Wednesday, June 5, 2013

100 Writers Project: The Circle of Writing

Hey, guys! This is my entry for the 100 Writers Project. Enjoy!

A little more than a year ago, I had an idea for a book. Actually, I had an idea for a different book. One that would be expansive and intimate and breathtakingly original. Then I realized that for all my years of reading and poetry and dreaming about writing a novel... I had no idea what I was doing. So I put that book aside for a day when I had both the dream and the skill, and set about acquiring that skill. I began constructing a new story from the ground up.

World building has always been the easy part for me. My brain is in infinite supernova exploding with ideas. The hard part was focus. I narrowed the world down and worked on the characters. I gave them names and found pictures that fit them (because I'm a very visual person) and created character sketches. As for plot, I had a rough idea of the beginning and the end and I figured that the middle would sort itself out.

Now enters the essential element. At this point, my mother (also a writer) had been attending small group writing seminars by New York Times Bestselling Author, William Bernhardt. She loved them so much that she decided to sign me up for the first one. Now I've always been a type-A, teacher's pet and I thrive in a classroom environment. I expected to learn a fair-amount, but honestly, through my individual research and experience, I didn't think it would really help me much as a writer. Was I in for a shock.

The seminars last one week and at the end of that first week, I was mentally and emotional exhausted. And I learned. I learned so much about structure that my mind was spinning. I learned the importance of outlining and clear planning. I learned that I still had a lot to learn.

Since then, I've taken the next two levels of seminars and I attended the Rose State Writing Conference in Midwest City, Oklahoma that was hosted by Mr. Bernhardt and attended the lecture he gave there. After I solidified the structure it was so much easier to sit down and write because I new exactly where I was going.

The next phase in my book was NaNoWriMo. I was about 20,000 words into my manuscript when November rolled around. At first, I shied away from joining Nano, because I was under the impression that you had to do a brand new book for it. For those of you who haven't heard of NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and participants attempt to write 50,000 words in one month with the help and support of their fellow writers. Two days after Nano started, I decided, why not? I needed about 50,000 more words in my story and I wasn't going to let the fact that the story was already started stop me.

And I did it. I finished with nearly 52,000 and I'd written through the climax. I still had a scene or two to tack on at the end, but I felt pretty much finished.

Next came the editing. In this particular area, I am lucky because even though I work as a freelance editor, there was no way I could edit my own work. But there was someone who could without charging me an arm and a leg. My mother. My mother is an amazing writer and editor and only a phone call away. So the only thing I had to do was go through the manuscript line by line and clean up the flood of red ink that she'd decorated it with. That was tedious. But I made it through. I also wrote the remaining scenes and polished a few rough areas. I had a finished second draft.

I attended one last seminar by William Bernhardt that focused on perfecting the end. One more exhausting week and then about a month later, I was ready to start shopping it around.

I have yet to meet any writers that like this step. This step is about marketing and (gasp!) talking to strangers, trying to convince them to love your book as much as you do. We're writers because we like to write. If we liked selling things, we'd work in retail.

But anyway, here again, I got a leg up. At the Rose State Conference seven months earlier, I got suckered into pitching to an agent. My manuscript wasn't anywhere near finished, but one of my writing-friends said "Go on! It's good practice. So what if she's not interested? It's not even finished yet!" (you know who you are!) and I did. And it was terrifying. I wrote and memorized a solid pitch and delivered it in a satisfactory manner, even if it was a little rushed and deer-in-the-headlights-esque. And, shockingly, the agent requested the full manuscript as soon as it was done.

So now it's done. I don't know if she even remembers me, but I crafted a query letter and sent her the manuscript. Who knows how long it will take to hear back from her. But in the mean time, I'm starting again.

A new story full of breathless excitement and intense emotion. I'm back at the beginning with a blank canvas and a head full of ideas. I am writing again. And the circle starts over.

Grace Wagner
From attempting to write epic fantasy as an elementary school kid to serious drama as a teenager, she has finally finished a novel. Having grown up in a household were reading and literature were paramount, she loves any book that makes her think and she reads across all genres. She's also hopelessly addicted to British television including Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Downton Abbey. She's lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a full-time writer, spending most of her days in front of a computer screen desperately trying to write something that matters. She's kept company by the most patient of companions, her cat Matches.

For more, follow her on Twitter or Facebook. She's also on PinterestGoogle +, and Instagram. You can continue following her here, on her blog, for more on her and the 100 Writers Project. If you are interested in participating in the Project, please contact her on any of the above sites or comment below.

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