Thursday, October 18, 2012

Working Blindfolded





There are moments in a writer's life they will never forget.  The first "ahhh" story.  The first rejection letter.  The first acceptance email of your first story the world will see from you.  Even the first call from an agent saying they'd like to represent you.  But when you take time to think about it, those aren't really the "firsts" after all...

My first "ahhh" story was "Oh No Moe".  A little picture book I envisioned and received favorable comments from established professionals in the writing industry.  But that wasn't my true "first".  How can I forget about all the many days, nights, even months spent at this computer pouring over yet another story?  Buffing, polishing, shining until the best of me comes through.  Those are the "firsts" I need to remember for without them, "Oh No Moe" would never have been born.

Before that story was a little gem I called Super Duper Dog.  I thought I had a hit.  I thought I had the magic formula to a great picture book story.  And so I sent it off with a kiss to a publishing house accepting submissions.  And never heard a thing.  I mean crickets were screaming in the silence surrounding my query, for God's sake.  I was working blindfolded and never even knew it.

How I managed to stumble into this amazing writing community I'll  never know.  Maybe it was my participating in Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo.  Maybe it was being mentored and encouraged by great children's book authors like Suzanna Leonard Hill and others.  Maybe it was joining the writers hanging out with Julie Hedlund's 12 X 12 in 2012.  Or maybe it was the critiquing I received from Miranda Paul's Rate Your Story.  Whatever the trigger was, I felt a light bulb come on. Someone took the blindfold off and I could see my stories clearly.  All the bumps, bruises, and ugly scars I needed to deal with in order to become a better writer.

Was it scary?  Of course.  Did I doubt myself and the dreams I hold close to my heart?  You betcha.  But did I ultimately jump in with both feet and submerge myself in a sea of words...beautiful, tantalizing, mesmerizing, frustrating words that have the ability to drive me crazy at times?  Heck, yeah.  Because when it's all said and done, just what are we writers so worried about?

With billions of people living on this great blue marble, the chances that EVERYONE is going to like our stories is almost nil.  But what I DO know is that there will be someone out there who will one day open an email from me, or tear open a letter, or smile at me from across the table at a writer's conference and THEY will be mesmerized by my story.   And all those moments of working blindfold will have been worth it.













22 comments:

  1. I think we all make the early mistake of writing something we think is great without really knowing all the parameters of children's books, especially picture books, which have a specific structure (32 pages) and lots of things to think about: illustrative potential, the "predictable surprise" of the page turn, a universal emotion/theme...etc...

    I was in a critique group that didn't know a thing about picture books and I was getting bad advice like, "but you should describe what the girl looks like." NOPE. WRONG. Not unless it is absolutely crucial to the story.

    So don't beat yourself up...you are on the "write track" now!

    P.S. Thanks for the mention!

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  2. Hi Tara! I believe in giving accolades where they are due and I'm no fool...of course you have been very generous with your advice and wisdom...something I do not take lightly. There are a close group of "mentors"...writers, authors, and others...who have touched my heart in some manner as I have grown over these past two years and you, my friend, are one of that inner circle. I can't thank you enough for the kindness shown to a beginner writer who had not a clue of what she was doing this time last year...;~)

    Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  3. Donna,

    Excellent post. Getting to that Ahhha moment takes many, many steps, and none of us do it alone. I had that gem that blinded me with its light, but in truth it was just my ego that was glowing and quickly dulled when I listened to the more experienced and realized I had a lot to learn. Like not writing such long, long sentences. :)

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    1. Hi Yolanda! While I would not wish the bumbling I did when I first started writing on anyone, it is comforting to know that I am not alone in my ignorance...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  4. People will have varying opinions about stuff. What's most important is that you like what you're doing. =)

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    1. Hi Cynthia and welcome to my blog! I agree, but there still is general criteria needed for any great story and that was what I was needing to learn...

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  5. I love this post. Blindfolded is a great way to describe how we work at first. I still feel a lot of blindfolded moments, but like everybody else, I'm feeling my way through and hoping I make it.

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    1. Hi Genevieve! I think I've managed to get the blindfold off at least one eyeball...still working on the other one...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  6. Oh I swear girl, you are reading my mind. (this looks like part of my 12x12in12 yet to come post for Julie's blog..lol.) And you were one of my first Ahhh moments making me realise I had been working blindfolded....lol. Great post

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    1. Hi Diane! It's just cuz great minds think alike! I will take it as a compliment that something I said or did helped you see the "write" light...;~)


      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  7. What a beautiful and inspiring post, Donna!

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    1. Thanks, Corey...I try...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    1. Hi Janet. I guess I will take that to mean you agree...lol..

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  9. It's dark in here. I think the blindfold is still on :)

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    1. OH no, Susanna..YOU, lady, are definitely one of the shining lights in this writing world! And one of the reasons why I feel some level of competency in my writing today...thank you!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  10. Hi Donna .. it's amazing isn't it where the inspiration comes from and that support - I'm not an author per se .... yet I see all that's going on: the bud, the opening, the blossoming - the longevity of blooming .. it's wonderful .. long may it last .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary! You say you are not an author...but then, neither am I...yet...but we both have a way with words which seem to inspire others and that in itself is a grand calling...

      I had "followed" you earlier this year, but my hacker visit apparently wiped out my connection without my ever realizing it so I have re-followed you. Please allow me to add my condolences to others for your mother's passing. The lady in red sounds like a wonderful person...but I'm sure you already know that!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  11. Replies
    1. Hi Erik! Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you have gotten your computer problems taken care of...welcome back!

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  12. "With billions of people living on this great blue marble, the chances that EVERYONE is going to like our stories is almost nil. But what I DO know is that there will be someone out there who will one day open an email from me, or tear open a letter, or smile at me from across the table at a writer's conference and THEY will be mesmerized by my story."

    These lines gave me the chills. So true Donna. Thank you for being among those on this big blue marble who chose to join these writing communities and enrich the rest of us too!

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    1. Hi Julie! You are too kind...I don't think I am able to give back nearly as much as I receive from wonderful people like yourself, but it's nice to know you think so...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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