Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finding the right words

Earlier this year, I made a list of the WIPs that I wanted to finish writing. My challenge was to take 12 of the books I was currently working on – books that the first drafts of were not yet completed – and finish writing them.

This month’s book to finish writing was a poetry book on the subject of grieving.

When I write poetry books, I don’t exactly have a timeline to finish writing them. I figure out which one will be published next, work on it more than the others, and just work on the others whenever. However, I recently put together a schedule of when ALL of them will be published, and since the grieving poetry book was coming up next, I decided to finish writing it this month.

Grief is most certainly a subject I can relate to. I have lost my parents and other loved ones. All of my grandparents are gone (that is, the one on my side), and I’ve also lost dogs (the poem I wrote about losing a pet was written in a way that it can be for any kind of pet but, yes, I wrote it after my dog died). I have been affected by the grief of losing aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, and also from another person’s own suffering as they endure their grief. Some of the poems were influenced by them. Their pain became my pain too. And as for a type of loss I could not relate to – such as losing an unborn child or losing a spouse – I have tried to think about the people I know who have been in such situations and tried to think of how they might feel or what they might say. If anything. I would at least hope such a poem would offer comfort.

There was, however, one poem I struggled to write. It was on a subject I could actually relate to – it’s something that anyone grieving the loss of a loved one could relate to – but I just couldn’t get the right words for the poem down onto paper. I tried typing it, but that didn’t work. And when I’d try to write it on paper, I would not be satisfied with the words and crumble up the paper then throw it away.

On the day I wanted to finish writing this book, however, I wanted to really get this poem written. It was not a good day, though. I became ill. But even as I was sick, it was like inspiration struck. And so, while I was sick and feverish, I opened my notebook and wrote the poem. The poem I had been struggling with. The poem I could not find the right words for.

The last poem for this book. And it was perfect.

I am glad this poetry book is complete now. Happy it is finally finished. And I’m glad I got it done in time, too. It took getting sick to get that last poem written, and I guess that is a reminder to trust the process when it comes to writing. The right words will come in time. They always do.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

When push comes to shove

Earlier this year – starting in January, in fact – I started revision work on a novel I’d written in the past. I had not noted the beginning of this work on my Author's Log blog, for some STRANGE reason (I should have, to keep track of it!), but I checked my file on the hard drive and, apparently, I started on January 22. Anyway, I wrote this book during NaNoWriMo in 2011, and it had been sitting on my hard drive ever since. Well, because I make it a point to revise a novel every year, I selected this one for revision. (I am also going to be revising two other GHOST Group books that I wrote but that will happen later in the year.)

When I started to work on revising the novel, I really didn’t have a timeline for it. I figured I would just revise it here and there and just work on it during the weekends. (I do revisions on the weekends.) So I just worked on it here and there without any rush or desire to finish it by a certain date.

That was, until I came across a call for novels that included the type of novel I was revising. The good news was that they offered an advance for books they accepted. (I liked THAT idea a lot!) The bad news, though, is that they were only reading manuscripts until a certain date.

For me, at the time that I saw this particular site, that day was 3 weeks from now. If I wanted to submit my novel to them, I was going to have to get my butt in gear and finish revising it!

When it comes to revising a book, I take the process slowly. I give the book a read-through, making notes on changes. Then I do any necessary research that my revisions will require. (In this case, I had to once again do research on Elizabeth Bathory as well as asking a Hungarian friend about how words are said in Hungarian.) Next, I tackle the book again, adding the required research and fixing it up. Now, after I do this, I usually go through the whole thing once, let it rest, read it over again, make any changes, throw it to my beta(s) for feedback, do more revision, more reading and any last bits of work before I consider it done. But because my timeline was short, however, I had to read it as I went, making sure everything was “right” and correct. I had to fix typos then and there and give it my absolute best writing. I didn’t have the luxury of time to take revisions at my own pace or have my betas go over it; I had a deadline coming up and I needed to get this done fast!

Another thing that helped me to get this done to the best of my ability in such a short time was to completely throw myself into it. I surrounded myself with all things vampire. I read vampire books, watched vampire movies, looked at images of vampires online, went over quotes from vampire books and movies. I also had to cut back on social media, as well as email. I already don't have much of a social life and I usually don't hang out with friends, so that was not a time issue for me. (Maybe it's a good thing that I'm a loner?) I literally had to hunker down in the writing cave and really put the focus on this book and this fictional world. I kept the story in my head, thinking about the characters and what happens next, and worked on this book every single day of April up until the deadline – which was the 20th. (I finished revisions on the 19th.) Everything else I was working on was put on hold. I put THIS book front and center. It was my ONLY project until the deadline rolled around.

I am glad I got the revisions done in time. Of course, towards the end, I worried that the book would not be up to snuff or that they would hate it. But I had worked too hard on it to give up on it. I had to believe in myself. I had to believe in my book. I gave it my best effort and polished the story to the best of my abilities.

So, I finished the work. The revisions on that novel were done and I sent the book off in time. Even if it’s not accepted, I am happy that I have another novel ready to submit somewhere. I had already submitted a novel to another publisher this year (and they accepted that book), so if this one doesn’t make the cut, I will hold on to it to submit next year. And next year, I’ll start working on revisions for another novel. (Possibly the YA novel I finished writing earlier this year.)

I am back to working on several projects at once. The book slated for me to finish writing this month is a poetry book, and I have 8 more poems to write for it to complete it. I am looking forward to working on that and I am confident it will get done in time.

Meanwhile, I will also be waiting to hear back about my vampire novel. I am excited about this book. I’d love to see it get turned into a TV series. But first, I am going to try to get it published as a book!

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