progress

To Publish Books, You Must Write #amwriting

https://ebmessenger.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/2c858-ahappywriter.jpg?w=219&h=238

In the mad rush of writing, reading, and living life, it’s important to pause and reflect because from reflection comes awareness, and from awareness comes new goals. Setting new goals helps me continually improve myself both as a writer and as a human being. It isn’t always easy, especially because there are so many things I could improve upon. Where to start?

I decided to reflect upon why I was able to write twice as many words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last year than I did this year.  This November, I crossed the NaNoWriMo 50k finish line with 1,535 words to spare. Yay, I’m a “winner,” but it’s a far cry from last year’s 112,000 words. What changed? Here are some of the things I did differently during NaNoWriMo last year.

-I wrote every morning.

-I frequently left the house to write. Coffee houses, the public library, and the university library all worked well.

-I had not yet started blogging and tweeting. Surprise, social media sometimes draws my attention away from writing.

-I wasn’t reading nearly as many books. This November I read eight novels while participating in NaNoWrimo. In order to do this, I had to cut out pretty much all TV shows and movies–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

-I was a lot more interested in last year’s novel than the one I wrote during NaNoWriMo this year.

-I wrote with 100% carefree abandon. This year I was a tad bit more careful so the resulting first draft wouldn’t be quite such a traumatic mess.

-I didn’t have other areas of my life crowding out my writing time so much. Oh, dear reader, over the past couple of months I had a major personal thing happening and, boy, did it take me emotionally and physically away from writing, but hey, no excuses, right?

So. . . this year, things changed. Life does that. In reflecting on the differences in productivity between NaNoWriMo past and present, I’ve decided to:

  • Make it a priority to reestablish a morning writing routine.
  • Be more mindful of the time I spend on social media. I’m SO grateful for the kind and talented writers and readers I’ve connected with through blogging and social media. They have made the pursuit of a writing career so much less lonely. And I’ve learned so much about publishing and writing, as well as great new books to read. I’ve also gotten a good grasp on what makes a good query letter (thanks especially to literary agent Janet Reid of Query Shark). And I have assembled a long list of excellent literary agents with whom I’d like to work, thanks to lots of internet research, agents’ blogs and tweets, and industry insights gleaned from sites like querytracker.net. Those are all good things to be aware of, and to be prepared to execute well when the time comes. But…

To publish books, you must write.

Though I’m not at a place where I feel the need to set limits on my social media time, I do realize that–as a person whose dream, goal, and mission is to publish successful YA books–more of my free time should be spent writing.

If you’ve come up with good ways to create a balance for yourself between social media and writing, I’d love to hear about them.

–Eve Messenger

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Progress, Reflection, and Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee singing

Peggy Lee was at her most beautiful when she sang.

When chanteuse-poet-businesswoman Peggy Lee was still just little Norma Delores Egstrom from Nowhere, North Dakota, she carried around a piece of paper on which she’d written: “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon . . . must inevitably come to pass.” She was maybe all of ten years old at the time. I’m much older, but that is also what I am doing: vividly imagining, ardently desiring, sincerely believing, and enthusiastically acting on my dream of being a successful published author of many bestselling novels.

This summer, while on break from my job as a music and language teacher, I’m throwing myself more into writing than ever, and I’m educating myself on how to break into the publishing world. In between bouts of plotting and writing novels and short stories, I’m “attending” Google University in earnest, blogging, tweeting, and happily connecting with other aspiring writers. I also purchased a Duotrope subscription to more easily find markets and track short story submissions, and I’ve been researching literary agents.

When I feel defeated, frustrated, worried, nervous, or especially when I compare myself unfavorably with great writers, I tell myself that there are all kinds of books, all kinds of writing, all kinds of writers, and I’m writing, writing, writing to improve and move myself forward.

Since starting summer break in late July, I’m proud to report that I’ve gotten a lot done. I wasn’t sure if I should include all this navel-gazing in my blog, but here goes.

  • Completed fourth draft of YA fantasy novel and sent to freelance editor for developmental editing suggestions. This was big, people; SO many hours went into completing that fourth draft.
  • Half finished researching and plotting new YA time travel novel, Firefly. 4,000 words written. Super excited to write this because it’s my first time travel story, but I’m nervous because I think it’s going to take me to some emotionally dark places (but in a good way?).
  • Recently submitted two short stories, Tilly of Lurra and The Girl I Choose to Write About, to print publications. I started with the most prestigious literary magazines, where competition is the stiffest, so I’ll let you know if I hear anything back.
  • Researched numerous literary agents, narrowing down to top 20, including three dream agents.
  • Thanks to shark/agent Janet Reid’s blog, I tried my hand at a couple of flash fiction pieces, one of which got an honorable mention in her blog.
  • Completed rough draft of a new short story, tentatively titled August Days, for eventual submission to “On the Premises” contest.
  • Outlined a new short story, We Were Vaudeville, to be submitted to Brilliant Flash Fiction Magazine.
  • Coming up: three short stories I wrote during last school year, Thorns, Hi-Fi in Eastern Kentucky, and 17 You-Me Reality Planes, will need a couple more revisions (and probably new titles – I’m titling impaired, unfortunately) before they’re ready to ship out to short story markets.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! I really appreciate being able to share my progress with you.

Eve