Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reflecting Back

As the Prairie Chicks blog is preparing to close up shop, I’ve been looking back over the last ten months of blogging with the Chicks to evaluate what I have learned from my experience. When I started, I was new to the world of “web presence”, and blogging was a completely different universe. It was so exciting, connecting with like minded writers, to practice writing in a more public platform, and to be part of something that required teamwork.
During those nine months, I’ve learned to put together a short story at the drop of a hat as I continued to write my novel, worked a full-time job, and held together a family life. Sometimes things went smoothly, and sometimes they didn’t.
I’ve learned so much hanging out with the Chicks. The articles written on this blog have inspired me, informed me, and made me laugh. From the minute details, like Karyn’s article on That, to the fantastic worldbuilding series by Hayley, every time I hang out with the Chicks, I leave with a new perspective.
My writing has evolved dramatically, and I know much of the evolution is due to what I have gleaned from hanging out here. I have finally overcome my learning deviation when it came to Show don’t Tell. I finally get it! Here’s an example:
Telling version:
As we walked back to our vehicles, I numbly, confusedly contemplated what happened. I realized I needed to be clear about my relationship status.
"I have a boyfriend, Mahlon, I thought you should know that," I said as he walked me to my car.
"I know," He said nonchalantly. I wondered how he knew. "But, sometimes boyfriends come and go, Sarah." He turned to me to smile that sly, wicked smile I would soon to come to love, totally unconcerned about how arrogant he sounded. I was livid that he would be so presumptuous. He noticed my reaction, and flashed a brazenly confident smile, then turned on his heel, and strode away. I stood for a few minutes, shaking my head, smiling at the brash, conceited, yet intriguing young man who had just held my face so close I could smell the sweet ice cream smell of his breath.
You are far too interested for your own good, Sarah.
Showing version:
Mahlon let go of my face, but held my gaze. “Your eyes are so cool,” he added with a wink. Guilt slid through my mind as I realized how bad I had wanted him to kiss me.
“I have a boyfriend, Mahlon,” I whispered. “I thought you should know that.”
“I know,” he said with a shrug.
“You know?”
“Yeah. I know.” He flashed a brazen grin. “The question is—do I care? No. Not so much.” He turned on his heel and as he strode away he called over his shoulder. “I’ll be back for the equipment later.”
Okay, maybe I don't totally get it, but it's coming, isn't it?
My attitude has evolved dramatically as well. I’m no longer the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed dreamer I was when I showed up on scene in January. Now, I’m firmly rooted in the reality of this business, and I only occasionally indulge in imagining my hordes of fans chanting my name at Comicon.
My YA novel, Indigo Blaze, has been re-written, slashed and hacked, added to so the word count soared upward of 140,000 words, and then rendered down to 96,000 again. I hired an editor to tear it apart, and then I put it back together. I’ve had it out on query for about three months, had six requests, but no offers yet. Currently, I’m tweaking it for an adult audience and have completely re-written the first three chapters again.
What I do know of this experience is that perhaps my query is decent, but my writing still needs some work. I’ve only been at this writing business for two years, and when I reflect on that, I realize how short a time that is to learn a new profession. It took me eight years of university to be qualified for the job I have, so what would make me think it would be any different for writing?


Helena said...

Hey, Joanne, you sure know how to reflect the roller-coaster nature of this blogging/writing/coping with family, etc. adventure that we have been on together.

Ah, the highs and the lows! But it has been a wonderful ride and a joy to have you on board this year.

Good luck with the manuscript and hang on to that positive attitude!

Writer said...

Hi, Helena,
Yeah, I feel like I've been all over the map this year!


Jana Richards said...

Hi Joanne,
I don't know how you do everything you do! Give yourself a huge pat on the back.

Two years isn't a lot of time to learn a profession, especially one as complex as writing. And then once you learn to actually do a decent job of the writing, you have to learn about the business world of writing and promotion. It never ends. But maybe that's what makes it so interesting.

Good luck with your manuscript.

Writer said...

Hi Jana,
I don't know how I do it, either! I think with writing, the learning is so much fun that you don't really notice how much hard work it is. And I'm all for the fun!

Karyn Good said...

I love that you used a sample of your writing to show us your learning curve. I also can't wait to hear more about where you're taking your story from here! Sounds very intriguing.

There's so much to know and keep straight, to figure out in this industry and, like you, I feel being part of this blog has helped me learn the craft of writing.

Writing really is a lot of fun!

Joanne Brothwell said...

Hi Karyn,
I'm converting the YA version to a more adult version, just to open up more possibilities.

Take care!