Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writer Interrupted

Wouldn't it be great if there were never any interruptions in our lives as writers? If only we could shut out the world for the day and write our hearts out. If that were reality, I know this writer would get a manuscript finished in a much shorter span of time. But alas, it is not the real world. We will face a multitude of interruptions.

Dealing with it is sometimes frustrating. But if you accept that fact that things are not going to always go the way you wish, and that your schedule is going to have stuff knocking it aside, life is easier.

I have to share with you that I've had a marvelous experience this month...a kind of revelation on what direction to take in regards to the current book I've been writing. Advice --- look at each and every bump in the road that might set you back in your story as a positive. How do I know that to be true? I've experienced it enough times to know.

I started writing Beside Two Rivers just prior to when I signed my Abingdon contract. I sent a portion of it to my editor, who graciously called me and let me know there was a problem with two characters in regards to who and what they were. Even though, their position, race, gender, etc. was historically acurate for the times, I pondered her comments and realized how wise she was in the advice she gave me. Characters are the bones of your story. Make them people your readers will care about, relate to, and come alongside during their trials.

Anyway, I proceeded to dismantle these two characters. One was transformed into an old family servant that had been with the character of Eliza since her childhood, and jouneys from England to the New World with her. The other changed completely, to a fiery red-headed indentured servant named Sarah...who may end up having her story told in a third book.

I worked through the rest of the manuscript, until by September, I was three quarters of the way finished. Then everything stopped within me. It wasn't exactly writers block...but a long pause. Then I got a comment from an editor that said the beginning read like a prologue. Hmm. Thoughts and ideas began to stir and I then realized the beginning chapters of Beside Two Rivers have to go into another novel...Eliza's story. Before the Scarlet Dawn.

What these moments of 'writer interrupted' gave me was a three-book series. The Dusk to Dawn Series. Book 1 is Eliza's story, how she struggled to gain the love and acceptance of the man she adores, her jouney in the Maryland wilderness, her lonely life when he goes off to war, the birth of her daughter Darcy, and the trials that beset her that cause her to fall from grace. Book 2 is Darcy's story, and her journey to discover the truth about her parents, and her relationship with an Englishman who is mysteriously connected to her mother. Book 3 will be Sarah's story and how she came to indenture herself. I haven't written the proposal for Book 3, but I have for Books 1 and 2. Those are with an editor of a major Christian publishing house who kindly requested them.

So interruptions can lead to developments in your writing career that are huge stepping stones. Embrace them and seek out what exactly God is leading you into. If you are quiet, humble, and listen, you'll know.

A bit more since I haven't blogged in so long.

My computer completely up and died. I backed up my manuscripts but may have lost other documents. We are hoping we can retrieve them from the hard drive.

I'll be signing books at the Cokesbury Christian Bookstore in Baltimore on Saturday, November 21 from 11:30 to 2.

I'll be signing copies of Surrender the Wind at the Hagerstown Hometown Holiday Book Festival on Saturday, November 28 at the Virginia Avenue Church of God from 1 to 4.


Jessica said...

What a cool post Rita! I loved it. And the titles you pick are really beautiful.
I like how you say to look at interruptions as a way to ponder our work. Chores work good for this, imo. They make good daydreaming time.
Congrats on your requests!! :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Thanks for the encouragement, Rita. Opportunities are sometimes disguised as problems. :)


Glynis said...

It is always good to read of how a negative turns into a positive. Thanks for sharing yours.