This entry represents the first anniversary of my Another Blooming Novelist blog. How time flies and how naïve I was twelve months ago. I thought I would simply sit at my desk and my story would flow onto the page. I assumed it would not take long, since I had been thinking about the story line for a while. I now realize that writing is more than simply putting words on a page. Over the past year, I have learned that it is a process involving hard work. In retirement, I now have a full time job!
Toward the end of last month, I met with Alida Winternheimer. She is the editor I mentioned, who wanted to review the middle ten pages of my 320 page rough draft before we met. Yes, my daily writing had definitely accelerated to the point where I am over eighty percent done with the first draft. Prior to our meeting, Alida sent me her edits plus a three-page summary of my writing style and issues. We then met at The Depot, an eclectic coffee shop in Hopkins, Minnesota located just off one of the many bike trails in the Twin Cities. We talked about my novel for over two hours!
As we approached the end of our conversation, Alida expressed the opinion that I was trying to cram a fifteen-pound novel into a five-pound box. She suggested a trilogy. I was definitely intrigued. Some of the feedback I have received over the past year resonated. Several people, who were patient enough to listen, told me that I had a lot going on in my novel. I thought, perhaps my story would work well in the format of three separate books. The more she and I talked about it, the more I began to warm up to the idea. As we left the meeting, I told Alida that once I completed the rough draft, I would contact her.
Approximately a week later, Alida suggested via email that she could provide assistance immediately, if I was interested. She outlined her thoughts on the direction of the novel and how she could improve my writing style. I was interested in her proposal. As I have mentioned before, my education on the writing process continued as I networked. Meeting with other writers and people in the industry allowed me to more thoroughly understand the business of writing. I knew that after my draft was finished, I could either have my writing critiqued and/or work shopped. A critique would involve hiring an editor. Work shopping would involve joining a writers group to get feedback. A workshop is a communal effort and, depending on the members, it can be very constructive.
Based on Alida’s initial critique of the interior ten-pages, I knew I had areas to improve. In addition, I really liked the idea of a trilogy. Alida was correct. I did have several story lines bouncing around in my novel. So I decided to take the plunge and hire Alida as my writing coach.
Once we agreed to the terms and cost of our engagement, Alida wasted no time in giving me “homework”. My first exercise was to take each of my “point-of-view” characters and flesh out their individual characteristics. Once done with that exercise, I was instructed to engage in free writing for approximately twenty minutes on each character. This involved simply writing down any random thoughts that popped into my mind. The trick was to write continuously in longhand. This process revealed that my characters needed more work. In my mind, I knew who they were, but I am not sure a reader would come to the same conclusion. Alida and I will be meeting toward the end of this month to further develop my skills as a writer. I am looking forward to the challenge.
As we move into the holiday season, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous time with your family and friends. Thank you for reading my blog this past year. I hope you will continue to find my musings interesting as my novel, now a trilogy, evolves.