Writing in the Backyard on a Summer Day

In the sixty degree shade, old dog contentedly snoring at my feet, the rhythm of an avian chorus, I prepare to write.  Laptop positioned (oddly enough) on my lap, water with slice of lime at reach on dog-grooming table, along  with a berry and yogurt power breakfast–I will crave carbs within the hour–and two precious hours with nothing to do except write and remove a three-berry cobbler from the oven.

Today’s plan: write a blog, complete fifth edit on 23rd (second to the last) chapter, apply my editor’s edits to proposal, publish blog, and query an agent. Can I accomplish that much in a day? Based upon my production thus far since May 4, my last day of 40-hour-a-week-work, I will not get this much done.  But I will accomplish as much as I can.  Tomorrow is always another day.

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A Writing Day

Today I had a most satisfying morning starting and competing a fifth draft edit on yet another chapter.  I haven’t been doing much writing lately, and it felt good to dig in.

Eight weeks have passed since I resigned my job and I am only now finally reestablishing a writing routine.  Seems as if I should have accomplished more by now, but I tend to not give myself credit for non-writing time spent.  Though I have gotten less writing done these eight weeks than I do working 40 a week, I have been getting lots of other important things done in preparation for when I return to full-time employ.

For instance, I cleaned my house, planted and maintained several gardens, stayed at church longer  after service, groomed the Westies, had a dinner party, went to a friend’s son’s graduation, searched for jobs, made better meals, did more yoga, spent time with my granddaughter, my husband, my friends, had several interviews, stayed up late, sat in the yard and listened to the birds, plus the other things that I don’t often do when I’m working full time.

Notice how I can now seem to find time for relationships.

Writing is extremely important to me, but it isn’t everything. Relationship is more important. Can’t truthfully write about relationship and not engage in relationship.

The Church Club: a born-again Christian Jew seeks relationship in a mega church

I’m tempted to rename my book The Church Club. I love this title. But is it right for my story? I like how the title suggests superficial religion, such as Christianity that majors in social activity, emotional highs, or a religious leader, but minors in Jesus. These scenarios are a part of my story, not the nut of my story. (See Cracking the Literary Nut 4/123/2012.) The nut of my story is the human hunger for relationship.

It is true that my unfulfilled desire for meaningful relationship became a powerful impetus to seek community in a mega church filled with eligible bachelors who shared my newfound beliefs as a born-again Christian Jew. But we sought Jesus fervently. How could such earnest pursuit be called a Church Club?

A Book is Born (Recycled)

Note: My first blog dated: 10/29/10

I’m gestating.  Obviously at 58, I’m not pregnant in the usual way, but something living grows within me. An idea, conceived as a five-page essay in a senior writing class, has taken on a life of its own. Since that writing class, the idea has developed into a 200-page (and growing) story that fills my waking hours and comes to bed with me at night. 

It moves. It kicks. It goads me.  It invigorates and exhausts me.  I cannot escape it.  Nor do I want to. 

Back at BSU

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Lovin’ this this Idaho spring morn.  Lovin’ the sunny sky, air with a hint of mountain freshness, plum­-scented blossoms, and the soft–as opposed to chaotic–foot traffic of the unfortunate few students enrolled in summer school.

I am at Boise State University using my laptop.  Why not? Brought my friend, Anita, to her job–my former job–and decided to stay awhile.  Why not?  My parking permit is good through June and the WiFi is free. After 20 years as an employee and 13 as a student at Boise State, I’m vested. Regardless of my employment status or lack thereof, I am an honorary patron of this university.

Book Update

Currently, I am applying the edits Cherie, my friend from Grace Chapel, did for me.  So far, she’s done five or six chapters. I sure appreciate her help, particularly since Cousin Judy, who normally grammar edits my drafts, has been sick for so long.  I am also applying fifth-draft edits to chapters 20-Epilogue.  That’s the equivalent of three chapters to go.

I am taking a break from querying agents. Even though I should send query letters out weekly, I have become a bit lethargic.  Somewhere in my mind, I am holding out hope that Sunday Elizabeth will make an offer.

Maybe she will.

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Two Elizabeths: Saturday & Sunday

A few weekends ago, I queried two agents, both named Elizabeth. I noticed while researching her website, that the Sunday Elizabeth was coming to my home town for a writer’s conference.  The conference venue was so close to work, I could walk there.  Too bad I didn’t have the $199.00 to attend. I lamented the loss.

Two Elizabeth’s: Tuesday

Three days after I had queried the Saturday Elizabeth, she emailed me requesting a promotion plan. The only thing close to a promotion plan I possessed was the marketing section in my book proposal.  So, I beefed it up and sent it to her. She responded within the hour.

Something in the tone of her response disturbed me. 

“We can’t help you,” she said, “as if speaking of a beloved feline suffering from a rapidly-progressing kidney disease. And then the final punch, “Maybe you should try an ebook.”

Though ebooks present a respectable publishing option that can work symbiotically with traditional publishing, I responded to her suggestion as if my writing wasn’t good enough for a traditional publisher. For the first time in years, I let constructive criticism from an agent really get me down. 

For several silly hours, and probably even into the night, I doubted myself.  Is my writing lifeless as her words implied?  Why haven’t I been able to build a stronger interest (platform)?  What have I been doing these years? More importantly, why have I been doing it? I thought I was writing a story to encourage, entertain, and in some way, change lives.

“Oh Lord,” I prayed. “If this book is a pipe dream, I’d like to know.  But if the passion and inspiration that has driven me to write this book comes from you, I’d like to know that, too.” Then I dismissed the agent’s opinion as the agent’s opinion. 

Two Elizabeth’s: Wednesday

On Wednesday, even though I still didn’t have $199 to attend a conference, I looked at the Idaho Reader’s and Writer’s Rendezvous website to find out more about Sunday Elizabeth. While perusing the website, I also noticed that Bruce Ballenger, one of my favorite professors was presenting, as was Kim Barnes, one of my favorite authors.  I also noticed a session on book marketing, info I was obviously lacking.

I had to go to that conference!

I emailed Bruce and asked him to sneak me in.  He couldn’t, but suggested I email Kim. 

“Kim who?”  I asked.

“Kim Barnes,” he said.

So, I emailed Kim Barnes. 

Kim suggested I email Doug.

Doug graciously made a way for me to attend the sessions I NEEDED to attend.

Two Elizabeths: Thursday

Thursday morning, I met Sunday Elizabeth. Actually, when I arrived, one of the few remaining seats was in the first row so close to Sunday Elizabeth that I could see her pupils.  I introduced myself before the session began and she invited me to resend my query.  “Put ‘Boise Conference’ on the subject line and I’ll put you on the ‘fast track.’”

That night, I met Kim Barnes at the Q & A, book signing event at Rediscovered Books in Boise. We talked about getting together for coffee later that week.