Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Left My Underwear in San Francisco

I've decided to get out an old manuscript and work on it. I started it back in 2001 when my life seemed to be on the right course. I had been married 30 years, had one son graduating from high school and another son in college. I'd just come back from New York and meeting with my editor at Holiday House. My book, Don't Bug Me!, would be out in June. I told my editor about another book I was working and she loved it! I had it about half-way done and it was another very funny book. She urged me to finish it and send it to her. It seemed like everything was going great, going in the right direction...until I got home.

Then my world flipped upside-down. My husband decided to become a cliche and run off with his secretary. And I could no longer write "funny." So I put that novel aside and tried to put the fragments of my old life into a new shape. In the meantime, I wrote mostly nonfiction. The fiction I did write didn't have my usual humor -- I just didn't seem to have it in me.

But, now, eight years later, I've decided to try again. I've pulled out that novel, I Left My Underwear in San Francisco, and now I'm in the process of rereading it, trying to get my bearings again in that word sea. So, now I've given myself a deadline to finish it by the end of the year. I'd love to have most of it done by the end of October, but that might be rushing it.

Why drag out an old novel? Why not just start a new one? I'm not sure, except that I've always really liked this book. And I think I want to prove to myself that I can do this, that I can finish this book. It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time. And now I plan on doing it.

I'll let you know my progress on this novel...and you can keep me accountable.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Apples and Oranges and Kiwis

Comparing ourselves, and especially our writing, to others is an exercise in futility. Why? Because it's like comparing apples and oranges and kiwis. Yes, we're all fruit...I mean writers...but that's where the comparison ends. I'm an apple, you're an orange, and you -- yes, you, over there -- you're a kiwi. Our life experiences may be similiar, but they're not identical, so we each bring something different to our writing. I can't write your story and you can't write mine.

Instead of comparing our writing to each other or trying to compete with each other, we should try to improve our own writing every day. We should compare our writing today to what we wrote last year and the year before that. Has it noticeably improved? If not, why not? We should only compete with ourselves, striving to write more than we did last year and the year before.

And since we're all fruit...I mean writers...that means we're all in this publishing world together. The normal world doesn't understand us writers, so we need to support each other, lift each other up, help each other.

One way to do this is to take part in Darcy Pattison's Random Acts of Publicity, a week (September 7-10) where we take the time to post reviews of our friends' books (actually they don't even have to be someone you know). You can join on Facebook -- Random Acts of Publicity or go to Darcy's blog (which is wonderful, by the way) at