Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

How Much Can an Old Dog Learn in Six Years?

About six years ago, I was eagerly awaiting the cover for my first book. After two completed, gawd-awful manuscripts on dusty floppy discs, I was finally going to be published (insert happy dance). Now, here I am, twelve active titles later, three books back in my possession for self-publication, an inclusion in a romance bundle with four other authors,  and I'm waiting for cover number seventeen. Frankly, I'm just as excited as I was back in 2010.

I never knew how much I had to learn until I--a self-proclaimed know-it-all--started writing on a serious daily level. Thank goodness for RWA online classes and those conducted by state and online branches. What they taught me was invaluable. In fact, I'm taking one on deep point of view as a refresher course. After all, a writer's learning curve is continual.

That's one thing this old dog has learned. I forget things. I slip into old patterns and my writing suffers. Deadlines loom and, in my rush to meet them, I turn out crapola. I get sick. So does Calvin. Life happens, as we say, and once again my writing weakens. I need to keep the basics fresh in my mind.

Before I start a new book, I read over those basics.

I need to plot more. Gone are the days where I can just type Chapter One and keep on going, making up names and characters as I go along. My "beginner's luck" has run out. Now I need to display more professionalism. Plan. Get my GMC straight for both the hero and heroine. Nail down the basic plot. I've yet to reach the place where I list the main points of each chapter, but I do have a clearer vision of the storyline.

And then there's time management. Now there's a concept for writers. We've got emails, facebook, tweets, chores for our street team to do (and boy, oh boy, am I grateful for mine!). As a member of other writers' street teams, I have things to do for them to help with their promo. A couple blogs to visit and comment on and--SNAP!--a few hours have evaporated.

Frankly, I'd sooner be writing. But, we have to keep our media platform strong and our brand (our writing names) in front of readers. I'm still learning how to do that. And darn it, as soon as I get a grasp on things, they become passé and something else is all the rage. Meanwhile, this ol' dawg keeps limping along.

But I've learned for the sake of my husband's happiness and my health, I need to balance my time better. I need to stop and smell the roses. In short, I need to be Vonnie, the person, more often and give Vonnie, the writer, a mental rest.

I'm still perfecting my opening hook. My characters need more development, especially my heroines. Sometimes my plots, like my hips, are too heavy. My endings need more emotion and resolution. ACK! The list goes on.

Basically, I've learned to keep on learning, experimenting, and deleting. Not only do I write a shitty first draft, but the second and third have a foul odor, too. As Hemingway said, "Writing is rewriting." I'm going to have to use the patience word here, aren't I? I've got to patiently fiddle with my manuscript until I work out the kinks, the faults.


Why am I so concerned about all this? I read new authors. I feel their energy, sense their burgeoning talent, and think gosh how many years do I have to write to catch up? I read authors who take their time to write a deeply emotional book and turn pea-green with envy.

A writer needs to realize there's an unattainable goal ahead of her or him. It's called perfection. Few of us, if any, will reach it. For what one reader adores, another refers to as "Meh."

So I've learned I can't write to please everyone. It'll never happen. My goal? Write to please myself and my editor.

Those one and two star reviews glaring neon orange among the pretty yellow four and five stars will have to shine on.

We all enjoy reading different things written in various styles. But, please, please let my stories be well-written.

What have you learned in your writing career?


Angela Adams said...

Online courses are one of the benefits of RWA membership. What I find most beneficial are my "RWA buddies," of which you, Vonnie, are included. Without everyone's guidance, support, and wisdom, I wouldn't know which end is up (as my grandmother would say). Thanks!

Angela Adams said...

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Happy Valentine's Day yourself! Yes, Angela, I've met many wonderful and talented authors through RWA, too.