Posts Tagged ‘novel writing’

Dancer down

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

I tore my left calf muscle, dancing if you must know. Practicing a dance routine to be more precise, awakening my dance gene long-dormant after decades of neglect. Six weeks to recover. I’m missing my lovely walks with Charlie, who may be more upset about this turn of events than I am.

I’m using the time to:

Read more (one of my eternal goals, hard to achieve because of my guilt over sitting down). I’ve finished reading one book and today will begin another.

Re-work the beginning of my novel, to draw out certain traits of the main character, sooner. (Will send to Beta readers for their impressions.)

Re-design my blog and web page.

Stay off my leg so I can do these things.

Just when we think we have everything under control, we realize we have nothing under control. That’s the lesson I constantly must re-learn.

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Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

I sent off my manuscript to my agent and for the first few days after, I felt adrift and purposeless. Shouldn’t I be writing, editing, rewriting? That was my existence for the past (many) years: sitting at a table or desk, opening my laptop, and beginning to work.

Now I’m floating in the sweet space of possibility, hoping my agent will like my first novel, and not yet faced with the million more edits I’ll undoubtedly need to make if she does.

The first real writing workshop I ever attended was in 2006, at Squaw Valley. My project-in-progress was my memoir, Mamalita. I remember the first night, during orientation, sitting in a room filled with other writers and feeling like I’d made it to somewhere great, finally. And then, during workshop the next morning, having my pages–the pages I’d agonized over–ripped apart.

I came home, devastated. My book was trash. I’d never finish it. I spent a few weeks flattened by despair, then steeled myself to re-read the workshop’s comments. They were as bad as I remembered, as harsh, but contained within were morsels of hope: “A good story,” someone said. “I’m interested,” said another. “Keep going,” urged a third.

The criticism could make the work stronger, if I was willing to listen. The key was to stay open enough to receive the knowledge generously offered.

For years, I studied dance in New York. One of my teachers once said only two things were required to master technique: the desire to learn, and someone to teach you.

I don’t know if I’ll ever “master” writing. But the desire is there, and I’ve found the teachers.

Regardless of what happens with my manuscript, I needed to write this novel in order to tell this story. At last, I’m free of it. 

Photo credit: Jeffrey DuFlon; poetry reading with friends.

 

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