Monday, May 31, 2010

Marisa the Writer (or a post in which I pour out my insecurities and talk about what I REALLY do all day)

I rarely blog about the fact that I'm writing a book. I know it has been mentioned the last two Novembers as I worked my way through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I've even slipped it into a post or two when I've written about my future goals and added "become a published author" at the top of the list.

But when it comes to blogging about being a writer, I always end up feeling self-conscious, embarrassed, inadequate and just plain icky.

I've written countless posts about my life as a writer during the last few years. I've never once pressed that little orange "publish post" button. And it makes me sad that I'm so insecure about it, because writing is a HUGE part of my life.

In fact, other than being a mom, a wife, and an avid bookworm, writing IS my life. I do it every day. For hours. I open my word doc and begin tapping away at the computer as soon as I wake up in the morning. When I'm doing the laundry or cooking dinner, I'm also listening as my characters jabber together in my head. After the girls are in bed, that word doc opens again and I spend two, three, four+ hours hacking away at my book again - through the night, often into the early hours of the morning. My awesome friend Alyssa has even been known to call me just to say, "HEY! Step away from the word doc and join the living world for a moment!"

My girls know me as Mommy the Writer.

My husband hears me blather on about my book for hours nightly.

Writing is what I do.

I have an awesome support group of writer friends all hacking away at books of their own and sharing their process publicly on their blogs. I admire them like crazy and leave all sorts of gushy comments in their comment boxes... but as for me? Its just not something I've ever been confident enough to blog about. Sketching out a picture, scribbling it in with colored pencils and then blogging about it is a piece of cake for me. Sitting at my computer, typing away at my book and then blogging about it... impossible. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because my writing process is a disastrous mess. Or maybe because I don't tend to blog about my insecurities and when it comes to writing, I am nothing but insecure.

But I am currently on the very last leg of the first draft of the book I have been working on solidly since last summer and man does it feel good. And while I'm not sure I'll be blogging about it often, I can't not blog about it anymore, because hitting those final keys as my story wraps up is just too exciting to keep to myself. Its been a rough road, getting this book out of my head. And I'm darned proud of myself, despite my insecurities.

This is what my writing process for this book has been like:

July - Story spark! WOW, I love it. Like, as far as I'm concerned, its the best. idea. EVER.

August - Outline and character write-ups. I think it sounds great. Love my story line, love my characters, love the random bits of dialogue that keep popping into my head which I scramble to get on paper so I don't forget them. Super excited about jumping into the writing of this book (which I wasn't ready to begin b/c I was working on another book at the time)

September - Begin writing book. Um. It sort of sucks. Huh. Wasn't expecting that.

October - Have completed a few chapters. Have deleted ten times more than I've written. Feel completely incompetent.

November - Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Only on Chapter Four. Hate every word of it.

December - Eat lots of dessert. Filled with book-hate and writer self-loathing.

January - Write more. Delete even more than that. Find that I hate my characters with a passion and think my MC (main character) is annoying and sort of want to kill her off so I don't have to keep writing about her.

February - Toss entire manuscript into the garbage. Stare at what I used to think of as my perfect outline and cry. Start over.

March - Wow, this is finally starting to work. I'm really getting into the groove of things. My story is working exactly the way I wanted it to back in the summer and my characters are everything I hoped they would be. YAY!

April - Oh wait. Just kidding. Back to book-hate and writer self-loathing. Discover that, despite writing 60,000+ words, I'm still deleting double that. Deleted scenes folder is now at 140,000 words. Angst, angst, angst some more... then keep plodding away at the computer.

May - What? Am I really at the end of writing my first draft? And... can it be? My first draft matches my original outline and story spark 99%? And... is it true? I actually like what I've written? YES! It's a MIRACLE!

Yup, that's right. I like my book. Yes, its only the first draft, but at this point, I'm happy with it. I've put in the hours and I'm about to step away with a book I am proud to call mine and look forward to finishing so I can share it with the world someday. Tomorrow, I might be back to feeling insecure. But today, I like it. Very, very much. I might even go as far as to say the L word. Love. Oh man, yes. I love my book.

I still have a long road ahead of me. Even after I type and they all lived happily ever after (which isn't actually my last line, though my story is a fairy-tale retelling), I'll have countless hours of critique partner feedback to sort through and revising, revising and more revising...

But when all that is done, I will pop open the champagne and celebrate.

And you better believe I'll be blogging about it!



w said...

i'll take a couple autographed copies. one for my shelf. and the rest to auction off on ebay. yeah. i said it.

ps. i bet you're awesome.

SewSweetStitches said...

Wow, that's really exciting. I'm so glad you told us about it!

Unknown said...

Winn - I'll be sure to personalize all of them with a message just for you.

Ha! Thwarted!

Melissa - Thank you! :)

Kearsie said...

You are awesome. I know this first hand. I've got the promise of an acknowledgement to prove it.

Just kidding. Sort of.

April said...

I"ll just say that I'm honored and in awe!!!

You are one talented lady and I'm tickled pink to call you friend!

Tia Colleen said...

I want to reeeeaaaadddd it@@@

(I'm laying down on the couch, and I can't see past my belly to the keyboard to fix that typo)

Unknown said...

Kearsie - #1 fan! You know it!

April - No, I'm tickled pink to call YOU friend! Seriously, lucky me!

Tia - Yay! Exciting to have someone want to read it! :) and I think the typo adds visual interest to the comment!! :D

Kelly Polark said...

Yay! Almost done! That is a good feeling!
We'll all a drink in your honor during a Practice Room session. Then the chat roll will really get goofy! :)

Jill said...

Good for you blogging about your writing! Great you've got so much support from other writers too! I'll look forward to seeing the link on your blog - "click here to buy my book"!!

Good luck!

Keri said...

Ah the ups and downs of writing. At least you ARE writing! I do way too much procrastination. Enough that I envy you your ups and downs. I must learn to buckle down and write things that I hate so that I can eventually write something that I love.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I am so excited for you! What a great feeling and I can vouch for the fact that you have been working hard! And I love to hear about your writing. In the chatroll! or here on your blog. And Kelly is right we will celebrate! And it will make the chat even more fun.

Unknown said...

Kelly - drink to my honor for a goofy Practice Room chat... sounds like the PERFECT way to celebrate! :)

Jill - THANKS so much!

Keri - yes, procrastination... makes reaching goals hard... but from the looks of your blog, you're doing a fair amount of writing... that is fantastic :)

Tina - Thank you!! You know I couldn't have done it without all the Practice Room encouragement! I have you and your genius ideas to thank for that :)

KJ said...

I have to admit -- this post makes me envious!

I love my art and am so incredibly grateful for what it has allowed me to do and be -- but writing was my first love and I miss those days of sitting in front of a Word doc, typing 'til it felt like my fingers would fall off.

One of these days, I'll have to figure out how to clone myself so I can do both.

I know what you mean about having a hard time blogging about writing though -- I LOVE writing...and I can't manage to blog consistently about ANYTHING. LOL. So you're doing better than me!

I will definitely be buying a copy of your book when it hits the shelves! And I want it autographed. :)

Alyssa S. said...

YAY for being almost done...and for blogging about your writing. Funny, once you're done with this one, I'll be bummed because then I won't have anything to read...which means you'll have to start the next one :)

Denise Felton said...

Toasting you, girlfriend! This is BIG. Go, go, go, Tootsie!

Unknown said...

KJ - Oh man, you don't need to be envious... you have PLENTY of time to write! Just do it! Because I want to read yours, too!!

Alyssa - seriously, you deserve a gold medal for sifting through months of my crap and supporting me the whole way. You rock. And as for the next book... it is already waiting to go! You sure you want to take me on again? :D

Denise - WAHOO! Thank you!! :D

Kelly Warren said...

yeah! i'm so happy you are finally sharing more of this instead of just alluding to "um, that book i'm working on". :-) i'm sure it's most awesome. can't wait to hear more about it.

Crystal Cook said...

Good for you Marisa, you all out rock :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Mine looks like this:

January: had fabulous spark of an idea.

February: Rush through a novella sized draft of MG novel.

March: throw away ALL words. Start music inspiration file, and start over.

April: writing like crazy on first draft.

May: writing like crazy first draft, almost finish.

June: Start revising, plumping up.

July: do agent search, start reading blogs. Sure I will be ready soon to query agents.

August: continue revising. Throwing much of book away as I go. Shift third chapter to first chapter.

Sept.: Start blog. Continue revising. continue to throw away.

Oct.: Continue revising. Work out an outline and character sketches, funny since I've already completed rough draft.

November: Take a break, write first draft of completely new awesome idea of a novel.

December: Back to Revisions on first novel. Feeling close. Crit partner moves away. Flounder for a few weeks.

January: Realizing I'm not as close as I thought. Still revising. With the help of skyping crit partner, and new awesome support group. Pull ms apart into pieces, four per chapter and go over with fine tooth comb. Get a good grip on what isn't working.

February. Realize I've been writing this book for a year. Try to put things into perspective. Continue Revising. Putting pieces back together.

March: Ditch first chapter again, bring third chapter up again. Have major doubts.

April: Revising. Many doubts, but feel like I'm on the right track.

May: Revising. Feeling strong.

Phew. Sorry that I just hijacked your comment section. But, I'm feeling soooooo inspired by your post. Thank you so much for coming out of the writing closet!!!

Unknown said...

Heather - YAY for being inspired! Wow, what a road you have been going down... but a little birdie (who's name rhymes with Don) told me that your book is AMAZING so I'm sure that long, windy, bumpy road has been worth it!! I canNOT wait to read your book!

Unknown said...

I am dying to read your book! C'mon, you have to at least share with me, right??!!

Vanessa said...

This inspired me to one day have a post similar to this -- I look forward to hearing some more about your writing in the future!

Oh Mandie said...

I'm totally green with envy right now, just so you know.

I've always wanted to write, I just don't have the time to do it nowadays, and I end up hating everything I do write and then deleting it. So yeah ... that creative writing degree was pretty much a huge waste on my part, lol.

First off, judging solely on your blog writing, you are amazing!

Second off, I'll take an autographed copy when you're published and famous!

Unknown said...

Vanessa - I REALLY look forward to reading that future post and supporting YOU! Go on and write, chica!

Melissa - You'll read it someday soonish, I promise! :)

Amanda - Writing, hating, deleting... oh yes, I know all that well. But when its a dream, you just gotta jump in head first, flounder for awhile, and hopefully find your way before you sink.

Huh. Not a very good analogy. But the moral, make the time, even if its only 10 minutes of writing time a day, and when the going gets rough... cry for a minute, and then keep going!

Laura Pauling said...

That's awesome! It takes a lot of work to finish a first draft. But it's a very important first step! And the journey is so up and down. It's crazy!

Leah said...

Yay Marisa!! Can't wait til my friends are all talking about the hot new writer Marisa Hopkins and her latest novel, and I can say, "did you know she is the SAME Marisa who did those illustrations I have up in my kids' room?" ;)

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