Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Typing Keeps Your Fingers Warm

Just a quick update on this sunny, frozen Wednesday.

For those of you who are newish to my blog, WIP stands for Work In Progress, and while I have a lot of works-in-progress that are not related to writing (my four children, for instance), this series of posts is specifically about my writing projects.

I'm busy querying agents with my young adult (YA) novel V-Day. That means I'm sending out letters and usually a sample chapter by email to find out if agents are interested in representing me and my book. It's pretty tough to sign with an agent, so this process can be emotionally turbulent. Lots of rejections. (This time around I've received just as many requests for partials as I have rejections, so that's encouraging.) When an agent asks for a partial, it means they're interested in the premise of the novel that you've presented in the query letter and they want to see more. Partials are exciting because it means someone's actually reading your stuff. And in many cases you get constructive feedback on your novel, even if the response to the partial is ultimately a rejection.

To keep myself from becoming obsessed with the query process, I'm also working on my new novel, another YA contemporary called Back. This one is slow-going so far, but I think that's because I'm being cautious with it. I don't want my plot to derail, so I'm being very careful to decide exactly what I want to focus on before I get too deeply into the story. Maybe I'm being too cautious with this one, though. Part of the fun of writing for me is not being exactly sure what the character is going to do when I start a new novel. I can have the plot all laid out, but there are always undercurrents of motivations and personality that pop out like color accents in a woven rug. You're not exactly sure how it's going to look until you've finished. You stand back and say, "I wasn't expecting that, but it's nice. I love it."

Other times you stand back and say, "Ugh. Okay, that didn't work. This is a mess." Yes, that happens too. That's when you break out the scalpel and start slicing into your story. I guess I'm trying to avoid as much of that blood and gore with this new novel as I can, which is why I'm progressing slowly. I'm thinking a lot. These characters are often on my mind.

Meanwhile, I'm critiquing/editing my writing pal Stina's new contemporary YA. It's always fun to give back a little to these writing friends who have given so much to me through the art of kind, but brutal, critique. My only problem is, I'm not sure if I'm as helpful to them as they have been to me. I'm giving it my best, though.

Now, off to be productive while my baby's napping.

Remember, if the cold weather is getting you down: typing keeps your fingers warm. Write a novel!

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