Friday, September 23, 2011

That One Chapter

Yesterday I handed out two copies of the first third of my novel for people to read. 

Except for my writing class friends, I generally don't let people outside of my immediate family read my fiction.  Once I shared a story with my ex-mother-in-law.  After she gave what seemed to my twenty-year-old ego as a very harsh critique, I put the manuscript in a drawer and stopped writing for fifteen years.  It's still in my drawer, and I bet it kind of sucks. 

It sounds crazy, but I feel very lucky I racked up my foot two years ago and started writing again.  If I hadn't hurt my foot, I am certain I would have returned to some sort of normal work at least part time and wouldn't have given myself the opportunity to write. 

Now that my foot is almost completely better (Yay!), I know I don't want to do anything but write.  I don't want to be famous, I just want to write stories.  If I should happen to get famous, I'm the kind of person that would buy a house surrounded by trees and big dogs - and hide.  Fame definitely isn't my motivation.  I love the act of creating something out of nothing.

Yesterday evening, I sat with my 5th grader while he was doing his homework - and I did mine.

I ripped apart a chapter in the middle third of my novel that had too much backstory.  I marked paragraphs to move to new chapters and crossed out other paragraphs that I decided to delete.  It wasn't easy, and I wondered if I was ruining my story by pulling it apart too much. 

By the time he was done with his homework, I was ready to write. 

I did it!  I wrote the chapter that I've been putting off for weeks.  It's a chapter where the main character hits an emotional low.  By the end, I was crying with her.  Once I typed the last word and wiped my tears, I immediately felt a high the equivalent of a runners high. 

I'm so glad I sucked it up and wrote it.  Now I can move on.  The next few chapters will be much easier to write.  They are funny in a dark way, funny to me at least - much easier to write than regular dark.

I'll be back when I knock out another chapter or two....I hope the writers among you are moving right along too.  Have a great weekend!


  1. Smiles and hugs to you! Happy dances, too! It's always such a relief when we can work through our dark days in writing.

  2. YAY! Love that feeling--the emotional outlet when you write something like that. Hopefully each book has a couple.

    I didn't realize that about your foot--hope it has a FULL recovery, but I can see that being a blessing in a way. And I don't really need fame either, but MAN, I'd love to make enough to support my family and not have to go to the day job.

  3. Yay, that your foot is better. Glad you go through that chapter. Fab. Very fab. :)

    And it's a big step to start courting feedback. It makes us better.

  4. It's funny how much you can dread writing a certain part, but when you decide to suck it up and do it, it's so exhilarating!

    I'm glad you got the chance to discover what you really wanted to do most of all. :)

  5. Go T! Finishing a chapter has to feel maaahhhvelous.

  6. Shelly - Smiles and hugs back. I think writing is therapeutic for sure.

    August - :) I'm really close to getting the second third done.

    Hart - Money is never a bad thing, but fame I don't need.

    M Pax - I went shopping with my kids twice this week, no cane. I agree that opening yourself up to feedback is a step in the right direction.

    Peggy - I think the dread was going to that dark place, plus the idea that when this part is done, by novel is done. Terrifying and exciting at the same time.

    Blue - Thanks!! And then I let my husband read a lukewarm response. He said he would have to read it in context. Super. Reminder to self to not let husband read first drafts.

  7. Ha - that's why I haven't let my bf read much of my work. His opinion means so much to me, and I want him to be able to be honest with me, but I really just want to hear him say, "This is marvelous. You're so talented. I can't wait to read the whole piece!"

  8. I'm glad you're dedicated to your writing. I know how devastating a brutal critique can be, I was nearly shelved after a particularly harsh one several years ago myself.

    Glad your foot is nearly better too.

  9. August - I just want my husband to share my enthusiasm and hopefully love what he read, not really a critique. Now I'm glad he was honest in his reaction even though it was a bummer at the moment.

    Rusty - I think we have to be tough with critiques. Not easy though. I'm glad you're still writing - I totally enjoy your blog.