best of luck to all of you in all of your writing and publishing endeavors!
I have a great feeling about 2012...