Enough of That

Cut how many words?

The last few weeks have been a blur of editing. For me, editing is the worst part of being a writer. Also, it’s how you spend half of your time as a writer (the other parts are 10% writing and 40% promoting). Sigh.

I sat down with my current WIP and began slashing. My agent suggested I cut nearly ten thousand words. I was sincere in my effort and after letting go of my initial instinct to fight for every word, I discovered the story was cleaner and clearer once I unloaded 9,000 words.

After weighing every word and questioning every sentence, I was still coming up short. I figured if I could just get rid of another five hundred, I’d be golden. I mean, nearly 10,000 is pretty much 10,000, right?

I couldn’t bring myself to comb through the manuscript again, so I employed my favorite writing tool – the find feature. Now, which words could I cut that wouldn’t affect the story? Continue reading “Enough of That”

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The Difference Two Weeks Makes…

“When you woke up this morning were you still a big shot author with a new puppy?”

That was the text I got from my husband who was out of the country on business this week.

And it does feel like a ‘pinch-me’ kind of week. My memoir, Another Good Dog, sold to Pegasus Books for publication summer 2018, and after fostering 95 puppies and dogs, I’ve finally decided to ‘foster fail’ and adopt a puppy from our current litter.

Rewind two weeks. Continue reading “The Difference Two Weeks Makes…”

How Not to be Boring: 8 Tips for Writers

Be honest. Don’t pretend you know something you don’t, feel something you don’t feel, or are something you’re not. Just be heart-exposingly honest and readers will appreciate it. Honesty is never boring.

Write your passion

write with passion

Write what you love. Write what you are committed to. Write about the topics, stories, people, issues that get your heart aflutter or make your pulse race. When you write your passion it comes straight from your heart. Passion is never boring. Continue reading “How Not to be Boring: 8 Tips for Writers”

Writing Without a Net

It’s a bit of gamble, this writing thing.

I write and write and write and write.

And then I edit and edit and edit and edit.

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And then I edit even more.

And when my latest masterpiece is all shined up and ready, I send it out into the world.

Sometimes (okay, many times) it comes back to me with words of rejection.

It feels like judgment. Probably because it is judgment.

And I say – Continue reading “Writing Without a Net”

Inner Supreme Court

I read a post recently by another writer I much admire and in it she used the phrase, “Inner Supreme Court.”

I recently received an opinion that brought that clever phrase to life. And I’ve realized that the decision to accept or reject it is mine to make. If only it were that simple.

When it comes to any decision — about writing or life — you have to trust your Inner Supreme Court. You can get lots of opinions and recommendations. You can listen to other people’s experiences and warnings. You can indulge possibilities and dreams, but ultimately when it’s time to decide you have to trust that only your Inner Supreme Court knows what is best for you.

I’ve been trying this particular case in my court all week. The case involves a huge re-write of a novel I’ve been polishing for over five years. I’m anxious to bring this story to light. I think it is ready. I think it has an important and timely message, but my agent wants me to gut out yet another re-write.

So, I’ve been gathering opinions, reading genre definitions (since this is the reason for the re-write), and taking long walks with my foster dog who is recovering from a broken jaw (thanks to a misunderstanding with one of my horses).

Sometimes I’m indignant.

My beta readers love this story! I’ve already put more than a thousand hours into it. These characters are my friends. I know them inside and out. What if she’s wrong?

Sometimes I’m self-flagellating.

I suck at this. I cannot write. I should shelve it and take a class and learn to write. I should plant blueberries all over the pasture, kick the horses out, and start a pick-and-pay business.

Sometimes I present evidence.

So-and-so read it, and says this will be the book. The one that makes the NYT bestseller list. I’ve mapped this book, edited it within an inch of its life. I’ve probably cut as many words as I’ve written. I’ve changed names, settings, killed my darlings, and read it out loud. It’s good. It’s really good.

And sometimes I try to see the side of the prosecution.

Maybe she has a point. Maybe there’s more story buried here underneath the overly polished surface. Maybe I just need to dig deeper. Maybe I need to set my ego and impatience aside.

For now, the justices are still hearing testimony. No decision has been made. And the court just might recess for the fourth of July holiday and spend some much needed downtime with the latest batch of foster puppies driving me to distraction.

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But soon enough, it will be time to make that decision. I’ll stop asking for advice and sympathy and more time.

As a writer it’s much too easy to see all the sides. But deep down, when I finally close the door of my courtroom, I do trust that my own Inner Supreme Court has been listening and taking all the testimony into account, and while they might not be in complete agreement, they will make the right decision.

And I’ve gotta trust that.

And maybe trust is the hardest part. As usual.

Sigh.

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books, check out CaraWrites.com

If you’d like to know more about life with foster puppies, visit my blog Another Good Dog.

Have a wonderful holiday and trust your Inner Supreme Court!

Blessings,

Cara

p.s. Great thanks to Kathryn Craft for the phrase that inspired this post. (Check out her wonderful books!)

Inching Closer

 

“So, you’re doing this for real? It’s not just something you had to get out of your system?”

I ran into a friend today and she was asking about my writing. When I told her I had a new book coming out in two weeks and two more that my agent will be shopping to publishers this year, she was surprised. “Wow,” she said.

Yeah. Wow.

I thought about her question when I got home as I walked my overly excitable foster dog who had spent too much time in her crate and needed several laps of the pasture to be manageable indoors. Round and round we went, me lost in memories of days gone by and her chasing every butterfly and shadow. I suppose back when my children were younger and that friend was a weekly part of my life, she didn’t know me as a writer. She knew me as a mom, a PTO president, a volunteer, a customer, and a pretty horrible Mary Kay consultant.

normal people

That’s the thing about us writers—many times we’re disguised as normal people. It takes some of us a long time to take our own writing seriously enough to share it with others. Meanwhile, we write and write and dream and dream and then write some more. And once we begin to put our souls out there on the page for all to see, we spend a great deal more time editing.

My friend has a very successful business that I’ve watched grow over the years. I’ve always been impressed by her energy, determination and drive. She is a smart, passionate business woman who works incredibly hard.

“You know how it is,” I told her, “You just keep doing one more thing, every day.” She nodded.

And that’s just what successful writing is. It’s doing one more thing. Every day.

Another successful artist and businesswoman I know told me when I was first beginning my publishing journey, “Do one thing every day to move your dream forward. Even if it’s a small thing. You’ll see,” she said. “It’ll happen.”

And she’s right. I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of writing success, but every day I inch closer. I don’t know how long it will take. But one thing I do know, I sure haven’t ‘gotten it out of my system’ yet.

There are too many stories left to tell.

inching closer

Writing Doldrums

I’m in the doldrums.

I’ve polished my manuscript until parts seemed to be wearing through and it began to feel like I was rearranging furniture. Now it’s safely languishing in my agent’s TBR pile. Even as it’s tempting to go back in there and fiddle, I’m staying out of that world. Jem and Liz and Jake and Fish and Coach are safe from my meddling fingers.

My other novel-in-progress is marinating. Marinating is what I call the time between edits. It’s very hard to be objective and see your story clearly unless you leave it lie for at least a few weeks between edits. Otherwise, it’s like trying find anything on a map on your phone—you’re too close to see anything in perspective. Which means I have to leave Kat and Dylan and Pilgrim and Gwen alone to work their problems out, at least for a little while.

So, no fiction. Which isn’t easy for me.

Instead, I’m working on guest blog posts for my upcoming blog tour for Practicing Normal (which comes out June 6!!) and mostly coming up blank. Plus, I’m putting way too much time into blog posts for my dog blog. And still my writing energies are stopped up.

I’ve become so desperate I’m thinking of trying my hand at a short story (again). I’ve never written a decent short story.  Every short story I’ve ever attempted either turned into a novel or landed in my ‘crap I wrote’ folder to languish for all eternity. But you never know, maybe this time I’ll figure out the genre. Either that, or I’ll have a good start on my next novel.

Writing is not a job for the unmotivated. There is no boss telling me what to do, although, true confession, I kinda wish I had a boss telling me what to do. If I had a boss and a specific job description, then I’d know when I was finished a job (plus I might have benefits and overtime and paid vacation). Instead, writing work is endless, spiraling into the land of all-the-ways-to-waste-productive-time-productively. Blogging, for instance. Writing this post is not required of me. And yet, here I am, musing on nothing much. Wasting time, really, but productively because if nothing else I’m honing my craft.

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And that’s just it. If you’re gonna be a writer, ya gotta write.

Every day.

Even if it’s just a journal entry or an email to a friend. Slap those words down, one after the other. Do that long enough and eventually you hit on a few good combinations.

That said, I’m gonna head out to the wilds and do some short story wrangling. (Can you tell my short story will involve horses? And maybe cowboys. Hmmm….) I’m toying with pasting the beginnings of that story right here on the blog, if for no other reason than to hold myself accountable. So watch for installment number one next week.

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What are you writing? Anything good? Well, I hope at least your writing is humming.

Have a great Thursday and thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my stories and blogs, please visit CaraWrites.com. If you’d like to catch up on all my adventures, subscribe to my (occasional) newsletter.