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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who We Are

Six women. Six stories. Six stages in the process. One goal: to write. This blog will detail our trials and triumphs in the writing process as we hold hands and attempt to fill up that white blank page.

I am entirely too busy to be doing this, but that doesn't matter. You know why? Because I have to. This writing thing, it's ingrained in me. In all of us. It nags at me when I ignore it, it pours out of me when I let it. Thanks to the gals who are part of this blog, I have decided to let it do what it does, and that means making time for this blog, making time for writing. Because if I don't? Well, if I don't, I'm a hot, irritable mess, and I know precisely why.

I've attempted novel-writing before and failed. I always get 30K or so in and then it just dies. Fizzles out. Stops flowing. But this time is different. This time, I'm intensely intimidated by my own plot, but there aren't adequate words for how much I love these characters already, and they aren't even written out. Yet. This time, I am not going at this alone; I have my fellow White Blank Pagers. I have you, if you're bothering to read this.

And this time?

This time, I will finish. Not only because I want to, but because I have to.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me.

People in my head talk to me; they have all my life. Lately they’ve begun to scream and stomp and shimmy their hips against my brain and shake their maracas in my ears. I’m not crazy; I’m just a writer. Or I’m trying to be anyway. I’ve discovered in the last couple years that giving the people in my head a forum is not only a stress reliever but a creative outlet I’m not willing to give up now.

My biggest challenge so far as a(n aspiring) writer has been length and stick-to-it-ive-ness, which is to say I can bust out a short story like nobody’s business but lose steam or lack confidence with the longer stuff. I’ve had a great full-length novel idea for over a year now, and
I am scared to death of it. I want to write it, really I do, but I don’t feel ready.

So I have this other idea. And it’s loud and vibrant and totally approachable. I want to make it mix cds and draw it pictures and take it on dates to places with free wifi. I want to write it right now! I feel like I can, too. That’s what I’m working on. It’s a YA paranormal idea that will
(hopefully) be three books. If I don’t panic-flail and run away from it once the crush has turned into more serious commitment.

That’s where my lovely cohorts come in! They are going to make me accountable because
guilt is really the best motivator for me. These clever, talented women rooting for me are going to inspire me to find an extra 15 or 20 minutes to write on the days when I have no time to spare. I hope I can do the same for them. I hope this blog helps someone feel more okay with whichever stage they've reached in this insane process. Being a slightly overloaded student, it’s easy to allow myself to procrastinate, but I don’t want to anymore.

What I want is to be a writer.

I’m a thirthysomething year old wife and mother, a full time cubical dweller, and an aspiring author. Maybe I should amend that. I’m an author, I’m just aspiring to write something that will be seen by someone other than my cats. Not that they aren’t lovely and supportive, but... oh look, I’ve rambled. That’s probably going to happen again. Possibly in the next paragraph.

I’m currently in the early stages of writing my first MG/YA novel. And my second. And they aren’t a series; I just have trouble making decisions. But that’s all part of the process for me. The trial, the error, the repetition of the trial (and likely the error too). Writing makes me truly happy. It feeds my heart and makes me feel whole. I can hardly remember a time in my life when I didn’t write. I have brainstormed and played with countless ideas. I’m an amazing starter (if I do say so myself, and I do).

My downfall? I’m a terrible finisher. I get stuck on something and I throw my hands up, cursing the Gods (and various family members) for my tendency to give up so easily. But, I’m ready to do this. My characters have become my babies, and I can’t wait to write them the story they deserve.

Thankfully, I’ve got five other wonderful authors with me on the blog, and this journey. It is wonderful to have people that are willing to hold you hand, stroke your hair and kick your... procrastination bone. I’m ridiculously lucky to have them.

Welcome! We hope you enjoy!

My life has changed a lot in the past eight months. I've always written stuff down, composed bad poetry in black-paged journals with silver pens during my angsty teenage years, and tried to improve the way I put words together. For a few years I wrestled with a story I will one day make work, but just after Christmas 2010 everything went very strange. There I was, sometime between Christmas and NYE, feeling miserable and very sorry for myself because I had a wicked cold, and I had an idea. The Idea. A Young Adult novel (my other project was middle grade) popped right into my head. Of all the things I've learned as a writer, perhaps the strangest is that watching Hackers and all three Matrix movies in a row while eating your body weight in Doritos is a breeding ground for inspiration.

I took my idea and ran with it. The other White Blank Page Girls can attest to my frequent flails on twitter, and some of them (this being before the formation of this fabulous group) can even say they read the manuscript chapter by chapter, offering truly invaluable help and advice. In May, I wrote The End for the very first time on a novel, then turned right around and started to edit. When I had a book I was proud of, I began to query.

On the 23rd of June (yes there is a reason I remember this date so precisely, in fact there are two) I was sitting in one of the greatest concert halls in the world, waiting for my favorite band in the world come onstage. I include this as relevant because to an overwhelmingly large extent, my book is about music. I am a music nut. Anyway, my phone buzzed with the second email I got from a woman henceforth known as SuperAgent. The first had been the previous day, replying to my query and requesting a full manuscript. The second was an offer of representation, and I will tell you now that a rep offer is possibly the only way to improve on seeing Bright Eyes at the Royal Albert Hall.

So, here we are. SuperAgent and I are busy tidying up the manuscript before the submission process begins. I'll be contributing to WBP with news on how that's going and documenting the start-to-finish process of writing my next book. I'm beyond grateful to have my friends around me for all of this, and hope that I can not only learn from these fiercely talented writers in order to make the second book even better than the first, but also that I'll be able to help them when they get to this stage of the game. I know all of them will.

Minor boring details: I'm 31. I own a ridiculous dog. My music collection is frankly on the verge of embarrassing in size. I love chocolate and cocktails and hot weather.

Oh hello :)

I'm so excited to be part of this blog/project with these other amazingly talented ladies. Through conversations we all learned we are on the same path: Writing our first novel. We're all at different places, but the feelings are the same. It's why we wanted to share that with others, strength in numbers and all that.

And me? Me.

I live in Chicago (which is the best city on Earth) with my family of boys. I've been reading for as long as I can remember and according to my Mother, I was reading even before then. I read everyday. Sometimes I spend more time than I should reading. Occasionally, I'll read the entire day and tell my husband I had a headache when he wonders why I'm still in pajamas at six o'clock. (Oh shush. It's not like I'm the only woman to ever fake cramps so I can stay in bed and read.) In Junior High, I found Judy Blume and I knew from her words, I wanted to be a writer. To this day, I think 'Forever' by Judy Blume is the best YA novel ever written. Of course, I have many favorites now, but Ms. Blume does it best.

I've been writing since the sixth grade, but still can't bring myself to call me a 'writer.' I've told myself that when I'm actually writing for a 'living,' I'll call myself a writer. Logically I know that most writers will never earn enough to make a living at it, so I've recently amended that. I will wait to call myself a writer when a book is published. If this should not happen, I will only call myself a writer when A) I'm trying to top ex-classmates that didn't give me the time of day in high school or B) I can finally admit to myself that a writer isn't what I do, it's who I am. Really, that is what it comes down to. Writing makes me feel fulfilled and brings me happiness. When I neglect my current project, I feel 'off,' like something is missing. Writing and sharing words…It's just in me and I have to do it.

My current project is a Young Adult novel that I'm very excited about. The words are well on their way and I'm finding myself falling more and more in love with my characters every time I write them. It's an awesome feeling, revisiting the emotions connected with falling in love, but without the whole 'cheating-on-my-husband' aspect. See how wonderful writing can be? Well, at least for me it is. I guess that's why I'm here, ready to put it all out there for the world to see. Now, if you don't mind, I'll be hiding behind my couch as you watch things unfold.

I love words. I eat them up with spoons and forks and knives. I like the way they feel rolling around in my head, the shapes they make of my mouth and the way they taste on my tongue. I breathe them in; I bleed them out.

I love words for their power. How they can build or break, soothe or incite. You can do anything with a few well-chosen words. I hope to do something with the ones that are currently hovering on the tips of my fingers. I hope I can choose the right ones. I want to create a world people will love to get lost in.

I'm currently losing myself in the beginning stages of two different YA projects. One is a paranormal story that I've been tinkering with in my head for quite a few months. It's fun and different and something I'm enormously excited to write. The other is a kind of dark contemporary that pretty much makes me cry every few paragraphs. It is not something that will be fun to write by any means, but rather something I feel compelled to write. Which is exciting in its own way.

I know I'll have to commit to one or the other soon, and I think I know which it will be, but for now I'm enjoying the excitement of all the possibilities they represent. So much hope wrapped up in every single word I've written and plan to write for these characters.

But hope can be a heavy sort of thing. With hope comes fear, and with fear comes doubt and with doubt comes inertia. I have been inert for awhile. But with my fellow WBPers, I have found a support system that tells me whatever I might be feeling right now, I am not alone. There are five other women who know exactly what I'm going through, and I've found a wealth of encouragement and commiseration and ass kicking that has helped me push past the doubt and hold onto the hope.

I hope this blog can serve the same purpose for anyone else who might be reading. I know it will be an incredible accountability and support tool for me, but I hope somewhere along the way it can help someone else just starting out feel less alone.