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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reality Check: The Life of a Writer

Today I am pleased to publish my second guest blog post. You too can have a blog post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

Reality Check: The Life of a Writer
By: Delinda McCann

About two years ago someone told me that I live the life a half million other people fantasize about. I live on a small farm and I write. If my life is others’ fantasy, perhaps they need to know about reality.

Sitting at my computer and drifting into a fantasy world where I make up stories is rather pleasant. I get obsessive about this part of writing and forget to eat.  Really, I forget to cook, which is a bit hard on my poor hubby who is a terrible cook.

Once the story line is complete the hell begins. It is time to rewrite, edit and proof read. Why oh why, cannot I manage to tell a story without using passive voice? I need to go through and change all my “It was…” statements to something more interesting. I confess, sometimes I just give up and leave the passive voice alone because it sounds natural even if it isn’t exciting.

My second great question is why does my best writing happen with a scene that does not advance the plot or illuminate the characters? Many writers have written about the heartbreak of cutting out brilliant writing because it is not needed in the story. I still lament the loss of a scene where a group of young men encounter a herd of cows, and, being young men, they engage in a lively discussion of teats. 

After each rewrite, I must engage in the tedious task of going back and making certain that the changes have not destroyed something like subject-verb agreement and that all the characters still have their proper introduction. The story must remain internally consistent while great chunks of elegant prose are dumped into the trash. Often during the editing process, I become enchanted with the story again and lose hours of work-time just sitting and reading then I need to go back and start over editing where I left off.

Once the story is ready to meet the great big world it faces the horror of the publishing industry--enough said on that topic.

Once the precious novel is published proofed again and on the bookshelves or ready for the e-reader, the writer returns to the beginning and begins to market.  Actually the marketing begins before the final release of the book. At this point someone who enjoys living in a fantasy world and writing is supposed to go out and ask people to buy her book. The author who refuses to market faces the possibility that nobody will never, forever, and ever purchase his book.

Actually saying, “Buy my book” is not very effective. We need to network to market. This is another tough spot. Fortunately I like to interact with others. The idea is to help another author who then hopefully will help us. Right now I have a couple reviews to write up for other authors. I need to spend hours on twitter, interacting and promoting other authors. I love interacting with people who face the same challenges I face and live with the same anxiety about marketing their book. 

At the end of the day, writing is like most other jobs. Writers have good days and bad days. Sometimes the work is exciting. Most of the time the work is tedious or routine. We encounter situations outside our comfort zone. Most of the people we meet along the way are wonderful, but we still have to put up with the occasional jerk. However, there is that moment, when launching my written thoughts into the world, that is something like spreading my arms and soaring with eagles.

About Delinda McCann: I am a baby boomer who grew up to be a social-psychologist. Early in my career I started working with the working poor. This is where I developed my passion for working with the problems associated with poverty. Of course no trip through the world of the impoverished can be completed without learning about the issues related to disabilities, aging and mental health.

I married the first man I met when I moved away from home to go to college at Washington State University. We raised four daughters. We have two birth daughters and two foster daughters.

It was our youngest foster daughter who led us on a merry romp through the world of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Our foster daughter led me to become a specialist and advocate in the field of disabilities related to prenatal exposure. This area has been the focus of my work for the past twenty years.

My advocacy on FASD brought me to the attention of the ministries of health in some emerging African nations. I played an educational role via e-mail with these countries for several years. I was again fascinated with the world of poverty and how people manage not only to overcome adversity, but to be happy and find love and fulfillment in their lives.

My interests outside of work include organic gardening. I have a small, roadside flower stand where I sell organic cut flowers for about eight months of the year. In addition to gardening, I play the piano, poorly, and sing in my church choir.

I started my first fiction work in the winter of 2010 when I got my second cancer diagnosis. I was still sick from my first cancer and a related stroke. I decided that instead of sitting in my chair feeling sorry for myself, I would write, bringing my vast knowledge into a fictional world in an engaging manner.

In addition to Lies That Bind, which was my first work of fiction, I have published numerous professional articles on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Autism, mental health issues, adoption and foster care. I have two works in progress M'TK Sewer Rat, which is President Jake's autobiography telling how a boy from the slums grew up to be president. Something About Maudy is the story of a widowed United Methodist Ministers's struggle to save a dying church and find the courage to love a man again.

Twitter: @CalicoGardens
Amazon: Lies That Bind

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