Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grant Yourself Permission

Without a doubt, the most common questions I'm asked are:

1. How long does it take you to write a book? That depends on the book. Anywhere from a month for a first draft or 18 months or "I wish I knew because I've been working on this idea for years."

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer or did you just one day decide this is what you wanted to do? Always. As a kid, I stapled papers together, wrote on them, and called them "my book."

3. Do you outline? Are you a planner or a pantser (a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer)? A little of both. I start with a scene or the opening chapters. I work on them to get the voice and the mood. From there I begin to take notes, do exercises, and complete an outline. That is usually modified as the book goes on.

4. What's your average day like? Do you write every day? I try to. I'm not as dedicated to a schedule as I should be. My family comes first. However, even if I'm not working on a book, I generally work on something--blog post, prepping for interviews, editing--every day.

5. Is this your day job? I'm lucky that right now this is my primary job. That said, I still do the laundry, make dinner, and clean my house.

6. How did you know if your book would sell? I didn't. But I wanted to write that particular story, so I did. Afterwards, I felt pretty confident someone would enjoy reading it. But, there are no guarantees in this business. I've seen people with contracts whose books haven't seen the light of day.

7. Where do you get your ideas? I have a big bucket next to my desk. Whenever I need an idea, I reach in and pull one out. ideas come from all over. Some of them percolate for years. I've been noodling one around, and liking it a lot, but I couldn't get past a certain hurdle. Then I talked with Jeri Westerson while we were at Murder in the Magic City. I told her my idea, I told her the hurdle and she laughed. "Hey, it's fiction. Go for it. I love that idea."

Once in a while, all we really need is PERMISSION. We don't need answers to questions. We don't need expert opinions. We just need a green light. And too often, we look to other people to give us that "go ahead." That's a shame because we give away our power.

When Jeri laughed and gave me permission, I flashed back to a similar conversation with my friend Rosemary Laurey. "It's fiction. You make the rules," Rosemary said.

Hmmm. In that big bucket of fish, I spot a live one!


Dru said...

I like the notion of taking back your permission and it will work in every day life.

I'm glad you took back permission and gave the readers Kiki.

Monica Ferris said...

I try not to do too much of the "Hey, it's fiction, go for it," without setting it up carefully. Remember, "a fact that ain't so" is a clue in our genre.

Monica Ferris said...

This is a bit peripheral, but here's an interesting article on editors in publishing today: