Recently I attended the monthly meeting of the Northeast Ohio RWA chapter. The presentation, by the funny and talented Donna MacMeans, was about adding emotion to your writing. I learned some wonderful tips for doing that. For an example, check out Donna's article on "Rooting Interests."
As usually happens when I attend a meeting like this, I think about the lessons being imparted in relation to my WIP. And as usual, I find room for improvement in my work. This time, I had a stunning vision of clarity when I realized why I have been having such a hard time writing this book: the conflict, or rather, the lack thereof. My hero and heroine are too alike. In real life, that's a reasonably good thing--common interests and all that. However, it doesn't make for particularly interesting fiction.
Now the time has come to decide. Do (Can) I make their lives more complicated and thus more interesting, or do I put this one under the figurative bed? I have had these characters in my head for years. I know where I want them to end up, but can I make the journey interesting enough for anyone to come along for the ride? Do I even want to keep trying, or would it be better for my mental health to say au revoir?
I did some thinking, and read a couple of great blog posts: http://wordwranglers.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-under-bed.html, and http://katesheeran.com/2011/05/13/under-the-bed-not-a-bad-thing/. I have learned so much about writing with this manuscript. Working with these characters has been fun and enriching, but frustrating. They haven't changed all that much since they first were put on paper, but I have changed in so many ways. And so, under the bed it goes, at least for a while.
Once I made the decision, I felt so much better. I went back to another MS that I had started last year, and immediately cranked out 10 pages.
Have you ever trunked a MS? Why, or why not? Did you ever go back to it?
Rejection is hard to take. When it's a rejection of something that we've created from within our hearts, that 'No' takes on a whole 'nother dimension. Ironically, sometimes that 'R' hits harder than at other times.
We've all had agents and/or editors say "Thanks but no thanks." If we enter contests or query, we'll finally find those 'sorry' verdicts become a little easier to deal with because they're more frequent. Usually we develop a thick skin and keep writing.
But now and then, one will hit us like a Louisville Slugger. And no matter the amount of rationalization we apply to this one single instance, it takes on humongous significance. And despite other approvals (perhaps in the form of contest finals), we're suddenly convinced we can't put two words together coherently. It's happened to me and it's happened to my friends. It's hard to figure out. Why that one No in the midst of several Yeses can have such a psychological impact. But it can.
I've been thinking about this phenomenon for awhile--since a friend who got one particular rejection just stopped writing. She was a contest winner. She had an agent. She's a good writer and had been published in other formats. But that one negative reaction slammed into her like a hurricane on the Gulf Coast.
Once that happened she doubted herself. She couldn't write a page without going back and revising and editing until she was so frustrated, she couldn't continue. Consequently, she didn't write for several months. She spent months researching but never committing word to page.
Recently, she's begun to come around and produce some serious words without second guessing herself. God willing, she'll be back creating her outrageously touching stories--very soon.
What makes us do that? I think maybe it's because that one rejection comes from a person (or contest or publishing house) whose approval we want so very much. And when that person, whom we secretly (or not so secretely) admire, says, "Ummmm...maybe not..." we see it as a rejection not of the story, but of our dreams, our abilities and of--ourselves. A person we admire says we're not worthy. It feels like a betrayal.
It's not. It's not you. It may not even be the story. It may be the market. It may be what editors are asking for today, which is not the story you wrote. It may be a dozen other reasons that have nothing to do with you, Jane (or John) Doe. Just give yourself a little bit of time to mourn, then get going on the next project. Yes, it's easier said than done. No, it's not impossible.
You've got more than one story to tell. But you can't publish them if you don't write them. So get going.
Writers are cautioned not to take rejection personally. But it's hard not to.
How about you? Have you ever been in a situation when a rejection has prompted you to stop writing? How did you overcome it?
For some of you, this may be old news, but bear with me, as I am often the last to know anything. Did you know that there was a “Little Ice Age” in Britain that lasted over 400 years, and didn’t end until the 19th century? The Thames froze so thick that it was common to have Frost Fairs on the river during the winter months. Google “Frost Fairs” and you will find a number of pictures and articles: there are some "zoomable" images here: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/kinggeorge/t/003ktop00000027u04100001.html.
You can find data on average temperature (1659 forward) and precipitation (1766 forward) in England on the website of the Royal Meterological Society.
This site has interesting descriptions of English winters from the 17th century to the present day. For example, 1816 was the year without a summer, and on Christmas day in 1836, snow accumulated up to 15 feet, with drifts of up to 50 feet!
That last site refers to a volcanic eruption having an impact on English weather, not unlike the eruption that we all remember from 2010. Thinking about this made me wonder about historical weather events outside of England that may have had an impact, such as this 18th century volcanic eruption in Iceland.
|The first issue of The Times, 1 Jan 1788|
The British Library offers online access to British newspapers from 1800 to the present day. An article on the British Library website reports the following: "In 1800, four main daily newspapers were being published in London, of roughly equal importance: the Morning Post; the Morning Chronicle; the Morning Herald and The Times."
Access to the British Library collection is by subscription, although it is free if you are affiliated with a subscribing institution, such as a British university. Another interesting summary of British newspapers is available at http://www.georgianindex.net/publications/newspapers/news_sources.html. There are some newspapers available at the National Archives, and you can also find a number of periodicals on GoogleBooks--for reasons which escape me, there is particularly good coverage of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, with marvelously titled articles like "Wild Birds, Useful and Injurious (With Seven Illustrations)" and "Marigolds Running to Seed."
This site offers access to a few 18th century journals for free: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ilej/; and this one offers links to a number of other sites, including German, French, Dutch and other European papers: http://www.xooxleanswers.com/free-newspaper-archives/newspaper-archives-europe/. You can find information on Canadian newspapers at http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/newspapers.
This is an interesting article on the business of nineteenth century theatre and its personalities: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/0-9/19th-century-theatre/. This article offers facts on the individual theatres: http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/theaters/pva234.html. Some tidbits: The Adelphi was the first theatre to feature adaptations of the novels of Charles Dickens; the first female theatre manager in London was Eliza Vestris, who managed the Olympic Theatre in 1830; the celebrated actor Edmund Kean made his Drury Lane debut in 1814 as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.
Vauxhall Gardens by Samuel Wale, c1751. Source: Wikipedia
"The illuminations began before we arrived; and I must confess that upon entering the Gardens I found every sense overpaid with more than expected pleasure: the lights every where glimmering through scarcely moving trees; the full-bodied concert bursting on the stillness of night; the natural concert of the birds in the more retired part of the grove, vieing with that which was formed by art; the company gaily dressed, looking satisfied, and the tables spread with various delicacies,--all conspired to fill my imagination with the visionary happiness of the Arabian lawgiver, and lifted me into an ecstasy of admiration."
As I can't possibly top that (and I need to go find out more about Arabian lawgivers), I bid you adieu until next time,
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Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
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Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs