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The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists

The general who would be king. Oh! But that’s been done so many times before! Coriolanus. Gladiator…

These were the thoughts ruminating through my head as Bobby walked me around our neighborhood. Thinking thinking thinking about this character, a very important one in my life, who decided to reappear in my mind this morning. I love him, I want to bring him to life. But how?

Beat yet accomplished, Bobby plopped down on the cool tile near the doorway while I prepared a deserved lunch. I checked my Twitter timeline, and @writersdigest had posted ‘The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists,’ which I really enjoyed reading. Each attribute got me thinking about my own journey.

TOOLS

I think about what I need to have in order to be able to write. I’m a typist, a fast one at that, so when I know I want to produce a lengthy scenario, I know I need the keyboard. But, I do like to freestyle write. I recall the beginning of December, I ran out of journal pages and thought I’d be fine with sticking to the keyboard and typing in my thoughts. It didn’t work! For the physical tools of the trade, I do need paper as well as QWERTY.

My takeaway from this paragraph was, ‘The less time you spend thinking about how you write, the more time you spend thinking about what you’re writing’ and it’s true. Not having a journal to work from disrupted my ability to flow. While inspiration wasn’t stymied, the comfort of getting it from spirit to paper was.

PATIENCE

What I am most grateful for in this current mode of existence is the abundance of time I have. Retirement in the proletariat sense has allowed me room to evolve; to slow down, to tend to my ailments, to prioritize who and what matter. The opening sentence of the article includes, ‘the single greatest ally we have is time.’ Tis true.

What’s been interesting in this venture is how much everyone around me is impatient. While I’m happy to spew out a work here or there, the conversation is, when are you going to publish? What are you going to do after that book comes out? When are you going to start a book tour? Are you doing readings??

Yo. Chill out.

I even got an email saying, you have time to submit your book to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award you should do that! Thanks, really. But I’m doing this to experience joy, I’m not vying for Best Joyful Person. Does that make sense? There are literary artists damn near hyperventilating around me when I casually mention I’m publishing one of my works this year. Are you going to submit it for this award? That award? Are you doing contests? How much are you selling it for??

YO. CHILL. OUT.

FOCUS

The reason why I’ve stopped collaborating with groups is because the ones I’ve experienced lack focus. While the group ideology is to support a creative person and develop a creative work environment, it just seems to splinter. I’m a very focused individual, ask the two people who are brave enough to claim me as their friend. Once my mind is on a project, I design it Z to A, and that’s where the project remains. I may have mentioned in a previous blog my short-lived apprenticeship with a screenwriter. When we met to discuss the existing project, she had five – FIVE – different versions of the screenplay printed out, and we’re supposed to start revisions that week! Her sloppiness showed me while she had the ambition, she had no strategy and definitely no focus. Incredibly self-disciplined, organized, focused people are allergic to sloppy, unfocused ones.

HABIT

My habits are thus: I wake up within a certain window of time every morning. I walk the length of the lake, or when Bob completes #1 and #2, whichever is first. I brew coffee as I clean up the kitchen and make my bed. Coffee is brought to wherever I plan to write, and I do two Morning Pages by hand (The Artist’s Way, people, do it, thank me later) whatever’s on my mind. After that, just depends on where my creativity takes me. Currently, I’m balancing marketing time with respite. Not trying to jump on a fresh product yet, so I’m watching movies, reading books, experiencing works other than mine. When I was in the thick of novel production, I did the same morning routine, but then I’d compose well past sunset, sometimes until dawn. Next day, same morning routine. Well stated in the article, ‘The more consistent your habits are – and this ties into having your tools nailed down – the more secure your brain will be to run free and create.’

PRACTICE

The author says it in the article, ‘Practice makes you better.’ It does. I use this blog to practice. I use my Morning Pages to practice. I use my Twitter feed to practice. I’m a writer. I have to practice. Nothing is more saddening than coming across another person who claims to be a writer, but hasn’t touched any writing instrument since childhood. It’s in the actions, not the words, we’ve heard this axiom delivered several ways. If you’re a writer, write. And practice. And do it for you.

Feelin’ Like A Struck Match

 

Me staring at the screen with my good eye.

Me staring at the screen with my good eye. The other one burned out.

The back of my eyeballs hurt.

This is the un-fun part of authorship. The point right before publication, raking through each chapter one mo’ gen, making sure there’s no escaping extra spaces, or errant commas, or misspelled names. Yes, I’ve managed to misspell my own characters’ names in several places.

These are the tasks put upon me by my editing team. This dynamic duo (and thankfully, came as a two-fer) are cleaning through I Blew Up Juarez with katana-like precision. But like respectful editors, they let me have last glance and last say.

So yesterday I spent the better part of twelve hours adding literary putty to fill in cracks in the plot, confirmed changes by chapter, and committed to the spelling of Maclaggan as Maclaggan, not McLaggan, not MaClaggan, no, these fuckers are called Maclaggan!! And to prepare you for your reading engagement, it’s pronounced mack-lag-gun. You British Empire folk can throw in your customary lilt where it’s right for you, I ain’t stoppin’ ya.

I’ve hit Send on the processed file, and now it’s in the hands of The Dynamic Duo. I need to rest my eyeballs, so I’m spending the rest of the day putting together the world’s best stew for tomorrow’s get-together at the demigoddess’s house. I’ll be reading a chapter from the book, not any that are already posted. If you’re attending, awesome, if not, indulge in some escapism, courtesy of yo gurl.

Happy Thursday! It’s Thursday, right??

NEW READING: After The Earth-Shattering Kaboom

Just in time for the holidays! My gift to you, my sweet darling blog follower. I LOVE YOU!

My novel, I Blew Up Juarez, is still on track to be released end of February, which I am sure by title alone, you’re ready to pick it up and peel through it! This presentation was done in October for a local writer’s group in Saint Petersburg. The chapters I am reading in the video are the immediate events after Johnny Saucedo blows up Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. We meet Phoebe, her best friend since childhood, her husband Iwan, an Army Sergeant Major, and Mimi, a hapless college student who happens to be related to Johnny’s gun running partner.

So much going on in just 15 minutes! Are you ready to escape into the hard slap, fast moving story? Just hit Play:

VIDEO: October Reading From I Blew Up Juarez (NSFW)

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