Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December IWSG: Groundhog Day, Ultimatums and Disappointments

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My blog is stuck in an Adam Brody Groundhog Day movie mode--he just keeps reappearing over and over in my posts. Humor me. He encompasses everything MG writers strive to portray in their characters: nerdy, cute, geeky, funny, vulnerable, still trying to figure out their role in this world.

I gave my work-in-progress an ultimatum.

23 Very Seth Cohen One-Liners From The OCRemember I started a YA thriller set in Chicago this past summer? I placed it on the back burner while promoting and working on my MG mystery for the Pitch Wars contest. In the back of my mind, my WIP failed to deliver. So I gave it an ultimatum. Get it together or you'll end up in the shredder. I went back to the beginning and started over. Notice I didn't give up or quit. I did discover some things about myself in the process.

1. I write MG, not YA.Who am I kidding? My silliness won't end even after they've shoved me in a nursing home.
2. I must incorporate humor into my writing or die of serious boredom. I can't keep a straight face for more than a few seconds.
3. I have two sources of endless inspiration right in front of me. My teenage boys keep me loaded with writing ammunition. I must always take advantage of their mishaps and misfortunes.


After the ultimatum was settled upon, I took the middle of my WIP and made it the "hook." Lowered the age of the protagonist. Dropped the YA and made it into my favorite age group--MG. Added way more humor. Kept it in Chicago. Changed it from a thriller to a mystery. I haven't been this excited about something since I got out of jury duty last month. 

A quick word about disappointment: 

It happens to all of us. Even small victories can be overshadowed in the light of a huge disappointment.The rejections will roll in, sometimes right on top of each other like a tsunami. You will have to pick yourself up off the bathroom floor or the ocean floor and sit your butt back in your writing chair and write. Write better, harder, smarter. You can do it. You have to do it. Because no one else is going to do it for you. IF you are going to make it in this writing world, you better learn how to overcome disappointments. OVERCOME quickly and get back to work.

"The biggest laughs are based on the biggest disappointments and the biggest fears." Kurt Vonnegut 

How have you dealt with disappointment? Have you ever re-worked a WIP? Were you happy with the changes? What are some things about yourself that you have discovered from your writing?

27 comments:

  1. Whooboy! Have I ever re-worked a WIP? I've been doing that recently, and I did it with my last novel. I was happy with the changes, though right now it's a pain in the rear. But I know soon, things will be better.

    So glad you found what your writing passion and direction is. And I love humor. :)

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    1. They always get worse before they get better. Hang in there!

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  2. I'm glad you didn't give up on your WIP. That's good! I've noticed that when I have disappointments and work through them, what comes after is so much better. And yes, I've re-worked a WIP. I actually re-wrote an entire series! It's hard but it's possible. And I LOVED the changes. Hang in there!

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    1. It's good to keep an open mind and change things up when it's necessary.

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  3. Hi Jennifer, I have reworked one of my WIPs extensively. Just finished the reworks yesterday. Added humour, funny descriptions, shortened the chapters, added depth to the characters, worked on the pace etc. And I am quite happy with the result.

    I am glad that you didn't give up on your WIP.

    Btw... I too write MG, though I have started a YA also.

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    1. Good for you! I wondered if it was possible to write both:)

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  4. I often take a long walk or a few minutes of meditation then I get back to work.

    Yes, I've re-worked a WIP. One actually became a different story altogether and the other took on a different genre. :-)

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    1. It's funny how things start out one way and then end up totally different!

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    2. Yup. You can say that again, Jennifer. :-) Thanks for visiting!

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  5. Glad you are all excited about it again! You have to write to your strengths and what you enjoy. I tried to do something grittier than space opera and guess what I wrote? Another space opera...

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    1. You must enjoy it or it isn't worth it. At least I tried to write something different than MG. Now, I know to stick to my age group:)

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  6. Love your evolution here and thank you for sharing it with us, and your quick word at the end. I heard what you wrote and am putting it on a sticky note on my computer for a swift kick during those moments of doubt and feebleness!

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    1. Yeah! I need to be reminded of this about every other day.

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  7. I have just re-worked a story and I'm shaking in my boots because it's almost time to send it to my agent for another look. And yes, I am holding my breath, bracing for disappointment if she says "It's not changed enough." I have another, new book waiting in the wings, needing another round of revisions before I share that with her too. And I feel that anxiety coming on ...

    But then I think: One way to avoid disappointment is to just stop writing and find a new job. Go back to teaching. Stop writing.

    And that would be impossible, to stop writing. So as you said, I'll have to learn to survive disappointment.

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    1. I am a former fifth grade teacher. I hear you. But I wouldn't want to go back to the way things were before I started this journey. It's interesting to hear your perspective on the writing process even after you have an agent. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I think you have to love what you're writing to stick with it. So if humor helps you, add the humor!

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    1. It sure helps that our kids add humor to our novels. Makes our job easier.

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  9. My writing has to have humor in it too, or else the words just don't flow. Makes me wonder if all my stories should be written for MG. Not that I've finished one yet, but I have several of them in progress.

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    1. You never know. Get in touch with your inner MG, it might help you finish!

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  10. Reworked a WIP? All the time. It's all I ever do, seems like.

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  11. My latest WIP is a YA to MG mutation. The change made it so much more fun tow work on.

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  12. It's wonderful that you learned about your own particular niche and what you feel most comfortable writing. I'm sure you'll be happier now you've decided. Those changes to your WIP sound great! Good luck with it! :)

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  13. Sounds like you turned a YA you weren't happy with into a great MG novel. That's great you found a way to save the story.

    I know the feeling of having started a project and not being happy with how it's going. I had 50k words to my YA realistic fiction written when I scrapped 90% of it and started over. It's still YA, but the characters' needs and struggles have changed quite a bit. I'm much happier with the book now.

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  14. I tried writing a YA--it's just too gritty. I finally had to just admit that I like writing fun, girly stories and YA probably won't be my thing until it stops being about people killing themselves or each other!

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  15. I've switched age groups for manuscripts before. When something feels wrong, I have to make it right. It means major revisions,but I'm okay with that.

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  16. i feel a bond between us! - i had a hard time deciding if mine was MG or YA - went with MG because i'm too silly and keep cracking myself up too! i love incorporating humor in my writing, so much more fun with all the seriousness in the world! AND i have some goofy teenage boys who think theyre cool, too - so fun to embarrass them, they hate it! ha!

    keep up the good work!! and keep overcoming in 2015! happy holidays!

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  17. Never thought of big laughs being related to disappointments and fears, but as I think on it this makes a lot of sense. Hooray for small victories.

    Hope the coming year is a good one for you.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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