Monday, July 30, 2012

The Story is in the Grit

I am taking this wise information from a blog post by Bassam Tarazi on and relating it to the writing journey, both for the writer and her story. 
Few people, or agents, or editors want to read a story about someone who has everything handed to them, who never struggles, who doesn’t evolve, and who when they touch something it turns to gold? (Yes, there is that story and it was very successful, but it wasn’t until the King suffered that the reader began to care.) 

The reason we aren’t as interested in these my life-is-so-good stories is because we all want our own reassurances that we are not failures because we don’t know all the answers and we struggle to find them.
We want to be inspired by someone who has overcome the obstacles, leapt over hurdles or straddled the abyss, gone through the wrong door. Because without struggle, wrong choices, mistakes where do the lessons learned come from?  Where does growth, change and a new perspective come from?
So don’t be kind to your characters. Don’t make it too easy for them. We’ve all heard make your character suffer. Make them take a step forward and then be pushed back two. 

Because when your character is wrestling with life that’s when they need others(characters), to lean on, to vent to, to regroup with, to reset, and then get ready to fight all over again.
We know in life that character and wisdom are sculpted by loss, lessons and triumphs, but this usually comes after doubt, second guessing and facing the unknowns.

This is not only true for our characters but for us as writers.  
Bassam says that “eating a face full of grit every now and then keeps us level and we learn that no honest endeavor is ever a wasted one.” 
He says, “progress in life is directly proportional to the dirt (grit) under our fingernails.” 
Here is a comment that as a writer, I found fascinating and possibly the secret to why I persist in the pursuit of writing as a career. “It has been said that we are at our happiest when we are attempting something difficult but attainable. It is the unknown, yet reachable territory that excites us. It’s a magical place.” 
And here is another gem of wisdom:
(Usefulness of your idea + Luck + Connections) X Grit = Success
Doesn’t that look a lot like the formula to publication?
Our drive to get down the story is our story, and the story is in the grit.
So for both your characters and yourself as a writer, enjoy the grit, use the grit, it will make us better.
As always feel free to comment.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Slow But Sure...

Wins the race. Tortoise (steadily plodding along) versus the Hare (quick out of the gate and then loses interest). We’ve all heard it. We all know it.  But if you’re like me it’s hard to embody the principle in today's fast-paced world.  
I want things now!  Right away!  Instantaneously!  
Waiting is so hard. 

So what am I doing in the writing, trying to get a book published arena?  The land of wait and see.  

The only place in our email, tweeting, cell phone society where 3 - 4 months is still a valid timeline?
I’ve managed to make it work by submitting shorts. I write mostly short children’s fiction, but flash fiction, novellas, and short stories are my next endeavor.
I’ve blogged previously about the baby steps I’ve taken on my road to publication.  And most recently on how small victories can lead to validation for the longer more arduous process. This month it has once again proved true for me.
In June I finished the revisions and submissions process of an 80,000 word novel. After a short break, I had plans to revise a second novel that sat on my desk top, first draft complete. Now, I know most writers recommend after you submit you should just jump into the next novel. And that was my plan.  Forget the first, work on the second. But then...  the big doubts float in. You know the ones. “But what if the first is no good. Why am I going to waste another two months revising. Maybe I don’t know the market. Maybe the genre is wrong. Etc. Etc. Etc.”

But then I got good news.  Not on the novel.  It’s way too early for that.  
Three pieces I submitted in children’s fiction would be published and a fourth sold (and paid). 
Now that’s motivation.  Even though it’s not novel length (and maybe I’m not destined to be published in novel length) it at least let’s me know my writing doesn’t suck.  I've made it to the surf.  And my head's still above water.

So if you haven’t considered writing short, maybe you should. Just for the motivation factor. Plus the checks I’m accumulating allow me to continue taking classes, workshops and even attend a convention or two.
So although you may feel you’re taking time away from your novel in progress, writing a shorter piece and submitting it, before, during or after,  can be time well spent and prove extremely valuable on the longer journey.
Feel free to comment on shorts or how you stay motivated through the long haul.
You can find links to two of my three published pieces this month on the side of this blog.  
"The Duck Family Reunion" and "My Fear Wears A Bow."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Thanks to my good friend, author and fellow blogger Jillian Chantal I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Blog award.  Given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
So here are the rules: 
  1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award- Thanks Jillian.
  2. Add the award logo to your blog.
  3. Answer the eleven questions posted for the nominees.
  4. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
  5. Write eleven questions for your nominees and then…
  6. Nominate eleven worthy blogs and contact those bloggers so they know about it! (No tag backs.)

Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.
The Questions Jillian Posed:
What makes you the most eager to write? What inspires you to grab the pen or keyboard?
That’s easy, getting time by myself away, just me, the keyboard and my characters. Especially if I’ve had sudden inspiration which usually happens while in the shower or on the treadmill.
What’s your favorite snack when writing?
I try not to snack while writing (I hate getting crumbs in the keyboard) LOL. But does wine count? No crumbs, and usually inspiration peaks.

What fictional character would you like to have tea with? 
I would love to have tea with my current work in process heroine, maybe she could spill all and writing her story would be easier. LOL.

What’s a setting you haven’t used in a story but want to?

I would love to have the guts to use Paris.  Maybe one day I’ll get up the courage.

Favorite time of year? Why?
Spring -  April and May because both my birthday and mother’s day fall and I can do whatever I like on those days.

What’s your zodiac sign and how are you the prototype for that sign?
My sign is Aries - the Ram.  I’d like to think I’m not ram-worthy stubborn but I do have lots of energy.
Favorite British Isle? Scotland because my last name Purvis originates there, and of course Sean Connery’s accent.
Snow or rain? Why? Definitely rain.  I lived in Canada for most of my life, I’ve seen enough snow. And you don’t have to shovel rain.
What dream have you had that has come true? Having a daughter and a son.
Name your fictional twins born on another planet. Why choose these names? What’s the name of the planet? 
Help!  I have no idea!  So let’s go with A Flat and G Sharp (the twins) on the planet Mus-ic-ir-if.
Tell me which of the above questions was the most fun to answer? Dumbest? 
The most fun to answer was probably the British Isles question.  The dumbest for me is the fictional twins because Yikes! No Sci Fi knowledge.
Eleven Random Facts about Me:
  1. I love Shea Butter creams, lotions and potions.
  2. Most of my house has yellow ceilings
  3. Small rodents freak me out
  4. I usually have polished toenails - red usually - never fingernails
  5. Discovered caramel and peanut butter together - yum
  6. I love coniferous trees - pine, spruce, Douglas Fir     
  7. I rarely play music in the car - silence or audio books
  8. I-10 is my favorite road to travel
  9. Love my popcorn with olive oil and parmesan cheese (a lot of both)
  10. I still use an ancient cell phone and only a handful (less than 5) know the number
  11. I’m a Junior Olympic Champion in the back crawl
My Eleven Nominees Are:
  1. Joyce Harmon -
  2. Christine Ashworth -
  3. Marion L  -
  4. Cassandra Shaw -
  5. GE Stills -
  6. Zee Monodee -
  7. Janice Seagraves -
  8. Trisha Faye -
  9. Kathryn Esplin
  10. Cathy Shouse
  11. Mark Hunter

Eleven Questions:
  1. What’s your favorite writing quote?
  2. What’s the last good book you read? 
  3. What’s the last good movie you watched?
  4. What’s your favorite fast food?
  5. How much cash is usually in your wallet?
  6. If you could travel to anywhere, where would you go?
  7. Do you have a favorite show on the Food Network? Which one?
  8. Crosswords or Sudoku?
  9. Where’s your favorite place to shop?
  10. Beach, mountains or desert?
  11. What’s your favorite children’s book?
                                                       Feel Free to Comment on part of the post or your favorites.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Validation For the Process

We’ve all heard the sayings... 
Enjoy the Journey.  Or It’s not about the outcome but the process.  
And the path to becoming a published author allows for plenty of opportunity to embrace either of these sayings. Long, long, solitary hours.  Tons of rejection. Ongoing critiques. Quandaries regarding the market. So some validation (like a refreshing sip of Gatorade during a 26 mile marathon) can be invaluable. 

So how does a writer get that validation for continuing this arduous process?  
Here are a few suggestions I’ve used.
Entering contests.  A writer can earn validation for their work with positive comments from judges. Maybe earn a finalist qualification to use in query letters.  A win will boost confidence to carry on and the win may even bring interest from an agent or editor judging the contest. Incredible validation for the process.
 A critique group can help confirm that the writer’s work is improving, or moving in the     right direction. 
A professional editor or writing coach can offer guidance, support and corroborate markets all of which is incredibly helpful and supportive of the work. 
Conferences can provide support and camaraderie with others who are enduring the same often lonely struggle.
Workshops online or in person not only offer wisdom and learning but also support and critique.
Querying agents and editors can prove to be a source of validation if comments are gleaned, or requests for partials or a full is made.
Publishing shorter pieces while on the journey with novel length can be validating.
Self-publishing.  Although I haven’t tried this yet.  I assume self-publishing and getting readers to buy or download your book and then getting reviews would verify the process. 
So you don’t have to stumble along on the long journey to publication without earning some kudos.  So if you’re in need of motivation try out one of more of these.

Feel free to comment and/or add any of your personal validation techniques.