To help me along, even when I was not working on my novel, I have been reading books by authors that I admire. I have subscribed to the Writer's Digest and Poets and Writers magazines to keep me up to date on what is happening in the world of writing. Plus, I started a blog that I was writing three times a week and now have cut back to once a week, just to work on my style and voice. The whole blog idea happened to be from my Marketing Advisor. Yes, I have one. A very handy one that just happens to be married to me and I love him dearly! He was a Director of Marketing at FedEx and is an avid reader. He has retired and is a writer also. We have our own offices and a lovable goldendoodle who spurs us on.
After reading some of my blogs,once I really started writing from within myself, he gave me a fantastic compliment. He referenced a style of my writing to an author that we both enjoy reading. Oh wow! I know he is a bit biased, yet just hearing this
comparison built me up to a new level of writing.
Every writer tells others the most important thing is to write every day. This is something that I have always done, if nothing else but to write in my journal. I wish that I had started sooner than I did, however, I do have twenty years of journals stored. Who knows? Maybe I will become famous and my journals will be used for a biography? Or perhaps my children may want to flip through some to see what was on my mind on certain days/years? The point is that I wrote not for others, but for myself. My day does not seem complete without writing.
After retirement from the field of education, I started my blog and have set up my office in order to carry on as a business working out of my home. It feels so right! I even have entered a writing contest from the magazines that I subscribe to. Nothing has come of entries yet and may not. It is getting my writing out there!
The exciting part of digging in harder and deeper with my novel is talking to a friend of mine about his novels and what advice he can give me. Greg sent information to me about a workshop locally that I may be interested in. I read all about the details and it made perfect sense to attend. So I registered.
The author who is guiding the workshop is Susan Cushman. After doing some research on her website and reading some of her blogs, I thought it was a perfect fit for me at this time. Some of my positive mantras that I post on my Facebook page say if you don't take that step into the unknown how will you ever know what could have been and how will you ever reach your goals without taking opportunities that may help you reach them.
Susan stated in her e mail to me after I registered about the set up of the day. There was a deadline to send 15 pages of your manuscript to her. She will
choose some for the morning session and some for the afternoon session to critique with us in the workshop. I must admit that I was questioning my sanity for registering. Do I really want others reading my work and critiquing it out loud to the whole class? I did rationalize that when I am published (stated positively) many others will be critiquing it. So perhaps this was the best way to find out what it is that I can do to continue to hone my writing skills.
Certainly, I need all of the advice that I can receive. Once I saw the guidelines of how to critique a manuscript, it eased my mind. Susan explained that this is a guideline that is used in many workshops and that she has had her manuscripts go through the process. It was not to catch a writer out on grammar or spelling or typos...but more on the style/voice, balance of scenes, pacing, dialog, characters, etc.
Little did I know that everyone who submitted a manuscript received everyone else's manuscript for us to have read before the workshop so that we are familiar with the pieces and already may have some notes to add. We may decide to hand our notes that we wrote on their manuscripts back to them after the workshop if we wish. Plus, we will all have a copy of our manuscript with Susan's notes on it.
The end of my novel is what I was working on (the story board and how and where I will end it) however now I believe that I will keep it simple in the plot until I hear what others have to say. If it means that I will go back to revisit some of my earlier chapters then that is what I will do.
The one thing that amazed me was that two or three months, even six months after retirement, I had friends asking if my book was not only finished but when would it be published? Writing a book is not easy. It is most definitely what I have always wanted to do and now I have the time and energy to give to becoming what I have always dreamed of.
When asked the question by Greg, my published author friend about why did I want to get published, my reply was to just get my name out there. Sort of a foot in the door...not expecting a best selling novel! He smiled and said, "Right answer!" In my own words, that is sort of like a one in a million chance and I am not that kind of writer yet. One step at a time and I believe with all of my heart that I am headed in that direction!