Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Writing Life, Simplified

I realized yesterday that I started writing almost exactly 4 years ago.

I thought about those years and decided it might be fun to break them down.

So here's my life (in mostly chronological order):

Year One:

-Wrote really crappy stuff
-Let family and friends read some of it (much to my embarrassment)
-Learned a lot

Year Two:

-Finished first book
-Sent 2 queries
-Realized it was awful and put it away
(hopefully forever--no one should ever have to read that book!)
-Finished second book
-Queried agents
-Had some requests and a few invitations to rewrite
-Met writing group

Year Three:

-Signed with lovely agent
-Began blogging
-Revised more
-Started several new books
-Started tweeting
-Went to my first writing conference with my writing group girls
-Met many writers online and in real life

Year Four:

-Had horrific pregnancy
-Had sick baby
-Finished first draft of third book
-Shelved third book
-Wrote first draft of fourth book
-Went to second writing conference and met my agent
(who is even more lovely in person)
-Let fourth book simmer while working on fifth book
-Made plans to finish fourth and/or fifth book before 2012

And that's where I'm at.

I think if someone told me when I started writing my first book that I'd have to write at least four more before I saw one published I would have been discouraged.

But, looking back, I'm not discouraged at all. It's been a wonderful four years. I've learned a lot and plan to learn a lot more over the next four. And, you know, hopefully sell something someday.

How long have you been writing? How have those years shaped your perception of writing and publishing?

Sunday, August 21, 2011


A few weeks ago I was talking to my cousin at my grandmother's funeral.

He asked me about my writing and I told him a little about the book I wrote and the ones I'm working on now. He said something to the effect of, "I'm so impressed that you can do that and raise 4 kids."

It was a sweet thing to say, and I could tell he meant it. I should have just said thank you, but I've always had trouble taking compliments, so instead I said, "Well, I don't do very well at other things. My house is always a mess."

Then he said something that really made an impact on me. I can't remember his exact words, but they were something like, "We should feel sorry for people with little children and immaculate houses. They miss out on a lot."

I liked that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I'm going to admit two things:

1. This year, and probably last year too, I've been a really crappy writer. I haven't written regularly at all. I've started 3 manuscripts and finished 0. I've had a few spurts of productive writing time, but mostly my focus has been on other things.

2. I don't feel bad about it.

I had a reflective moment the other day as I looked back over the year and some of the struggles we've been through, and overall I feel really good about where I've put my focus. My family needed me and I was there for them.

Sometimes I feel like a lazy bum when I see how much writing some of my friends do. Several of them have written three books in the time it's taken me to write half of one. I have to remind myself that this is not a race.

Writing is important to me, but it's nowhere near family on my list of priorities. I know the day will come when my babies will be all grown up, and I don't want to look back at my life and feel like I wasn't able to enjoy their childhoods because I was so wrapped up in my own pursuits.

Still, I don't think it's impossible to be a good mom and a good writer, (plenty of people do it!), and a shift in our schedule should make it a little easier to get some quiet time. On Monday two of my four kids will be headed back to school. My preschooler will start school the next week. They'll be filling their little brains with knowledge, baby will be napping, and I'll be writing up a storm. Hopefully.

Do your priorities sometimes push your writing to the backseat?

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Life

My 91-year-old grandmother passed away last week. She lived a long and remarkable life, and she will be very missed.

She raised six children in a two room log cabin without indoor plumbing. They were poor. My dad tells stories of Christmases when the only gift for the kids was a bit of hard candy.

All of Grandma's kids learned to work hard, and as a result all six children graduated from college.

It's impossible to think about Grandma's life and not feel a little ungrateful. We have so much, and can't imagine life without television or Internet, much less flushing toilets or air conditioning.

I am grateful for Grandma and all the people who've gone before us to make this world what it is. It's not perfect, but darn it, at least we can pee inside.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Writing Bug is Contagious

Yesterday morning my eighty-seven-year-old grandpa called me to tell me he'd written a story.

My older brother is half-way through his first novel.

My younger brother started writing his book too.

My seven-year-old daughter carries a notebook around with her and is constantly writing things down. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, just like her mom.

The stories they write make me happy, and I wonder if they'd all be writing now if I hadn't tried it first. I'm glad I did.

Do you have friends or family who have caught the writing bug?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just Write Something

Sometimes I get busy.

When this happens I'm often frustrated that I don't have enough time in my day to write a respectable 2-4 pages, so I don't write anything.

That's dumb.

I should just write a page, or a paragraph, or a sentence, because writing something is better than writing nothing.

This month will be crazy with family visits, back-to-school stuff, birthday parties, and appointments, but I WILL write something every day.

Do you have days when you don't write anything? Do you want to join me in August and write something every day?