30 August 2010

Christmas in July

This particular experience also covers the end of June and the beginning of August but the title covers the month that made it all possible. You see, I spent the first week in July completely immersed in a holiday story titled Ghost of Christmas Past. It was longer than I anticipated, wrote quicker than I could have imagined, decidedly veered away from the original premise and was happily contracted the first week of August for publication this winter! I’m incredibly happy about that but this blog entry isn’t a promo, it’s about something more, confidence.

I stepped away from writing for a while after two projects that didn’t quite hit the mark and a cross-country move that threw the world sideways. Once I got settled I edited the two projects and added a third, but something was missing. My heart wasn’t in it because I couldn’t pin down what hadn’t worked the first time and I’d lost confidence in the process. Everything I did seemed to labor under a filter of shaken confidence and misconception over what I should do versus what I tried to do.

Instead of solving that problem I forged ahead, working on several different things but always distracted back to the mss waiting to be improved. February 2010 saw an editing spree that helped me fall in love with my world again and I went on to submit work I felt strongly about, but there was still a hesitation—one that reflected in the feedback.

A layoff and two health issues later and it’s late June. I’m worn thin and trying to catch up from illness to reach a deadline I have no hope of making when I’m given the first of three gifts. June’s gift is a revise and resubmit request that is so detailed it’s liken to mana from heaven. Finally I have a concrete grasp of where I need to go to make the story work and I’m eager to get to it.

The second gift comes July 5th in the form of an extension on the deadline for Ghost of Christmas Past the very day I’d given up on making it. Scraping all but the first 6K, I spend the next five days putting down 27K in a round the clock writing marathon that can only be described as “being in the zone”.

It was a completely insane week but one I wouldn’t trade for all the well planned leisurely writing in the world. With only one week to make up for two weeks of illness, there was no room for hesitation and very little sleep. The focus and the fatigue removed the filters I’d been writing under for too long. I got it done, I did it well and it got contracted, accomplishing in less than 30 days what I hadn’t been able to do in two years. Interestingly enough it was the exact same thing with the first novella published, I got it done, I did my best and it got contracted. So where’s the third gift in this?

When it came time to do the revision I was fresh from Ghost of Christmas Past and still in the zone. Then life did what life does and I had to wait to pick it back up the last week of July, a far cry from said zone yet the filters hadn’t fallen back in place. It was such a different experience that I turned to the wise minds at the Romance Divas forum more than once to see if I was off the mark with the revision. I let it unfold as it chose and when I was done I’d nearly doubled the length and taken the story someplace I’d originally dreamed of but couldn’t make fit the original wordcount I had in mind. A wordcount I’d unconsciously married the story too even after the anthology I’d conceived it for had come and gone.

The revision of one project and the validated insanity of the other combined to make a third gift, a reboot of sorts on my perspective. Every project I had sitting there along with the ones in queue to be finished or taken from first draft to submission level, all looked different. The filter of hesitation and reservation and the preconception of story length and structure had broken open and everything shone clear again. The excitement and curiosity and all the things that make writing not only fun but essential to who I am have returned—or maybe I’m the one that went away and has finally come back. Either way it’s good to be here and no matter what else I might get in December, thanks to my CP’s timely suggestion, an editor’s gracious input and my own unbalanced determination, I definitely had my Christmas in July.

Gifts of Writing Ramble ~ Done

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