I've been writing songs my whole life, really, but in a dedicated way for the past fifteen years. I've learned a lot. I've grown a lot. I used to hide my songs away, having labored over them and poured my heart into them, afraid that someone would find fault with the song--and by extension MY SOUL. I have grown out of that for the most part, though criticism can certainly still sting. I found community: first through a weekly song circle with my local friends where we would play our brand new baby songs for each other, giving and receiving great encouragement. Now I have a circle of pals who give honest feedback, listen to unfinished songs and give direction, help set goals and give high fives for either effort and/or achievement. I have mentors who are ahead of me in the game but serve as role models and can offer guidance and advice. Through RealWomenRealSongs I learned that every song is not necessarily a special snowflake; I can keep writing and another song will come around; sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I miss and that's okay--keep writing. I know how to talk about songwriting. Measure success however you want, but with songwriting I know what I'm doing.
Now enter fiction. It's a whole new world, you guys.
I have a completed novel that I have kept pretty close to my chest. It IS special snowflake, isn't it? It takes sooooo much longer to write a chapter and get it right than to get a verse. A novel is tens or hundreds of thousands of words. Don't hear me say it is harder to do (songwriting is hard!), it just empirically takes a bigger time commitment. It feels like I poured my soul into it. I certainly poured a year and a half into it. I feel sheepish and shy talking about it. Who do I think I am writing a novel for publication? Why do I think I can do this? What if I spent all this time on it and it is crap?
I've gotten over some of this. SOME of it. Last summer I asked some super readers/friends to read an early draft and give me feedback. It was terrifying and helpful. It's been easier to send it out to 100 agents I've never met than to the people who I know love me and want me to do well. I still get flustered when someone asks what it's about.
I'm working with a career coach, the fabulous Sarah Fruehling. Want help getting to the next level in your pursuits? Want help figuring out what your doing with your life? Go see Sarah.
Last month we talked about the transference of skills. I have built up all these skills and resources for songwriting: community, mentors, openness. My new goal is to figure out how to apply these skills to the writing of fiction. I need a group of writers I can share with. I need someone ahead of me in the game to shed a little wisdom (I've got a list!). I need to some how not see this writing as so precious. I need to bring it out into the light and not make it be such a big deal. I'm working on it. It's such a good plan!
And in the spirit of this post I will tell you this. I am working on a new novel. It's not the one I set out to write, but new inspirations edged out my best laid plans...and by "new inspirations" I mean a plot line I've been kicking around for fifteen years. Almost every morning I'm up to put in a hour or so of writing before work. It's been fun! Also, I have sent a query letter and excerpts out to dozens of literary agents. Two have requested to read my full manuscript. That's something! That's something super cool. That's something to keep working on and towards.
What I'm reading
A Perfect Evil
What I'm listening to
My Favorite Murder Podcast & Heaven's Gate Podcast