Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The road to Major Success

It's no secret that I'm not the most confident person, especially with my writing. I go through days/weeks/months where I ask myself what I'm doing, and if I'm just wasting my time chasing a dream that can never be reached, like a donkey chases a carrot on a string. Yesterday was one of those days, I spent the entire day in a slump. I was working on one specific scene that was hard to write, and even harder to edit. (Yes, I'm getting to the point where edits are hard and I don't think I like them anymore. You can laugh.) That, combined with other things, made me shut down. I slammed the lid to my laptop closed and declared myself done for the day, even though I had never really started.

Today started with the same dread that yesterday had. I took my time getting ready this morning. Made the bed extra tight. Went to WalMart. Made lunch. I did everything I could to not write, because I felt like a failure. I look around and see people who are farther along in the writing process than I am, or have recently become agented, or sold books to publishing houses. It's depressing to think that you're being left behind, that you wave at everyone who passes you on the road to Major Success and you're still stuck at the beginning. I tell myself not to think this way, but it's so difficult not to. It's part of who we are, to compare ourselves to others.

I got back from lunch and saw that my husband had sent me a link to this quote:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through." - Ira Glass

Reading this was exactly what I needed to hear. It's good to see that it's normal self doubts. It's normal to think your work sucks. It's normal to be stressed. It's also normal to quit. Like I said earlier, it's hard for me to see everyone else around me on the road to Major Success while I'm forever stuck at the beginning. But I know I'm not alone. There are thousands of people doing the same thing I am now. Writing. Or trying to, anyway. There are also thousands of people who say, "Yeah I want to write a book," but never do. Wanting to write a book and actually writing a book are two completely different things. While I've only finished one full manuscript, it makes me giddy to think that I fall in the latter category. I may never write another book in my life (though I hope that isn't the case), but to know that I finished one puts me ahead of a lot of other people in the world.

I have a major fear when it comes to my writing. I've let very few people read it so far because I'm scared. I'm scared of failure, I'm scared of rejection, and I'm scared that I'm wasting my time. Then I tell myself, how can doing something you love be wasting your time? How can bettering yourself and honing a craft be wasting your time? Writing isn't always a tangible art, like painting or pottery. But I have to tell myself it is a form of art, and by doing it every day I'll only get better and better.

So a note both to myself and to everyone else out there working on their first (or hundredth) manuscript. Don't quit. Quitting is the easy way out. If everyone quits, then the written word simply dissolves into nothing. Yes you may wave at your friends on the road to Major Success as they pass you, but it probably won't always be that way. The only thing hindering you from joining them is YOU. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep walking. Even if you have to walk the road alone.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Texas Library Association Conference 2011

Sorry, again, for my lack of updates as of late. As I've said, I'm in over my head in revising this draft (we are currently fighting, it is winning) and last week was the Texas Library Association Conference, or TLA. I think I'm still recovering. Those who have followed my blog for a while (or are general creepers) will remember I went last year and the epicness that followed. While I didn't meet Suzanne Collins again (or JK Rowling, though she did send her regards), an epic time was still had by all.

On Tuesday Jen and I checked into our swank hotel (seriously, we had a kitchen with full size fridge, stove top, dishwasher, etc. It was epic.) and while she was off doing her head-honcho duties I jumped on the bed worked on my edits while waiting from Cari to arrive from Houston. Once she arrived we jumped on the bed got her unpacked and settled in, and let me say, she brought everything. Girl had so many bags you'd think we were staying for weeks. I was impressed. ;) Once Jen was done we were invited to a Candlewick Press cocktail party, which was amazing.

Cari, Jen, and myself at the cocktail party

We left the party and picked up our last roommate, Jennifer, on the way to dinner with Sophie Jordan and Tera Lynn Childs. Sophie and Tera Lynn are so sweet, we talked about books, writing, publishing and everything in between. I just remembered that we forgot to take a picture, major boo on us! Next time, ladies.

Wednesday was when the conference itself started. I spent most of the morning waiting in author signing lines and was able to walk around the exhibit floor after lunch.

Cari and me waiting in line to meet Ally Condie

Ally Condie, author of Matched

Paolo Bacigalupi, author of Ship Breaker

Me, Jennifer, Jen, and our Girls in the Stacks friends. I love those gals.

Bettina Restrepo, author of Illegal.

I also met (but didn't get pictures with) C.C. Hunter, Michael Buckley, Elizabeth Scott, and Lauren Myracle.

At the end of the day, we all had so many books we couldn't carry them. Seriously. Our hotel was maybe a half-a-block from the exhibit center and we couldn't make it. We had to have a bellhop meet us at the corner to help us. We are pathetic. Or made of win, take your pick.

That poor, poor bellhop

After a quick change of clothes we were off to another cocktail party, this time all the authors and publishers were there. And this time we remembered to take a picture with Sophie. Yay!

Don't you love how we're color coordinated? It was accidental, I swear!

Thursday was a bit crazy, the only author I remembered to get a picture with was Carrie Ryan.

Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Things were so busy I just didn't think about taking pictures. Other authors I met Thursday were Joy Preble, Gayle Forman, Jill S. Alexander, David Levithan, and James Howe.

I didn't have too much free time on Thursday because I was volunteering for most of the afternoon. I helped Jill S. Alexander (Who is so very sweet, and a Texas author. You should go buy her books.) and David Levithan (I think I did a pretty good job of keeping my squees to myself while helping him.). After my shift ended the exhibit hall was closing. Jen, Cari and I took a quick dip in the hot tub at our hotel before having dinner with our Literary Lonestar friends and Texas authors Bettina Restrepo, Joy Preble, and Jenny Moss. Jenny will be moving to Austin soon and I couldn't be more excited to have her here!

Dinner! Not pictured are Jen, Joy, and Jenny

Friday is what I call The Crazy Day. Publishers don't want to take books back with them, so they either give them away or sell them for cheap. I got a few things but didn't feel like throwing elbows this year. I spent the rest of the day volunteering (this time with Gerald McDermottt, a picture book author). So I know you're wondering what books I got, right?

Mine and Jen's books. Sheesh.

My Books

I didn't get as many books as last year, and that was my intention. Last year I was all grabby-hands and I still have things I got that I haven't read. This year I tried to take my time and only get things I knew I'd enjoy reading. It was also a lot easier on my back. ;) And yes, I do have doubles of a few things. I'll be giving them away either her or on Literary Lonestars.

I cannot put into words my love for TLA. I mean, sure, there's lots of free books, but it's amazing to be around people who share your obsession love for books. I'm so thankful that I have such great friends in the YA community, both bloggers and authors. I have always felt very welcome, and for that I am grateful. A big thank you to my roomies for making the week both eventful and hilarious.

I've also decided that I'll be at ALA in New Orleans in late June. Will you be there? Let me know!

PS- I have to share this picture because I can't stop laughing. Even though the conference was last week, I just today looked at my pictures. I had to heavily crop the picture of me with Carrie Ryan because of a photo bomber. See if you can find her.

I don't now if she is purposefully photo-bombing or if she flipped out when she saw Carrie Ryan, either way I am still giggling over it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Upcoming Book Events

Do you live in Texas? Here's some upcoming YA book events in Texas to add to you calendar!

Teen Book Con of Houston is tomorrow (Saturday April 9th) from 9-4. Authors in attendance are Deb Caletti, Andrea Cremer, Ellen Hopkins, Joy Preble, Rachel Hawkins, Stephanie Perkins, and more! The event is free but you must purchase a book at the event to get into the signing lines.

The Texas Library Association Conference is April 12-15th here in Austin. There are too many amazing authors to list, so click here to see the full list. You can buy a $25 exhibit pass at the event and it will get you into the exhibit hall where authors will be signing books and publishers will be giving away books. I went to this even last year and it was epic.

The Austin Teen Book Festival will be Saturday, October 1st. Authors attending are Scott Westerfeld, Maureen Johnson, Mary Pearson, Gabrielle Zevin and more being announced soon. I attended as a volunteer last year and it is one of the most organized events I've ever been to. Check back for more info!

I'll continue to blog about various Texas book events, but for more up-to-date info go to Facebook and 'like' Literary Lonestars. Literary Lonestars is a page we set up to help us keep in touch with other Texas bloggers and keep track of various book events happening all across the state. We do giveaways from time to time, so check us out! (And you don't have to be from Texas to 'like' us!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Update on THINGS

It's been a while since I've blogged about my writing, so I thought I'd do a quick update before I leave for my weekly meeting with a few other Austin writers.

I am about 1/4 of the way through edits, and I know this is weird, but it's actually not that bad. (In a few months when I'm finishing up said edits and rocking in the fetal position in the corner chugging cough syrup don't remind me I said edits weren't "that bad.") Not saying I enjoy it over writing, but I do find it somewhat pleasing. I giggle at myself every time a certain character vomits (I'm on chapter 9 and she's blown chunks about four times, which is about four times too many), sighs, or shifts their eyes. My characters are very moody, apparently.

One thing I don't like about editing and rewriting is it's very time consuming for me. I can only do about a chapter a day (my chapters are around 1500-2K) and by the end of the day my BRAIN IS MUSH. I'm not sure why this is, but it wears me out mentally. My goal was to have the draft completely edited and maybe ready for a few beta readers by June, but I'm not sure that's going to happen. Missing nearly two weeks of editing time in March because of The Plague didn't help things, and with TLA being next week I'm going to get even farther behind. I guess I should get used to always being behind, I hear writers are generally behind on deadlines.

I think it's good to go back to something you wrote weeks, months, or even years ago and see how you've improved. I started the first draft of Always Tell Me Goodbye in December and I can already tell I'm a better writer in just the five months I've put into it. It helps me to see that I'm not wasting my time. Even if this manuscript goes nowhere but the garbage, I'm exercising my craft and I can't see how that's a bad thing.

I'm to the point now in my edits where That Pesky Boy comes into play and I just can't decide what to do with him. I am so torn. It all comes down to which story I want to tell, and I can't seem to make up my mind. It would work with or without him. Right now I'm toying with the idea of leaving him and seeing how that goes, but we'll see. Come tomorrow I'll be ready to give him the axe again.

So that's where I am, for now. Sorry for my lack of updates, but it's time to put my game face on and WORK WORK WORK so don't be surprised if I update even less frequently than I am now. You can always catch me on Twitter or email me (email address to your write above the cute little owl) if you miss me that much. ;)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reading Recap- March

First of all Ben says thank you for the questions you left for him and says he'll wait a few more days before posting again in case anybody else has questions. Don't be shy!

I though I had only read, like, three books last month so it was a surprise to see I had read as many as I did. March was crazy busy. I've had The Plague multiple times (which means all I want to do is watch HGTV for 8+ hours a day) and I'm deep in revisions which also cuts down on the reading time.

March 2011
8 Books
35 Year to Date

Mistwood by Leah Cypress

Wonderland by Joanna Nadin

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Clarity by Kim Harrington

The Wide Awake Princess by ED Baker

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Something Like Fate by Suzanne Colasanti

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer