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April 5, 2003: The Process

March 28, 2003
I received the revision package from E. today. She has some terrific ideas and insights that will make my book much better. Thank god. A guiding hand. Just what I needed to make this thing work. I am very lucky she's picked me up. She has pinpointed what I knew were trouble spots but didn't know how to fix. Thank you, E.

Still no definite title yet, but things are leaning toward The Damsel In This Dress. But no decision will be made about that for some time based on advice from the sales department. In the meantime, the publication date is set at August 2004, but if I can get my revisions done asap, there's a chance it could be bumped up sooner. I was a Girl Scout; I will be prepared. I highlighted the comments in E.'s letter and made a sort of to-do list. As I go through the manuscript, I'll check for these items. She'd like another love scene and more sizzle in the second half. I mentioned this to my husband and he said he'd be glad to help out any way he could, wink-wink, nod-nod. Sleazy opportunist.

Yesterday, I read Jennifer Cruisie's article in the RWR (Romance Writer's Report) and am going to incorporate some of the things she said into my routine and into my writing. Note to aspiring authors: Gold is where you find it. Read what other writers do and when you hear a truth, make it your own. And always give credit where credit is due. My mom used to tell me that, and she was right.


April 2, 2003
Owie. Last Monday I did something, I don't know what, and pinched a nerve in my back. Sitting in front of the computer has been excruciating this week, like trying to type with an ice pick stuck between my shoulder blades. Here I have all these revisions to make but as soon as I start to type, I have to stop. I went to the chiropractor and he was able to help a little. Hopefully it'll unpinch soon because this is really uncomfortable and unproductive.

And the Mariners lost their opener last night. My husband is sad, but with 160 games remaining, we may yet recover.

As for Uppity Woman: The Book To Be Renamed At A Later Date, I highlighted all the manuscript notations my editor made and just need to put the changes to the document on the computer (except I'm squirming all over the place trying to find a comfortable position). Once that's done, I can go back and use my checklist to work in two new scenes and pump up the dialogue in the second half of the book.

New authors: Years ago, I assumed writers sat down, wrote out a book, were brilliant, sent their perfect manuscripts off to an editor and voila. I knew I couldn't do that, so I didn't write even though I wanted to. Then, on PBS, there was a program called The Write Stuff. My oldest daughter was a baby then, so I'd feed her and watch this program. I caught a few episodes of it and became fascinated with what they were doing.

What I learned was writing is a process, that you don't have to be perfect first time out, that you can go back and revise and change and add foreshadowing and do whatever it takes. I learned that's what published authors do. I'd never had a writing class - they didn't teach writing in school the way they do now - so I didn't understand this fundamental concept. Perhaps it's something most people have figured out and I'm just totally lame-brained, but it took that PBS program for the light-bulb to blink on in my head (so many light-bulbs, so little time).

As far as practical application goes, I've written and rewritten and printed out and marked up and gone back and done the cycle over and over until I've gotten where I want to be . . . or not. Sometimes, it take a fresh pair of eyes to spot the trouble, in which case, having somebody else read your manuscript can be a very valuable thing.

There are many books out there on writing and every time an author has suggested one, I've tried to find and read it. One of my first and favorites is Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott (ISBN #0-385-48001-6). Her basic writing philosophy has helped me and many others understand that writers all go through the same emotions - doubt, joy, self-loathing, happiness, confusion, satisfaction - but you can face these challenges and still come out the other end with a completed manuscript.

And who am I to make suggestions to others? I have only written one book and it hasn't even been published yet. This could be it for me - a one book wonder. It's a fear I have. But, just so you'll know, I've actually written five books, but only one has been good enough to get published. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep trying. You can make your own dreams come true.

-- Marianne


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