Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on the Dream

So, I had quite a few comments and emails in response to my last post. I'm so sorry to have let so many people down. I realize that I will probably never totally stop writing. I hope you all know that. I've been writing since I was a little girl, so even if I wanted to, I don't know how not to write. I say I'm not a writer, but the truth is that even when I'm driving down the street, my mind is constantly going.

I guess the reality is that when I said I'm no longer a writer, I really mean I am consciously making an effort to write under the radar. I was a happier person before I started the querying process. So many people have reminded me that I am not alone in all this. Whether agented, not agented, published or not published, a good friend of mind reminded me that writing is a lonely thing. It's one of the most self-deprecating actions along with being demoralizing. I never used to write with publishing in the back of my mind (honestly), but once that first query letter was sent out, it seems like publishing became the main focus and not my heart. This is what led me to my last post. I don't want to obsess. I never did, but somehow, the monster took over. I don't want to be that writer anymore. I want to be who I was five years ago - naive and hopeful. Have I given up? A little. On writing...no. On publishing...a little. Primarily, I just want to find the love of writing again. I want to write and feel completely lost in the story. I want to lie in bed at night trying to fall asleep, but my mind keeps plotting. It's been a long time since the story has taken over and made me feel like I was just the automobile being driven by the idea. I don't want to watch my email all day long or endless twitter watching hoping for any kind of secret revealing the key into the publishing realm. I don't want to feel envy and jealousy every time I see a new book cover reveal or publication date. I just want to write and not feel pressure.

So was my last post a tad dramatic? Yes, but I meant every word. I want to write and be satisfied with what I do. And even if it's not "good enough", at least I know it's good.

Another good friend of mine reminded me that I was previously working on a "darker" piece and she wanted me to work on that. I haven't even read it in months. So, I sat down completely detached and read what I wrote. About 15 pages in, I was crying. I wasn't crying for me, but rather the story. I couldn't believe I wrote those chapters with such passion and feeling pouring in all of the feelings I experienced in my life into the story. It took me back to the pain in just a few words. I then emailed my friend and asked if it made her cry too, and she emailed me back with a "YES".  I'm sure you're wondering what the point of my story of is, so here it is. Did the chapters need editing? Yes. More importantly, though, was it good. Yes. I'm not trying to be delusional, but if it makes people cry, there must be something there.

Anyway, I want to apologize to those I let down. I will not disappear. I'm still here, if only on the blog and occasionally on twitter. I want to be relateable. If I'm not alone, neither are you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Dream has Died

It’s been a long journey, but I’ve decided to not pursue my writing at all any longer. All my life, I’ve dabbled in writing, to the degree of getting my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing.  It’s fun and I do enjoy it, but this last year and a half has depleted me of the love for it.  I know now that I made a huge mistake. I foolishly got swept up in the desire to be published.  In the past I’ve even tried to lie to myself and say that I was just going to write for myself, but publishing still lingered in my mind.  I don’t believe that writers who are online and participating in social media are truly only writing for themselves.  If that were the case, they wouldn’t be talking to other writers and agents and editors networking.  We all have dreams, but I think it’s important I be honest with myself.

As a teacher, we are taught early on to always provide feedback to our students. This feedback is an integral part of their education allowing them to see where they can improve.  Writers look to agents, editors, publishers, and others for feedback.  They are our teachers. What I have learned in this time is that they will not give feedback the majority of the time. They are busy, which I understand, but I cannot grow as a writer without the feedback.  What I take from no feedback is that my writing might me good, but not good enough. That’s all. This has created self-doubt and a disintegrating love of writing, which I would hate to do to any of my own students. I feel as though my teachers have failed me.

My husband always praises for me for not giving up on my dream, but now I have to disappoint him, and myself, by “quitting”. Though I don’t see it as quitting, I see it as I tried for three solid years (perhaps a few longer), and got nowhere.  Quitting would be stopping after that first rejection letter.  I have received over 200 letters over the years. Now, I know someone will say, but JK Rowling was rejected so many times as were other amazing writers, but those numbers are few in a sea of so many.  Agents like to argue that there are few self-published authors who make it big trying to persuade writers not to go that route. The same can be said for rejection letters, queries, etc. The odds are not in my favor.  I’ve given the odds three years of endlessly rewriting, querying, critiquing, twitter following, checking my email, hoping, crying, hoping again, and ultimately, being let down. All with no feedback from the instructors themselves.

I have met many wonderful people through this process who have been wonderful cheerleaders and even friends. I hope they do not go my route. I hope they achieve what they’re reaching for in a short time. I also hope they continue to trust me with critiquing, editing, and just listening. I’m not quitting on them.

What’s in store for my future? I’d love to say I’m not writing anymore, but that’s incredibly unrealistic. I teach Creative Writing, so I’m still absorbed in that which leads to me writing.  I still may write, but I’m going to shut down for a while. I may go back to dabbling not thinking about genre or word count or goals or agents or editors. But I think that will take time. I won’t be blogging or tweeting; I’m going to focus on my family and jobs. I’m truly sad saying good-bye to this side of me, but the roller coaster must come to a stop.

I thought about self-publishing, but if 200 rejections tell me I’m not good enough, I fear putting my work out there and tarnishing my name. I could create a pseudonym, but let’s be honest…the truth always comes out.  Self-publishing flops would destroy me.

So, a writer I am no more. It’s been an experience, but the dream is dead.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thirteen years ago, I married my best friend.  He's my everything, and we were lucky enough to seal the deal on Valentine's Day. Now, I find the day to not only be about love, but about romance, and I'm grateful for that.

My husband is one of the most amazing men I know.  Since we got married, we've been through a lot.  He went to Bosnia to deal with landmines.  He left for training for deployment missing the birth of our first born (our daughter). He fought in Iraq during the initial push into Baghdad, which meant missing our daughter's first nine months of life. After our son was born, my husband went through two kidney reconstruction surgeries, which ultimately saved his life.  We've lived in three states, been through multiple jobs, have two beautiful children, and now we are still happy after all is said and done.  We have seen poverty at a level many have no idea. I can remember sitting on my family room floor with no furniture, eating MREs because we couldn't afford food.  We went from being dual income to single income for over a year, and made it work on what we had.  But now, we are comfortable and living with less stress. We've been through a lot.

Through 13 years, we've had ups, downs, light days and dark, but we've always had each other.  He's the person I want to see first thing in the morning and the last person I see when I go to sleep.  I want to be able to reach my foot over and touch his foot in the middle of the night just to know he's there.  He's my rock when I'm down and my strength when I'm afraid.  He is the best person for me, and I consider myself extremely lucky.

My husband does little things for me. He plucks my eyebrows and paints my nails. He knows when I twist my mouth, I'm thinking, and when I frown, I need to laugh.  He knows me better than anyone could ever know me, and I thank him for that.

I know that no matter what happens in my future with jobs, writing, schooling, etc., he will always be by my side. There are no real words to express what I'm feeling in my heart.

Even as I sit here and ramble about him, I am getting teary because I'm so happy. I love him with all my heart and can't imagine a day without him. He's my one and only Valentine.

So for all of you out there, I hope you, too, have the happiness I have.

Mike, I love you. Happy Valentine's Day and Anniversary. You've made me the happiest woman alive for 13 years, and I look forward to the rest of our lives together.

Love,
Jamie

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things on my Mind

So, I made a decision to write for me effective February 1.  What does this mean? It means I'm making a conscious effort not to stress over being published or finding an agent as much as I have for the past year.  There are a few problems with this new goal.

1)I'm writing the sequel to Keridwen. This means that if Keridwen One doesn't get published, I'm writing K2 for essentially my shelf or computer only.

2)The more I write of K2 (working/temp title), the more I want others to read it. 

3)The itch becomes more prominent, the more real K2 becomes.

So, as much as I want to say I'm only writing for me, I'm finding it challenging to maintain my original decision.  I want Keridwen to be loved by others.  It's not about the money or just being able to say I'm published. I truly want people to read it and love it.  I want a series to come out of it.  Do I think it's the next Harry Potter? No.  I'm a realist.  HP isn't going to happen again for a LONG time.  The only other series I think that can compare to the HP craze is Lord of the Rings (not my favorite, but I can appreciate its popularity).  That being said, Lord of the Rings was written in the 1930s and 40s. That was 80 years ago, so the likely hood of us seeing the next HP series is well, unlikely.

Anyway, as a realist, I know how hard it is to get an agent. The odds are against me and every other new writer.  There are simply too many of us and only so many agents as well as publishers.  They have to be picky.  They have to be selective.  There's always the self-pup route, which is good for some, but for me, it's not what I want.  I want to hear, "this is good stuff", and "I'd like to work with you."  This means I must have patience, which I desperately try to have.  I have good days and bad. I'm human, though.  Today is today, and that's all I can ask for.  I know I must work for this if I want it, and that means enduring the bad days and appreciating the good ones.

I can say this.  I am a hard worker and open to change. Having two great CPs is such a benefit. I'm not afraid to hear something needs to change, and I'm certainly not arrogant enough to believe it's perfect as is.  In all reality, I want to hear the truth so I can learn. I want to be better.

So this was the random stuff on my mind today and thought I would share. Have a good night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grammar Tips Wednesday - Affect v. Effect

Ok, so this is a tough one.  Affect and Effect are commonly mixed up, but once you know the difference, they're not that difficult.

Affect is a verb.  For example: Her laziness will affect her grade. 
The laziness is actually doing something to the grade.  Affect is a verb because it does something.

Effect is a noun.  The effect on her grade is that she will fail.  With every cause, there is an effect.  Because a noun is a person, place, thing or idea, effect is a noun. 

I hope that was clear for you all. Good luck!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flash Fiction change

I've been doing Flash Fiction Friday for a month and have discovered I get the least amount of hits on my blog on those days, so I am going to take a break from it for a bit.  In the meantime, I will keep doing Grammar Tips Wednesdays and occasional other posts.  I'm working on a new WIP and thoroughly enjoying the process.  I've also formed a critique circle with two amazing women.  I'm very excited about this new process.

I'm still participating in Flash Fiction with my students, so if there is a request for samples, I will gladly post them up.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grammar Tips Wednesday: Loose and Lose, Choose and Chose

Hi everyone,

I've been grading essays all week and have come across this mistake numerous times.  There is a difference between Loose and Lose and Choose and Chose.  In fact, there's quite a big difference.
The extra O makes a huge difference.  Please be conscientious when you are writing these words.

All definitions are coming from Dictionary.com

Loose is defined as

loose

[loos] Show IPA adjective, loos·er, loos·est, adverb, verb loosed, loos·ing.
adjective
1.
free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end.
2.
free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered: loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
3.
uncombined, as a chemical element.
4.
not bound together: to wear one's hair loose.
5.
not put up in a package or other container: loose mushrooms.
 
Lose is defined as

lose

[looz] Show IPA verb, lost, los·ing.
verb (used with object)
1.
to come to be without (something in one's possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery: I'm sure I've merely misplaced my hat, not lost it.
2.
to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered: I just lost a dime under this sofa.
3.
to suffer the deprivation of: to lose one's job; to lose one's life.
4.
to be bereaved of by death: to lose a sister.
5.
to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain: to lose one's balance; to lose one's figure.
 
Choose is defined as

choose

[chooz] Show IPA verb, chose; cho·sen or ( Obsolete ) chose; choos·ing.
verb (used with object)
1.
to select from a number of possibilities; pick by preference: She chose Sunday for her departure.
2.
to prefer or decide (to do something): He chose to run for election.
3.
to want; desire.
4.
(especially in children's games) to contend with (an opponent) to decide, as by odd or even, who will do something: I'll choose you to see who gets to bat first.
 
Chose is defined as

chose

1 [chohz] Show IPA
verb
1.
simple past tense of choose.
2.
Obsolete . past participle of choose.