Monday, October 31, 2016

The I-Don't-Suck-As-A-Writer Moment

1. when writers read what they've written & don't die of shame.

I certainly hit the I-hate-my-manuscript phase with Becoming Beauty. So, I was surprised to reread my last version of Book Two and find it readable! That's encouraging! It's nice to know that even if there are issues, most of the large ones are resolved. Also, it's nice to know that I do not indeed suck as a writer!

When I get down, I try to remind myself of my experience with Becoming Beauty. Several unexpected things happened (even when I suspected I actually sucked as a writer).

Someone will quote you. It may sound dumb, but readers will have a favorite part of your book and they'll quote it online, on their blog, in a review. It may not be something you consider ultimately quotable, but yes, it will make you smile every time it happens

Someone will love your book. (And it won't just be your mother!) Complete strangers will give you 5 star reviews and sing the praises of your book. It seems weird before it happens and it seems weird when it happens, but it will happen. (Seriously. Lots of people loved Twilight!)

Someone will be impressed by the quality of your writing. Readers and reviewers will comment on themes and patterns in your writing you didn't put there intentionally. Who knows how it happens, but it does. (And it's awesome.)

Someone will find meaning in your book that will change the way they think. Be honest, special books have touched you, haven't they? And they affect how you view the world, write, and approach other books. Even if it's only in subtle ways. Trust me, it will happen with your books too.

Someone will utterly fall in love with your characters. (Okay...other than you.) Readers may threaten your life if so-and-so doesn't have a happy ending or events don't turn out as they expected. That's because they become invested in characters you created. We count that as a success!

I'm not brave enough to say that you'll be someone's favorite author. (Just writing that makes me want to cross my fingers, eyes, toes, and knock on wood at the same time!) But why couldn't it happen? Your favorite author was once just a writer who wasn't sure they didn't suck either. Someday, that could be you.

So  go ahead.
Embrace your awesomeness.
Admit that you're a writer. 
And quit thinking you suck.
* * *
Author's note: It's possible I've just penned this post so I will be brave enough to publish another book. But I love being your cheerleader as well! I'd love to hear how you survive the Writer Suck moments in your life. Or if you're still wallowing in one. 

Let's chat! Leave me a comment!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Inbetween Land

All writers inhabit the Inbetween Land at some point. Wedged between first drafts and last drafts, finished manuscripts and fresh plots, beta readers and editors. It's a truly bewildering place.

It kind of feels like this...
Alice in Wonderland, 2010
And take it from me, it takes careful maneuvering to escape it.

Develop a Game Plan:
Writers have to learn how to use their time wisely. As a part-time writer, I split my time and energy between teaching and writing. The challenge is creating a schedule that works. 

This fall that means getting the school year underway and setting a date to publish Book Two. Then, between now and then, I need to set up a Blog Tour, put the finishing touches on the cover, and plan how and when to format the manuscript. You know, after I finish editing everything up. 

I've had several conversations like this lately:

He's so fluffy, I could die!
Alice in Wonderland, 2010
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Learn Who To Trust:
Experts materialize when anyone lays claim to the title of Writer. Marketers, editors, proofreaders, social media specialists, etc. are dying to give you their pitch and take your money. That's why it's crucial that writers learn to trust their own voice. We're responsible for researching things properly and cleaning up timelines, grammar, and character quirkiness. 

People in positions of power may be professionals,
but they may also be professionally bonkers.
Alice in Wonderland, 2010
Our expertise will be called into question. When that happens, we must carefully consider the counsel given as well as the source, especially if it comes from someone who is strong in areas where we are weak. We aren't infallible, but neither are our editors and readers. We must trust our hearts and swallow our egos. We must keep our minds open but pay attention to our own intuition. 

Get to Work:
Unlike the noble turtle who leaves her eggs in the sand and trots back to her day job, we can't abandon our manuscripts to nature and expect them to thrive. And unless you're rolling in money, the lion's share of the work will fall to you. Just like I have, you're bound to make mistakes, but you're bound to have fun as well. As frustrating as it may be, being a published author is awesome.

So pitch in! Do all you're able to do and then call in as many favors as you can. Among all those experts who emerge from the depths when they smell fresh writer blood are those who care more about helping other writers than they do about draining your bank account. They don't mind giving free advice, sending you in the right direction, or swapping favors.

That one time I dressed up as Alice...
Halloween 2015
So my dears, now that I've got my game plan, know who I can lean on, and know what's ahead, I'd better stop playing dress up and get working! Wish me luck!

And please, share your tips and horror stories about the dreaded Inbetween Land in the comments!

Monday, October 3, 2016

My Inner Beauty

Sarah E. Boucher:
 Adorable Author, Awesome Educator
I've always been a plumpy girl. Curvaceous. Zaftig. Full-figured. Whatever you'd like to call it.

Except Big Boned. Referring to the author as Big Boned will result in a beating. Or a timeout.

This summer, at the height of my squishiness, I hit my 40th birthday. The word hit is strategically selected. In July, one might say a Titanic's worth of emotions collided with an iceberg of drama which spewed over into the sea of my soul. Thoughts of what I've done with my life and who I've become have plagued me all year.

My inner dialogue went something like this:

The critic: 
Fourty. FOUR-TY. Sheesh, that seems old. And still single eh? That's not at all depressing, is it?

The optimist:
Whatever. I've done AMAZING things in my singleton years. And I'm not miserable. I've been a teacher for the better part of 15 years, which means hundreds of kids have been mothered and loved and disciplined, and taught cool stuff like Rhombus and Arachnid. I did that. Also, I write good books man.

The critic: 
Well that's true. So, basically, I'm awesome, right?

The optimist: 

How did I get from squishy to awesome? I changed the label I was living under, something I learned from a cranky kindergartner.

See, I carried the title of Mean Teacher for a year before I realized I'd allowed a cranky kindergartner to determine how I felt about myself  as a human. One day I realized that the only one still referring to me as Mean Teacher was me. So, I began looking myself in the mirror and calling myself Awesome. It took longer than accepting the negative label, but it stuck. 

Somewhere along the way, I began to see my own Beauty. I started using words like cute, pretty, and adorable to describe myself. Occasionally my inner critic has a thing to say about that. But I just tell it to shut up and focus on not poking myself in the eye with the eyeliner. Because really, how can a woman with red hair and dimples not be adorable? 

Every girl wants to be the hero of her own story. The Beauty to her Beast. The leading lady in her own romantic comedy. Good stories hinge on a character's journey. That's my story so far. I feel like Belle stepping into that amazing library for the first time. There's still so much to see and do. So many more stories left to discover.

I want to build a blanket fort there! Who's with me?
Learn more on the Disney Wiki

I encourage you, my dear friends, to discover your Inner Awesome. It's not ego and entitlement, but that spark of amazing we all carry within us that drives us to work harder and become better.

And if you need a bit more empowerment, allow me to help you out:
The Making of a Woman
Sassy Pants: Be Your Own Wonder Woman
Plot Twist: Learning to Laugh at Yourself

Thanks for dropping by! I'd love to hear about your journeys! Leave me a comment!