Magic Happens

magic-happens

My journey as a writer is an upward hike. There is a hell of a lot of climbing and work, but then I come to a lookout point and I can see the progress and revel in the journey thus far. Those moments are precious and beautiful and a sigh for this writer’s soul.

These outlooks on our artistic journey are much needed.They are the reason we keep trudging forward, so our hearts can soar once again from all that we have accomplished.

The hike of a writer is lonely. Sure, we have fellow-hikers who give a nod of acknowledgment along the way. We see some familiar faces and even a few who stop to motivate us when the climb is too steep, but mostly we wander this trail alone. We push forward alone. Only the writer understands their dream.

I have wanted to give up on my journey so many times. Since I became a stay at home mother and started this blog and began my dream of publishing a novel, I’ve wanted to quite every day. The negative talk works its way into my head, “Nobody cares about your writing. You aren’t a good writer. It’s too hard.”

But something always whispers back, “You’re journey isn’t over yet. The next viewpoint is just ahead. Keep writing.”

 

-Rachel McKee

 

_dsc1914

A New Project

I’m at a point in my novel where I am stuck. That means my writing is stuck. I hate that.

So I decided to dig up a children’s book that I wrote last May. The story is (loosely) based off of my experience working at a flower nursery. I posted the story last week to get some feedback. It’s been removed and revised many times since I posted it.

The writing for this story came easily. I was able to draw on my own experience and reflect. Now I want to write an entire series based off of Elsie’s (my MC) adventures. These stories will be written from my childhood memories. I’m very excited about this project. I’m also learning that it’s good to keep writing, even if you have to put one project aside.

Drawing from my own experience while writing these picture books has been easier than writing my novel (Not that any writing is easy.) Creating fictional characters and a fictional story is hard, sometimes I feel like I’m reaching into a black hole to find what works.

I must stop and quote two authors:

“Write what you know.” -Mark Twain

“You speak of Lord Byron and me – There is this great difference between us.
He describes what he sees – I describe what I imagine – Mine is the hardest task.”
-John Keats in a letter to his brother George, September 1819

In my case, both of these quotes are true. There are certain plot points, emotions, and scenes that I have been struggling with because I have no reference. I’m not giving up on my novel, but I need to follow this new motivation.

I’m pitching the first book in the series, Elsie Goes To Work next Thursday at a Twitter pitch event. If you have a picture book you would like to pitch, the hashtag is #PBBooks and it’s happening on the 2/23/2017.

Wish me luck, hopefully an agent or editor will “like” my pitch.

-Rachel McKee

A Quote To Write By

Keep writing YOUR truth. Explore the feelings you keep buried. Work out your demons with pen and paper. Then bravely share your words so others don’t feel so alone. If just one person benefits from your writing, isn’t it all worth it?❤

-Rachel McKee

Guest Post Questionnaire – M. Miles

A few weeks ago, three of my favorite bloggers agreed to form a writing panel for today’s post. I asked them to respond to five quotes about a writer’s identity, and in their responses, they produced some smashing quotes of their own.

via Writers Respond to Famous Quotes — M. Miles

I had so much fun participating in M. Miles’ questionnaire. I’m honored that I was asked to join the discussion.

Perhaps you are familiar with the other guest bloggers: Paul from WindBlownWords and Kristin Twardowski. If not, check them out today.

Have a great weekend!

-Rachel McKee

Post-Holiday Post

Happy Monday.

Is everyone recovered from their post-holiday hangover? I’m still getting there.

If you hadn’t noticed, I was M.I.A last month. Here are a few things I did over the month of December:

  • Started working on a Guest Post Questionnaire for the lovely blog M.Miles. I’m looking forward to reading her post and I will make sure to link to it so that you can read it.
  • I read A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas. (Book review coming soon.)
  • I’m currently reading a novel called A Journal For Damned Lovers by S.K. Nicholas. I’ve been following his blog for a year now. He is a fantastic writer. His blog is also called A Journal For Damned Lovers.
  • I’ve had more people volunteer to beta read my book.
  • I missed you all.

Here is what I did not do last month:

  • Look at my own novel.

But yesterday I picked up where I left off in November and started editing and rewriting.

Did I mention I missed you?

-Rachel

New Year, New Focus

I went to a psychic once in Las Vegas. (Bare with me.) I was there with a group of friends for a bachelorette party, this was about five years ago. On a whim, we decided to visit Old Town and as we were walking we spotted a little shack in the middle of the sidewalk. We stepped inside the tiny trailer and huddled around a woman and her table. The trailer was clean and tidy. No unnecessary frills, thrills, skulls, or crystal balls. Each girl took a turn and to my surprise, instead of predicting the future she dug into our pasts and advised us on the current predicaments in our lives.

My hands were sweaty when it was my turn. She asked me whether I wanted my palm read or if I wanted the tarot cards. I chose the cards. She gave me a lot of sage advice, but the one aspect of our session that stood out to me was when she looked me in the eyes and said, “You have a lot of chaotic but powerful energy bouncing around inside of you, but you have no idea how to control it. You could achieve amazing things if you can find a way to wrangle and focus that energy.”

Obligatory disclaimer: I realize that her observation can apply to just about any creative soul, but hey, it’s a good reminder right?

So what does this have to do with 2017? My mission, my goal, my pledge to myself is to take that energy and focus it on my book(s). I haven’t been taking myself seriously as a writer. I have had multiple offers from people to beta-read my current novel and I haven’t allowed anyone to see it yet. Every time I think it’s ready to be handed off, my heart starts racing and I remember ten different things that MUST be changed before anyone else can read it. I get overwhelmed with my ideas and it all becomes too much. So I sit on my couch and binge-watch Gilmore Girls and waste time. I’m not focusing my energy. I let it get out of control and to cope, I ignore it. I ignore everything creative in my life because it’s too much work to harness that chaotic energy.

2017 has a lot in store for me, I can feel it in my core. I’m excited to learn, grow, share, love, and focus.

Thank you for following.

Happy New Year.

-Rachel

Do you have any resolutions or thoughts about the new year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

 

Five Famous Writers Who Were (Harshly) Rejected

Here is a list of five famous authors who felt the harsh smack of the “Rejected” stamp.

As I’m getting closer to my spring/summer deadline, I keep praying for thicker skin for when those rejection emails come pouring in. I have a lot of fellow writers who follow my blog, but I think everyone could use a little reminder that all great people have faced rejection at some point.

James Baldwin: Author of Go Tell It On The Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, The Fire Next Time.

rejection-letter

Source: Click Hole

J.K. Rowling: Author of the Harry Potter Series.

Rowling was rejected from 12 publishing houses before she landed at Bloomsbury In June 1997.

J K Rowling

Source: Wikipedia

Louisa May Alcott: Author of Little Women, Little Men

Alcott was rejected by publisher James T. Fields who said, ““Stick to your teaching, Miss Alcott. You can’t write.”

Image result for louisa may alcott

Source: Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.

Sylvia Plath: Author of The Bell Jar

A harsh comment on the rejection letter Plath received in regards to The Bell Jar:

“I’m not sure what Heinemann’s sees in this first novel unless it is a kind of youthful American female brashnaess. But there certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.”

Image result for the bell jar

Source: FlavorWire  Image found here:We Love It

Charles Dickens: Author of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol

Dickens didn’t tell his friends that he was mailing off his manuscript to publishers because he was afraid that they would make fun of him. Here is part of the rejection letter he received from one publisher for A Christmas Carol:

“Our primary issue is its preposterous main premise. We will grant that readers may indeed be willing to accept the idea of four omnipotent ghosts returning to Earth to do good for the betterment of mankind. However, it stretches the boundaries of credibility to their very limits to expect anyone to believe a CEO would repent his ways via voluntary monetary penance. Pay his secretary’s mortgage? Double his salary? Are you certain, Mr. Dickens, that you did not intend to submit this manuscript to our humor publishing subsidiary?”

Ouch.

Image result for charles dickens a christmas carol

Sources: Writer’s Digest and USA Today.

-Rachel McKee

Don’t Trash That Novel

If you are struggling with your manuscript and you need someone to ask you questions that challenge and stretch your novel to the max, then you should read “The Breakout Novelist: How To Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell” by Donald Maass.

Here is my experience:

A lot was missing in my novel when I wrote the first draft. I expected the first, second, and third drafts to be rough, but I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know how to shape my story. I needed help, but I didn’t want to hand off a first draft for review. I felt like a protective mama bear guarding her little newborn cub.

grizzly-bear-624x468

I also felt helpless and that I failed as a writer. I was ready to trash my novel.

Another writer suggested that I read “The Breakout Novelist” (TBN). He said, “Maass’ book is THE writing book to read if you are writing a novel.”

I took his advice and read TBN. It really is the best tool I have used to develop my story.

The Breakout Novelist

The problem with my first draft was that it was shallow. TBN asked probing questions about premise, stakes, characters, plot, theme, and so much more. I’ve been able to add depth to every aspect of my novel. My second draft has substance and a clear understanding as to what my novel is about. Every character has substance and aren’t just “filler” characters.

TBN has taken me a very long time to read, but purely by choice. I applied every point Maass made to my story. I didn’t ignore a single suggestion because I could clearly see how each one stretched and shaped my novel into something better. Maass also provided exercises to help the writer apply these concepts to their manuscript.

I’m glad I wrote the first draft blindly. There was something very holistic in writing from my heart with no other voice chiming in, but then I was stuck. My mental wall was growing taller every day and I’m so grateful that I found TBN when I did. It truly saved my sanity and my novel. I had to share this helpful tool in case someone else needed guidance.

Happy writing,

Rachel McKee