Words & More Words

This Romance Writer’s Life…

Monthly Blog: Hello 2017

As we kick off the New Year, I've made a few resolutions.

None of which have to do with eating right or exercising on a regular basis. Those shouldn't even be mentioned since they never come to fruition. Oh, I start out strong (in fact, this time I started my diet before Jan 1 and am pleased with my results), yet I always lose focus and interest right around, well, now.

So, I'm making a few realistic goals this year.

My 2017 writing resolutions are as follows:

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1. Write & Edit Daily - this is my number one priority above all else. It includes completing revisions for my current work-in-progress, "Tame My Racing Heart." 

On occasion, my sister exclaims "OMG, you're STILL writing that??? When will this story be done?" A writer will tell you, the work is never done. We are constantly editing, revising, tweaking...and it's never, ever really done. 

Two years ago, I had posted a resolution that I intended to self-publish in first quarter of 2015. Here we are, in first quarter of 2017, and not only am I not published, I'm not even working on the same story I was back then. I switched gears to focus on a different novel. One I thought was pretty solid. I mean, it has thirty-seven chapters written, how can it not be in pretty good shape?

Well, it's not. LOL.

Sure, there are pieces of my novel I'm proud of. Parts I find downright clever. Still, there's so much work to be done. After that, I have a novella lined up and another full novel that needs a major overhaul, and I want to continue my song writing venture as I've recently re-discovered my love for it. But first and foremost, TMRH has to be my main focus.

2. Improvement through writing courses/workshops/resource books/RWA chapter meetings. 

How I love a good workshop to get the juices flowing. Went to one yesterday about the pros of hiring a writing coach. Some of the themes discussed prompted ideas to help make my manuscript even better. This happens at every workshop/meeting/one-off presentation I attend. There's always a nugget, at the very least, that I walk away with, and use to better myself or my book.

Plus, commiserating with fellow writers is good for the soul.

At the end of December I read a resource book called The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. This book spoke to me. The author says in the introduction, "Take the $35,000-$50,000 you're going to spend on the degree, buy yourself a good laptop and printer and a bundle of paper, and go off to a cabin and write. At the end of two years, the worst that can happen is you have nothing. Less than nothing is what you'll almost certainly have at the end of your MFA program, because, besides nothing, you'll also have a mountain of debt."

Just a  few  of my resources...

Just a few of my resources...

Now, I'm in no way knocking MFA's or the people who've had the blessing to acquire one. And, some of us are not cut out for the classroom/homework/deadline lifestyle. When you have a full-time job, and barely the motivation to do laundry, going back to school might not be the best option. My goal isn't to teach or write really, really intelligent books. I just want my characters to have fun adventures and fall in love and have sex...really outstanding sex. So in this case, I'll take the money and get myself a great editor. I'm just saying, for those who may not have the time or money, maybe a mountain of resource books is enough. 

RWA chapter meetings offer monthly speakers and critique opportunities, along with special conferences and retreats. Thanks to these lovely people, I had found the courage to submit my WIP to a contest last year. I attended the ceremonies in San Diego as a nominee, won 2nd place, and the book isn't even done yet! Talk about motivating yourself to keep going. I look at that certificate every time I sit at my desk and it helps me focus. My goal this year is to attend all of the chapter meetings (and not beat myself up for not using those nights to write).

3. Share my knowledge through mentoring and social media. Nothing gives me greater joy than to talk about writing. Whether it's the process, best practices, tools of the trade (Scrivener!) or just lamenting over how arduous a process writing can be, I yearn for the opportunity to share what I know, and also learn from others. Social media is an easy way to share, and I need to do more of it this year. One of my dreams is to own my own romance-only bookstores, where I would offer after-school space for young writers to hone their craft. I'd share what I've learned with them, but probably learn a thing or two myself, in the process.

4. Blog monthly

This last one, begins today, with this post. I'm kind of cheating by using the old "new year, new you" theme as a kick off but, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. My blog goal is to offer writing-related topics but don't be surprised if a personal story or two end up in them.

For example...this afternoon, I attended a reunion with my dad. It was for a car dealer, where he ran the service department and I got my feet wet doing office work as a teenager. It was the mid-80's. It was my first real job and it's a place we reminisce about constantly. I had my first serious crush on a boy in the parts department. I got to hang out with mechanics and salesmen, as well as the office girls. I was just learning to drive. I got to hang with my buddy, my dad, on a daily basis in the summers and on holiday break. It was a significant part of my adolescence.

On the ride up to Wheeling, Illinois, I asked my dad if he remembered how old he was when he worked at the dealer. We started doing some simple math, which, for us, is no easy feat, and came to the conclusion that my dad was my age when he worked there. The thought stopped me in my tracks. I thought, damn. How much has changed and how much stayed the same. Me and Pops, riding together, 30 years laters with a 30-year difference in our ages, but this time I'm driving. He'd been the boss and I was just starting out. Now, I'm in the swing of a career and he's in retirement. He took care of me back then, now I take care of him.


Tables have been sufficiently turned.

The fact that time had passed in the blink of an eye, proves how fleeting life can be. Not that a lot hadn't transpired in those 30 years, between college, job changes, hip replacements, heart surgeries, losing my mom, gaining three nephews, marriage and puppies. I feel, most days, like I'm still that teen girl, hung up on boys, still finding my way, still writing stories. It reminds you that time can get away from you, that you only get so many days in your lifetime, not to squander it on people or things that don't get you closer to your goal, whatever that may be.

It almost makes you want to set a resolution. ;-)




Kelly DuffComment