Friday, January 13, 2012

Catching up and showing progress

I know my online presence has gotten a bit dusty lately, due to working on a lot things. I've often wondered how online authors find the time to juggle multiple blogs and social networking. I'm always too occupied with  my various creative projects. To me, authors who are online 24/7 isn't always a sign they're an active writer. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sharing via the blog and facebook, but I can't help to question an online author who's always blogging. Honestly, where do they find the time?! They have superpowers...

That aside, this is a big catching up post. The past year has been quite eventful for me.

First, last winter, my laptop died. It was quite sad, but all files are saved and nothing was lost. So I had to drag out the old desktop, and that's what I've been working with.  But, the post-apocalypse story I was working on is now sitting on a disk, and not on a computer. I would like to get back to that one at some point before my death. Either that, or write beyond the grave. Any volunteer hosts for when I'm a ghost?

Second, another story you may recall has the working title of Strays, well, it just didn't work out. I worked on that one, on and off, for a total of two years and wrote four different versions, a good 300 pages each. Here's what happened.

The first version was written in the first person, alternating chapters between the two main characters. It didn't work, mainly because it's not a romance. And it came across as rather amateur. I honestly thought the genre is general drama and didn't think much about that.

So I wrote a second version, third person, alternating chapters. It still didn't work. I realized there's more mystery than drama, and the story didn't reflect that.

Being the stubborn person that I am, I wrote a third version, all third person. It was a lot better, and all that writing was excellent practice. My writing style and author's voice fully developed as a result. I was ecstatic at my progress, definitely getting there with my long-time goal of being a novelist. But I ran into a snag. As I was working on query letters and outlines so I can publish the damn thing, I got frustrated. Lesson learned here, write the outline and synopsis before writing the book.

In two separate conversations, I vented my frustrations to friends. What am I suppose to do? Rewrite all 300 pages as a romance just for the sake of getting published and sell my soul? It's supposed to be more mystery than drama, a little bit of a love story but that's not the main plot. Ugh!

So we talked about some of the ideas in the story, and they both said the same thing. "Huh, that sounds like Hitchcock." And I went........ oh. Oh! Psychological thriller! Of course! Lesson learned here, always choose the genre before writing the book.

I was very excited. My hard work, experimentation, and constant practice was starting to pay off. I had reached that magical point where writing is like flexing a muscle. Writing style, check. Author's voice, check. Chosen genres, Fantasy and Thriller, check. I made it, I'm here!

In my excitement, I sat down and wrote a fourth version, with the focus of psychological thriller. (Stubborn, remember?) I really believed this was it. After I finished and received some feedback from friends, I took a long objective look at the story. It still doesn't work. I got it very close, but not quite. And I could see the only way to fix this was to write a fifth version, clean slate, start over from scratch. After two years trying, I was burnt out with the story. I had to cut my losses and move on.

I don't regret any of it. Working on that story gave me the needed experience to get to where I am now. No regrets at all. But I will admit, I got way ahead of myself and took the scenic route. It's worked for me, but I wouldn't recommend doing things the hard way like I did.

I was still quite excited, wanted to keep trying the thriller genre, so I looked through my Giant Folder of Ideas (that's not what it's really called on my computer, that's just how I think of it). I came across a story idea I had back in 2003, that I didn't know what to do with, so I just wrote a rough one page and stuffed it in that folder. I took one look at it and instantly thought, this would make a fantastic psychological thriller! I was beyond excited, practically shaking with excitement.

I kept in mind my learned lessons, wrote a synopsis and two page outline, then spent five months straight writing a true psychological thriller. And I'm damn proud of the novel. If I died tomorrow, I would die very happy knowing I've accomplished what I set out to do.

Hello, I'm Lily, author of fantasy and thriller, and it's wonderful to meet you.

While I was working on the book, I noticed my website was falling apart. That's a disadvantage of independent author. Working on one thing meant something else was going to fall apart. It's not easy juggling everything by myself. So I decided once I was finished the manuscript, in order to not drive myself insane while editing, I'd do a major re-haul of my website, designed in a way that reflects where I am now as an author and an artist. And I love my new website. It's fun, interactive, and what I always wanted my website to be.

Yesterday, I submitted the first query letter for my psychological thriller. Keep your fingers crossed for me, you never know, it might be published sooner rather than later.

(And now, I'm going to do a badly needed re-haul of this blog).

Update: new blog layut and the poem, Long Term, is now in the Vault.

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