Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Stakes get Raised

So, I knew that this project was going to be hard. Writing is something that I love to do... But it's never been something that I have developed beyond that. A few short notes that met their end crumpled on the floor behind a dresser, some short stories that sit hidden in a file still without an ending. I know the basics of grammar and can stumble my way through a few sentences without relying solely on the computer's spell-checker. But I don't know how to string my thoughts together into a book; nor do I know how to present these thoughts - once compiled - into a presentation for an editor or publisher. Or how to convince them that my thoughts - my book - are worthy of publication.

So many things to think about. And it dawned on me last night as I was reviewing my header and chapter headings that I still had time. After all, it's not as though there is a time limit. That's when it struck me - that not having an exact time limit would make this project even harder for me to finish.

I needed a deadline or else this manuscript would most definitely end up an unfinished mess, with only the two or three meager posts of a blog that could ever serve as proof of its existence.

So, how to set a deadline for the edits that I need to make? That is where my husband is a genius. He found a writing contest being featured at Suvudu.

March 18, 2011. That is the deadline now set for me to get most of these changes made and have this manuscript ready to submit. If I win, I receive an editorial review and consideration for publication... If not, then it's back to the writing board for more edits and time to find a new deadline ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where to Begin?

As it turns out, starting a journey is much easier said than done.

So I've found the manuscript - all 437 typed pages waiting for me to go through and fill in missing thoughts and feelings. I swear, I think that staring at a manuscript that was started years ago just might be harder than staring at a blank page waiting to be started.

437 pages... So, I figured the best starting point would be to back track a little bit. Where did I leave off? What part of the process had I already started? And I found a critique that I had paid for back in 2008.

Of course, the critique isn't great. I mean, the editor who critiqued my manuscript was very nice, but when I asked another editor to help me go through to make the suggested changes I was informed that the first critique was likely a cookie-cutter critique... A form letter that was filled out without actually going through and / or reading anything. But, still, I thought that this would serve as a good starting point for now.

The first thing noted on this critique was the formatting... Apparently I had not formatted the manuscript properly. I used the default formatting for Microsoft Word, changing only the line spacing to be double spaced. Well, hey, I'm not an author (yet!) right? So how exactly does formatting a manuscript differ from normal formatting a paper? I turned to the Internet to find my answers and found this amazing article that I am now using to go through and reformat my entire manuscript so that it would be in compliance with the standard:

Kleine Editorial Services

So, while my margins and spacing are good, my header, chapter headings, and sub-headings need work. Guess I know what I'll be doing for the rest of the night!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shaping my dream of writing.

Well, saying that I am going to start writing more, and actually doing it, are two different things. Of course, you probably already know this, right? Isn't that something that we learned in the second grade? Or thereabouts.

So how do I turn my desire to write - my need to get this manuscript finished - into an accomplishment? On that ground, I am stumped. I keep searching around for clues as to how other writers have gotten around their hurdles. And their stories are pissing me off more than inspiring me.

If I read another story about how someone tried and tried and tried and worked so hard only to be laughed at right up until they came across a rich philanthropist who just happened to be holding their ticket to publication... Well... Maybe I just need to find a rich philanthropist who just happens to be holding an extra ticket.

Or, actually, if I go the same route other authors seem to have gone, first I need to find a crowd to laugh at me. I've never really been a laughing stock before - could be new territory for me.

But I digress...

So, having the dream of being a writer is clearly not enough. The dream itself needs to be something tangible. For as long as it remains a dream, there's nothing to touch - no progress being made. I can sit and dote and whine to myself all day long about how life is getting in the way of my dream... But the truth is, until my dream is something tangible - a measurable output of a goal - then life is really only getting in the way of, well, a little thought bubble floating up over my head.

And, really, is it possible to get in the way of a thought bubble?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Write Me a Dream

Being young is one of the best feelings that I can think of. Remembering what it was like to be young, however, is quite a bit more painful.

You see, when you're young, you can bounce between three, five, or even more dreams. I went through several dreams when I was younger. I wanted to be an astronaut, a baker, a teacher, a famous chef... I wanted to learn to play the piano, become a great novelist, and be the next great singer / actress. I wanted to live in a warm climate that saw no Winter weather excepting maybe 1-2 inches of snow over the holidays. When you're young you have time for these dreams, and you can change them as often as you want because you have time.

But, as time flew by, not only did my dreams come and go in waves of whim and want but a lot of them ended up taking a back seat as more pressing things came about. Bills had to be paid. I had to eat. I had to feed my cat. Marriage... Hurricanes... College... Divorce... Marriage again.

All of these took precedence over my dreams. So where did I end up? Glad you asked. I ended up with a degree in Human Services Management that is doing me absolutely no good because I attained the degree in a different state. I ended up with a bill for nearly $60,000 in students loans for a degree I can't use and no longer want. I live in a state that appears to be covered in snow more often than not. And I pay the bills by building web sites as an independent contractor working out of the home and constantly reminding myself that I'm out of time - that my dreams are out of time.

Clearly, none of these things were on my list. And worse yet, there is no money left over at the end of the month so that I can find a solution - go back to school, get additional training, or even join a community theater. Then, something extraordinary happened.

I met a new client for web design. He was open and interactive, sending me video clips and content copy to review, edit, and post to his site. And all the while, as I read through his copy and watched his videos, I came to realize that he is out there living his dreams. Note, dreams - not dream. And at the risk of sounding like an after school special or a cliche from an old sitcom, I finally decided that he was right.

It's time I started living my dreams. And so, Write Me a Dream is born - my journey to publication. A manuscript that I started nearly six years ago is being brought back into the light and onto my computer. I will polish, edit, and flush out the chapters of prose for what started as a minor hobby and get that manuscript published.

So why the blog? Because I know me... If I don't try to keep up with myself here, I will let this manuscript fall the way all other dreams have in the past and it will eventually end up at the bottom of my to-do list. Now there is no looking back... It's no longer something that's far-fetched and would be nice to accomplish. Now it's something I have to do.

I would also like to take the time to thank and credit Sayra at DeviantArt for the background image I used for this blog. The poem, "Write me a Dream", featured on her background image is my own; but her artwork truly makes everything work.