Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chasing the Train

Early one morning, while on vacation in northern Minnesota, I woke to the shrill blast of a train whistle in the distance. My mind registered the rumble of the giant wheels on the track, then all I wanted was to snuggle deep into my pillow and go back to sleep. As I drifted back into my dream world, I heard them. My eyes opened and I listened to the familiar voices of wolves.

They chased the train to the city limits and stopped to cry out their dismay over the inability to catch something so much bigger then themselves.

I closed my eyes and listened to their fragile lonely calling, as they spoke a language older then man. I felt as if one in particular asked me a question. One voice reached through the gray morning light, and asked me something, I know every writer at every level has asked themselves at one time or another. The question loomed up on me slowly like a canoe on a lake as the paddles softly caressed the water.

When would I recognize my pursuit of publication was fruitless?

My father is a Boise Forte Chippewa and taught his children the importance of a wolf’s voice. They are the symbol of strength, family and loyalty. I asked him why in those moments it hit me like that. He said it was because I was close to my ancestors in those wolves’. That they were talking to me, forcing me to look inside myself for the first time in a long while.

I’ve been a member of RWA for ten years, writing seriously for five, really getting serious in the past two. I’ve had requests for partials and a full but nothing ever came of either, other then valuable lessons. Which I took to heart, and improved my writing, strengthened my voice and found the direction I really wanted to go.

When is it time to know publication just is not going to happen? Will I recognize it and quit? Or will I continue to chase after something I can’t catch.

I love to write. I love to write anything, whether it is working on my WIP, or just writing for the blog. I love the process of writing. Not to have it in my life, where it really occupies a large part of who I am, seems unimaginable. There would be nothing left but a big empty black hole drifting in my spirit.

After deep examination of my soul, I asked myself what I want, what I expect, and decided to put a time limit on my pursuit. At least that’s what I told myself, as the memory of the whistles blast echoed, followed by a searing sad cry of the wild.

I’m not sure I can hold up to my own internal promises, as I howl out a long story of dismay. I love RWA, the friends I’ve found there, and most importantly writing.

I’ve placed my time far enough into the future, where I might just forget to quit. I just hope I’ll have the strength to continue the chase until I catch the train.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Romance Writers of America National Conference in Dallas

Today is June 18th and I have 23 days left until I attend my first national conference. I am so excited to be going and meeting with other writers, publishers and agents. Many of my friends will be there from the Black Diamonds and we will be mixing and meeting other authors along with editors and agents.

I wonder what it will be like attending my first national conference? Will everyone be friendly and as open as the writers I have meet so far? Will I know what to say if I am seated next to a publisher or agent or Nora Roberts? Will I get tongue tied?

As I look back on my writing journey, I am very thankful I did not attend the Reno conference back in 2005. I was just starting out with my writing and had only attended one RWA chapter meeting. I was really shy and had a lot to learn about the craft. This last year has been such a learning experience. Based on what I have learned over the last couple of years I feel I will be able to learn and absorb so much more at the conference.

One learning experience I had this year was my first contest. I came in last, which was the best experience I have had to date. It was the first time I took a chance and let someone read what I had written. I received some good advice and have rewritten that paragraph. Actually, that gave me the courage to have my Starbucks writing partner read it and based on our discussion I tossed the whole thing out and started Chapter 1 with Chapter 3. This knowledge has helped me grow a lot as a writer and I think will help me in my experience at National, including my editor appointment.

I am so excited for the experience I will gain by attending national. I will learn more about my craft, make new friends and hopefully only make a small fool of myself. I have heard from others that one should not slide her/his manuscript under a bathroom stall to agent or editor. But I will be assertive and take every opportunity to talk with an agent or editor at the appropriate times or places. I will have an elevator conversation prepared in case I am in line, elevator or getting a cocktail. This way I can make small talk and not start stuttering like Elmer Fudd. Of course there are no guarantees, so if you hear about the crazy women who was tongue tied and sounded like Elmer Fudd that would probably have been me.

Yep, 23 days and counting until I experience my first conference and begin another first step in my writing career.

Lyn Emerson
Black Diamonds
Vice President

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Faithful Sidekick

The Lone Ranger had Tonto, Superman had holograms of his parents, and Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan talking in his mind. Every hero, or heroine for that matter, needs a friend, confidante, or mentor to bounce ideas off, discuss romantic problems, or just hang with to show personality.

As romantic as our hero/heroine become, their world can’t exist in a bubble. The excitement of that first kiss has to be shared with your best friend. The misunderstanding leading to your first fight has to be shared with a buddy who will commiserate with you about “those women, who can understand them.”

In action/adventure stories the sidekick is there to be seriously hurt or to die. His death galvanizes our hero to put honor and fair play aside, and to avenge his friend. In romances, the friend/buddy is to look deeper into themselves. A friend who tells them, you are being stupid, go after the girl, don’t ever let her go. Your hero wants to go, but he needs the extra push from his friend.

The sidekick/friend can serve another purpose as well. To be a roadblock on the path of true love. He is the friend telling our hero the woman isn’t good enough for him. Who warms him not to let himself get shackled for life, yet. It is the girlfriend who lies to the heroine that she saw the hero with another woman. They are the unspoken voices within our hero and heroine, the last worries before total commitment.

Friends can be a help or a hindrance to the relationship, but mostly they add depth to our hero’s and heroine’s characteristics. Friendship will add dimension to our characters.

The sidekick can be an added tool in your writers toolbox to kick you story up a notch, to add flesh and blood to your storyline.
Jill James, president