Monday, May 5, 2014
HOW TO GROW AND BUILD WHILE WRITING...... By Gail L. Jenner
This student is terrifically talented, but his struggle to work through the maze of disappointment and restarts and revisions made me realize once more how naive we are when we first start out to write 'that great American novel!' In thinking on his finished his project, which is quite a wonderful start - but only a novella still not ready for publication YET, I reflected on a number of simple but important revelations every writer must come to.
Here are five of those random thoughts from the list I've started! I want to continue growing this list so will share other thoughts as I do...
1. We may not finish the first story we set out to write -- or the second or third. Sometimes we start plotting without knowing the interior story - or we recognize that we have so many flaws, it's time to start on page 1 AGAIN.....or go back to the brainstorming process. Many writers don't even brainstorm, but can start at a place and go forward. Recognizing what works best for your style or your story is something that takes time to figure out or refine.
2. Starting over and over again is sometimes part of the process. I used to believe writing a book was a very linear process. You went from point A to point B in one straight line with no pauses or detours. But it’s not: there is no real finish line. Each book requires something different from you – sometimes more than you’re even willing to give at any moment. I suppose that’s why I have several manuscripts going on at one time. I can’t seem to just settle on one idea and nothing else.
3. Continue to meet people and network. With publishers like Prairie Rose this is an easy expectation to meet! And groups like Women Writing the West or Western Writers of America, or any number of regional and local groups and critique groups will fill this goal. It’s imperative that not only new writers but all writers get out from behind the wall of their writing projects and meet, talk, visit, and share. It’s also imperative to read, read, and read. This challenge has become a harder one for me in the last two or three years; with the obligations I have and the projects I’ve undertaken, it’s hard not to just run away and bury myself in others’ books, but I have to dole it out, like candy after Halloween these days!
4 Learn to take criticism and seek out criticism; do not take it personally. We are all susceptible to wanting only the positive response from readers and our fellow writers and agents or publishers. The truth is there is a huge gap between what we’re looking for and what we sometimes need to hear! No one wants to hear the dreary or disappointing aspects of our writing, but in order to grow we need to seek that critical review or editorial comment eagerly AND graciously. The old “No pain, no gain” is true.
5. Celebrity others’ successes! While it’s not exactly fun to read about the latest celebrity's story that’s just garnered a multi-million dollar advance, it’s still a reminder that other authors and writers are “making it big!” That should always delight us. We need to always “spread” the good news of others’ successes. As my grandma always said, “What goes around comes around,” and although I’m not superstitious, I do believe there is truth in that in all aspects of our lives. We need to celebrate with others.
GAIL L. JENNER IS THE AUTHOR OF ACROSS THE SWEET GRASS HILLS, A WINNER of the WILLA Literary Award from Women Writing the West, recently re-released by PRP. For more on her stories, visit www.gailjenner.com OR http://prairierosepublications.yolasite.com/gail-l-jenner.php