By Kelly Carey
While I am never happy when an editor asks me to rewrite a story, I have learned that if I can quell my bad attitude for a smidgen of time, the end result will be a better manuscript.
A few years ago, an editor asked me to flip a Christmas themed story centered on gift giving to fit with a February issue of the magazine. The story was titled “The Gingerbread Shop”. I thought she was insane. Then I decided she was mean. Then I was just really mad. How do you take what is clearly a December Christmas story and rework it to fit in a February issue?
The request to revise always leaves me feeling defeated. By the time I submit a manuscript, I have already revised a bajillion times, had it critiqued, rewritten it again and fallen madly in love with my brilliant work. I send it off to the editor or agent like a perfect present. Asking me to rewrite it is like someone returning a gift I bought them. Only worse, they are asking me to return it and get them something else - something better. How rude!
Grumble, grumble, curse and spit.
I came dangerously close to refusing to rewrite my gingerbread story. Instead, I took a few days to stomp around my house, complained to my writing buddies, derided the absurdity of the editor’s request, BUT I sent my editor an email reply that read, “Of course, I’d be happy to revise my story.”
After venting and still unconvinced that any revision could improve on my perfect pearl, I reluctantly mustered the will to sit down and give the rewrite a try. The result was a better story, a more unique manuscript and a piece I was more proud to present. The revised story sold as “Dolphin Queen Valentine” and it never would have happened without the request to rewrite.
Just last month, I was asked to revise a manuscript and I have my routine down. I curse, stomp around my house with a scowling face that leaves with me with a self- inflicted unibrow, and I send the editor an email that says, “Of course, I’d be happy to rewrite”.
When I finish the revision,my unibrow disappears in happy haze of contentment and the recognition that the request to rewrite was the perfect present.
~by Amanda Smith
My kids’ Summer break started last week. As most moms I am relieved. Relieved to be done with the crazy schedules and the school projects and “Do your homework.” Like most moms I look forward to slow mornings, relaxed afternoons, time for creativity, puttering in the garden, long-legged boys snuggling in my lap, fun day trips, lawn games, evening barbecues and all the other things that come with lazy summer days.
But as a writer, I am experiencing heart palpitations. Because come summertime, my writing skids to a screeching halt; or happens in rushed, frustrated intervals, filled with equal parts resentment and guilt.
At the start of these glorious three months filled with sticky kids and popsicles, I am more than three quarters through the rewrite of my novel. Having worked on it every week day since March, I have the momentum of a rhino on roller skates. I am motivated. I am in the GROOVE, baby. And I am stressed.
However, thanks to my 24 Carrot Writing colleagues and our commitment to goal setting, I have a plan. I boiled and seasoned my goal brew until I had it neatly reduced down to a robust, concentrated, doable list of summer goals.
Here are a few tips to help you come up with your own sturdy summer writing plan:
· Have a designated writing time. I plan to get up early and write before the kids crawl out of bed.
· Shorten your writing time. You will most likely not be able to write for multiple hours each day. Aim for 20 minute miracles.
· Fly by the seat of your pants. Grab those quiet moments. If your kids are contently playing or reading, seize 20 minutes. These are bonus moments, though, on top of your designated time and no resentment is allowed if you are interrupted.
· Do shorter projects, like picture books, or work on the behind the scenes stuff, like character maps or world building.
· Work on organizational tasks, like
o Filing those conference notes
o Marking submission dates for editors and agents on a calendar
o Researching agents
o Organizing your work space
o Planning a submission schedule
o Rethinking your yearly goals
· Work on query letters and pitches. HINT: Do not send any queries out with children underfoot. Tragic mistakes are made this way. Save all send-button clicking for your designated (quiet!) writing time
· Read for research. Summer is quintessential reading time. Dive into possible mentor texts; submerge yourself in your genre; treasure-hunt for comp. titles.
And give yourself permission to relax. To hug little ones close. To play. Because we are, after all, kid people.
How will you modify your goals to leave room for Summer fun?
By Francine Puckly
I’m thrilled to have been treated to a celebration of a dear friend’s 50th birthday in NYC this past weekend. He’s not an ordinary person, and it wasn’t your ordinary bash. We enjoyed a packed event in Times Square with an eclectic group of friends, family and Broadway colleagues—a star-studded singing extravaganza. It was a treat to see old friends and a true gift to share in the love and admiration for our friend. The atmosphere was both joyous and exhilarating, and it was a reminder of how much each of our lives—and life’s work—touches others in large and small ways. I left the evening of merriment with gratitude for all I have, while at the same time crackling with excitement and anticipation for all the marvelous things that still await me on my journey.
We’re all on this planet to fulfill our life’s work, which includes celebrating love and friendship with each other along the way. Our endeavors may be great or small, but these passions are what motivate us. Besides looking forward to spending time with my wonderful family, I get up because each day brings endless possibility. While I’ll concede that not every morning feels this way, a vast majority of my days I awake with a sense of hope and adventure for what life has in store for me. I might stumble on an idea for a new story or a plot twist so intriguing it makes me forget my morning chocolate break, or I might discover a workshop that will improve my writing (or, perhaps more importantly, provide an avenue to meet a new colleague or friend). Other days, I'm buoyed by friends who inspire me to be brave. My daughter’s 96-year-old dance teacher still sings, dances and performs for audiences, runs her own business, and recently made a momentous change to her annual production of the Nutcracker with enthusiasm some of us half her age wouldn’t exude. Our friend in NYC was told as a young child he wouldn't amount to anything, yet he has a loving family, runs a very successful financial services business, appears regularly on TV, and produces Broadway musicals. He's done all of this, and then some, because he lets the naysayers say no to their own lives, not his.
Our midyear point is the perfect time to assess our goals (as Kelly suggests in her May 19th blog, “Happy June Year’s Eve – Time to Revise Your Writing Goals”) but also to ponder our longer-range, further-reaching future. In the coming week, carve out an hour or two from your busy schedule to consider all that you’d like to bring to fruition. What would you like to see in the next three, five or ten years of your life? It could be a delayed creative endeavor, a long-desired trip, or a new business venture. Imagine it. And write it down! (I’ll be back to talk about mapping out action plans for these ambitions in a month or two.)
Set your sights on achieving these dreams. Because today is anything but ordinary, and who knows what tomorrow might bring!
Peruse blogs for advice and tips from KidLit creatives.
Click to set custom HTML
Click on the RSS Feed button above to receive notifications of new posts on this blog.