Friday, August 29, 2014
Guarding Your Growing Work with Guest Blogger Tina Radcliffe
First, I’d like to thank the gang at Stitches Thru Time for inviting me to participate in their birthday celebration. Happy Birthday.
Guarding the work is a topic that I learned about many years ago. Your budding story doesn’t come with growing instructions, but I’ve learned a few from my manuscript garden to share with you.
1. Protect Your Seedlings
Today, most of us have lives lived in the spotlight of social media. Every nuance of our day is shared with hundreds, if not thousands, of virtual strangers. Don’t share your developing story on social media. Period.
There’s also a burning desire to share your pages with people in your life. After all, they love you, so they’ll love your story, right?
Not necessarily. Remember that the story God planted in your heart is your special seed. Those around you may not understand your story. They may in fact dislike your story, or worse, attempt to change your story to become their story.
My advice to you is to wait until the story is completed before you share it with those who are not writers. (If you must share at all.)
Equally dangerous is exposure to emotions that can drain you before you complete the story. The story should be your primary focus. Say no to drama. Filter out anything that will induce emotions that keep you from being able to channel your characters and your plot while you are writing. This can include toxic people, television, movies and books-anything that diverts your emotional and spiritual energy from the growing seedling of a story.
2. Guard those Story Plants
-Contests: It’s no secret that I love writing contests. I love them because I’m an introvert and contesting is an introvert’s way of pretending to be an extrovert. But when you are a new writer contest results can be devastating. I know several writers who gave it all up over contest results. Remember that contests (no matter how prestigious) do not guarantee that the judges know what they are talking about. On a very good day, they are still simply a subjective crap shoot.
Don’t enter your manuscript in contests until your story and you are strong enough to weather the confusion of conflicting and sometimes painful feedback. It takes a mature writer to know how to put contest results aside for another day and to know how to mine for gems of instruction among contest results.
-Reviews: Reviews are contests for published stories. There is no good reason to read your own reviews. Occasionally, while shopping at online retailers I stumble across my own reviews, but I never, ever go looking for them.
Reviews like contests, are a subjective crap shoot. Don’t believe the good ones and don’t believe that horrible ones. Bad reviews can steal your writing mojo for days or weeks. That little budding plant of a manuscript will shrivel up and die from neglect if you allow yourself to be sucked into the morass of a negative review. Don’t allow that to happen. Don’t read reviews.
-Critique Groups: The perfect critique group or partner gives you the right amount of encouragement and direction. If all you’re getting is manure, it might be time to rethink your arrangement. Conversely, if you aren’t getting any help then why are you wasting your valuable writing time?
3. The Growth Cycle of a Story
The tender shoots begin to appear and the writer is excited and full of hope for the story. Each word, sentence and paragraph is carefully selected and fretted over.
Weeks later and the daily drudgery of watering and fertilizing begins to take its toll. Is this really worth it? Will this uninspiring plant really become a beautiful story bloom?
More time passes and the plant seems to be at a standstill. It is becoming more and more obvious that you are wasting your time. Why did you even think you could write or cultivate anything? (You secretly consider letting the plant die a natural death.)
Pushing through you finally write ‘the end.’ After pruning and pruning (and more pruning), you have a beautiful story plant.
Now go plant another seed.
So, how do you protect the work in your writing garden? Have you come across any of the issues I’ve mentioned?
In honor of the Stitches Thru Time blog birthday, I’m giving away a copy of Stranded with the Rancher. The gang here will let you know if your name was picked. Print copy for U.S. or Canada. Kindle version if you are an international winner.
The Doctor and the Cowboy
Stranded at single father Dan Gallagher's ranch during a Colorado blizzard, Dr. Beth Rogers is counting the days till the roads are clear. She can't wait to leave for her exciting new life in New York. But suddenly the big-city doctor is delivering babies in log cabins, helping to feed newborn calves and teaching Dan's little girl to play hymns on the piano. No-nonsense Beth even throws a snowball or two at the handsome, love-shy cowboy. She thought she had her heart set on leaving, so why does she dream of Dan asking her to stay forever?
Tina Radcliffe writes fun, inspirational romance for Love Inspired. She is a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award finalist in the short novel category, with her first Paradise book, Mending the Doctor’s Heart. Her latest Paradise book, Stranded with the Rancher is a September release. She’s also teaching Self-Editing for Beginners in October in Seekerville’s Night Classes.