November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t think that I am the kind of person to take that seriously, then by golly you know nothing about me, for I have taken National Novel Writing Month TO THE EXTREME!
First on the line up- I have already declared that I am passionately participating within NaNoWriMo’s challenge of writing 50,000 words . My name on their site is ScriptorimKeeper, so it if you are also participating in the challenge, let’s be NaNo buddies!
In addition to that- I am listening to Steven King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” Honestly, I almost bailed when the Foreword mentioned his love for Elements of Style, but I am trying to be respectful of others making choices that might not exactly align with my own. I figure this is a good step in that direction. So far, I’ve enjoyed learning about little Stevie King!
I am also reading John Dufresne’s The Truth That Tells A Lie. I have read sections of it before for classes, but now I am going read it cover to cover to get the full Dufresne experience.
And to round off my obsessive tendencies, CNN was having a promotion of StackSkills courses featuring writing and copyediting. As I just finished my Bachelor program, I thought it would be fun to stay on the learning wagon and see what their courses have to offer me (plus it’s cheaper than going to get my Masters!).
Is anyone else celebrating National Novel Writing Month, and if so, what are you doing?
My son’s school is expanding, which kind of sucks because my property taxes went up, but it’s exciting because it looks like my kids now go to the school of the FUTURE. Seriously, I think they modeled the look of the school to be like a building on the Jetsons…only firmly cemented on Earth. Could you imagine the taxes needed to keep up a building that defies gravity?!
Now, I don’t know if this really makes sense, because you figure that if the school is expanding, so is the library, but they recently did a purge of books. I am proud to say that my book squirreling fanaticism was passed off onto the eldest, for he came home with more than his fair share of free books.
He had me in mind when he snagged one:
The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson.
coffee… social activism… rebellion… angsty characters..
Yup that about sums up my needs as a reader.
I will be making sure that every adolescent that crosses my path knows of this book’s existence. In a world that is so politically charged (and divided), this book inspires our next set of social justice activists. Now, the main character didn’t exactly set out to be a political revolutionary, but I’d wager neither do most social activists. It’s one of the consequences of seeing the need for change in the world you live in and realizing that no body is going to bring about that change but yourself.
More importantly, you don’t need to be older, smarter, or richer, in order to create change in the world. Young people are doing amazing things each day.
For example, The Stoneman Douglas Highschool Activists on creating safer gun control:
Malala Yousafzai advocating for women to receive equitable education:
Sophia Cruz on humane immigration practices.
It’s truly amazing whether you agree with their stances or not. Every day, no matter what your age or position in society, you have a voice!
And writing is a great tool for becoming empowered!
Stevenson wrote The Latte Rebellion during a NaNoWriMo challenge, which given that it is the Eve of NanoWrimo, should inspire those embarking upon National Novel Writing Month. I’m surprised that so many writers around me have not heard of this, so let me do a quick clarification. November (yikes that’s tomorrow) is National Novel Writing Month, and there is an organization called NanoWriMo that challenges writers to spend this month plugging away at a project. The goal is to get to 50,000 words, which is the smaller side of an average book. They have an online forum page, regional chapters who host events, web series, and word sprint mini challenges to keep writers engaged. They also host CampNanoWrimo events twice a year that allow you to set your own goals.
I find it incredibly useful to build up your writing muscles, but more importantly to NETWORK! Writing is incredibly isolating, and so it’s healthy to find a community of writers to support and to be supported by. I’ve found a lot of my online community by being a resident CampNaNoWriMo member. This will be my first official attempt at NanoWrimo itself. I have faith that if Stevenson can be successful, I can be as well!
Unfortunately, we need to temporarily break up. Fall is here, and our summer of slacktitude, although brief, will forever be on my mind when the leaves drown my grass, and I get diabetes from drinking too many Pumpking Spiced Lattes.
My last visit to you will be remembered fondly, even though there were nasty seaweed bits which got stuck in my daughter’s hair and had to be combed out. Your parting gift of sand in every nook and cranny of the car cannot be undone.
The book I began to read, and with a fanatical dedication will refuse to read further until I am in your embrace again, will be stored safely until the warm rays of the sun once again beat steadily upon the surface, causing seventy or higher weather. And if this doesn’t show my love for you, beach, nothing ever could. This book is amazing! It is the holy grail for anyone who loves to read, or like me has a passion for reading AND being nerdy.
I will dream of you when the frost coats the ground, especially of getting to see the wives of a submarine flock your piers to watch the first glimpse of their sailors’ return.
And lastly, I will wonder how our mutual friends the sea gulls are and what they eat when the concession stand is closed.
For weeks now, I have been trying to get my kids to read my official revised draft of Children of Planes…
The youngest started to read it. To make it official, she even asked that I draft up a contract of what my expectations were of her to be a professional reader:
Note the deadline of September 3rd….
Apparently, she got bored with the fact that “her character” wasn’t mentioned yet and hasn’t gone back to it. Suffice to say, if I was paying her to read it, she’d be fired.
The eldest was like, “oh… well you know I have soooo many books I have to read this year for L.A, so I can’t even…”
I’m pretty convinced that if my own kids won’t read it, it is likely pretty crappy.
So, what do you do when you’ve developed this new found interest to try to get a novel published, but then realize it’s likely to be crap?
Get new kids who are properly brainwashed and want to read their mother’s manuscript?!
A few weeks ago, before the Summer of Slacktitude ended and I was insanely blinded by medical goo in my eyes, I had felt empowered enough to send out a few query letters to agents. I had this grand idea of sending a few out each week so that I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed with absolute failure in one swoop.
That idea lasted all of one day, equaling two agents that I had found on Writer’s Digest.
Weeks later, which was last Thursday, I was at work. I checked my email, read said email, saw I was rejected and went on with the rest of my day.
You guys it was the sweetest rejection email I’m like to receive. She was like, “We read your query, and I’m sure it will do really well with another agent. Unfortunately, we’re overloaded with projects at this time and cannot take anyone else on.”
Let’s face it, her it’s “us” not you didn’t fool me. It’s likely me, although, I was expecting something more like “You are unoriginal!” or “That is the worst query letter ever! Quit writing.”
Instead, what I got was an email that made me more encouraged to query other agents. And is it wrong that I feel as if this rejection secures my identity as an author? I ripped off a band-aid that was supposed to cause me a lot of pain, but all it really did was sting for two seconds. It didn’t really change how I identify as an author, nor did it curb my writing.
And plenty of the authorial greats have had to rip the same band-aid off. Over and over again. I’m in great company:
Madeleine L’Engle – rejected 26 times
J.K Rowling – rejected 12 times
William Golding- rejected 20 times
Even George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected. ANIMAL FARM!
You can see even more at Buzzfeed’s 20 Brilliant Authors Whose Work Was Initially Rejected
It made me realize that it’s time.
It’s time to break through the fear of rejection and seriously campaign for my story to be published. This is the moment where I prove that I believe in my Middle Grade Fiction piece and its right to be in the hands of as many readers as possible. I need to keep being tenacious and keep pushing until I finally get a YES.
I’m fired up!
My game plan for the next few weeks:
Writer’s Digest has compiled numerous agent databases as well as some added info on how to market yourself as a writer in a way that appeals to agents. These books seem like the next investment for an aspiring writer hoping to become published. I am going to query until Yahoo tells me I’ve sent too many emails in one day and need to take a break.
I am going to begin work on the sequel of Children of the Planes, simply because my kids want me to. Being published does not validate me as a writer; my readers do. If the only readers right now happen to be my little children spawn, then so be it!
There is also a conference coming up in Massachusetts for Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators members where I will have the opportunity to get feedback from agents and editors about what they’re looking for. It sounds like a great opportunity to network and grow as a writer.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. If I didn’t have as amazing of a network as I do, I’d like have quit after that first no.
At one point in my life I had a flawless signature. In middle school, I dreamt of being Mrs. Faith Yu. It was fluid and beautiful. I obviously missed out on the opportunity to have a perfect signature by not marrying my crush…
That also means I’ve never really had a legal flawless signature.
It never really mattered until yesterday, when I had to re-evaluate our insurance records. My insurance agent passed over a tablet pad and pen as he said to me, “Check your signature to make sure it looks as close to your signature as the key pad will allow.” In my head I thought, Dear Sir, I am a product of my environment. Since when does the image on the screen pad ever match one’s signature? My insurance agent had me thinking, do I even have a true signature: a fancy practiced script of my name that people could read right away? Does it really matter?
I am not alone in wondering the value of a signature in a digital world. Linton Weeks wrote for NPR in his article “The Great American Signature Fades Away” that “In recent years, however, as computers and keyboards have become more prevalent, the art — and the necessity — of penning one’s name has gone out of style. The opposable thumb is used more for clicking a button than gripping a pen.” There’s a reason that they usually take a photocopy of your ID when you sign up for a new set of documents. That has more value in contesting legal documents than signatures.
From a newly fledged writer’s perspective, however, a signature seems really important. Friends and family have been saying “I want a signed copy” ~ meaning that eventually I will have to sign my name on things that they, hopefully, treasure forever. Is this how I meet my failure as a writer?! Should I have been dutifully practicing a legible copy of my name all this time?
Sure enough, what showed up on the screen after I signed on the pad was a hot mess. I wouldn’t want to read a book by the person who penned that sloppy signature… nope… not even the e-copy.
When the agent signed on the key pad, his signature was flawless. It clearly matched the printed signature he has on the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday cards he sends us each year. Clearly, it is my own failure at having a fancy signature that is holding me back and not the technology. I wondered for a second if I could ask the agent for tips on supreme signature handcraft, but I realized that might have been overstepping our insurance agent/customer relationship.
To rub more salt into my sloppy signature wounds:
A few hours later, I was asked to go into work to set up a digital copy of my signature very much like my insurance guy has plastered on all those aforementioned cards. I met up with my sister, Alycia. She handed me this form where I had to sign my name three times in different sizes.
I can do different sizes! It was making the three signatures look the same that was the problem. When I handed the form back to Alycia, she looked it over, handed me another form to try my three signature again and muttered, “I knew this would happen.” Signature failure Number Two.
I clearly am a failure at signing my own name, so I did some research and found out that Business Insider’s Skye Gould, Megan Willett and Mike Nudelman compiled a list of famous signatures in their article, “The 17 Coolest Signatures Of Famous People Through History.” Most of them have the feel of a signature, but really end up looking like mini sized pieces of art. On the other hand, J.K Rowling’s signature isn’t the hand crafted beauty that I would have expected, which makes me think that I have a chance at being a decent book signer someday!
Weeks argues that signatures are relevant these days largely for sentimental value. It should be considered a piece of art that signifies who you are, which is backed up by Gould, Willett, and Nudelman’s piece. It has me thinking that I can choose to look at my sloppy signature as a failure, or I can look at this new opportunity as a writer to create a signature that is uniquely me. A whole separate piece of art. Who knows! Maybe I can create such a noteworthy and memorable signature that it will one day end up on the “18 Coolest Signatures of Not-So Famous People Through History.”