Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nothing Wasted

So right after CHARLOTTE'S ROSE was published, I started a new book, a book about which I was really passionate. I loved (LOVED!) the characters, and I felt like I had total control over the story and language. Anyway. I did draft after draft after draft because I wanted to get. it. just. right.

I sent it out when it was finally ready. And it was rejected. Frequently. Thoroughly. Soundly.

I've been rejrected before. It took a few years to place THE LOSER'S GUIDE, for example. But the rejections on the new book were different. They held out no hope at all. I put the book away for awhile, and when I returned to it, I saw that the criticisms were justified. It was one of those books that was just wrong-headed from the get-go.

For a long time I looked at the box holding all my drafts as my own personal Box of Shame. How did this happen? Maybe I really DIDN'T know how to write a book after all. Maybe I was a fraud.

Well, a few years have passed, and I have a different perspective now. I'm glad I wrote that book. It was the book I apparently wanted and needed to write at that time. I grew with my characters, and I'm pretty certain that they'll show up in another book someday. Meanwhile, I've got some great back story.

See what I mean? The time I spent working on that book was NOT wasted time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Turning Pain! Into Profit!

So I write a column every week for the Deseret News--the same kind of domestic humor column Erma Bombeck wrote (just not as wonderful). Anyway. I've been doing a version of the column for over twenty years now. And yes! Sometimes I don't have anything to say!

That's when I review the week I just had and identify the moment when I was feeling the worst--the angriest, the most embarrassed, the saddest. And THAT'S what I write about. Only I try to make it funny, which is much less difficult than you might think. Humor resides in the gulf between what is and what should be.