REVISING: THE CRIPPLING PART


REVISING: THE CRIPPILING PART

Natalie Bright

Writing is the hardest work you’ll ever do.

Many people start their great American novel with good intentions, and for many different reasons, and then it’s time to edit.

My kids have this notion that writing an assignment paper is going to be a breeze, so they wait until the last minute. My son talked about his research paper for several weeks before the due date. The theme was something he knew a lot about, and he verbally explained the outline of his paper very thoroughly. I was impressed (and surprised at how he seemed to be interested in an English assignment). The grade was barely passing, due to sloppy sentences, misspelled words, “the writing is not good” wrote his teacher. Why didn’t he read over his work? He had put a lot of thought into the research topic, but almost no effort into the writing itself.

Time after time, I talk to wanna-be authors who have given up and given in to the utter frustration of editing their draft. They are daunted and shocked at how much work they have yet to do, because the story seemed so alive in their head. More often than not, the story has been in their head for many years. The idea that was so clear and brilliant in their mind reads like crap on the page.

Do not be intimated. This is how the process works – seriously! You have to edit your work.

The real magic happens, I believe, during the editing process. This is when your story takes shape and rises above the others. This is when you find your writer’s voice, and realize the load of crap has possibilities. This is where you’ll leave the physical world of your daily existence and disappear into the world you’ve created.

Writing is harder than most people think. There is always a better word, description, sentence order, scene; it’s never really finished and it won’t emerge on the page perfect, but you have to stay with it. Please don’t give up that easy. If you have a story in your head, YOU and only you, can be the one to write it. If you’ve always wanted to be a published author, you can!

 

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NaNoWriMo


“There is no perfect time to write. There is only now.” – Barbara Kingsolver

NaNoWriMo.org

Natalie Bright

This year I officially registered to write a novel in the month of November. Several of my critique group members are also attempting to do this, so I’m motivated first of all by the fact that I’ll have to tell them how far along my book has come. We meet again next week.

Also I’m inspired to work by the fact that this book idea has been on my mind for several years, and it’s going to be such a relief to actually have a first draft down on paper. Staying in the chair for long periods of time with my fingers on the keyboard is the hardest thing for me. Maybe NaNoWriMo will be the motivation I need.

The progress graph on the NaNoWriMo website is fantastic. It’s encouraging to be able to update my word count, see the progress, but it’s self-defeating at the same time. Saturday, the day we were supposed to double-up on word count, was a total bust for me. I had three places to be, errands to run, plus two teenagers texting me, which resulted in zero words. There are those days when life takes over and nobody cares about your novel in progress.

TRICKS AND TOOLS

Here we are seven days into writing a 50,000 word novel in a month and I am definitely not where I had planned to be. The good news is that I’ve discovered some pleasant surprises in this experience. The story really flows when you FORCE yourself to focus. It has been a struggle to block out the real word and stay at it until I have my 1500 words or more a day. If I stay at it during lunch, I can crank out 1000 words. I’ve been able to type the rest during shorter sessions here and there, whenever I could manage.

To speed things up for me, I cleaned off the white board next to my desk and wrote character names and setting details. This is book two of a series set in the Texas frontier and it totally stops my forward momentum when I have to look up the name of the trading post on main. Having those details that will be carried throughout the series at hand really saves time.

Is there anything you have done to help with the flow of words for NaNoWriMo? Please share.

I’m thankful for a new week. Carry on writers!

What to Expect at OWFI


What to Expect at OWFI

By Natalie Bright

 

The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. hosts an annual conference in the spring. If you’ve never been to a conference for writers, I highly recommend this one held in Oklahoma City. My head’s still buzzing from this years, and while it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share what you can expect from the experience:

1)    Buzz Sessions: After a full day of learning followed by a banquet with a keynote speaker, OWFI organizes late night discussions. Usually the current faculty along with several other published authors lead discussions on specific topics either in the lobby area or in their rooms. Beginning right after the banquet around 9:00, these talks can go well past midnight. This year I attended one led by Christine Taylor-Butler. I used up my cell phone battery taking notes because I forgot my notepad. She talked about the Highlights Foundation workshop which she attended as a newbie, her experiences with agents and editors, submitting work, breaking into nonfiction for children, how she organizes her research, plus some. This is where you gain insider information about the business from people who’ve been in the trenches writing and launching careers. Buzz sessions have become one of my favorite parts of OWFI.

2)    Bookstore: Books by the speakers and OWFI members were available for purchase at a bookstore located right across from the meeting classrooms. It’s a good place to catch faculty when they’re not doing presentations to ask specific questions. Conference bookstores may not be the best place to sell your books unless you are a keynote speaker so don’t expect huge sales, but it’s still good exposure so bring bookmarks and business cards too. This year authors were limited to only five copies, which is understandable due to space issues. Be sure to follow the rules of the conference carefully so that it’s fair for everyone. For me personally, it’s a weekend for learning (it’s nice to have a few days out of book seller mode). In the bookstore, I asked Jerry Simmons about the NYC submission process, and visited with David Morrell while he autographed copies of FIRST BLOOD for my teen boys.

3)    Breakfast: The best way to start the day is with hot coffee, a huge breakfast buffet, and writers everywhere! Go early, grab a big table, invite people to sit down, and ask them what they write, where they’re published, how their critique group works…you get the idea.

4)    Diversity: The most surprising thing to me when I attended my first OWFI conference many, many years ago was the diversity of the speakers and of the attendees. I didn’t know there were so many people working is so many different genres. Writing is not just for novels of fiction. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but I came away from that first conference inspired to work realizing that there are so many opportunities. The organizers do a super job at lining up speakers who represent a wide range topics for every level.

5)    Friendly and Helpful: I had been told by more than one person that the Oklahoma Writers bunch is one of the friendliest conferences around, and that is definitely the case. I’ve been to other conferences in several different states and OWFI continues to be the one I look forward to every year. People are more than willing to help you. Ask about their first publishing experience, how to with an agent, writing a query letter, places to send a query, writing for a magazine; you’ll discover people are more than willing to share. Ask, learn, and leave inspired.

Put back $10 bucks each week for 52 weeks and by then it’ll be time to register for OWFI May 2015. Make an investment in your writing career and get another step closer to reaching your writing goals.