Happy Writer is Happy

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Blogging? What’s that?

I can’t believe I never do this anymore. I know why. Because I will write, and before I know it a week or so has gone by and so much has happened, and I think “there’s no way I will be able to cover everything” so I don’t post. Instead I just puke everything out on an ongoing basis every day on Facebook. Because it is easier.

I don’t even blog on my website! And that’s what I should be doing for my writing career. Most of the writers I look up to and even the ones I don’t look up to, but have large followings, post every day and share amazing advice and insights into their work. I just don’t feel into doing it for some reason. I’m way more about absorbing things right now, than finding things to share with others. I’m being selfish, and damned if I don’t care. Selfish is just where I want to be right now. It helps me get things done.

Since my last post, I joined up with a few other local writers to form a novel critique group. We share one chapter at a time of our books with one another, two weeks before we are to meet up again. Then we meet and go over all of our work in person. We’ve been meeting at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks, and we’re usually there for almost two hours. It’s excellent discussion, too. I just love that these women are all where I am regarding writing fiction. We’re all novel-writers (no non-fiction). We’re all devoted to our work. All of us have the same goal: to write excellent books and be published. We support one another, we encourage and help brainstorm to help one another out of challenges that come up when you’re trying to get a scene to work.

Our meeting for January was the best one yet. OK, it was only our 3rd meeting, but still. We added a new member to our group who has turned out to be a most valuable connection for me (more on that in a minute). I’d spent a lot of effort on each of the women’s critiques, writing up detailed notes and doing track-changes on their files. Everything went over well and I was able to help one of the girls “flip a switch” with one of my suggestions and she was so grateful. But my ego was stoked, big time. Why? Well, my book is the one that everyone is going crazy about. I can’t believe it.

Now, all these women are excellent writers. Well…one isn’t as good at it yet, but damn, her heart is in the right place and she is one hell of a reader and energy-cheerleader. Still, they know what they are doing and they are connected. They participate in all kinds of writers’ pitch contests, go to conferences, host blog tours and are on street teams for a handful of debut authors we all know through Twitter, and one of them has even self-published a book already. They have read all of the books. (Well, it feels that way. They bandy around titles and authors so fast my mind spins and I can’t always write down the titles/authors in my notebook fast enough!)

When we get to my work, the compliments astound me and just flatter me. They love the concept, they love my main character, they love the way I’m structuring it, and they sometimes go back and read passages I’ve written out-loud because they enjoyed the descriptive language, the way I have worked in all 5 senses to what my MC experiences, the dialogue, and the fact that my MC has very healthy relationships with her family. (Ever notice how many books have troubled family dynamics, or absent parents, or siblings they hate, etc? There are a LOT. And I, for one, am tired of those.) But most of all, I’ve got them HOOKED. They are dying to see my Tarzan guy.

I just sent off chapter 3 today and I’m psyched because this is the one where we finally get a good look at him. It’s only Olive, my MC, and “the jungle man” in this chapter. Close, intense interaction. I can’t wait for them to read it.

I can’t get over this. That my book is working this well on the first draft. I’m like giddy-jumpy-nauseous-hyperactive excited over it. And I can honestly say I LOVE THIS BOOK. Just love it. I love the world it takes place in, I love the things I get to describe, I love the between-the-lines themes I’m working into the plot, I love thinking of a hot, super sexy guy and I’m burning with the anticipation of the intimate and hot scenes I have coming up very soon.

I’ve never written anything like this one. It’s like my own custom candy store! I’m including so many things I love into this one. I get to write about wild jungle animals; the untamed, not-quite-human-man thing I have a near-fetish over; a girl who is best friends with her sister (something I have experience with and that I cherish); and the early days of the NJ shore boardwalks and carnival/sideshow culture.

And I’m currently doing some heavy behind-the-scenes work to develop an antagonist that’s fully developed and, I hope, will be somewhat liked by the readers. I’ve been inspired by Loki. Yeah. How cool is it that the villain has become more loved than the hero in the Thor movies? Why is that? Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought, I’ve done a lot of reading and…well, OK, I have to admit, a LOT of lusting. Tom Hiddleston is the shit. So talented and so fucking sexy-cute. I can’t believe the first time I saw Thor, my reaction to Loki was just uncomfortable. I didn’t think he was good-looking back then. I didn’t know why I was unsettled by Loki. But once it hit upon a second viewing of Thor, it hit hard. It was because of this scene. Sympathy for the villain. I don’t know that I’ve seen this kind of thing much in movies before, and it’s surprising it happens in a comic book movie. Huh.

My villain is nothing like Loki. Doesn’t have the same kind of backstory, doesn’t look like Tom H. But the model of how Loki was built to become so complex and hard to shrug off as “just evil” has influenced me so much. I want to attempt that model. Make my readers feel weirdly conflicted every time the villain disappoints us again by doing something bad. Just when you think he might be reformed, is giving in to his emotions and allows ‘sentiment’ to come to the surface–blam. Stabs the good guy in the stomach.

The latest villain to make me go, “hold on just a goddamn second here” is Moriarty from Sherlock. Which, by the way, is an excellent show. I knew it would be, b/c the friends who have recommended it to me wouldn’t lead me astray, since we share the same tastes. I only started watching it about a week ago, but I’ve already re-watched a couple of episodes and then went online and read some analyses of the themes and nuances of the characters. Sherlock alone is fascinating. He’s kind of a jerk but the way they’re handling his genius-thing is fascinating. He’s the hero who is somehow, not-quite-sure-how, perilously close to being a villain. I hate when he doesn’t appreciate John. OMG. I love John, too. ANYWAY… I digress.

Moriarty is batshit insane and it’s great. The actor they chose is mesmerizing; that sing-song voice is creepy and when he all of the sudden screams with fury it’s like a firecracker going off 6 inches from your face… And then there is this line:

“I will burn…the heart… out of you.” (I’ve watched this scene many, many times already)

I have held off watching the last episode available on Netflix (season 2, ep. 3) because I know the basics of what will happen and I’m positive I need to give it my full attention and have a notebook ready. Yeah, I’m a nerd. I take notes during things I’m watching sometimes. But I can’t wait to let myself find out more about Moriarty. Who is he, where does he go, where did he come from, why is he the way he is, what does he love, what drives him, what’s the obsession with Sherlock all about (I already know that one, I think: the two of them are almost mirrors of one another, which is a dynamic I am dying to dig into because that’s another one I have never given much thought to before now)… sherlock_and_moriarty_by_jaxparabellum-d4q6ap6

I really can ramble about the things I love, can’t I? 🙂

Suffice to say, my brain is in full character-development mode. Because I love my book and I love my characters. Because having this much fun writing a book should be illegal.

I couldn’t be happier.

Oh. There’s another huge piece of writing-career news. Remember how I mentioned the new girl in the critique group earlier in this post? Well, she and I hit it off that day and hung out and talked for awhile after the meeting. She’s an intern for a publishing company and told me all about it and what it entails. Then she mentions that there is a current opening for a new intern; someone to cover New Adult manuscript submissions. She gave me the name and contact info for the editor at the company, and encouraged me to apply.

I applied a day later, and then the day after that I was “hired.” The editor was excited when she saw my work experience as an editor and contributing-author coordinator. Since I know how to read a ‘disaster first draft’ and revise it and work with the author the whole way, I was a good fit. Even though I’d yet to do any of this with a book, my experience counted. Wow– another excellent revelation. All of my day-job nonsense has not been in vain.

So anyway, I got my first assignment and spent the next 7 days reading it. Unfortunately, it was a manuscript that just didn’t work. I couldn’t get into it; I saw the problems with it within the first 10 pages and knew I wasn’t going to see the things a good book needs in order to engage readers. I soldiered through, and still didn’t finish the whole thing. But when, by page 100, you still can’t tell who the antagonist might be, what the plot really is about, and what’s so damn special about the supposed love interest… I’m confident when I say it’s not publishable.

I have to write up a report about each manuscript I read, discussing as many of the key elements as possible and explaining what is good and what is bad about the book. It is NOT easy to do this. But I’ll tell you: when I finished that report and edited it up, I felt amazing. I felt like I had just learned something really important; that this is something I could really get into. I love having to work hard at something I am legitimately interested in learning. Sadly, it has been so damn long since that’s been the case for me in my adult life.

So, the internship is going great so far. I just started assignment #2 last night. It looks like I might be expected to do a book a week. This is already cutting a little into my usual writing-time, but I’m not that worried yet.

Between the internship, the critique group, networking through Twitter and the other writers I’ve connected with in the past year… it’s all coming together.

I am on the right path.

I’m going to get paid to do things I love. Someday, sooner rather than later. I won’t waste away in a go-nowhere, thankless business magazine job for much longer. My resume is morphing into gold by the minute.

It’s such a satisfying feeling. And it also feels comfortable; like, “I totally GOT THIS, yo.”

Time for bed now. It took me two hours to write this overall. See? This is why I don’t blog! I can’t shut up and I take too damn long!

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