Work in Progress: Update

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Well, it’s not Wednesday, but I figured I’d give a much needed Work in Progress update.

The book is done.

D-O-N-E. Done!

In the last few weeks, I’ve finished my novel, done a rewrite, and given it to beta readers for feedback. I’m now taking that feedback and doing my final touch up before Thrillerfest, which starts on July 11th. It’s fourteen days away, counting today.

I kind of can’t believe that it’s here. I’ve been working towards Pitchfest for the last several months. I pitched in OKC and now I’m going to pitch in NYC. I’m optimistic but realistic. I’m going to get to as many of the 50-60 agents that I can during the allotted 3.5 hours. It’s going to be, in a word, exhausting.

My plan for that evening is grand.

I’m going to get a massage, order room service, and watch the mid-season premiere of Impractical Jokers.

I’m especially excited about Tuesday. I’ll be working with nine other writers alongside Andrew Gross for some one-on-one feedback about our novels. I just got the e-mail with some other people’s work in it. Exciting stuff!

With two weeks until I plant my butt in that classroom, I’ve got a lot to do. Not just on the book but in my every day life. I’ll get it all done, though. I always do.

 

Work in Progress Wednesday! Week 15

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“I forced a smile even though I wanted to throttle the toddler and then her mother.” — the last line in my WIP, Stand Up Guy

96 pages and 33,979 words and counting.

Wow. It seems like a lot but there’s still so much more that needs to be done before the conference that I’m going to in May. It’s a daunting task but I think I’m up to the challenge.

This week, the biggest obstacles I seem to be facing are my lack of time to do much writing due to my mom’s surgery next Monday and my inability to come up with any decently written sentences.

That seems to be a recurring theme in my writing struggles. Sometimes I feel so blocked when it comes to the structure of the actual sentences even though I can see the scene playing in my mind like a polished scene from a movie. There’s a disconnect that I think has to do with being self-conscious. The ultimate ambition of most any writer is for someone to read their work and the idea of someone reading something as intimate as what I’m writing now is quite paralyzing at times.

At the moment, one of my other struggles is social media. Can we just say, ‘yuck’? There’s nothing that I find slimier (Grammarly says that’s not a word but I really think it should be) than people trying to promote and sell themselves. It grosses me out to think about having a Facebook page where I try to get people to “like” my stuff. But from what I’ve been reading, it seems like this is the way of things now. Apparently, agents and editors want to know that you’ve got some marketability and an ability to promote yourself and a web presence. There’s got to be a way to do this that doesn’t feel like the emotional equivalent of a root canal.

I want to use these WIP Wednesday posts to track my progress on my current novel and to try and see what other writers are doing with their own WIPs. I guess with all of that being said I should stop blogging and get back to writing.

Let’s do this.

 

Writing Through the Years and Through the Tears

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Writing has always been a huge part of who I am from the moment I picked up a pencil and penned (penciled?) that first story: It Came Floating Up. It was a chronicle of a mysterious Sargasso seaweed monster off the coast of Corpus Christi. This was as a seven-year-old, I think you should know. I was precocious.

From there, I went on to write about a vampire bat with a blood-sucking problem and later, as a teenager, I wrote about a character named Sabre Nero and her adventures with her pet squirrel. After that, I wrote some romances that I shared with my friends and it was in college that I found myself writing women’s fiction primarily.

I’ve loved to write since I was able to read. I’ve always loved the idea of telling my own stories the way that other authors have told theirs. There’s some sort of magic in picking up a book and reading a passage, feeling your own thoughts echoed back at you, written by a person that you’ve never even met. I’ve always wanted to provide that for another person the way that someone else provided it for me.

I spent college meandering between majors, straying from creative writing into funeral service and eventually coming back to my one true calling. I’m nine hours away from graduation, though I put it off like the plague. Something about that forty-five-minute drive and the anxiety of being at school again.

Writing has been how I coped with situations throughout my life and how I continue to cope today. One subject that is very dear to my heart is mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder and PTSD. I feel that they are both very often misunderstood and misrepresented in pop culture. It’s not uncommon for the scary bad guy on Criminal Minds to be “bipolar” and thus, a serial killer. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Most people with bipolar disorder are far more of a danger to themselves than anyone else.

Recently, I’ve been writing primarily about PTSD and the aftermath of rape. That’s a huge cornerstone in the foundation of the novel I’m currently working on: Stand Up Guy. The main character is raped by someone that she trusts and has to rewire her brain after suffering from PTSD for a very long time. Ultimately, who can be trusted? It seems that by letting anyone in, we are giving them the opportunity to destroy us. This is a quandary that she struggles with throughout the book.

My own journey with PTSD has been similar to hers. Though our stories are not identical, they share similarities. For nine years I kept secret the fact that I’d been raped. I had mentioned it in passing to people but never truly let myself feel the depth of the wound. Holding it inside for so long made me sick. So sick that I ended up in the hospital for six weeks. Fortunately, I’m better now and I plan on blogging about that journey in the future, but for this post, I just wanted to talk about what keeps me writing, and it is this: I must.

That sounds trite, but writing is the only release that I’ve found for the energy that builds up inside of me due to bipolar disorder and PTSD. Writing is a place that I can go where no one is judging me, at least not until I share that writing with the world. And even then, if it helps one person, it was worth it.

I hope that someday my story and the story of my heroine in Stand Up Guy can affect someone’s life the way that so many stories have affected my own.