On Being Patient

I haven’t worked on my writing in probably a month. Not even 100 words towards any of my various works in progress. In general, I would not recommend this. Writing is a skill that requires frequent practice to keep up.

That said, sometimes you need to take time off from writing to focus on other priorities. It’s not entirely true that I haven’t be writing the past month. I’ve actually been doing a ton of writing in order to finish up my MA thesis in time to graduate in April. For those of you who haven’t written a thesis, it’s kind of a life-consuming project. A project that will suck away all your writing time (and occasionally your will to live).

I’m not saying this because I want sympathy. I know I’m busy, but I also know everyone else is too. For me it’s a thesis. Some writers I know have families to provide and care for. Some have time-intensive jobs. Some have health challenges. We all have our things.

The truth is that sometimes life gets in the way of writing.

I’m the sort of person who wakes up most mornings feeling like I want to accomplish all the things. I set lofty goals for myself because there’s a lot I want to get done. But I’ve also learned to recognize my limitations. I simply cannot do everything all the time. No one can.

Sometimes it takes a little humility for me to admit that. I want to be super successful at writing, editing, academia, family life, religion, and friendship. But I’m never going to be perfect at even one of those things, much less all of them. Instead, I’ve found it best to be content with just doing the best I can at all of them.

Sometimes I have to shuffle priorities around. This past month, my academic pursuits have taken center stage. Now that my thesis has been submitted, I’m hoping to find a little more balance and focus on aspects of my life that I’ve neglected.

This began as a post to explain why my blog has been on hiatus for the past while. It’s sort of spiraled out of control, but I hope you get the take away message. It’s okay to be patient with yourself as you try to balance all the pieces of your life. It’s okay to put your writing on the back-burner when you have life things to do.

Just make sure you take it off the back-burner before it’s charred.

That’s what I’m working on now. I can’t say I’m entirely looking forward to it. Dusting off projects you haven’t worked on in awhile can be intimidating. Re-strengthening your writing muscles isn’t always pleasant.

But writing is something that’s worth getting back to. It’s a piece of my life I’m ready to embrace again.

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Query Critique 89

Dear (agent name here),

I am seeking representation for NO STRANGERS TO LOVE, a 40,000-word YA mystery set on a deserted island. This is a little on the short side for YA.

After witnessing the suicide of a peer, seventeen-year-old Leighton Cross moves to New York City to escape from her past. Her ex-boyfriend, Elijah Aarons, who also witnessed the suicide, catches up to her two years after to tell her that he is being blackmailed about the suicide. Based on the timeline, this sounds like it’s bordering on being NA rather than YA. Shortly after, Leighton finds she is being blackmailed, too. The two decide to run away, but their plane crashes. Leighton and Elijah make it to an island which occupied by “the community”– a group of plane crash survivors that have been inhabiting the island, some even for decades. While attempting to survive, Leighton must sort through her feelings for Elijah and figure out who is the anonymous blackmailer that is on the island with them. I’m feeling a little bit of a disconnect between the blackmail and the  plane crash. Make the connection clearer, because right now they almost feel like separate plots. If Leighton is to survive, she must learn to trust no one because not everything is as it seems. I think you can make these stakes a little more specific than “not trust anyone” and they’d be stronger. Overall, I’d say you could be a little more clear in describing the conflict and exactly what’s going on.

I have self-published three books on Amazon. I am savvy with social networking, and I am also a member of the National Junior Honor Society at my school. I believe I am the write This is either misspelled or ineffective wordplay. person to write this because I have experienced many of the emotions the characters struggle with throughout the story. I also believe I have crafted a unique plot with a twisted, stunning ending. I don’t think you need these last two sentences. Let the story speak for itself.

The first three chapters of my manuscript are pasted below. Note that the Epilogue is supposed to come first in order to build suspense for the surprise ending. Thank you very much for your consideration.