Friday, May 21, 2010

Good News

I started this blog a couple of years ago because I was bursting with good news from my critique group and wanted to shout out to the whole world. A lot has changed since then. I no longer participate regularly in the critique group because of family responsibilities. Now that my kids go to school and play sports, my evenings are for them. But I do meet weekly during the day with Jen Heger. She's in the same boat as me with kids and sports and has the same heart as me, wanting to maximize her time with her children. Of course, I still see the others once in a while, or we share manuscripts online.

With Jen's help, I've managed to write not just a skeleton of a novel, but over 50,000 words of a book that's nearly finished. And I must before school ends in three more weeks. She's eager to read pages every week and because she wants to know what happens next, I write. I never write like this. I always show work when I can no longer make it better by myself. But I have to admit that working with one person like this, brainstorming and bouncing ideas back and forth, has been very, very good for me. When Jen makes suggestions, I always ask her to write the book for me :)

I thought I'd be crazy excited to finish this book, but the truth is, I'm half dreading it. Then the real work of revising and rearranging and throwing out and writing new scenes will occur. My first draft is exploratory, which means it is a HUGE mess. Still, getting past the 50K mark on a first draft is good news for me.

I also got some good news from Highlights. A story I wrote a while back, Teeter-Totter, will be published next year. I remember going through six revisions with Marileta Robinson (she's retired now) because my animals were far too mean to one another in the original version. I'm glad she didn't give up on me. So, yes, talking animal stories do sell and even when stories are not perfect, editors see their potential.

Novel-writing and teaching don't leave me as much time for magazine shorts, but I have several shorts that have been stewing. This summer, when I'm lazing around with my kids, I'll write them up. Oh, yes, I'll have a novel to revise, but it can wait until the fall.

So, what good news do you have to share? It doesn't have to be big. Small things make me disproportionately happy as well.


Vonna said...

Congratulations on your good news, Vijaya! I'm glad to hear it's okay for animals to talk, as long as they talk nicely!

Jacqui said...

Hurrah! We have to celebrate the small steps, I think.

I got a great new idea for a picture book today, so that's my good news.

Marcia said...

It's funny -- I also used to show work only when I didn't know what else to do with it anymore. Then I started sharing more often b/c my crit group meets monthly, and my productivity went WAY down. I haven't brought work to the group in months now (they don't throw me out b/c we've been meeting for eons :))and my productivity is again up. I'm now half done with one WIP instead of 1/8 done with three of them, with a goal of finishing by June 30 and then tearing into revisions.

Vijaya said...

Vonna - thank you. I've come a long way from that first submission where the animals were too realistic. I suppose they weren't a good role model. It's actually a physics story in disguise :)

Jacqui - I love that moment when an idea strikes because everything, absolutely everything is possible! And yes, we have to celebrate the small steps.

Marcia - I think if I were part of a group, I couldn't bring in things that weren't as good as I can make them. It's the one-on-one meeting that has made all the difference.

I still miss my group, but this is a different season in my life with kids who play sports. Who would've thunk? I married a very athletic guy ... Me? I run away from flying objects.

Mary Witzl said...

That is fantastic news about your story being published in Highlights! Congratulations!

I had a great critique group that met weekly, but because our computer connection here is so iffy, we can no longer meet online. I just hope they'll let me back in once I've got a dependable internet connection again.

My productivity goes up when I get encouraging rejections. Lately, I have little time to submit anything, so my output is minimal. I'm dreaming of getting back to regular writing and submissions -- though I'm not so crazy about all the rejections I know I'll get.

Vijaya said...

Thank you, Mary. I cannot imagine anyone not allowing you back. Wouldn't they miss your stories?

Encouraging rejections are like gold -- they give feedback and direction. I take breaks from submissions when I feel vulnerable. Even the *nice* rejections hurt because they didn't love my ms. I need to focus on my book for now, but come summer, I should make some subs on the shorts that I polish. One acceptance can take the sting away from a dozen rejections. I'm crossing my fingers for you too, Mary.