Posts Tagged ‘writing’

When the year started, I was fresh off finishing the final rounds of edits for A Touch Menacing, the last book in my trilogy. To me, that whole time period looks like one giant black scribble mark in my brain. After writing on the same characters for almost 5 years, and then having to let them go (some in horrible ways) I was emotionally worn out. I knew I needed a break. Hell, I’d needed one for awhile. But I didn’t feel like I deserved one. See, I was never one of those people who could work on multiple projects. I wrote A Touch Mortal, sold it, and then worked on edits until a couple months before it was published. Only when I reached the copy edit stage did I jump into A Touch Morbid. The same went for Menacing. So in between edits were weeks where I didn’t do any writing. I feared not being able to find my way back into the voice and world if I started something different. I watched, envious, as friends talked about their new projects and “for fun” books that ended up selling. This was an entirely foreign concept to me. Sometime between selling the first book and finishing the third, I’d stopped seeing writing as fun. I’d started to see it as a constant word goal I never quite reached. “After I finish this, I’ll write something different,” I promised myself. “Something for me. Something fun.” But it never happened. This year, for the first time in almost four years, I found myself with no deadline. No pressure. And I completely froze up.

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All work and no play make Leah something something…

There are a million reasons I could give you. I could say it was lack of discipline, or lack of ideas, but those aren’t true. I’d actually pitched my agent a few at the BEA 2012, and never quite gotten around to starting them. I could say I was busy. Maybe even that I was simply catching up on tv shows (hello, Sherlock!). The simple truth though, is that I fell out of love with writing. I wasn’t rushing home to get a scene down. No one stared at me at the grocery store when they caught me running dialogue to myself in the ice cream section, because I wasn’t running dialogue in the ice cream section. My characters weren’t popping into my head, because I didn’t have any characters that made me think about them. The spark was gone. Writing and I, it seemed, were over.

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I thought about what that would mean. Could I be happy without writing? At that time, the answer was yes. My contract with Greenwillow and HarperCollins ended after the third book. Writing a new one meant going on submission again,which was daunting. It meant maybe finding another publisher. Maybe not finding one. Did I really want to go through that again? There isn’t really much else I’m good at aside from writing. I considered going back to school, but wasn’t sure what for. My agent, Ro, asked me how everything was going. I told her I needed a break. She told me to take as much time as I needed.

And so I stopped writing. I babysat my nieces, and hung out and went to (lots) of concerts. Then, one day, a scene popped into my head. One that screamed to be written.  I wrote it. And then I let it sit. A week or so later, another scene popped into my head and I called a friend. I read her the first scene. “Write that book,” she said. “Now.” I asked my roomie, Scott Tracey about it. “WRITE IT.” he demanded. So I putzed along on it. I can’t say it came out in a rush. It fizzled and sparked and smoked in my brain and on the page. This year, I thought, I’m going to teach myself to work on multiple projects. That’s my goal. So I started something new. That, too, took off. When it stalled, I flipped to my first project. Then started another. Then another. Some were only scenes. Others went further. I worked on what cried out most to be written when I sat down. I started to like writing again. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, I had another book in me.  In September,  I added up my word counts for each codenamed project, expecting an abysmal number. This is what I found…

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Now, that may not seem like a lot to some writers, and it’s especially not a lot for NINE months of writing, but to someone who considered giving up, that is a glorious amount. Staggering. I was back in the game. So this, 2013, became the year I taught myself to work on multiple projects. Here are my final word counts.

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One of those books, codenamed Doorstop, is finished. It’s currently sitting for a couple months until I have enough distance to give it a proper edit. Another, AVBA, aka the project that got me writing again, crossed over the 60k mark last night. I’m hoping to finish it at around 75k. I can’t tell you what it’s about, but GOD do I want to. Guys, I love this book. I think you will love this book. It’s uses a well known character I’ve had a crush on since childhood along with that special twisty quality I like to add to my stories. I spend my idle time dreaming up creepy promo ideas and ways to strengthen the plot and one liners to work in. It’s the book I want to send first to my agent, because it’s a book I’m already proud of, even though it’s not yet finished. And it feels so good.

Most of the 182,510 words (which breaks down to 500 words a day) I wrote this year will never be published. For instance, it’s going to be years before I’m a strong enough writer (if ever) to tell the story I want to become Sour Notes. Terrors is a fantasy novel, something I’ve never tried before and I’m not sure I’ll be able to sustain for a whole book. Accidental Kristen is just that–an accidental Kristen scene that takes place long after A Touch Menacing ends, and will never be a novel. At most, it might be a short story I’ll email to people who want to read it. But the point is, I had fun writing these words. They stretched me and made me work and think. They gave me the chance to say, I’m back. I’m writing again. And if luck has it, in a few months I’ll be on submission again, an idea I’m actually pretty excited about.

Next year, my goal is to finish two novels. One of those will be AVBA and the other, I’m not sure of yet. We’ll have to see what the next 365 days hold! How about you? Did you have writing goals for the year? Did you reach them? What are your goals for 2014?

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So we’re back from the dead on the blog!  This was just too good to pass up.  Earlier this month I was approached about doing a Pay It Forward interview chain of pre-published authors!  The idea was to show that people do make it, and even if the road gets hard, you keep going.  What a great way to spread the positive vibes!  Don’t worry though, I’m not going soft.  See, this interview came with the added plus that I got to interview people, and got to write their questions.  So, I made my interviewees write their pitch in a haiku.  Seriously.  I’m cruel like that.  So without further ado, the first interview is with Gretchen McNeil, my YA Rebel buddy!

Can you describe your story for us in haiku form?
 
I hate you a little bit for this.  Just a little.
 
exorcist Bridget
banishes demons to Hell
Evil is revenged

 
At what point do you think someone becomes a "real" writer?  Finishing the novel? Querying? Sale?
 
Labels.  They suck. 
 
I think writers come in all varieties and sizes, whether you’re writing copy for a radio detergent commercial or winning the Pulitzer.  But for me, the moment I thought I was a "real" writer was when I wrote "THE END" for the first time on a novel.  I set out to write a novel.  I wrote a novel.  I became a "real" writer again when I edited that novel.  Then again when I queried it.  Each step is part of the same journey, and I realize every day that as long as I’m continuing to move forward, I AM a real writer.

 
Where are you on the road to publication and how did you get this far?
 
I have a wonderful, rock star agent – Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown – and we are currently on submission.  I finished my first novel 2 and a half years ago but didn’t land an agent until I started querying my second novel.  Next step?  Publication!

Thanks for the interview, Gretchen!  Her blog is here, and she posts as Monday on the vlog collab channel the YA Rebels (which btw is holding an AWESOME guest vloggers week right now!). 

My interview will be up on Lisa and Laura Roeker’s blog  later this week, but there are MANY others participating and sharing success stories!  You can check them out here:

Elana Johnson
Beth Revis
Victoria Schwab
Kristen Hubbard
Carrie Harris
Kim Harrington
Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins
Amy Holder
Kathy McCullough
Tiffany Schmidt
Susan Adrian
Dawn Metcalf
Gretchen McNeil
 

is not something I’m going to take sides on, but here’s the deal.  Me and a few others have gotten together and are doing a weekend wordathon.  Kind of the anti-queryfail…a little something positive, because new words make everyone happy right?  If you want to participate, I’m at www.twitter.com/leahclifford or you can search for #wordathon.  It runs through Sunday at 6pm!  Spread the word and see you there!

Notes on Starting a New Story

Posted: February 2, 2009 in Uncategorized
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1.  Just like in the movie Abyss when he’s breathing the liquid, there will be thrashing, there will be resistance, but your body will remember.  Your body will adjust.

2.  Getting down to your "writing weight" has been a good running joke, but take care of yourself.  Pretzles, coffee and nicotine are not food groups.

3.  When you wake up, and your skin is slick with sweat, your head fuzzy with the memory of how the club smelled, and the blanket feels too much like the bodies pressed against you as you struggled to get closer to Luke singing on stage…when you bolt upright after only a few hours of sleep and your ears are still ringing from standing too close to speakers that exist only in your dreams, this is a gift. 

4.  On the same note, never keep a notebook on your bedside table.  These snippets are not meant for you, they’re meant for your subconscious.  They will come back. 

5.  Those throw away details that you can not explain?  Later they’ll be pivital plot points.  Now is not the time to stress over why they’re there or where they came from. 

6.  Having a "real life" full of going out, socializing, friends…Not Writers will explain to you how healthy and necessary these are.  They’ll never understand that these things are luxuries.  Right now is not the time for them.  They will be there later.  Others are different and that is okay too.  But for you?  That perfect scene playing out behind your eyelids may not wait.  Get it down now.

7.  It will get very ugly.  This is generally when the beautiful things happen, when the book gets written.  Give up a little less frequently than you did last time. 

8.  When you write a paragraph that gets you excited, that makes your skin crawl with its potential, has you smiling as you’re typing.  Even if you wake up the next morning to reread it and realize it sucks?  You’re doing it right. 

It Starts At Midnight…

Posted: October 31, 2008 in Uncategorized
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About an hour away from the start of my Unofficial Nano-type project!  Is everybody excited?  It’s weird sitting here thinking about the collective hive brain buzzing for midnight, everyone trying to get their ideas together.  I know I’ll be sporadic about posting for the duration, but I’m pretty sure everyone’s running this disclaimer tonight, so I’m not too worried!  Good luck guys!!!

So you guys remember that comic I told you about… A Softer World?  I mentioned it in this entry.  And Joey has a livejournal!  (Joey has a livejournal, horton hears a who…nevermind.  Sorry.) It’s untoward …I’m kinda going out on a limb here, but I’m assuming he likes friends.  Anyway, he and Emily are doing a serialized horror story for Holloween!  The first chapter is up and talk about a hook! 

Shamelessly stole a meme from tezmilleroz  Go here and choose Twitter, LiveJournal, WordPress, etc. Then type in your username, and it’ll take your subject headers and give them to cat photos.

Which shouldn’t amuse me as much as it does, but hey-these came out pretty good!  I think the last two are my favorites. 

I found this site last night and omg! A. Totally talented and B.  Most of them are hysterical.  This guy has people send him in song ideas and then he does them… and this isn’t like "guy on a guitar" this is so much more…backbeats, harmonizing and robot pirates!  No, seriously… "Yo ho ho and a bottle of RAM" hahaha

In writing news, I’m working on an epilogue that I’m not sure I’ll need but I want to have incase someone says "Hmmm…ending not so much" I can thrust out the pages of my follow up work triumphantly and proclaim "I’ll save you!" ….or something.  Also, my brain is on overdrive panic mode.  It’s now throwing prequels at me at an alarming rate.  Anything to stop me from sending out Reapers apparently…"NO!" brain screams, "Reapers is book TWO!  Write this other one first!"   "Ha!" says I.  "Reapers characters are more interesting.  Do better, brain!"  problem is, they’re good ideas…and it did always kinda have a book two feel to …. NO!  Ugh, see what lengths I’ll go to to get out of writing a query letter?  (brain is whispering "the prequel/real first book would be an EASY query…easy…so…easy doitdoitdoit)  Yes, I’m willing to write a whole new novel to get out of it.  Yes, I’m serious.  Yes, you should probably send help.

Posted: October 10, 2008 in Uncategorized
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THIS IS THE EMERGENCY
BROADCASTING SYSTEM
WITH A MESSAGE FROM 
THE AUTHOR…

Um…I just finished Reapers.  I ….so…um….what now?!  I really didn’t expect this…I was working my way through both the ending and the epilogue and when I finished the ending I realized I didn’t even need the epilogue…maybe…that’s up to the beta readers.  I guess I should sleep because I have to be up in like 6 hours for work but who the hell can sleep at a time like this?!  EEP!!!  SSSQQQQUUUEEEEEEEE!!!!  Everyone’s asleep here!  Why can’t I ever finish these thing when there are people around?! Why the hell don’t computers have an interobang?! 

Tonight should have been…

Posted: October 9, 2008 in Uncategorized
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the end.  Instead, Gabe decided he needs another chapter.  And he does.  I could cry.  I really thought I’d be writing THE END tonight, even if I knew I had to do that little transition so it wasn’t an OFFICIAL end, but now I don’t think I’ll get there.  Sure, it’s only 9 so I have four more hours until I have to go to sleep so I can work tomorrow, but I know how I work.  There’ll be many minutes lost to distraction.  It’s just how I write. 

So I’m still in it, trapped somewhere below the surface. I thought tonight would be the night I’d finally be able to breathe… Sigh. 

Well, at some point I’ll be doing a Blog Chain post tonight, so look out for that I guess.  I’m so bummed… 😦

Tonight should have been…

Posted: October 9, 2008 in Uncategorized
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the end.  Instead, Gabe decided he needs another chapter.  And he does.  I could cry.  I really thought I’d be writing THE END tonight, even if I knew I had to do that little transition so it wasn’t an OFFICIAL end, but now I don’t think I’ll get there.  Sure, it’s only 9 so I have four more hours until I have to go to sleep so I can work tomorrow, but I know how I work.  There’ll be many minutes lost to distraction.  It’s just how I write. 

So I’m still in it, trapped somewhere below the surface. I thought tonight would be the night I’d finally be able to breathe… Sigh. 

Well, at some point I’ll be doing a Blog Chain post tonight, so look out for that I guess.  I’m so bummed… 😦

Ah Emo Boys.  How I love them!  Like Ville Valo, who’s in the avatar though that’s not his best… here’s a better one!

 Anyway, I’ve been working on the finale and it’s coming along really well, though slow.  I’ve had to go back and reread and tweak to make things fit.  The side effect of this is that I’m rereading quite a bit.  Which does wonders for morale because I love the little exchanges between some of the characters.  Also, I’ve got a huge crush on Az…again.  I was a little squee faced over him a few months ago but now I’m just all atwitter.  For clarification, this is Az…

normal hot Az.                                       Dressed up Az.                                    His amazing eyes…sigh….


I just hope the betas like him even half as much as I do. 

The avatar came out of this conversation I was having with my friend Jacinda, who I’ve now sworn my eternal and undying love to. 

Clarification and convo under the cut