That Magic Moment…

To start with, today one of you will be our 25,000th
visitor
. So let me say a big THANK YOU! to all of our readers. And
indulge me for a moment while I thank my fellow Murderati – Pari, Deni, Naomi, Simon, Elaine and Jeff,
who bring so much to this blog, day after day, constantly writing ingenious,
inventive and informative posts. Bravo, blogmates!

The success of Murderati became a launching pad of sorts for
me. As I developed confidence in my essay abilities (I still feel they are
woefully lacking, just look at Pari‘s  and Naomi’s posts this week to see why) I starting venturing into areas where I wasn’t as
comfortable. I don’t have the expertise that my blog mates bring to the table.
Let’s face it, I won’t even be in print until late next year. As a result, I’m
finding that my blog entries are becoming more of a journal for what’s
happening that week in my writing process.

When I started with Murderati back on April 7th, I had no idea what
was coming down the train tracks. I was struggling, trying to figure out the system, doing
this blog, gleaning as much information as I could from my fellow writers,
working on short stories, getting my name out, doing all the things I told all
of you to do in my first column.

Then the world exploded. My agent took my manuscript out, I
signed with MIRA, got involved with KillerYear, and went to ThrillerFest, all
in a brief two-month period.

Things are getting back to normal now. I’m beginning to
catch my breath. I actually go for long stretches at a time not thinking about
the fact that I’m finally realizing my dreams of being published. The summer
stretches before me. I haven’t received my edits on ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, so
I’m moving forward on my next book.

There are moments when I’m working on a book, mile markers,
if you will, that let me know how well I’m doing. My first major hurdle is the
20,000 word count. Until a new manuscript hits that point, it doesn’t feel like
it’s ever going to be a real book. I broke 20K yesterday, so now I’m 80 pages
into my 350 page journey and feeling like maybe, just maybe, I can salvage a
book from this mess. My next big goal is the 100 page mark. Then I’ll feel like
something substantial has been accomplished.

By setting and achieving small goals, I find that writing a
book is that much easier. I try for 1,000 words a day. Sometimes I get on a
roll and write 3000. Some days I struggle getting 500 down. But I continue to
slog away, day after day, trying to just get the story down and not worrying as
much about the perfect turn of phrase, or whether I’ve tied up that loose end.
It’s the best advice I can give. Just get the story down. A draft is called
that for a reason.

I love the moment that first draft is finished. It’s a time
for celebration, to treat myself with something, a new book, an afternoon off.
Because rewriting and editing are a lot easier than getting the story down in
the first place.

Let me suggest something for anyone who struggles with
getting that manuscript finished. There’s a contest in November called
NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Go to the
site. Think about the goal – 50,000 words in 30 days. Think that’s impossible?
It’s only 2600 words a day. The goal is to write. Write, write, write, like your
hair is on fire. No looking back, no worrying about style, voice or point of
view. That’s all for your rewrite. It’s a great exercise in getting something
major done on your manuscript.

Start now. Think about what you’re going to write, how the
story will go, who your characters are, and when November 1st rolls
around, go for it. You have absolutely nothing to lose!

A Late PS: Jason Pinter has an excellent Do/Don’t list at his blog today — Check it out…

Wine of the Week: I discovered a new varietal this week that
I really enjoyed and plan to add to the meager collection. It’s a Greek based
Italian red grape called Aglianico, (ahn-LAHN-ico) from the Basilicata region. Try the Ars Poetica Vulcano, or the Re
Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture
.

14 thoughts on “That Magic Moment…

  1. JT Ellison

    Two of my favorites goddesses here already — Hi Mindy! Hi Alex! Thanks for stopping by.Mindy, I wrote 50K on ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS in the NaNo contest. Ended up scrapping a lot of it and rewriting, but it gave me a certain level of confidence — 50,000 words in 30 days is rush.Alex, I agree — my blogmates are the coolest folks around. (Next to you, of course:)

    Reply
  2. Rob Gregory Browne

    350 pages! 350 pages! That’s the deal *I* want!

    Because those last 75 pages will kill you. But then that’s probably true no matter how long your manuscript is.

    It’s so nice to see you going through all this JT. When I heard about your deal, I was thrilled, because I knew you’d been paying your dues and had a great agent behind you.

    Congrats again. Here’s to a Killer Year…

    Reply
  3. JT Ellison

    Rob,You know those days when 350 seems like a mythical number that is completely unreachable? Yeah, right here, pal!Thank you for your kind words. Your journey on your blog seemed a little smoother. Or maybe that’s just your debonaire presence???

    Reply
  4. Elaine

    I think you’ve done a terrific job, J.T.! Especially the ‘on-the-way-to-publication’ info you offered. Good lessons for all of us – and now – now that you’re ‘contracted’-ta da!!! – You’ve even more insights to share as you take the journey through each step of the process. Oh, those first edits! And then, oh, those second edits! And then, oh, that copywriter who just doesn’t ‘get’ it! You’ll sail through them all and come out the champ you are. Can’t wait to take the trip with you. Ah, the memories I could share – but won’t. A grin here.

    Reply
  5. B.G. Ritts

    The comments about writing a certain number of words a day puts me in mind of a video (Bestsellers) that Mississippi Public Broadcasitng taped at Lemuria Book Store with Nevada Barr, John Grisham and Greg Iles. Greg Iles said (when he wrote) he produced 30 (I think that’s the right number) pages a day — and John and Nevada were having trouble thinking someone did that.

    Reply
  6. JT Ellison

    B.G.,I was hoping Allison Brennan would pop up on this one. She writes 25 pages a day four days a week (or is it three?) Either way, it’s certainly doable, but takes a great deal of talent. I’m happy with 5, estactic at 10. Take little steps toward a big goal, you know?

    Reply
  7. B.G. Ritts

    I recall Grisham and Barr talked about 3 or 4 pages normally and somewhere around 10-14 (I think) when ‘under the gun’.

    I’m glad I read and not write, as I dislike writing down my shopping list.

    Reply
  8. Rob Gregory Browne

    JT, I think my ride probably WAS a lot smoother. As I said at my ThrillerFest panel, I was able — in the words of William Goldman — to jump past all the shit.

    I already had a movie agent who knew who to get my book to. So I didn’t have to go the tortuous route so many writers have to follow, writing query letters, attending conferences, etc.

    I’m very lucky in that respect and I admire anyone who can go that route and succeed. It takes balls of steel. I’m not sure I would have made it if I had had to go through all that.

    I’m too damn lazy. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Naomi

    J.T.–

    Isn’t it weird how one day you’re an unpublished writer, toiling away at a manuscript that may go no further than your computer, and the next day, you are a writer with a three-book deal and deadlines, deadlines, deadlines?

    You’re the same person, yet you’re not. It’s very bizarre. The pay for most of us is low, the work intense, promotion never-ending (I won’t even get into remaindering), yet in the history books, there will be a notation under your name–published writer.

    What a ride!

    Reply
  10. Linda

    NaNoWriMo sounds not very doable at 2600 words a day, especailly for those with day jobs and families. But the actual number of words you need to write is 1667, if you don’t skip days. Have fun, anyone who tries it. It’s a real kick to accomplish that goal. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Linda

    Brain dead moment. I also meant to congratulate Murderati on 25,000 visitors and wish you luck in the future with your great blog. But I got sidetracked by math, which is not my best subject. 🙂

    Reply

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