17 September 2008

The Growing Pains of Writing


I’m in the middle of edits for my third Samhain release. Wow. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s all real. And yet, I still feel like such a newbie at this game even though I’ve been published for three years now.

I’ve come to the decision that writing is like aging. You start off brand spanking new, wobbly on your feet, unsure, maybe even a little bottom heavy, but so darn proud of yourself. “I’m writing!” you tell people with excitement. “A story. Fiction. What’s it about? Oh, let me tell you!”

Usually when you submit your first chapter for your first critique is when you take your first fall. And, man, does it hurt. You’re bruised and in pain and maybe you might go back to crawling for a bit. Maybe you stop walking altogether. You realize that this writing thing isn’t nearly as easy as you’d thought. Point of view? What’s that? Head hopping? But Nora does it, why can’t I? Backstory? But my readers need to know where my characters are coming from before they can know where we’re going.

But then that muse starts talking to you again, whispering to get on your feet. Forces you to start walking again. At first you’re more wobbly than when you began but slowly you gain speed. Ah, now I see what they mean about backstory, and no one can write like Nora, so let’s not try. Your next critiques come back a little better and before you know it, you’re a toddler, running down the road, still stumbling, but exhilarated by your freedom.

So when do you become a teenager? When you first submit? That first “official” rejection? Ah, teenage angst. You’ve submitted your first query and you anxiously stand by the mailbox every day until you know your mailman’s whole life story. It’s kind of like waiting for that cute boy in English class to call you. Will he call? Will he ask you out? Will the editor like your stuff? Will she ask for more? And when the rejection comes, you cry. And cry. And eat a lot of chocolate. Stupid editor. What does she know anyway? My story is good! You sulk for a bit and then you stand up and start running again. This time you set your eye on a different editor and you hone your craft more.

And then the offer comes. Oh, man, someone likes your story enough that they WANT TO BUY IT! It’s like the boy asking you to prom. He noticed you! He likes you! You scream and jump up and down. You call all your friends and share your good news and they’re so excited for you that they scream and jump up and down too.

So are you an adult now? You would think. But not so for me. Even after seven books I still feel like that teenager. Anxious, nervous, scared. I still find myself falling. Still find myself brushing my butt off (larger now because of all that chocolate), and toddle on.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be an adult. Every contract gets a scream of excitement and a little dance. And I still shed a tear with every rejection. I’m dating that boy in English class but it still feels so new and sometimes we’re a little awkward around each other. But I’m still hopeful, still excited and still loving what I do. Maybe I don’t ever want to be an adult. Adults tend to be cynical, tired, worn out, burnt out. No, I like being a teen.

About Sharon: Sharon Cullen is married to her high school sweetheart and they both act like teenagers together, even though they have two, real live teenagers living with them as well as a teenager-to-be. Sharon’s writing has been compared to Tara Janzen and her newest release from Samhain, Deception (romantic suspense), has received excellent reviews. Sharon also writes about vampires and her current work in progress is the next story in her Samhain vampire series. Visit Sharon's website to learn about all of her books.

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