Saturday, June 24, 2006

Encouragment from an Unexpected Source

Wow! What a week. My ms has swelled by more than 10K words, and almost 50 pages. Last night, when the writing week officially closed, my brain was the consistency of a toasted marshmallow. Yesterday's writing was particularly harrowing and emotional, thus my progress was slow.

Quite often, tiredness = discouragement in my life. I begin to wonder if the effort is worth it, if I'm making any progress, if anything good will come of this awful novel I'm trying to piece together. I decided to put it away and not even look at it this weekend.

We piled into the car and took off to pick up my son from Bible Camp. It felt good to get out and not think about plot, style, syntax, flow, grammar, characterization, motivation...and yet the thoughts kept swirling. Sometimes the 'writing mindset' is difficult to turn off.

I suspect most novelists are like that. We live intensely real inner lives and sometimes we're miles away, buried in our make believe worlds, wrestling with a plot problem or living our character's emotions.

When we got home (the boy had a great time at camp) an email was waiting from my agent. There had been no news, good or bad, from that quarter in quite awhile.

A publisher sent word that they are taking a closer look at my second novel. It received favorable reviews from an in-house reader and has been passed up the ladder another rung. My agent says he is 'cautiously optimistic'. That's good enough for me...I'll be cautiously optimistic too!

I just finished reading "The First Five Pages" by Noah Lukeman, a guide to staying out of the rejection pile. One thing I noticed when reading this book was: The farther I got into it, the more nebulous the topics. At first his advice was all concrete. Things like presentation (clean paper, clear font) and grammar/spelling. He moved on to repetition, overuse of modifyers, and consistency.

By the second half of the book, the errors he was pointing out become more subjective and less tangible. Pace, tone, style, progression...and so much more. I think some of these things can only be evaluated by an astute outside reader and not the author who is too close to the work. And they can't always or in some cases ever be truly evaluated in just the first five pages of a manuscript.

That being said, I would recommend the book. When the time comes to edit my current novel, I'm sure I'll be re-reading Lukeman's advice.

News from friends...Stephanie also got encouraging news from a submission. She's passed her ms farther up the ladder at another publishing house. We're praying for good things! I just know she's going to make a mark on the writing world and impact many young girls with her words. I can't wait to celebrate with her!



  1. Donna Alice6:37 PM

    Know what you mean about not being able to "turn off" the stories in our minds. But isn't it fun to have such a rich, inner life we are never alone? One of the blessings of being a writer has always been (to me) having so many 'inside' friends ready to take me away to daydreaming with an idea...what if...

  2. I'm glad you had such a great writing week and wonderful news!

    Oh, and I love your logo! (-;