Monday, December 26, 2011

My Best Christmas Gifts

(Has it really been nearly a month since my last post? December has whizzed past in a blur of papers to grade, gifts to find and wrap, concerts and parties to attend, food to cook - finally, Christmas is over and I have time to sit and catch my breath.)

I guess it's not easy to find gifts for me. When asked what I wanted for Christmas, all I could think of that I really wanted was a little stainless steel pot to warm the milk for my faux coffee (oh, and a gift card to get books for my Kindle, ha ha). But my husband didn't think that would be quite enough. I did get my little  saucepan, but he also gave me two other items that are tops on my list of "favorite gifts" - an 8G flash drive and a laptop fan/chiller. Why do I think these are such great gifts? Because it means he's encouraging me to keep writing.

When I opened the flash drive, he said, "You can use it for just your books - don't put anything else on it, just your books." What's great about that is that at this point, I only have ONE book to put on it. There is a substantial bit of a first draft for another, and ideas and bits and pieces of others, but I've never really organized them. By giving me this flash drive, he's telling me to get professional about this writing thing.

He couldn't know this, of course, but his gift came at the perfect time. I've decided to forget about querying my "non-commercial" novel at this point. Instead, I'm going to focus on writing more, and when I have three or four that are ready to go, I'm going to publish them myself. Ann Turnbull sent me a link to a blog by writer Catherine Czerkawska, which had a post entitled, "Some Thoughts About Literary Agents" that was quite enlightening and encouraging (as were the comments to the post). As one of the commenters (Linda Gillard) said,
What I learned from that experience (which threw me out into the professional wilderness for years) was that the book was/is my property. It had its own identity and integrity and it still had that, even if no one wanted to publish it (and no one did.)
It's a little frightening to think of walking out on the tightrope without the security of someone to "validate" the integrity of my story, but it's also exciting and empowering. Now I can get back to why I like to write in the first place - discovering the characters, playing with plot, doing the research - instead of worrying those first 10 pages and the query letter to death in hopes they'll stand out of the slushpile. I'm going to go back and fix the first scene of my finished novel so it suits me. I had tickered with it, trying to follow the advice of agent blogs to make it "grab" readers right away, and I felt that I was trying to cram a foot into a pointy-toed pump when it really belonged in a moccasin. No more of that. I will trust myself. As another commenter said,
I say, the hell with fear. Let's just take a deep breath and dive in. Let's create the change we want to see.
A good way to end one year, and start another, don't you think?

1 comment:

Ephemera said...

YAY!!!!! I'm so glad you got gifts you like, but even more glad that you're not going to worry about publishers anymore! I think your book is very good, and it made me sad to think that you might give up on getting it published just because it didn't have Fabio on the cover (LOL -- you'll know what I mean).

By the way, I LOVED the bag you made. Perfect, perfect, perfect!!!