Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

With all the Best Of 2014 lists circling around right now, I figured I’d be amiss if I didn’t jump on the bandwagon and reflect back on my writing adventures during the last year.

At the beginning of 2014, the RA of our local SCBWI chapter had us write down our goals for the year. My goals were to 1) have a good first page written of my new draft by Feb so I could share it with the group, 2) go to a SCBWI conference in April and complete a second draft by then, and 3) finish a final draft of the manuscript by the end of 2014 so I could start querying.

Reading this now, I see I definitely had some hits and misses. I only finished my second draft six weeks ago and am certainly nowhere near querying.  I did finish my first page in time though. Here’s to small accomplishments! That, in and of itself, was a feat because it was the first time I shared any of my writing with complete strangers. I remember being too terrified to make eye contact with anyone as my page was read and too overwhelmed to remember much of the feedback afterwards. Except that it was positive. Surprisingly positive. And even though I intend on throwing that first page away now, that experience helped propel me into a year that I couldn’t even have dreamed of at the time.

This year I met and talked with many authors, including some I’ve admired and respected for years. I attended two conferences (including the one in April), read my work in front of many more strangers, had conversations with editors and agents, and attended a 5-day writing retreat that I thought would have to stay a dream for many years into my future. I joined the board of our SCBWI chapter, wrote an entirely new, 300 page draft of my manuscript, and met a fellow writer who has quickly become one of my loudest cheerleaders and greatest friends.

I might not have landed an agent yet or even finished the book completely. I don’t have any publishing contracts or advances coming in 2015. But my progress from the beginning of 2014 until now is staggering to me.

 More than anything, what I’ve learned this year is that I love writing—the whole process of it, even the shitty parts—but more importantly, I’ve learned that I need it. In the end, that’s all that really matters. All the rest may come eventually, but for now, I’m just going to remember to be really grateful for the progress I’ve made and look forward to writing this same post a year from now.

I can’t imagine what I’ll be writing about by then, but I can’t wait to find out.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

On our SCBWI exhibit and my love of artwork

In my last post, I said that I was going to try to relax while taking time away from my current project. Well, I clearly did a good job with that because it’s been 3 weeks since I blogged. At least I stick to my word!

No, actually I’ve been crazy busy with a little of everything. I’ve been reading and taking notes on The Plot Whisperer, which has been very helpful. I’ve been reading books. I’m finally reading Gone Girl and finished The Daughter of Smoke and Bone a little bit ago. That’s an amazing book, btw—I can see why I’ve heard so much about it at conferences. I’ve been beta-reading my dear friend’s latest manuscript and have started on a new YA draft of my own. (God, that it a lot. Is this my definition of relaxing?!)

 Plus, I also helped my local SCBWI group with our winter member exhibition. Our writers wrote picture books and jacket copies and then our illustrators were assigned to create art pieces to go along with the text. A friend, Kathryn Powers, created the piece for my MG dragon book idea (that I totally haven’t written yet) and it was SO amazing to see artwork associated with something I had written!
Kathryn's amazing (and hypothetical) cover for my book idea. I think my name looks pretty good on the cover of my book. Right?!

I’m now super envious of picture book authors who can look forward to seeing so much amazing artwork to highlight their text. YA authors very rarely get illustrations (unless you’re doing a graphic novel, I guess). Probably because it’s considered too “babyish,” but man would it be cool to see illustrations of my main characters, climatic scenes, etc. Who knows, the trends are always changing. It’s only a matter of time until illustrations are the new, cool thing in YA and I'm definitely going to jump on that bandwagon. 

Although I know it was a lot of work for all involved, I think the exhibit turned out great. Our pieces will be up until the new year and hundreds (maybe thousands) of people will be passing them as they attend the Christmas shows at Shadowbox Live (a local music & theater group). I was hesitant to be a part of the exhibit this year with everything else going on, but I’m glad I did. It’s nice to see your work finished and displayed every once and awhile—particularly when you’re knee deep in revisions and trying to finish finals week too.

And speaking of revisions, my month away from my manuscript is about to end… 

But I’ll save that discussion for another day.