Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Am I a Writer?

I worried some after this last rejection—maybe I shouldn’t write. Maybe writing isn’t a talent that Heavenly Father wants me to develop. Maybe I’m kidding myself, and no one will ever want to read the dribble that I write. What’s the point?

Considering my state of mind, the ANWA (American Night Writer’s Association) retreat couldn’t have come at a better time. I had paid my fee and reserved a bed back when I’d thought of myself as a writer. And, since the rejection came long after retreat refunds were being offered, I decided to go.

So, after coming home from vacation and then spending the following weeks preparing to move, and after having spent the two days prior to the retreat actually moving to a new town and a new house—and setting up that house quickly so that it could be functional to its occupants while I was away—I left for Clay Springs.

I felt like a fraud.

The drive there was a pleasant one though, thanks to the company of author Joyce DiPastena. We arrived at the cabin two hours later; I found my assigned room and promptly fell asleep on the assigned bed. When I woke up, I felt much better and ready to face my writing again. I could fake my way through the retreat. No one needed to know that I wasn't a real writer.

However, during the retreat I fell in love with my characters again and marveled at their courage. I discovered, once more, the joy of helping them tell their story and helping them figure out their lives. Will anyone ever read my books in print? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve got to at least try.

How could I not be an author when I enjoy writing novels so much?

After being re-inspired by the retreat classes on making time to write; giving better details and description; convincing my “inner writing team” that I can be successful; starting each chapter with a hook and ending with a cliff hanger; and the importance of conflict in our stories—I have emerged.

Hello. My name is Tina Scott, and I am an unpublished author.

Although I thought my manuscript was near perfect, I decided to take a closer look. I had long ago passed the point where I could stomach reading the manuscript as a whole. It sounded like this when I read: "blah, blah, blah." I’d skim over large sections hoping this would be the last time I’d ever have to read it. Maybe first time readers had the same reaction.

Then I remembered one critiquer saying, “I fell in love with your story after Catherine boarded the ship.” I needed to coax the first part of the story into being something more. Something interesting. Readers need to care about my MC and her journey long before chapter 10.

It’s with that in mind that I’ve taken (another) fresh and more focused look at my story. Does each chapter have a cliff hanger—does each chapter start in an interesting way—can I engage my MC in dialogue where there’s only narration—and can I make the narrative scenes more lively and interesting?

I’ve already sent out my revised chapters 1-3 to another prospective publisher (YIKES!). I hope they’re good enough to warrant a look at the rest of the novel because I’ve been chiseling away at its rough, grey exterior and have found that my story is coming to life in ways I’d never considered before.

I will survive. (I hope)


Valerie Ipson said...

Remember, you're PRE-published! You're a great example to me of sticking to it, Tina! Can't wait to hear more of your revised story at our chapter meetings.

Joyce DiPastena said...

I was about to type the same thing as Valerie. You're not "unpublished", you're PRE-published! I didn't know you were feeling that bad on the way to the retreat. I was feeling pretty horrible about my writing when we left, too, and would happily have stayed home cowering away from the world if you hadn't dragged me to the retreat. Just kidding! But at that point, I really did only go because I didn't want you to have to drive up alone. And because I knew I'd enjoy being with you, even if I was miserable once I got to the retreat. But like you, instead of being miserable, I rediscovered hope for my WIP and had a WONDERFUL time! ANWA truly is wonderful! And so are you, Tina!!! And we're both going to get these stories of ours figured out yet. :-)

Cathy Witbeck said...

You are not only a writer, you are an artist. Just look at your paintings. You are an artistic soul. You have so much stinkin' talent. Keep writing and keep painting. You have so much to share.

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

Thank you all for your encouragement. It means a lot.

Jennifer Griffith said...

Wait a minute, Tina. I happen to own not ONE but TWO of your books. They are delightful. Self-published is still PUBLISHED. I think you need to grab a copy of Coyote and clutch it and sniff it and remind yourself you sold many copies of it to people who WANTED to buy it. :) And I loved the retreat too. Wasn't it just the best????

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

I love children's books. If I had my way, I'd publish a bunch of them. But no, since I only print up a small amount, and only sell them to people I know--I don't consider that published. I'm glad you like Coyote, he's my favorite so far.