Procrastination

My revised manuscript is due to my agent soon. (I still get a little giddy being able to say “my agent.”)  I told her she could have it by the new year.  Which gives me just under three weeks to get it done.  And I’m dragging my feet.

Some authors will tell you that revision is their favorite part of the writing process.  It’s absolutely NOT mine.  I love the thrill of getting the first draft on paper, no little editors on my shoulder.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been a fan of National Novel Writing Month, having participated twelve times in the fifteen years since I first discovered NaNoWriMo.  I “won” eight of the twelve years, completing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (or less).  Four of my NaNo novels – three which I did complete during the month of November, one that I didn’t – went on to the revision phase and ultimately had full requests from agents.  Sold My Soul is one of those four, the one I didn’t finish in 30 days.  But that’s the one that finally earned the honor of representation.

This manuscript was revised multiple times for multiple agents, and will likely have to undergo even more revisions for whatever editor decides to purchase it.  And I hate revising.  It’s not so much the revision itself that I hate, it’s my consistent fear that revising a manuscript is going to make it worse, not better.  Realistically, only once did a revision not make a book better, and it was a book I ended up shelving because I was telling the wrong character’s story and it wasn’t working.  That doesn’t change the fact that honestly, the revision process scares me to death.

So I’ve made the small changes to the manuscript, but there are a few new scenes I have to write and layer in, and I’ve been dragging on that.  Am I the only writer out there that HATES the process of revision?

Weigh in!

Not Good Enough?

I was straightening up my room yesterday and came across some notebooks.  One of them I had used in a multi-purpose fashion: there were workshop notes, poems, some journal entries, etc.   Within the notebook were some journal entries from my first-ever SCBWI national conference in Los Angeles.  It was my first trip to California, and it served double duty: I got to see family that live there as well as one of my closest friends in the world, a man I refer to often as my “brother from another mother,” musician Robbie Gennet.

In my entry, written on the Saturday morning of the three-day conference, I found something that still resonates with me.  I had written, Last night Robbie was asking me what I’m afraid of.  It suddenly seemed silly to say “of not being good enough.”  Robbie logically asked me good enough for what?  For who?  Who am I comparing myself to?  Would Paula Danziger have ever said, “I’m not as good as Judy Blume so I won’t write?”  My students are my audience and they mostly enjoy my writing, so what the hell?

That was back in 2006, and even to this day, sometimes I still fall into the trap of “I’m not good enough.”  I posted the other day on Facebook asking my writing friends if they ever think the work they’ve labored over, that an agent wants to represent, just sucks; I’d experienced that feeling upon re-reading my manuscript to do one last polishing before my agent sends it out into the world looking for a home.  And finding this entry last night reminded me to not compare myself to anyone (except for a marketing plan, of course!).  My writing stands on its own merit, I’m my own worst critic, so I’m flicking off my shoulder that little editor voice that sneers in my ear that I’m not good enough.  Go away, little pessimist!

Musing about Music

So my novel, Sold My Soul to Rock and Roll, is about a teenage musician with a musician dad.  The other day I was thinking about the fact that although I’m not a musician, music has always been an integral part of who I am, and it was when this love for music came through in a character, that I wrote a book that really sings (no pun intended).

The only singing I do is through my The Voice app on my phone, belting out karaoke in my living room where no one can hear me, but I grew up with music.  My dad played guitar.  He had a record.  He wasn’t famous; my grandmother would have liked for him to be, and when he was a kid in Brooklyn, he took dance lessons and singing lessons and acted and auditioned.  I have a framed 8 x 10 on my living room end table of one of his headshots from when he was a teenager, holding his guitar.  I remember when I was little and my dad would play guitar and sing doo-wop songs for me and my little brother, recording his performance on a reel-to-reel tape recorder.  It’s a good memory.

Dad tried to teach me to play guitar.  I’m left-handed, and it was hard for him to teach me.  I learned to play “With a Little Help From My Friends” from his Beatles songbook.  I tried to be a musician in middle school – I joined the orchestra in sixth grade, wanting desperately to play the violin.  But everyone wanted to play the violin, and as I was a tall girl with a long wingspan, the orchestra teacher suggested viola.  So I played viola for two years, going from Beginning Orchestra in sixth grade to Advanced Orchestra in seventh (skipping Intermediate altogether).  The problem was, I couldn’t tune my own instrument.  It was then I realized I would likely never be a musician in my own right.

But the music was always a part of me.  I loved listening to it (still do) in most of its forms.  I love the 50s doo-wop my parents exposed me to.  I adore Elvis Presley and took a pilgrimage to Graceland in 2014.  Some of my favorite bands ever are Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, KISS, Whitesnake, and any number of 80s glam bands.  But I also like some country and newer rock as well.  I have favorite Broadway show tunes (Chess, Wicked, and Sweet Charity among them), and even listen to some Disney musicals (Camp Rock’s soundtrack is on my iPod).

I think that’s why, when I finally created a character with music in her soul, this book is the one that resonated with the agent who now represents it.  The authenticity shines through the pages – I love music, and so does my character, Destiny LaRoux.  I used some of my musician friends to model her father and his bandmates, so they read genuine as well.

I’m looking forward to the day when an editor snaps this book up and gets it out for the world to read.  Though I’ve written other books and will likely write more, this one is special.  And it’s the music that makes it that way.