Friday, September 24, 2010

How do I...?

Time for another installment of "How do I...?" for fellow writers.

My question today deals with stress, exhaustion, and that enemy of us all - TIME!

I find myself with no time to write these days...and I don't mean that I'm procrastinating - I mean I have less than 3 minutes of non-active time between when I get up between 5:30-6 am and when I collapse into bed around 11. I have 3 kids, 1 in school, 1 in preschool, and 1 in diapers, and a part-time job where I work evenings while on mat leave. To make matters more complicated, our house is on the market, so it has to be pristine every single day, and my husband is probably busier than I am.

These, among other less-important-but-still-time-intensive commitments has left me feeling drained and exhausted, and verging on depressed. This isn't unusual for me since all my life I've been a bit of an overachiever and have a tendency to stretch myself just a touch too far.

This is the first time, though, that I've been stretched so far that I hve no time to write, and even if I had the time, I'm too worn out to write complete sentences, much less create believable dialogue and plot. This means that not only am I stressed to the max and unreasonably busy, I can't do the one thing that helps me cope with the stress and busyness.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

It had to happen...

...I got my first rejection today. I was mostly-ok with it, which was a surprise to me considering how much I've been hyping myself up about it.

I thought I'd feel like a "real author", like it was a rite of passage or something. I was even patting myself on the back for the self-command as I pressed the delete button on the email and changed the status from "Queried" to "Rejected" on

Then I thought about writing tonight. I wasn't planning to work on more of my Imaginary Closet stories (one of which was the rejected submission), but I had a good run yesterday on my novel and wanted to give it another full writing session.

I was almost shocked to hear my internal voice moan softly, "What's the point? No one wants what I have to offer."

I'm not big on self-pity, but it's taking a lot of my concentration just trying to block out that voice.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nose to the grindstone...

"Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing..."

I have sent out 10 queries so far, wanting to start slow in order to better deal with rejections. My thinking was that it would be much easier for them to trickle in rather than to face a whole slew of them in one sitting.

My thinking didn't take into account those agents who are simply too busy to send rejections and fall under the "no news is a rejection" category. Once I realized that error, I purposely set out to find agents who not only represent my genre (picture book series) but who are also known for fast replies.

Hoping for a response...any response, I sent out 7 more queries to those agents, but so far, nothing. I find myself checking my gmail account with OCD-like frequency. This has left me in a state of frustrated serenity with numerous half-created haiku floating around in my mind.

I have to redirect and regroup. I need to take a few days away from agent research/query mode and continue writing my paranormal romance, breaking it up with stints of writing more of the picture book series. I love my novel, and I adore my stories. I love the agent/query process. I LOVE the idea of being published. I'm even ok with the idea of being rejected...I think it might make me feel like a "real" author.

I just hate waiting.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fellow frustrated frazzled queriers!!

Do I (or rather does Natalie Fischer) have a contest for you??

Horrendously Hilarious Query Contest

I'm not terribly funny, being more the dry wit type, so I probably won't be entering (although a query based on my lack of humour might be my ticket) but I still can't wait to read all the entries!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometimes a dream is better than reality...

...or maybe I'm just telling myself that since I found a TYPO in the picture book MS that I've already sent out to five-yes-5!!! agents.

It's probably the extreme in wishful thinking, but just for today I want to think that getting published isn't the be all and end all of my ambition, inspiration, and talent. I want to believe that outside recognition won't feel as wonderful as I imagine and that rejection won't hurt as much as I think it will. I want to believe the blog that I read on Query Tracker blog (QT is the best resource if you're querying) that the grass may not be greener on the other side, or if it is, at least there are benefits to NOT being published.

Ah well, I guess this is just part of the learning just SUCKS that I worked so hard on the MS and the query letter only to find I've wasted everyone's time by typing "smel".

I've gotta believe that one "l" will not be the reason that my books never see the light of day!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can it be?

Can I really have spent 3 weeks more or less away from the internet?

I haven't gotten as much writing done as I would have liked either, not having #1k1hr people from Twitter pushing me along (I've missed you girls!), but I'm not that far behind - my notebook hasn't been out of my sight!

Getting the house ready to sell, having the house of my dreams slip through my fingers, steeling myself to view yet another "perfect house", and 2 trips with 3 kids have all left me completely exhausted...and my exhaustion seems to have trumped my motivation for awhile.

It's funny how closely connected my energy level is with my mood. I'm one of those people who is either UP or DOWN in capital letters. I am either conquering the world or burying my face in a pillow.

In other news-that-I-am-adding-in-here-non-chalantly-so-I-don't-freak-myself-out-yet-again, I have sent out my first 2 queries, thinking that I'll wait to get rejections from them before I send out others, getting my feet wet, as it were...

(Or maybe I'll be the one of a million who gets picked up right away? No? Ah well, I wasn't really expecting it anyway.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Taking the plunge...

...deep breath, close your eyes, curl your toes... JUMP!

Every time I realize how close I am to sending out queries for my children's series, I feel like I'm at the edge of a 50-foot diving board, ready to jump, being watched by millions - and I forgot to put on my bathing suit.

I am so proud of my work, and a little bit defensive of it... my characters this time around are inspired by my children and I'm worried that I might not take their rejection very well.

I keep fluctuating between wanting the whole world to read these stories because they're magical and interesting and fun, and not wanting anyone to read them because they are delicate and personal and real.

Nobody told me that this point in the process, when the story is finally written properly, would be as full of conflicting emotion as the writing itself!

So I'll try not to do what I did as a child in my first (and only) diving class...I'll try to actually make that first jump and not stumble back down the ladder and into the dressing room without making eye contact with anyone.

And.... JUMP!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Emotions: Useful, Distracting, or Necessary?

I am sure most of you writer-types out there are emotional. You have to be, to get the myriad emotions of myriad characters to sound remotely believable. I'm wondering if your emotions ever get in the way of your writing?

I'm put in mind of an often quoted theatre saying: "Emotions? I'm an actress - I have ALL OF THEM!"

I had a really crappy day yesterday, but I had time and inspiration to write. This is the first time these three things have happened at the same time. Usually when I write, I'm calm and pretty cheerful. I'm almost always pretty cheerful (calm, not so much), so this was different for me.

I noticed my emotional state before I started, actually tweeted about it, wondering how it would affect my output. I ws a little concerned, thinking that I was so wrapped up in my head that I couldn't get into my MC's shoes.

I was so wrong. The words flowed faster than I could type them...I actually ended up with a few scandalous and hilarious typos by the end of it. I wrote, not releasing the anger as much as using it. I didn't write about what was making me unhappy (my MC's life is nothing like mine) but I wrote about unhappiness, worry, anger, sadness, stress - all of it just came tumbling out far easier than I'd expected. It worked, that was where the story was going. I still wonder, however, how I would have fared had I been expected to write a happy scene of forgiveness and joy.

So I'm wondering, fellow writer-types: do you find your emotions to hamper you as you try to get lost in your character's voice? Or do you thrive in whatever mood you happen to be in when your fingers hit the keyboard?

Do you change what you were writing in accordance with your mood?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Uh oh! (Hahahahaha Part 2)

So I decided to redo the "Who Do I Write Like" analyzer to check my kidlit series, just to see if I write like Stephen King when I'm writing for 4-6 year olds... and...

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I'm really not sure that result is any more hopeful for a children's book than writing like Stephen King!

Friday, July 23, 2010

How do I...?

I've come to the realization that I don't know enough about writing and publishing. I want to learn more, but I want to learn efficiently.

Every week, I will be asking you (yes, you personally) a question related to your journey as a writer, your advice on how to become a better writer, or possibly random non-writing "How do I..." questions.

Basically, I am looking to pick your brain in order to make my job easier. Sound fair? How about if I promise to share everything I learn, so it'll make your job easier too? Ok, let's go!


How do I find a critique group for my WIP? Would you suggest a large online forum or a small informal gathering?

**Caveat: I live far, far away from any cultural center, and as such am looking for/to create an online crit group.**

Thanks in advance!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing as Responsibility

I was thinking yesterday in the shower (don't judge me, I do my best thinking in the shower) how similar the process of writing is to the process of pregnancy and childbirth.

Writers don't just write stories, they conceive them in love, build and shape them in hiding for them for a long time, then when they're ready to stand alone, we share them with the world.

Having gone through the miracle of childbirth three times and birthing a complete novel once (I'm currently gestating my second). I believe there is a sense of responsilibity that comes with the territory.

If you're contracted or published, then the responsibilities are obvious: work with an editor, meet your deadlines, keep up your blog, do signings, market your book properly, be a professional, etc.

If you are like me, you keep having a nearly peripheral dream where you see your name on bookshelves, a dream that disappears if you look at it too hard. However, I still have a responsilibity to my characters, to myself, to my future (gulp!) readers. More important than all of those, I have a very young family, and a very supportive husband. I don't exactly have a responsibility to be successful, but I do have to write the best book I can to acknowledge their sacrifice of time and attention that goes hand-in-hand with large-scale writing projects. If I don't work hard, if I give up, if it's all for nothing, I will have let them down much more than my imaginary characters and imaginary readers.

I had a great night of writing last night, but struggled most of last week. This too is like pregnancy - some days the baby is kicking and you're so excited to see what you're creating, and others you're so tired, sick, and worn out that you're not sure you can make it for one more day.

Like pregnancy, this feeling (at least for me) gets stronger the closer you get to the end of the process.

Just remember, it's worth it.
Remember that not everyone has felt the blessing of an amazing night of writing, nothing can compare to it, except a great ultrasound.
Just remember, writing what you want is a priviledge, writing it diligently the best way you know how is a responsibility.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back up, deep breath, slow down and...

...remember why you're doing this.

After a hard evening of writing and a sleepless night this is what I've come up with.

I'm writing because I love it. I'm writing stories for my 3 kids. I'm writing novels for my characters (yes, they are real people to me, deal with it.) I'm writing because when it's good feels better than taking a hot bath on a cold evening while sipping excellent wine or watching a movie curled up with my husband or even opening my battered copy of "Pride and Prejudice" and entering a world of beauty and grace for the 20000th time.

Sera and Asher's story came to me practically whole, I've only made a few adjustments along the way. 25000 words in, and I can still see their path, I just haven't figured out how to egt them over the hurdles.

I have to decide where to go from here. It's up to me and me alone how the story of writing the story will go. It's up to me to hang onto the joy despite the frustration. It's up to me to make their story as beautiful on the page as it is in my mind. No one can write this for me.

I realize now that it's up to me to decide it's worth writing.
I realize now that it's up to me to decide if I'm worthy of writing it.

So tonight, when the Thing 1 and Thing 2 are in bed and Thing 3 is sleeping in my husband's arms (she's only 3 months old, after all) I will write. I will write what I can, to the best of my ability, and leave my insecurity behind.

Deep breath, slow down, remember why I'm doing this, dive in.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Uh oh!

I think I've written myself into a hole! My novel was coming along so nicely, everthing was flowing, the ideas were meshing into a complete picture, then BAM! I realized that I was leading my MC Sera into a trap - and I have no idea how to get her out!

Authors, has this ever happened to you? And if so, did you back up and start down a brand new path or just keep plugging away until the perfect resolution showed itself?

I can't imagine giving up on where this story has been heading all along and trying to contrive a new direction for it...but I'm stuck!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

I am writing furiously these days, and really enjoying it too. I'm trying to think about my story rather than how my story will look compacted in a query letter; about my characters rather than my lack of an agent. They may come, I may be published. If not, this is still a darn cool story.

Yesterday I wrote about the hierarchy in Heaven and Hell. I wrote about what demons are and how angels and fallen angels communicate with humans. I wrote som epretty good stuff, all of it easy and tight and Real.

Today I'm struggling to get the words out on what should be an easier scene. It's written in my head; I can see it, but I just can't seem to spit out the words. I think it's time to pick up my favorite pen with the squishy thing at the end, put on some Jann Arden, and write in my notebook. I still find it, not easier, but better to write by hand. It's more organic somehow; I feel more connected to the process when it's in my hands and not just on my fingertips.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One of a Million

There's a difference between being one in a million and one of a million. Today, I'm feeling like the latter.

After reading a blog post about feeling like a fraud as a writer (and the fear that everyone else will recognize your lack of talent) and then another about writing buddies and their importance in the process, I feel like I totally missed the boat here. I haven't even taken a creative writing course since my first university degree, for Heaven's sake! Who am I to think that I will write a "readable" book?

Ok, maybe I'm just suffering from the self-doubt that is apparently just part and parcel of being an author. I was actually up last night, (not just because of 3 month old Thing #3) wondering when exactly do I get to call myself an author, and not just a writer? Is it when I have an agent, a contract, a book in print? Is it when I have a finished product, a totally revised manuscript ready for queries?

I'm sure it cannot be now, as I create, destroy, and recreate daily in order to make something Real out of my imagination.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Writing

I'm writing every night now, which I have decided is good for my neuroses as well as my intellect. I'm writing a paranormal-romance-escatological-epic story that will probably have a sequel or two. I'm totally in love with the characters, and find writing so much easier this time around.

I wonder why that is, whether it's that the story is so much tighter, that the plot is exciting to me, that it's not so damned self-involved. I'm hoping that it marks a new stage in my evolution as an author - that I'm actually enjoying every aspect of this process, while still totally intimidated by it.

I'm also writing a series of children's books, based loosely around my own children and spurred on greatly by their imaginations. So far, I have written one and sketched out another. I wonder, though, if it's more difficult to get childrens' book published, especially if they aren't illustrated...and no one wants to see me try to illustrate the darned things.

I think I might have found what this blog is for - to chronicle the hardships and joys as I try yet again to reinvent myself as an author. I want this as badly as I wanted to be a teacher, nearly as much as I wanted children.

God willing, I will be successful at all three for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot hot heat

I'm not normally one to comment digitally on the weather, the sports I watch (Go Spain!!) or the minutae of my little life, but HOLY SPAMOLI it's hot out. Like Middle East hot. I, with my young-uns, am holed up in my comparatively cool basement hoping to avoid heat stroke.

I have noticed a few things about the heat.

#1. Children's moods spiral downward as the thermometer spirals upward.

#2. It is difficult to be elegant when covered with multiple layers of sweat.

#3. It is possible for a co-sleeping mother of a 2 month old to get less sleep than in cooler weather. I know, the mind boggles.

#4. Popsicles/juiceicles/ice cubes/freezing cold drinks cease to provide relief once the mercury rises past 29 degrees C.

Off I go to melt a bit more. Perhaps I'll melt off a pound or two...wishful thinking!

Friday, July 2, 2010


So I'm not very happy with the layout of this blog...and I'm finding it more difficult than I had expected to fill it.

I guess I'm trying to figure out the persona that I want to send out into cyberspace to live, potentially forever.

I've started a new novel, without finishing the rewrite of my last. Slacker. I know. But this new story is so much bigger, so much BETTER. I know what I'm doing a little bit more this time around. It's less about finishing A novel than telling THIS story.

So there's the reason that this blog is already failing to be a part of my life, a place to put my thoughts. That, and my kids' entertainment/socialization/training to be humans is taking up most of my time.

My main character, Sera, is living the life I would have loved, but I'm figuring out that the life I would have loved would have been much more difficult than I had thought. It's funny, I can't even live vicariously in a perfected manner. I'm such a stressball...

Well, back to real life for me. Uploading pictures so distant relatives can watch my growing brood; folding laundry so my children aren't so rumpled all the time; making supper so they can grow to become stronger than me. At least I get to go to the Church this evening to try to find some reality in this life.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Holy Crap!!

I'm finished the first draft of my novel! Finally! Writing at a rate of 6 pages an hour, I finished the ending that I've been putting off for so long.

I cried when I reread what I'd written a year ago. It's good. Really good. At least I think it is. Maybe? Maybe not...but at least it's finished, right? That counts for something...

(Apparently reaching this pinnacle doesn't automatically come with brand new self-assurance.)

Right now, I don't even care what anyone else thinks. I just can't believe I'm FINISHED!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I finally get to be a rebel!
After all the teenage years of wishing I was truly "alternative", I somehow fell into an alternative lifestyle without even noticing: Catholicism.

Now that we've eliminated every taboo around sex, gender, violence, and politics - religion is our generation's firestarter.

I honestly hadn't noticed this trend when I was an ultracool atheist... I was too busy looking down my nose at my mother ("Look at her, all enveloped in peace and contentment, a slave to a fairytale...") and others of her ilk.

Until I decided to come our of the closet, rosary and Bible in hand, I thought it was "all in good fun". Once I self-identified as Christian (and even worse, as Catholic), I felt a sense of being watched, judged, wondering what people were thinking of my Facebook interests and religious status.

At least I finally fit in somewhere, and it's just what I wanted when I was a kid - to fit in with a passionate group of misfits. Seems like a good plot for a movie script, no?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finding Satisfaction

I look around my messy livingroom filled with kids' toys, blankets, and children. I think for a moment "How lucky I am". I do this hundreds of times a day. I am lucky. I am extremely happy and satisfied with my life.

What if I wasn't?

What if I hit a mental satisfaction plateau? What if I found my husband, my children, my job, my life to be less than I want, even if it's everything I need?

I think this sense of need to be completely satisfied every minute of every day is what causes most of the misery in my generation - those of us who live in North America, at least.

We see divorce, abortion, financial instability as necessary, because we feel like we DESERVE to be totally happy in all areas of our lives all the time. Nothing is worth living through, nothing is worth fighting for. Nothing is worth anything, except our own happiness. If you don't feel absolutely fulfilled in your marriage, get a divorce. If a child would be inconvenient, abort. If you aren't totally content and appreciated in your job, quit.

It's "the grass is always greener" taken to its final extreme where we are persuaded to chase dreams rather than to live reality.

And it's causing more pain, more depression, and more horror in more lives than any of us would like to admit.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Posting for the sake of posting...or something like that.

So the purpose of this post is to move the last post down on my screen. Weird, I know, but every time I've gone to my blog to see the title "Randomly depressing thought" as the title of the last post, I get squirmy and feel like a whiny teenager.

I'm going to be 30 in a few months. Time to lock up my more juvenile thought patterns, no?

My brain is percolating lots of thought fragments at the moment, none of them finished enough to actually put on paper.

Thanks to a friend I might try writing for awhile tonight, after my husband is home and my 3 little darlings are asleep...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Random depressing thought...

Why is it that someone who is fairly intelligent and cognizant of the effects of the media on her perception of her physical self is still susceptible to it? Why, even though I know it's not healthy, not real, and an artificial part of my psyche am I so driven to attain the level of perfection levelled at me by the cold uncaring body we label as "media"?

Most importantly, how do I make it stop?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just so you know what you're getting into...

I thought I should take just a minute to introduce a part of the mind you've stumbled onto - thereby giving you the chance to move it along, introduce yourself, or pick a fight (that last won't work, BTW, but you might make me cry.)

On my FB profile, I have my political leanings listed as: Socialist-Liberal-ProLife-Conservative...Welcome to Heatherland! I can't simply label myself as any of those things, since I've taken parts of them all and mishmashed them together to create (for me) the perfect mix of humanism, fiscal responsibility, and realism.

That being said, there's not a darned thing in the prolife movement that I don't stand behind. It's really my one political sticking point which, as a Canadian, might make it impossible for me to vote for any party (whenever an election rolls around...) for the first time since I've been 18.

I'm also a feminist, I suppose, but I am also a "masculinist" - I think men should be allowed to be as "manly" as they wish, and women by now should have earned the right to be whatever they darn well please. That for me is to be a SAHM while my husband goes out and earns the dough to feed our kids. When I have to return to work after my mat leave expires (deep breath, it's not for nearly a year, I'll survive, I'll survive...) it's to a job that is traditionally female, nurturing, child-based...yup I'm a teacher - hoping to get a contract as an early elementary teacher, no less.

No business school for me. I dislike money, and really really hate capitalism and consumerism. No big bucks, no fancy car. I get by on handmade (and misspelled) thank you cards, and plenty of drawings of me and a student holding hands and smiling.

I also like having summers off, it's true. I spend a large chunk of them tutoring struggling children and adults who are trying to get their GED to have a better life.

I'm Catholic too. Rather newly converted to the Church of my childhood, but that's another story.

You still here? Haven't run screaming, haven't written 2 or 3 nasty comments on my faith, my politics, my inherent belief in life over all? Thanks for depositing a few cents in my bank of human goodness. If, after all there is anyone even reading this...

I have ideas on blogging as a diary versus blogging as a valuable addition to the wealth of knowledge to be found on the internet. Not sure what this blog is shaping up to be just yet. I'll keep you (me?) posted.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why am I doing this? No...seriously.

I should probably explain why I'm taking up valuable (??) web-space to unload my penny-value thoughts.

I want to be a novelist. In fact, I'm nearly done my first novel. I've been nearly done my first novel for almost a year. I cannot seem to bring myself to finish it. Perhaps I'm trying to prolong the process, perhaps I'm scared that when it's done it will have to be read, which in my mind equals judged. Perhaps I don't think it's any good and I'm trying to avoid wasting any more time on it. Perhaps I'm flighty.

I'm not sure, but it's probably a mix of all of those.

So here I am, at my husband's computer, listening to MarioKart for Wii, watching my 3 week old daughter nap soundly on the nursing pillow on my lap.

I think blogging might be fun, in a sort of reverse-voyeristic-diary of meaninglessness way.