Friday, December 31, 2010

Solutions and Resolutions

Thank you to everyone who weighed in my dilemma earlier this week about whether or not it is time to break up with the bartender book. You all gave me so much to think about and I'm still processing it. I spent Wednesday outlining the book and listing the scenes that were giving me problems. I haven't found solutions for all of them and I'm still afraid that this story is just too big and I won't be able to shorten it as much as I need to. It's not really a back-story issue so much anymore. I've pretty much figured out how to work with that. It's just a really HUGE story. It's told from two POVs and both characters have a lot going on. I've pondered cutting one of the POVs or dividing it into two books but neither of these options seem feasible.

What it comes down to is that I'm still in love with these characters and this story though. I can't get it out of my head and whether it is good for me or not, I'm not quite ready to let it go. That eight year relationship that I stayed in for way too long.... well if I hadn't I wouldn't have met my husband, so I have to think that things happen for a reason.

What is more important to me than going into the New Year with a project that is ready work perfectly or a new project, is going into the New Year in the right state of mind.

I started last year in a very bad mindset. As I mentioned, my cats were sick with what was a mystery ailment at the time, so I'd barely slept and I was super worried about getting them healthy again in time for me and my husband to go on our honeymoon (which was lovely but also did not go as expected because it was FREEZING in Florida) and I had to work that night. Until 6 am. I started 2010 with a massive headache, feeling tired and stressed and resentful about life. And the rest of my year followed suit.

That's not what I want for myself this year. Right now my cats are healthy (knock on wood!) as are the rest of my loved ones. I have the night off and am planning to spend it at home with my husband, two of my oldest and best friends, and their husbands. We will eat, drink, play board games, laugh and enjoy each other's company. Then on New Year's Day my husband and I will go and have brunch at the place where we went on our first date exactly 5 years ago, New Year's Day 2006. He took me out to celebrate my almost completion of the final draft of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE that my agent was about to put out on submission. It would take over a year to sell. That's where I was five years ago. Something my good friend John McNally reminded me to think about in a pep talk facebook message exchange following my last blog entry. John is an amazing author (seriously, go look him up on Amazon and buy his books. My personal favorite if I had to choose is Book of Ralph) and has been a mentor to me since I was in grad school. And he's been through the ups and downs of publishing like so many of my more experienced writer friends have been.

Five years ago, I was working my butt off on that book about that rock star girl that I had no idea would actually find a market. And I didn't care. I wrote it because I loved the story and the characters.

This past year I've been fretting so much about my career. I've been so depressed by the sales figures on my first two books. I've hated myself for not being a faster writer and being able to write and sell a book a year like some of my peers. I've put so much pressure on myself. I haven't just let myself love story and love writing.

I'm a worrier by nature and I don't know how to stop. I'm also impatient and prone to pessimism, those are without a doubt my worst traits. I don't know how to make a New Year's Resolution to solve that except to say that I'm going to try to worry less, be more patient with myself and my process and be kind to myself. And I'm not going to make lofty goals about my writing this year. I'm a dedicated writer and I know that. As long as I am writing at least 5 to 6 hours a day for 5 days a week this year, that is good enough. We'll see what comes out of it.

And as for the Bartender Book, my solution for now is that we are going on vacation together. We're going to that writing retreat in San Diego from the 8th through the 14th and we're going to try to have a good time together. Because I'm going to work on it for *me*, not to meet a deadline, not for my agent or a potential publisher or even as much as I love you guys, not for you. We're gonna see if we can make it work and perhaps it will be the honeymoon we need. Perhaps I'll see that the magic has fizzled and when I come home, if it's still not working, we'll separate. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm bringing my idea journals and I'll probably look over my notes on my other projects before I go too and if I decide I'll have a better time with one of them there, then that's what I'll do.

But I'm going to write for the love of writing that week in San Diego and hopefully for all of 2011. I hope it will result in something that is good for my career, but if not, I'll deal with that in 2012.

I want to share a song that the lovely Kate Tyler Wall sent me to lift my spirits and it really did. It's from a forthcoming solo album by Dave Hause, the lead singer of The Loved Ones, which is one of the bands that has been a muse for the bartender book. The song is quite appropriate for the time of year and matches my mindset completely. It's called Resolutions. You can here the album version here, but here is a live version I found on YouTube:

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for all your support and encouraging comments. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have such good friends and readers online and off. I hope you all have a wonderful 2011! And please feel free to share your resolutions!


Bee said...

I think a honeymoon with your book is the perfect thing. And I'm glad you're doing it for yourself. Sometimes that's what I have to remind myself, too. I worry too much about making everything perfect right from the beginning that I never end up finishing the book even if I love it a lot.
I think sometimes we just need to write, instead of thinking who's gonna like it, and who's not, because frankly, at the end of the day, I'd say I write for myself.

I'm glad you're not giving up. And when you're down, just think about the band of cheerleaders you have backing you up :)

G'luck, Stephanie! Hope this turns out to be YOUR year.

marina said...

The best solution is for the book to prevail! Your fan base will always support you and also tell you when something is lacking (which has yet to happen). Who knows, maybe your book honeymoon will result in the book being out by the end of 2011. That would always be cool. [=

Liviania said...

Not that I'm published, but here's what works for me with my short stories: I just write them again, from the ground up. Everything I love remains fresh in my mind and as I write I forge new connections in my mind and work things out. It can be frustrating, but it usually makes me happy because I like what I'm writing so much more than when I failed at it the first time.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks for all the support guys.

Writing from the ground up again is almost what I'm doing, Liviania, though with 160k words I don't want to start completely over.

Right now things aren't going so well. I'm not sure the book and I will make it to the honeymoon. I may start something new on the retreat. I hate to let ya'll down. We'll see. 2011 is just unfortunately off to a rocky start.

Don't know if I'll have a book out by the end of 2011, Bean. Even if I sold one today it wouldn't be out to 2012 the way publishing works. Right now I'd just like to finish and sell something this year.