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Michelle's Musings

Timing is Everything

I recently started another revision of my novel, Hide and Seek, a magical realism story about a 12-year-old girl with a special gift that she must properly embrace if she is to help her deceased brother cross over to "the other side." Though the intended audience is adults, I have attempted to write it from the perspective of a 12-year-old narrator. I've been advised by experts in the publishing industry that such an endeavor would be hard to pull off. Indeed, it's been difficult to find other stories written this way. The few that I did find tend to take liberty with the child's capacity for an advanced vocabulary, which did not bother me so much. However, I recognized the same in my own work and had made several notations about correcting the language in a future revision—admittedly, a daunting task.

 

Well, this go-around, after being satisfied that I'd composed the storyline I wanted, I began another revision. At the second chapter in, something "clicked," and I realized that the mature vocabulary of an adult gives me more freedom of voice. So, I changed the narrator to that of a young adult looking back.

 

The timing of this epiphany was perfect, as I'd contemplated submitting the first 15 pages of my novel to a couple of fellowship-type programs designed to guide writers through a professional revision process. I immediately went back to my opening chapter and made appropriate changes. My deadlines are in a couple of days, so I've been devoting most of my writing time to the novel revision.

 

As the saying goes, "Timing is everything."

No Quitters Here

I'd hoped to finish the current rewrite of my novel by the end of the year, but that didn't happen. It wasn't for a lack of trying, however. I attended a course or two on novel revision and mechanics that I found quite inspirational. I even took time off to enter a couple of writing contests. That inspiration kept me energized enough to continue plowing through my novel, which I've been working on for several years.

 

The writing courses revealed major flaws, but I've been excited to implement new tools to correct those flaws. When I look back on the length of this project, however, I find myself a bit disheartened, leading me to ponder whether a novel-size project is too big for someone like me--someone who learned not that long ago that those pesky issues with lack of focus, words jumping off and around the page, difficulty with reading comprehension, etc. are likely symptoms of dyslexia. Several online tests indicated at least moderate dyslexia.

 

I write nearly every day despite the fact that I transpose letters of the alphabet with reglular frequency, a phenonmenon that accelerates with fatigue. Sometimes I get so frustrated, I literally shout at myself (I'll leave the epithets to your imagination). To improve my writing, I've started reading more, even though it's been a difficult endeavor for as long as I can remember. If I stay with a novel, or even a sample chapter on my e-reader, I learn a lot about the craft, which pays homage to the adage I've heard time and again from other writers: read, write, read, write, and then read and write some more.

 

One thing I've never been is a quitter. I truly enjoy writing, and I look forward to reading more and writing more in the coming days and months. So here's a toast to all those non quitters who also plan to make the best of 2020: Happy New Year to all, and may the Muse be with you!

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