Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Overload

Okay, so at the risk of becoming the world's biggest hypocrit ever, I've sort of decided to move away from the blogosphere. I feel like a complete hack, having taught many (MANY) "how to blog" classes at conferences and conventions.

I love blogging.

Or at least I used to.

Over the past year, I've fallen more and more out of love with it. I find it so much easier to send a tweet, or update my Facebook status, and I can easily read through my lists and groups to find out what's going on with the people I care about.

I know. That makes me like, the worst blogger ever. I just can't keep up anymore (haven't been able to for a long time), and I've been wondering if blogging is a platform that I'm all overloaded on.

And I think maybe it is.

I've been hesitating from moving away from it -- though, let's face it, I've been emotionally detached for a while now -- because I used to love it so much.

But I also used to love cotton candy. Now I just find it sticky, and messy, and overpriced. I didn't worry about abandoning that sweet for something else I liked. I don't know why this move has taken so long or feels so... I don't know. Painful? Yeah, probably painful.

I will still be here, periodically, as I have things to say and contribute. But really, I'm spending more time on twitter and Facebook. Or writing -- definitely writing.

Have you ever gone through this? Leaving behind something amazing and good, hopefully in the pursuit of something better?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Winning Streak or Losing Streak

Okay, so I've been gone for a while! I swear I didn't mean to do that. But I was crazy-busy with planning and executing WriteOnCon (only the most amazing thing ever!) and then I moved right into work again. School starts TODAY, and I've been swamped with teacherly things, and motherly things, and well, when you stop blogging for a while, you sort of forget it's there... Tell me I'm not the only one who does that!

Anyway, I know I give you guys my professional development lectures every year. I just find them so inspirational, and I find that they almost always relate to how I'm feeling as a writer.

So we focus a lot on data at my school, because we're a Title I school and a lot of our funding comes from such things. One of our speakers was talking about winning streaks and losing streaks. He said something that resonated with me. He said that it only takes two (TWO) events to get on a streak, either winning or losing. Two successes to feel confident. To self-analyze how we're doing, and what we could be doing better. Two successes to feel like we know what we're doing. (He, of course, was talking about creating successes for kids, and I, of course, agreed and then applied it to writing/publishing.) Two successes to think, "Hey, I might be good at this."

Hopefully, you've been on a winning streak before. Maybe even in publishing.

Then he said that it only takes two disappointments or failures to be on a losing streak. Two failed tests. Two instances where a student couldn't perform what they were asked to. And this is the dangerous spiral. When you're on a losing streak, you want to give up. You criticize yourself mercilessly. You have no confidence and no motivation to keep trying. Not only do we start to think, "I can't do this," we continue that thought to "I can't do this, because I'm not good at it."

Oh, how I've felt this in writing. Two rejections in a row can get you there. Maybe my book is terrible. Maybe I'm not a good writer.

Two bad reviews. My book is lame. I can't plot. I should just give up.

The trick is to take the "failures" and make them into successes. Or ignore them. Or make it so you don't even know about them.

Or eat a lot of ice cream and have a writer's group to vent to. Ha!

No matter what, I felt that what our trainer was saying was true. I've felt it as I've pursued a writing career, and I know my students feel it as they try to learn math, science, and English. My goal is make sure EVERY interaction they have is a success, and I'm going to try to work through the losing streak in writing, anticipating a success just around this next corner...

Where are you right now? Winning streak or losing streak?

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Domino Effect

Okay, so I took a little vacation last week. I've been around on Facebook and Twitter, but not much. I did buy a new car, and I've been slammed with WriteOnCon things. You do know about WOC, right? Because if you don't, you should get in on the fun! Go over to the WOC site to find out more.

Additionally, I'm working on a novel--hopefully the final polish! I've written, edited, and polished enough manuscripts now to name this stage "the domino effect."

This is the round where you're doing targeted fixes in character and plot. Seeding emotional ties you've missed before. Planting clues or details so you can earn the big payoff at the end. Ensuring the motivation is correct and strong. Those sorts of things.

It's not like adding a new scene or eliminating a chapter that isn't working and replacing it with one that does.

No, this requires a fine toothed comb, a careful eye, to find the exact location to insert maybe 15 words that will make your manuscript shine. You don't want to put in too many hints, or make them so few and far between that readers forget.

This round of polishing is really like playing dominoes. The details must be evenly spaced and perfectly aligned. The transitions must be strong so as not to give away where you've inserted said details.

For me, this is the toughest and most rewarding round of edits. The toughest, because one false move and the whole thing doesn't feel right. The most rewarding, because when you get it right... Ahhh.

Don't you think writing is like playing dominoes? 

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