Recently, a new reader asked me about the writing project I keep referring to on this blog. Here goes.
First, some background. I have always loved writing; if I hadn't been a music major, I probably would have been an English major. Until recently, most of my writing has been nonfiction: papers for school, pieces about education for home schooling publications, articles about teaching piano for my studio newsletter and website. I have been told that my style is clear and concise, and I am totally comfortable with the mechanics of writing: grammar, capitalization and punctuation.
About ten years ago, I started talking about writing a novel - based loosely on my experiences, but not a memoir; after all, the guilty must be protected. The next thing I knew, I was face to face with my 50th birthday. And I realized it was time to take some action.
It is one thing to TALK about writing a book; it is quite another thing to actually WRITE one. I decided to try an online fiction writing class and start with the basics. When it was over, I signed up for an novel writing class, and actually began working on my manuscript. A couple of weeks ago, I finished the "advanced" novel writing class; at this point, I am about halfway through with my story.
I love the process, although it is MUCH HARDER than I ever imagined. I have been an avid reader since I was very young, so I assumed writing a book meant starting at point A and going to point Z. NOT! There is so much to think about: setting, character, plot, point of view, dialogue and scene. Finding my "voice." "Show, don't tell." Figuring out whether I am a "plotter" (one who writes with a carefully devised plan) or a "pantser" (one who flies by the seat of her pants). I did have a rough outline in the beginning, but I have changed my mind about many details - including the opening scene and the name of one of my main characters - as I have gone along.
I try to write consistently; my daily goal is 1000 words, which takes me about two hours. Although I'm not always successful, even a couple hundred words moves me in the right direction. I also joined a writer's group, Georgia Romance Writers, the local chapter of Romance Writers of America. RWA membership is open to all authors pursuing a romance fiction writing career. According to the RWA website, "two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending." My book, which is women's fiction, definitely satisfies those criteria, as do books of many other subgenres: mystery, suspense, inspirational, paranormal, historical.
Finally, thanks to published author Sandra Elzie, who critiqued the first 25 pages of my manuscript in a GRW workshop last Saturday, I know EXACTLY where my story is going to begin and have a much clearer picture of where I am headed. My goal is to complete the first draft of the book by the end of April. Then I will go back to the beginning and revise and revise with the goal of having the book ready to submit for publication by fall.
I realize the odds of actually being published are small. That is okay with me. Even though one of the items on my Amazing Life List is "become a New York Times bestselling author," what I want most is to write a book that I truly feel proud of. After that, whatever happens happens.
I am hoping that what I lack in talent, I will make up for in determination. Thanks to all of you who are sharing the ups and downs of this journey with me.