23 April 2007

We're All Different

Hi folks -- I'm Jody Wallace, and this is my first post as part of the Beyond the Veil blog. I'll talk about more paranormal-specific things in later entries, but today I've been thinking about writing advice. There's such a huge market for how-to-write books out there, you'd think a ton of people wanted to be writers...or whispered to you, when they learned you were a writer, that you needed to write their life story because psst psst and psst.


Well, there are a lot of people who buy those advice books. A lesser number start a novel. Still fewer finish one. Even fewer submit it for publication, and I think we all know how many get published.

For those of us in that minority, we aren't there because we all read the "right" book or employ some similar technique, besides write well and keep submitting. Everyone who pursues a writing career puts the words on the page differently, resulting in different words and different books. Some of us believe writer's block is a myth, and some of us can't write unless certain conditions are met, such as soft music, an IV drip of caffeine, or photos of our hero emblazoned across the computer screen. Some of us finish several books a year, and some authors, as legitimate as the rabbits, write at the speed of tortoise.

I'm an author who does her best work when there are no children tugging my legs, screeching at the cats, or babbling non-stop in the background. As a stay-at-home mom with two kids not yet in school, these "requirements" mean my writing time is limited. I have great envy in my heart for writer-types who can drop into the zone (the magical place where we can get something worthwhile onto the page) handily, taking advantage of fifteen minutes here or there, scribbling during ballet lessons or lunch breaks, pounding out hundreds of words while the baby naps.

If the baby naps.

My dream zone is silent, childless, catless, climate-controlled and clean, all things no one would use to describe my house. A place like that is a true fantasy. Right now, for example, my 5 year old has been talking so much her voice is husky, and the baby is headbutting my legs because I'm holding the laptop instead of her. I don't get my dream zone, so I make do with chaos, enforced Teletubbies hour, and occasional bouts of low rumbling.

What's important to realize, as you contemplate your own zone, is that what works for me won't necessarily work for you. What works for Jennie, or Bianca, or Carolan, might not work for me (though I wish more methods did work for me!).

One author I know swears by first drafts in two weeks at twenty pages a day--"Get those words on a page no matter what!" she cries. Another writer I know composes fifty page synopses before she begins a novel. She can't proceed until she's packed for all contingencies and knows all the stops along the way. Still another, who may or may not be myself, is slow, erratic, and finds synopses inhibiting. But the result of one of these journeys? Is a fantasy romance novel called A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, purchased by Samhain for publication in the year 2008 :).

So I did something right, even if I felt unsure at the time when considering the seemingly more successful methods of my peers.

And that's what I want to celebrate today--our differences. Through it all, as we blog and vent and discuss the ins and outs of authorship, it's important to acknowledge there are as many routes to a destination as there are authors. No right path, no wrong path. Our brains and writing habits are as individual as the end results.

Thank goodness for that, because I was a reader long before I was a writer!

What's your process? Ever been convinced you had pinned down your process and tried something new anyway? Did it work or did it lead you astray?

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