Thursday, February 7, 2008

Working my way through the agonizing submission process

Most of the time, I consider myself a fairly motivated person. When I want something done, I do it. If I want to lose weight, I do it (although, I really have to want too). If something isn't making me happy, I change it. You get the idea.
Writing shouldn't be any different. And for a while it wasn't. When I decided to write a novel, I did. When it came time to revise , I signed up for classes, retreats and workshops and revised. I loved critiques and valued the imput. But now that I have a completed novel, I'm lost.
I've dabbled with a few agent requests, mailed off a partial to maybe one editor and participated in SCBWI contests (received an HM in one, which was a HUGE thrill). All good things, but something is holding me back. It's so hard to take the next step.
So, in honor of my go-getter attitude, I've compiled a list of what motivates me.
  1. Reading the Verla Kay message boards (Good News! posts only, otherwise I get bogged down with doubt).

  2. Reading any book on writing. They always make it sounds so easy. My favorites: On Writing by Stephen King, Writing the Breakout Novel (workbook) by Donald Maass, Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb, and Story by Robert McKee.
  3. Reading about the recent sales of middle grade and young adult novels (J.E. Who me? does a monthly compilation in her Livejournal blog). There is nothing that gets me fired up more than learning who has sold a novel.
  4. Staring at my visual boards and browsing through my notebooks. I create visual for my stories and although the purpose is to aid in my writing, they also inspire me. Puts me straight into my character's head. Here is the link to my previous post on how to make one for your story.

  5. Critique groups. I love critiques, especially when an idea is presented and I immediatly see how I can incorporate it into the novel. I try most everything I understand. The ones I don't understand requires a great deal of thought, research, reading and analysis. Usually in the end, I get it and my story is better for it. My current critique group has been dormant the last few months. Maybe that's one of my problems...I need my critique group! Val? Laura? Maggie? Where are you?

  6. Reading blogs about other writers in the same boat. My favorites are listed on the side panel. We all struggle with something. My writing pal, Maggie struggles with plot. I struggle with creating emotional depth in my characters. Others struggle with word count...just getting the damn story down. Some writers I know struggle with revisions and not wanting to do them. We all have something and there is comfort in that.

  7. Reading great books. I'm reading Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale right now. I love it and I'm only on the third chapter. Reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was literally a treat. Seriously, as good as a huge bowl of french vanilla ice cream with home-made hot fudge sauce.

  8. Oprah. I love the features of living your best life. I watch her while making dinner for my family. I was so motivated by her recent Best Life Challenge that I, of course, took it. I logged on to Bob Greene's Bestlife website and committed $60 to the pursuit of living my best life. Sure, I had a few pounds to lose but more importantly my goal was to increase my physical fitness and reduce my dependancy on ice cream and chips. As a writer, my free time is spent sitting down. I have been using that excuse not to exercise. Bestlife encourages me to exercise even when I don't think I have the time. It's fanatastic and I've steadily lost weight, been eating very well and really do have more energy. That's how I got up a 5am to write in this blog.

There you have my list of all-time goal boosters. Things that focus me. Inspire me. Will help me get my manuscruipt out....scary.

On the flip side, however, there is only one thing that is a complete downer for me. One measly question. So, how's your book coming?

What motivates you? Or not?


  1. Dear Patty--love this post. If I were writing it I'd add another item to the list of motivations--you! Anytime you are in serious need of a critique I am just an email/phone call/Starbucks visit away.

    Thanks for your posts on my blog--I appreciate your thoughtful responses. I have to say that the writing everyday has made a big difference. I like writing my "mini-essays." Wondering how to incorporate the ease of this type of writing in my fiction. Maybe it's just easier because it is focusing on the "little picture." Maybe characters writing journal entries would be an approach.

    I am proud of you for jumping on the submission wagon. Have you followed up on any Big Sur contacts yet? I know someone out there is waiitng for GGs! I am.

    Taking a "personal" day today. Already did blood tests and I'm throwing in a pedicure, and a walk for good measure. Then, on to writing. Didn't do a 4:30 a.m. entry today...I may actually have been asleep at that time for a change.


  2. Good for you for taking a personal day. I know I love my thursdays. Although it tends to be my most swamped day. Laundry. Graoceries. Writing. Bills. Exercise. Sometimes I'd rather be at work.
    Oh well...all good.

  3. This is a great post. I have 3 manuscripts in different stages of progress. And while I can't wait to get the manuscripts out, it is scary.

    Congrats on your honorable mention! And a completed manuscript! And sending it out!

    You're on your way. Good luck!

  4. Thanks, Vivian! To add to my motivation, I bought "A New Earth" Oprah's latest pick. Maybe a bit to out there for me, but I'll keep reading.
    Oh, and I sent out to queries today. Yikes.

  5. Patty!

    Sign me up gal! I'm so there for critiques on anything you have. I really value your critiques too. You are very insightful. Would love you guys to come up to Big Sur too, for a little retreat.

    Your inspirations are great. I loved reading them. I so agree. I re-read the books on writing that I love to keep me inspired. And your word count goals are great too. Keep up the great work. And I totally agree with Maggie. Top on my list of inspiration is YOU. You are so much fun and so dedicated. It's only a matter of time my dear! *hugs*


  6. OOOO! I have one more thing to add about inspirations. I LOVE to go to the library to do research on my books and while I'm there I just scan everything on the shelf that I love and anything that I might be interested at the time. The library kind of feeds my imagination. And the best part is I get all the books I want for a WHOLE month!

  7. So true...the library! Don't you love the smell of books? I used to practically live at the library when the kids were little. Big Sur sounds amazing. I would love to come to see you. I'll keep in touch!

  8. Patty,
    I couldn't find an e-mail address for you...I was curious whether you were still looking for a critique group. e-mail me when you have a chance. Thanks!


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