My guest blogger this week is Lois Greiman. Lois lives a bit further north than me in Minnesota on a small farm. She sold her first book to Avon in 1992. Since then she has sold 22 romances, six mysteries, and the first in her ‘Witches of Mayfair’ series. I am a huge fan of her Chrissy McMullen mysteries and am thrilled to find out she has a new one coming out. Lois has been kind enough to blog about her writing process. Writing is an interesting creative outlet. We all end up with completed projects, eventually but when asked how they do it, they all have their own process. Lois has been kind enough to share hers today.
Soldering on…and ummm free jewelry!
Okay, I’ll admit it. Writing is difficult. If someone ever tells you, “Hey, you should just write a book, cuz’ that’s easy money,” you pop them in the eye for me, will you? Because seriously, getting published may be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. It took me five years and a couple hundred rejections to sell my first novel. That’s right, a couple HUNDRED. And I don’t take rejection well. It’s not like I go looking for it or anything. But here’s what I’ve learned: Publishers don’t generally come knocking on your door looking for that diamond in the rough (you) who has written that potential best seller (your half written manuscript).
So what’s my secret for writing thirty plus novels? It’s pretty simple really. It’s called the Put Your Butt In The Chair Method. Okay, maybe it’s not quite as simple as it sounds, because, yes, I do realize that there are a lot of things that can be done while your butt is in the proper location. Solitaire, for instance. I know several authors who are addicted to Solitaire. Email. Email’s a bugger. In fact, the entire social network thing can be fatal to that ever-elusive muse. That’s why I don’t believe in her. That’s right. I said it, I don’t believe in the Muse. What I do believe in is butts…and chairs…and butts in chairs. So here’s what I do. Every morning after feeding the horses and going for a run, I brew myself a little tea, chant, “I don’t suck, I don’t suck, I don’t suck,” four hundred times, and settle into my work chair. That’s it. That’s the entirety of my secret. I sit down, I put my fingers on the keyboard and I write something.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t write anything good. Nothing noteworthy or hopeful or even remotely creative. But I do write. I have a goal for the day and I meet my goal. Generally, it’s 10 pages of rough draft every twenty-four hours. And when I say rough draft, don’t underestimate the roughness. That first attempt is barely legible. If someone read it, I would, in fact, have to put a gun in my ear. But day after day and week after week it gets written. I don’t edit. I don’t second guess. I don’t whine. (Okay, that last one was a total lie. I whine all the time. But nobody listens anymore so it hardly even counts.) What I do is soldier on…through the terrible dialogue that makes me want to weep for my lack of creativity, past the nonexistent scenery, over the plot holes as big as battle ships…on. And voila, after about forty days of this dogged but totally uninspired soldiering I am rewarded with 400 pages of …drivel. I mean seriously, did you expect it to be good? No. It’s awful. Worse than awful. It’s nonsensical. Because without fail on page 77 I discovered that I hated my hero’s name. Who ever thought the male lead should be called Kismet? I’m obviously deranged. But do I go back and name him something manly and dynamic like…King George? I do not. Do I add the gun on page 83 so that Kismet can shootLeonon page 122. I do not. What do I do? I soldier on. Until finally, after approximately two months of misery I have the backbone of a book. Granted, it’s a weak backbone. It has scoliosis and rickets and some osteoporosis, but it’s still a backbone and once I have that, well…I can move on. I can add flesh and muscle and pigment. I can shape and hone. I can change my poor misbegotten hero’s name for God’s sake.
So there it is. I wish I had something more hopeful for you. I wish I could tell you that if you try these three simple but magical steps the muse will appear in a puff of fairy dust, but that’s not the way it works. Not for me anyway. And if it works for someone else…well, sometimes I’m willing to pop people in the eye on my own behalf.
To celebrate the online release of Uncorked, (http://www.amazon.com/Uncorked-Chrissy-McMullen-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B006QXOAB0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326404170&sr=1-1) I’m giving away an adorable heart necklace and earrings. If you’d like to throw your name in the hat, please send an email with the word Valentine in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now…what are you waiting for? Go forth and read!
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Thanks Lois, look forward to reading ‘Uncorked’.