The first of April brings a fresh writing challenge

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Yes, I know it’s April Fool’s Day, but I don’t have any jokes, pranks or hoaxes to offer. My brain has been chugging along at half speed for a whole month. All through March I took part in ‘March Madness’, challenged to set goals for my writing, and work toward achieving them. I plugged away but didn’t succeed, at least not completely.

I set reasonable goals – in fact, they were rather wimpy compared to those of several other participants – but I let myself get sidetracked with a church history project, a recuperating hubby, various family visits, the arrival of Spring, and a week’s focus on Easter. I’m not using them as excuses because I still had hours available for my writing. I’m just sayin’….

Now that April is here I’d like to grab hold of the sense of renewal that has permeated this past week. On the way home from the Easter church service yesterday my hubby stopped the car so I could take photos of the new spring blossoms. They look the same every year, but every year I marvel anew at the emerging beauty. My senses tingle at the annual reappearance of sweet fragrance and delicate colour after months of bland.

Blossoms 1

Blossoms 2

That’s the feeling I want to experience as I pursue my writing activities this month – a swell of optimism that comes with committing to a fresh start. There are no specific goals for this month, no deadlines or must-do’s, but many things I hope to accomplish by diving in with renewed enthusiasm.

What new challenges does this month bring for you? Anything you’d like to commit to here? What’s on your to-do list?

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Publishing Realities

“You’re suggesting I have to do what? You’re kidding, right?”

I know there are a number of people following this blog who are writers aspiring to become published authors. The vision of what that involves isn’t the same for all of us. Some see it as an exciting progression from the initial writing to signing a book contract and enjoying the reward of royalty cheques. Others have been peeking over the cyber-shoulders of those already into the journey, and are learning that the major portion of work begins after a book is written.

“No way! You’ve got that all wrong. Nothing can be more challenging than slogging through the creation of a 100,000-word novel. Once it’s finished, the rest will be easy.”

If that’s what you think, you may be shocked at today’s reality. Agent Rachelle Gardner is currently running a series of blog posts on questions submitted by her readers. Yesterday’s post dealt with “Life as a Published Author,” and she pointed out life will get harder, not easier; you’ll be busier than you ever imagined, and some responsibilities will be daunting. She asks, “Are you ready for the pressure?”

Most debut authors I’ve heard from say they are somewhat overwhelmed – that the edits, deadlines, and marketing, all while writing the next book under a contract schedule, have dumped more stress on them than they anticipated. Balancing the multiple tasks of the writer’s life often leaves little time for anything else, including families and jobs… and yes, they still need those jobs. The financial ‘rewards’ of publication are usually such that maintaining another source of income is a necessity.

No doubt about it. Publication will move our novel writing out of the realm of a pleasant hobby and into a demanding occupation that requires more of us than we may be prepared to give.

“I’m not listening. I don’t want to hear this. Closing my ears. La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.”

Is this the reality that you imagined or do your dreams of being a published author take you somewhere else? If you haven’t read Rachelle’s post, please do, and then return to let me know what your reaction is. The many comments are worth reading, too. There are others wearing the rose coloured glasses that I put up on the shelf some time ago.

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Colossians 3:23

.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us–

yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Psalm 90:17

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Writerly Glimpses

You hear it a lot: “Writing is a solitary experience.” And it is, unless maybe you’re working in collaboration with someone else or are one of those people who like to write amid the hubbub of a nearby Starbuck’s. Most often, however, the words that drop from our fingertips are created within our minds, and are ejected into the quietness of a private writing space.

When I’m asked what it’s like to write a novel I’m hard-pressed to find the words that adequately describe the experience. So when I came across a fellow writer’s blog about watching last month’s television documentary on J. K. Rowling I was impressed by how she expressed her reaction.

 

Famous authors have a celebrity aura and we seldom see beyond their public image.

 “J.K. Rowling let us see her, not only as a multi-published author,” Kristen said, “but as a writer. As a dreamer. As someone that shares my creative heart.”

WritingPlaceI’m not sure why people are so curious about the writing life. There is a mystique surrounding it, as if writers are granted divine revelations and magical abilities not available to non-writers. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe it’s just that writers are more willing to let the world inside their minds, to toss intimate thoughts onto a public plate for consumption. It’s more than writing; it’s willingly splaying the soul regardless of the consequences. Sometimes the effort is invigorating, sometimes it’s painful, but always it’s personal.

For a writer,” Kristen continued, “you can’t get any more personal than the act of writing itself, nor the emotions, thoughts, and desires that swirl through us as we fully engage in the craft. It’s us at our most powerful–and sometimes at our weakest…. It’s euphoria and grief and everything in between. It’s intoxicating. And for the most part, it’s completely private.”

So, how do you feel about giving the world personal glimpses… putting your innermost feelings on a page for all to see?