Friday, April 29, 2011

Change of Scenery

So, I heard back from 'the agent' and she said she was seriously considering representing my story, Baltimore Heat. Then came the 'but'. She said it needed some fine tuning and recommended getting more critiques.

I asked some author friends, and four critiques have since landed in my inbox in the past three weeks... Then I sat on them.


Well, I could give you a list of reasons that include: sick children, sick mother, other projects I wanted to wrap up, etc.

But when I did a 'gut check' the real reasons felt more like: fear of failure and fear of success. What if my friends hated the book and tore it to pieces in their critiques? What if I no longer liked the book when I read it with fresh eyes? Or worse, what if the agent liked it and asked for what I have finished next? What if I can't ever write another one?

Do you know how to avoid such fears?

Lay on a really comfy couch and read historical romances for about five days in a row. Whenever anyone asks 'how's the writing going?' Say you're doing research. It doesn't matter that you don't write historical, all romance is research, right?

So, during that 'gut check', I also asked myself what I needed to do to get back to work because sitting on my couch staring at my laptop and the pile of critiques on my coffee table wasn't getting it done. I decided I needed to change my environment. Getting out of my house and parking my butt in a coffee shop or the library would put me in the mind frame that I was ready to work. The only problem is that I've been stuck at home with a sick kid all week. Poor puppy has had a fever for 5 days! And that's even with antibiotics.

Anyhoo! I looked over at my unused dining room and saw 'coffee shop'! As soon as I got home from taking kid #2 to the bus stop, I dusted the table, the buffet, and even the chandelier (call it procrastination, I'll call it setting the mood). I made a pot of decaf hazelnut coffee, lit a candle, wheeled in my comfy office chair (one of the perks of a 'home coffee shop') and stuck in my headphones. Instant change of scenery.

I was upright, focused and ready to get to business. And I had a really productive day. I didn't get past the first three chapters, but I spent a lot of time with chapter one, making it shiny, sparkly, polished. Then after dinner I was able to knock off chapter four.

Today, I am back in my 'home coffee shop'. The coffee is brewed, the candle is lit, the music is playing in my ears, the sick kid is parked in front of the TV, and my fingers are itching to make those revisions.

Do you ever find a change of scenery helpful when you are battling those common fears of authorship?


Sarah M. Anderson said...

Andrea, way to go! Great job recognizing the funk and taking steps to get out of it! I think realizing it was more than one level of fear that was holding you back was really mature and highly sophisticated, if I do say so myself. And, as one of your critique buddies, I'm looking forward to revisions! Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help!!

Andrea Dickinson said...

Thanks, Sarah. Revisions are going slow, but I'm trying to be really thorough. Getting rid of those extra 'said's and adding more internal thoughts. Checking everyone's motivation every step of the way.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Ah, the TRUE work of being an author! And combining it with a sick kid? You are the definition of Authorial Mom!!!

Therese said...

Hey Andrea-glad the change of scenery helped! I'm betting most writers have those same fears; I know I do. Congrats on the good news from the agent and good luck with the critiques and revisions!