Friday, December 31, 2010

A Clean Slate

My grown children who still reside with me are either at work or with friends, and hubby wasn't feeling well and went to bed a couple of hours ago. So in my solitude on this last evening of 2010 I've been proofing WIP #1, reading blogs, and critiquing some writing.

If anyone had told me that 2010 would have been the year of discovery that it has been for me, I would have laughed. In January I decided that I wanted to try and write a book. I've never been able to produce anything longer than a shortstory, and it'd been decades since I'd even tried that.

As I sat at my computer a year ago and faced the blank screen, I felt suddenly shy. I'd never considered being shy about writing, especially when sitting by myself, but I was. I got over it fortunately. The most frightening move for me this year was emailing the manuscript to my first beta reader for input. I've never been so scared.

My family has been very encouraging about me trying this writing thing, but I wouldn't let anyone read what I'd put on paper for a very long time. Still, they knew the plotline and helped me work through issues and let me bounce ideas off them. My boys helped me work through some descriptions of altercations and a fight scene--fortunately our training in Karate and a son who has done some cage fighting came in handy. I guess the real question is if my description of what we worked out translated onto paper.

This year included research that ranged from Montana to Kaua'i where I checking out restaurants, stores, car rental places (or found out there weren't any), and art galleries along with chatting up caramaran captains, a municipal clerk, and a local librarian (with a family in ranching).

I'm thinking I can really get into this research thing. I attended a seminar that discussed all the things a writer can do while on vacation that could be tax deductable. Assuming, of course, that writing is a job and not a hobby. (If it's a job, hang onto your receipts and get a good CPA.)

That's perhaps the big decision for me to make in 2011. What is this writing thing I'm doing? How far will I go with it? Did I realize when I started out on this adventure that my ultimate achievement (should I attain publication) would make me a traveling salesman? It will be interesting to sit here in 365 days and see how I decide to proceed.

Something I like about New Years is the chance to begin with a new slate. I recall as a child when my career Navy father received orders for the Philippines. It was an accompanied tour, so we got to travel there together. When he'd been stationed in South Korea, we had to wait 8 months before being able to join him. I was 11 when we made the move to the P.I., and this was the first time I considered the possibiities that came with moving someplace where no one knew me. No one would have any preconceived notions about me or judge me to be a certain kind of person.
It was a heady thought. I could become someone else, be anyone I wanted to be. Of course nature and habits soon tell, but the concept of a fresh start, a clean slate has always appealed to me.

As I embark on the new year of 2011, I will have a clean slate, that white screen I began with a year ago. I know some things that I'll want to put on it.

1. Learn how to write a query.  Even if I never submit my manuscript, I want to learn how to do this. Since I made major progress this week by finally finding the title for WIP #1, I feel like I can do anything now. Delusional, I know.

2. Welcome a new grandbaby. My daughter is due in early February, so I'll have to make another trip to Kaua'i. Fortunately part of WIP #3 is set on Kaua'i, so I can do some more research there. =D

I know. The terrible sacrifices we make for our craft. It's just dreadful.

3. Decide if/how to submit. I can't sit here forever just playing with the writing and learning part of this. Or can I? Well, I could, but my children won't let me. They're already threatening to take the manuscript and submit for me.

Once the rejection letters start coming in, perhaps they'll listen to me.

4. Finish writing WIPs #2 & #3. It's amazing what you can do once you actually have the story down in very rough form, so it's important for me to complete these.

I'll have to see how it goes from here. And of course research a little Shave Ice while I'm at it (and forget the vanilla ice cream referred to in the linked article--Macadamia Nut ice cream any day!) .


  1. wow! i am impressed with all your WIP's! and i love that you get to travel around and do research. that is my dream someday! (when i don't have a two year old and a husband in medical school...) i also had no idea that your writing journey just started last year. can't wait to see them in print!
    p.s. thanks SO much for buying my book! i'll get it in the mail first thing monday!

  2. Natalie, that's one (probably the only one) advantage to being old. Most of my other obligations have grown up. =D I remember those days of little children, and I'm impressed you've had any time to write (and get published!). I'm learning (vicariously) just what a time consuming production that is.

    I've meant to order your book for some time. Your story sounds intriguing. I function as a library for my coworkers, so when I'm done with it I'll be sure to pass it around.

  3. Have room in your luggage to take me to Hawaii with you? I'm sure I can make the torturous trip bearable for you....

    I'm also impressed with WIP#'s 1-3. I only have one WIP and the idea for a second. Good work!

  4. I am now thinking that I was stupid, STUPID to set my novel in Somerset England. Why the heck didn't I think of Kaua'i!

    Congrats on the almost new grand baby. Can't wait to hear all about it.

  5. And yet, Becky, I'd adore an excuse to go to Somerset Englad to do some research! =D

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