Monday, March 29, 2010

All Life is an Experiment

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." ~Beverly Sills

Last week, I finally finished the first set of revisions for my latest WIP (Work in Progress). This book has been my personal 'White Whale', as I've struggled through every phase. Finishing the first draft took forever. The rewrite seemed to drag on even longer. Why the struggle? Two reasons, one because this was a new genre for me, complete with new rules and a more complex plot. The greatest reason though was more personal. This book is my least commercial. Not to say I've veered off into literary genius (unless you want to offer me a contract in which case I'll say anything you damn well please).

When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work. ~George Bernard Shaw

While others I'd known within my writing community chided me for not wanting to write 'hot' romance, it felt more like a repetitious exercise than an inspiration. Which led me to a dramatic turn into suspense without a speck of romance involved. I chose to venture into the paranormal territory yet, because of my own background as an astrologer who studied mythology, theology and metaphysics, my choice was to incorporate more realism into the world I created. Into the plot, I have woven my own thoughts and perspective, peppering the story with musings by my lead character.

"I'm not funny. What I am is brave." ~Lucille Ball

Sharing some thoughts about this with my husband, he asked, "Are you sure you want to go in that direction?" Which really is an excellent question but logic dictated I follow my heart for this round.

"Why not?" I said with a shrug. "My commercial books wowed readers but didn't cause a ripple with Those Who Matter in the publishing world."

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. ~Pablo Picasso

Again, two reasons emerge. One is clear, perhaps by writing a book that reflects me, I'll find my way into publication. Even more importantly, to continue on with my writing, I need inspiration. I need motivation. In other words, if I'm not pleasing others, I need to please myself.

You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures. ~Charles C. Noble

No matter what goals you have for fulfillment, there is work involved, along with a need for inexhaustible patience and a determination to continue on—to find that rainbow no matter how often the clouds appear gray.

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

"There's only one true teacher on the path of becoming a writer—experience."Chiron O'Keefe

Each book written has taught me more about the process of writing than any of the craft books I've pored over. Here's the wisdom I've garnered:

First and foremost, to be a writer, you must write. You have to make mistakes in order to learn what works. You must take chances in order to stretch and enhance your ability. You must risk failure in order to succeed. You must make sacrifices whether they be major inconveniences or minor considerations. You must be determined, thick-skinned, and utterly passionate about your writing.

"With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable." ~Thomas Fowell Buxton

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second." ~William James

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Outside my window, sunshine splashes over the lawn, promising a hint of spring on the way. Yet I'm all too aware that others are still warming their nearly frost-bitten hands and yearning desperately for a change of weather. This is the way reality works. Just as some might find success while others are still shoveling snow by way of endless queries. What we all must do is remember, those blossoms will bloom… someday. In the meantime, we must continue to pull the weeds, plant the seeds, and put up with that huge bag of stinky manure in order to yield a harvest.

Here's to another week bursting with potential! How will you be planting your seeds?

--Chiron O'Keefe

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6 comments:

Celia Yeary said...

CHIRON--you caught me taking a break from my WIP because it's not going in the direction I want, and I clicked around to find something to take my mind off it. Why does this always happen to me? It sounds like this fits what you're saying. Off in another direction, but not really knowing why or where you're going. Over the years, I've written several stories I finally labeled "women's fiction" because they aren't pure romance I'd been writing and getting published. Now I learn the market is slim indeed for Women's Fiction. This seems to be an 80's genre, more than now. But...I love my stories and try to find some niche for them. Good luck with your WIP--I hope you finish it and find a fantstic publisher. Celia

Miss Mae said...

I have finally finished the words "the end" to my current WIP...I'm so thrilled!

And like you and Celia, I think I'm mostly writing to please me. What appears to be selling like hotcakes these days to readers is either erotica, or the most bizarre vampire tales one could ever conceive--neither of which interests me. Will publishers grab our work? We don't know, do we? Yet, we have to be true to ourselves, I think, or else we'll be nothing better than just a plain old lemming. And I ain't fond of rodents. :)

Kirsten said...

I sense a theme here and it's so nice to know I'm not the only one! I took some serious time off to get to know myself better b/c I lacked my own direction and was tryingh to write to what other people wanted or expected ...but it wasn't ME! I hope to get back to writing as a much richer person- one who writes what she knows from the heart that she's recently become better acquainted with. I've missed your encouraging words, Chiron! ~K

Chiron said...

Hello Celia!

Part of our process is to discover our own heartbeat within our writing. Sounds like you're on the right track.

However, 'women's fiction' is still a viable market. Perhaps not in the e-pub world which remains strongly focused on romance, paranormal and erotica. But in the print world authors like Debbie Macomber and Jennifer Weiner are still selling well. Even 'chick lit' authors like Sophie Kinsella are still raking in the sales.

The good news is the more you sell, the stronger your name becomes, which allows you to sell more. So what might not be marketable now could do well in a couple of years.

Hope you find the perfect market for your WF stories too, because that's one of my favorite genres to read!

Thanks always for your comments!

--Chiron

Chiron said...

Good for you, Miss Mae!! It always feels so good to finish up a story. Yum!

Boy, I hear you about the erotica/vampire tales. I'm not sure about the strange direction these days. Sounds like we're all better off just sticking to what pleases us most. There are readers out there who also enjoy a darn good story!!

No jumping off the cliff for me. *grin* The only rodent I still like is Mickey Mouse. And to think, Walt was told there was NO WAY the public would accept a MOUSE in a cartoon. Hah! Go, Steamship Willie!!

Thanks so much for visiting, my dear!

--Chiron

Chiron said...

Hello Kirsten!!

It's funny (or not!) how many writers do try to 'fit in' before they realize the only real choice is to 'stand out'. *wink* We'll color outside the lines together! :-D

Truly, the only books I want to write these days are ones that excite ME. I'm the toughest critic I'll ever face, after all. *grin*

Keep on writing YOUR books (as Jennifer Crusie would say) and trust that our very good books will find their way into the hands of very appreciative readers.

Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Kirsten. I've missed your energy and it's great to see you here!

--Chiron