Thursday, December 21, 2006

Writing through the holidays

Howdy, y'all!

If you've been as busy as I have, you've probably asked Santa to bring extra hours in every day. But just in case he doesn't come through, I have a plan:

First, I went through my files. Yes, ALL my files. Almost a hundred story ideas, all at various stages of development. If a manuscript had no hope of selling, even if it hadn't been submitted and rejected, it took a short flight straight into the trash can.

That left me with about two dozen stories, some fully-fleshed out, others just topics I felt could be turned into salable novel plots. I gave each a thorough read, to determine which might sell in today's market...and which cannot...and a few more files sailed into the already-full garbage pile.

Next I sorted through the remaining six story outlines, and put them in 'easiest to complete and submit' order, so that on January 2, 2007, I can perch on my purple exercise ball, fingertips curled above the keyboard, and dig in on 'the story of my heart' (working title "Defiance").

Make no mistake: The "Defiance" characters and storyline fits today's publishing trends. I see no point in making a difficult job even harder. I mean, why put time, effort, and energy into a book nobody but me wants to read! (The fact that I can write about a couple of my favorite topics, and wrap character traits around my favorite (and least favorite) personality types is a 'plus'....)

Yeah, I'll put my 'all' into "Defiance", and when I believe it's ready, I'll submit the synopsis and first three chapters. And before editors' fingers ever turn the pages, I'll be hard at work on the second story in my short-stack, "Tuxedo Bend".

I'm organized to a fault. If things aren't in order, I can't get anything done. Chaos--even a small amount--puts me into a never-ending tailspin of 'fix this' and 'do that'. In order to concentrate on a task at hand, my tiny brain needs to see and feel (and believe) all the ducks are in a row, all the T's are crossed, all the I's dotted.

There's no turning back; I dragged pounds of paper to the curb and cringed as two big guys hefted the can into the back of the trash truck. Maybe the rats and roaches at the landfill will enjoy reading what no agent or editor ever had.... As the squealing, grinding gears of the vehicle moved down the road, I found myself relaxing. Smiling at my new-found freedom....

Each manuscript DISproved the 'out of sight, out of mind' adage. I thought of them every day, sometimes more than once a day: Could a few be rewritten? (If so, which?) Could I weave elements of one novel into the plotline of another? Might 'this' character perform better in 'that' story? Knowing they were as gone as last year's Christmas fruitcake opened my mind in a brand new way.

As an avid gardeners, I know that sometimes, when a plant malingers, harsh pruning is in order. Lopping dead stuff off, whacking back to the original plant is the only way to get back to healthy green chutes and big fragrant blooms I once enjoyed.

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this.... Cutting those dead, never-salable stories from my files made room for stronger ideas that will bear publishable fruit.

My advice to you? Instead of asking Santa to deliver more hours in the day as your Christmas gift, ask for 3 uninterrupted hours you can use to prune YOUR files. I'll be a gift that keeps on giving, for the space you'll create in your office will cry out to the Universe "Fill me!"...and new ideas will appear like magic beneath your Christmas tree....

I'll close by wishing you a merry Christmas, a happy Hannuka, a wonderful 'whatever you celebrate' during this holiday season. And may 2007 allow you to meet all your goals, and let you see at least a few of your dreams come true.

All my best, Loree