I love roller coasters! Unfortunately, Hubby has had too many concussions in his risk-taking and active life which has left me with no one to enjoy them with for too many years to count. Hopefully one of my girls will take up the position he vacated and that it won't be Baby Sister because I sure as hell can't wait that long! The last couple of weeks have been a roller-coaster of a different kind for me and here I am to regale you with the telling!
Remember the last time I checked in I was stuck on the outline for my novel. I gave a synopsis to a couple of people who came up with some very interesting "what would happen if they did this" kinds of brainstorming ideas. It got me out of the block I'd been in and had me excited again, although for directions I wasn't quite sure would work with what I had originally envisioned for my story. (Thank you, by the way... you know who you are!)
Then, I submitted my *incomplete* outline to my writer's group as my submission for our upcoming meeting. This action itself was something I would not normally do but if you want different results than you have had, you have to take different actions. Instead of wallowing and feeling inadequate because I hadn't finished my outline in time to submit it for critique (the deadline I'd given myself), I gave them what I had up to that point, admitted I was stuck and asked for a high-level brainstorming (instead of planned outline critique) when we met.
As is the case with every meeting of my amazing writing group, I learned something new that night. And that something new is: (drum roll) I don't know enough about story structure to outline properly. Just when you think you have trained enough and mastered all the tools in the writing toolbox (point of view, passive vs active voice, dialogue, showing vs. telling, etc.) someone comes along and shows you there's an entirely new layer deeper in the toolbox that you still need to master.
I'll admit I walked away from that meeting feeling more than a little dejected. Here I had put in all this hard work and I was READY for race day... only to find out that the race is not a mere 5K or even a half marathon; this sucker is more like a full marathon or an ultra. And I haven't trained enough yet! *sigh* After a couple of days of thinking things like "maybe I should just start a different, easier story" or "maybe I don't have the energy or the time to write a novel after all" and other such bullshit, I slapped myself and laced up my running shoes for more proverbial training runs. The past week my writing hours have consisted of listening to podcasts and reading articles on all things writing, googling youtube videos on different types of story structure, and brainstorming ways of simplifying my story idea back down to an urban fantasy instead of the behemoth epic it had morphed into - in addition to trying to figure out how it ends! My fellow writers are amazing women and in the past week have given me encouragement, talked me off the ledge, sent me suggestions about which podcast and other resources to check out, and reminded me that regardless of anything else I know this story and I'm invested in it - all the things that make them great writing buddies as well as friends. (Thanks guys - you already know you'll be in the acknowledgments of my first published novel but I didn't want you to have to wait that long!)
I know all the training and hard work will pay off ... I just hope there isn't yet another hidden layer below this one in the writing toolbox that I have yet to discover because quite honestly that just might kill me! And, I keep reminding myself, it's better to learn it now than go through rejection after rejection because I finished a novel before I mastered the art of novel writing. My advice for the week: KEEP WRITING - no matter what!