Sacrifice to Write

When I decided to really be serious about writing I gradually started to give up certain things in life in order to have time and fewer distractions to work.  Writing isn’t easy, it takes many hours and (at least for me) a lot of concentration.  Here’s the list:

First, I gave up most games.  That doesn’t sound like much but in this day and age a lot of people like games…video games, computer games, apps, that kind of thing.  For me it was mostly apps.  Apps are innocent fun, in my opinion, but time wasters.  I was playing this one game that required way too much of my attention to be good at it so I gave that one up and a few others that were just pointless.  Well, most of them are pointless but I still play a few that don’t take a lot of time…or money (that’s important, too).  Pretty much anything electronic seems to kill the writing mood, I try to avoid it all now.

Next, I gave up T.V.  Don’t panic, I didn’t give up all T.V., just a lot of T.V.  Mostly daytime stuff, because I’m home during the day and I use the T.V. as background noise a lot of the time.  However, it’s too easy to start staring at the T.V. mindlessly and suddenly an hour of wasted time has passed by.  Yeah, that had to stop so the T.V. isn’t on for a lot of day since that’s when I try to do a lot of my writing.  For quite a few years I haven’t been a huge T.V. watcher so even though I still watch some at night, it’s really not that much.  I do try to catch the news everyday because I do want to be informed, I think that’s important for anyone but it also helps spur my writing imagination.

Finally, and I didn’t necessarily give this up by choice, I gave up the dream of having a clean house.  You might think that’s a joke, and it sort of is, but I’m also being quite serious.  Writing isn’t the only thing I need to do during the day and the reality is there just isn’t time for it all.  Writing is important to me, I try to work on it everyday for at least an hour, more if I’m in the mood or have the extra time.  I try to be as clean as I can, but it’s not perfect and it never will be.  Before the writing it was a struggle, now I think I’ve come to terms with my  house just being “good enough”.  I think I can handle a little dust, a bit of clutter, and a sink with dirty dishes in it.  I’ll get to it when I have time.  I’ve always had a hard time with the cleaning bit because between me, my three children, two dogs, and husband, I’m by far the cleanest of them all.  So the others make 90% of the mess and I have to clean more than 50% of it up (I refuse to do kids’ rooms or bathrooms, they need to do that themselves, I’m a stickler there).  It’s a bum deal and I think I have the right to be lazy about it if I want to be.  After all, nine times out of ten I didn’t make the mess to begin with anyway.

After making an effort to give these things up I have finished two manuscripts since February…so I think it’s working.  It’s not perfect, I still get distracted all the dang time, but I can see that it’s making a difference in my ability to set aside time to write and still get the others things in my life done that need to be done.

There are a few things I refuse to sacrifice in order to get more writing time:  Spending time with my family, taking care of my family, going to church (and spending time on spiritual reflection, etc.), and exercise.


Book List Updated

I just updated my Book List page with the following titles:

  • Forest Born by Shannon Hale
  • Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
  • Beyonders:  Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  • Michael Vey:  The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans
  • Michael Vey:  Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans
  • The Enchantress by Michael Scott
  • The 13th Reality:  The Journal of the Curious Letters by James Dashner
  • The 13th Reality:  The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner
  • Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings

The best of that bunch was Red Kayak by far.  And it’s funny about that one because it’s a book my daughter needed for school so I bought it used on Amazon.  When it arrived I read the back cover, thought “this sounds good”, so I read it at random and really enjoyed it.  That’s always awesome just reading something out of the blue and finding an unexpected gem.

My second favorite was Palace of Stone.  This is a sequel to Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy, which is one of my favorite books so I was excited about it…but also a little wary because Princess Academy is a great stand alone book (and I thought it was going to stay that way).  Palace of Stone was better than I expected, so that was nice and it didn’t ruin a story I already loved.  Thank goodness for that!

I’ve read approximately 18 new books this year.  That’s a guess, I haven’t been keeping a careful count.  I’ve probably also read an equal number of rereads.  I love rereading good books and when I’ve kept track in the past my new reads vs. old is usually about the same, but again it’s just a guess.  I’m currently reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper (a reread, the last book in a very good fantasy series called The Dark is Rising Sequence).  I have The Kill Order and The 13th Reality:  The Blade of Shattered Hope, both by James Dashner, checked out from the library and waiting for me to start this week.

I’m also really excited to read J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, coming out at the end of September.  I can’t wait to see how her first non-Harry Potter story is!

The Reader…part 2

Just a short addendum to my last post regarding those who read for a writer (this time a few points for the writer):

  1. Try to be patient while you wait for your readers to read.
  2. It’s okay to ask about their progress, ask for updates, and to give them a reasonable deadline if it’s taking too long.
  3. Some feedback is worth waiting for!  If you rush it’ll you’ll never get it.

So, my manuscript is out to three readers who have been taking their time getting back to me about it.  I know they have lives, but two months waiting for them to read a book that can reasonably be read in a few days is a bit much.  I sent them each a little note asking them to please wrap it up by the end of September so I could have their feedback when I start working on my revisions again, letting them all know their thoughts were valuable to me and having it would help me out a lot.  I heard back from two of them.  One of them is working on hard edits for me (which I didn’t ask her to do, she is doing this by choice) so I’m cool with it taking a little longer because her input will be amazing.  The second one finished her reading and called me last night to discuss it.  Her enthusiasm for my project was overwhelming.  While she had some definite criticisms on things she thought I should fix (no surprise there) she really loved it and went on and on about how I need to keep doing this and not give up (not that I have any intention of giving up, she just wanted to encourage me to get it out there as soon as possible).  I am elated and re-energized to really make this story work and that I’m not crazy for wanting to try and get it published someday.  It was a bit agonizing waiting to hear her thoughts, but it was worth the wait to get the positive feedback and very helpful suggestions.

My third reader…well, I’ll probably have to bother him a little more… :P

If You Agree to Read for a Writer…

Just a few tips if you agree to read something a friend writes…from the writer’s point of view:

  1. If you agree to be a reader for a writer’s work in progress, be prepared to offer specific feedback.  The writer wants your help, they aren’t providing you with something fun to read solely for your entertainment.  If you aren’t willing to help then don’t agree to read until the manuscript is completely finished.
  2. Be aware the writer is depending on your feedback before they make further revisions.  Be prompt with your reading and don’t leave them waiting.  Some writers are working on a deadline, others are trying to continue their revisions while the story is fresh, before the inspiration runs dry.  Try to respect a writer’s time.
  3. Try to read the provided manuscript within a few weeks of receiving it.  If you can’t, please let the writer know…don’t leave them waiting and wondering (if you say nothing it gives them the impression you hate it, when in actuality you may not have read it yet so try to understand how they feel).
  4. Good and bad feedback is desired, don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism.  In fact, be as specific as you can.  Don’t just say, “It was good” or “it wasn’t my style” and not offer anything else.  This wastes the writer’s time and it isn’t helpful at all.
  5. Writers are emotionally invested in their writing, they don’t expect you to have the same level of enthusiasm for it.  But, if you show an interest in their writing and talk to them about the details of their story, they will appreciate it.

That’s all for now, I’m sure more tips will come to mind later.  I’ve only given my first manuscript out for readers, some of them have been very good.  Others…well, not so much.  I don’t want to be rude and bother my readers to be faster, but some of them have had my manuscript for two months and haven’t offered me any feedback.  I have no idea if they’ve even read it yet, the waiting is killing me!  If they don’t have time I wish they would just say so.  If nothing else, it’s giving me a better idea of who to ask to be a reader for my next manuscript (the first draft of manuscript #2 should be done by the end of the month, yay!)