Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Voyage of Discovery


Things have changed a great deal since I was in school, or even when I taught school. Columbus Day is now not the shiny happy day off it once was. Historians have discovered many unpleasant truths about Chris and his impact on the new world. But I'm not here to argue national pride or genocide. I'm going to talk about my own exploration as a writer. This post was inspired by Pirate Sin over at the Romance Writer's Revenge. Believe me, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria have met their match with Captain Hellion's crew.

Although I dabbled as an English major who wrote bad poetry and indifferent short stories, it wasn't until five years ago I was compelled to wake up in the middle of the night and write. (See? Two examples of bad poetry in this post already.) I believe I've gone on record that my first "book" was 23,000 words. Who knew Word had a word-count feature? You must remember I grew up typing term papers on an old Royal upright that my father bought at the Salvation Army and I would have to hand-count each and every word. The 'e' key stuck. (Any idea how often you type the 'e?' You watch Wheel of Fortune, I'm sure. ) It was a huge deal when Dad went to the Salvation Army again and found an electric typewriter when I was in college. Welcome to the 20th century! My adult jobs did not require much computer literacy. Exploring the computer has been a challenge but I've finally figured out how to get 25 lines per page and turn off the widows and orphans feature.

It took a good three years and three books for me to follow the map without running aground. The last two years have been buffeted by strong, favorable winds and better friends, who've shared their expertise, hopes, dreams, frustrations and support. I've discovered I'm not alone, bobbing in circles in the middle of the ocean. I may not ever reach my destination, but the trip itself has been worthwhile.

So thanks to all of you in the flotilla with me. Godspeed and safe harbor.

How long have you been on your writing journey? Do you navigate by stars or compass? Ever feel like throwing yourself overboard? What New World have you accidentally discovered?
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~André Gide

17 comments:

Elyssa Papa said...

I think there's something in the water because I've been thinking about this, too. In college, I dabbled and took writing courses, but writing was never a "real" thing to do. And my writing was pitiful--I would get perhaps a beginning of something, to only abandon it because I had no idea how to plot and at that time, I wrote things longhand. It wasn't until partway through an online competition where I was like well, I suck at this historcial writing where the one idea that I got about two years earlier kept bugging me to write it. So I wrote and learned a lot about how many spaces to bring down a chapter, how to format a manuscript, and how to write a book. And over the course of these last three to four years, I've encountered people who've are also journeying on their path to publishdom. Some of them have already landed, some of them are about to dock, and some of them are still fighting the harsh seas. (See, really bad metaphor there).

I think Jessica Faust has said that persistence is 90% of getting published. Most of us are too stubborn to give it up and want to see our books in print. I know that I've put so many things on hold or given up on things that I don't want to do that with writing. Life's too short, and I don't want to be 80 and wonder what if I wrote this and that, etc.

I don't even know if I have stars or compasses... I seem to travel without a map and have no idea where, when, or if I'll get there. Columbus wanted to find an easier passageway to India and ended up "discovering" a new world instead.

Maggie, you're getting published. You're more than halfway there, and your writing/books are too fabulous to not be shared with the world. So ahoy matey, there's land ahead.

Just when you get there, make sure you have some food and drinks waiting for us ship travelers still hoping to land ashore. *g*

Kelly Krysten said...

Great blog! And very timely. It seems that enjoying the journey is the most important thing. I came to this conclusion, interestingly enough, after reading one of Pirate Marnee's posts. Those RWR chicks always have the best blogs!

I have always written but never wanted to be an actual writer until I read my first romane novel when I was 19-I know I was late to the game of reading romance in comparison to just about everyone else I talk to.

I'm now 23, so that's about four years in the game. But it probably only amounts to one year when one considers all the times I've stopped and taken 'breaks' then restarted.

I agree with everything Elyssa said. And she said it all better than I could. I'll see you all on land one day- though I know my journey still has quite a way to go.:)

J.K. Coi said...

I've been writing since I can remember, but only for fun. It wasn't until about 2 1/2 years ago that I sat down and started to write my first full length novel (having dabbled in bad poetry myself before that).

Man, I love this flotilla--especially how huge it is. There's so many of us that fit on it comfortably.

And I love that I'm on it with you, Mags!

Janga said...

I love the Gide quote, Maggie, and if there's ever a contest for the best pictures on a blog, you have my vote.

Ah, the manual typewriter--how well I remember! Can you imagine how long it took me to type a paper with my one-fingered typing? LOL!

I've been writing poems and stories and other assorted bits most of my life, but I probably would never have dared to even begin to write a romance novel without the Bon Bon network. My word count has been growing ever since I made that connection, and so has my list of writing friends. The journey is less fearful with such sterling companions.

Marnee Jo said...

I got a shout out and I missed it til now! Thanks Kel! And thanks for the nod Maggie, we love you vixens and you originals as well. :)

I have been thinking of writing my whole life, I think. I started starting different stories in middle school but I didn't get serious about sticking with one idea until last year. Since then, I've met all you wonderful ladies. I truly think that this whole experience, this floating on the seas, wouldn't be nearly as pleasurable without all of you to share it with.

I agree with Elyssa too.... I think persistence is the key.

Great blog, Maggie!

terrio said...

Another great blog, Maggie. And thanks for mentioning the ship.

I haven't seen a land in a very long time. Don't figure it's in my future anytime soon either. I'm pretty much adrift.

But I too appreciate the company I've found floating out here with me. I would have drown ages ago without all the wonderful support.

Maggie Robinson said...

Terri, we're all a bit adrift, LOL. But I think it's the journey and not the destination that is probably the most interesting. Marnee, you pirates are always provocative (in the best way)! Glad to share the stormy seas with both of you.

Ely and Kris, so glad you're with me on the path of the Dark Walk to shed some light into the corners of uncertainty!Ooh. Path of the Dark Walk. Sounds like some crazy occult religion. I swear, I'm pure. Sort of.

Janga, I use a few more fingers, but not by many. And thanks for the picture praise. The painting is by James Tissot. Just when I think I've found all his good stuff, something turns up. He often used this pug and this model. I LOVE his work---so romantic to me.

Kelly,I started a bunch of things on and off when my kids were little, but never got past the first few pages. It just wasn't the right time. I had to stew and marinate (and get gray). You have plenty of time!

BernardL said...

I wrote my first two novels in the early seventies on a Royal electric typewriter I bought at the K-mart I worked for, in their auto garage at night, while going to college in the days. It cost me two hundred fifty dollars, even with my employee discount. The really hard part was sending the manuscripts out by snail mail, trying to get a bite. Raising kids, and no bites on my first two novels, put my writing on hiatus until they graduated from high school. The Royal did get me better grades in college. The professors loved typed reports, even with my unfortunate need for white out. :)

Gillian Layne said...

I think they only ones who "land" are the ones who really enjoy the journey as much, if not more, than the destination, cause it takes soooo long to get there! :)

Maggie Robinson said...

Bernard, I had that drop-in white tape to correct if I remember. And my mistakes were legion. Do you think you've changed as a writer over the years? I knew NOTHING when I started (no GMC, head-hopping, etc.).

Gillian, I think you have to love it, or why bother? Writing is my harmless addiction. So what if I don't cook or clean anymore, LOL?

BernardL said...

I dug out my old manuscripts a couple months ago, Maggie. I write now with more humor, or at least I try to. :)

Tiffany Kenzie said...

My writing journey's been a long one. I always wanted to be a writer, and met with much discouragement in my formative (HS) years.

And I always feel like throwing myself overboard so that I can just bloody well swim to shore :) It might be faster.

I'm a youngin, and I had a typwriter! But it was sort of electronic, a brother. I dabbled on it often, I used to write poetry in highschool. Won the Poet Lauriette one year, too :) I was a troubled, sad youth, so my writing were very dark and uhm... allegorical even at a young age, it's not wonder I have loved William Blake all my life :) Look, now I'm getting OT!

Wonderful Blog Ely. And I agree with everything Ely said!

Tiffany Kenzie said...

I'm having tired brain from all the family crap this weekend. (read Thanksgiving, thank god it's over) that was great blog Maggie! And I agree with everything Ely wrote.

Sigh...

irisheyes said...

I've been writing a long time. I started keeping a journal in my late teens when life was really rough and confusing. It helped to write it all down. Writing for fun started several years ago and I'm still at that stage.

I guess I'm one of those not as anxious to hit land. I like where I'm at and I'm just happy to have found a hidden little talent I didn't know I possessed. It has done wonders at changing how I see myself. That in and of itself is it's own reward. (Not to mention the great communities and cyber friends I've met and get to share ideas with.)

Maggie Robinson said...

Bernard, I started out funny but now I'm darker and more serious, altho my current wip has a lot of banter and I'm loving it.

Tiff, my brain is eternally fried. :)

Irish, I think the whole Internet romance community is an abslutely amazing group. It's what makes the craziness bearable. I can't wait to meet you all in person. But first I've gotta lose 20 pounds, LOL.

MsHellion said...

I was fortunate enough to come along at a time when personal computers were becoming more and more popular for writing papers. I had an electric typewriter when I was in high school (thank God, I only had to type 12 pages on it) and then college was all computer generated stuff. MAN, I can't tell you the sheer joy I got from auto-correction and auto-alignment...and all the other stuff.

Before my computer, I'd write on paper. (No type writer stuff.) I have notebooks, journals, 3 ring binders, etc all over the place with pieces of books and stories. My first completed story was a "medieval" set princess story who rescues a prince, who is posing as a knight (mistaken-identity). The princess is in love with another knight; and of course, hates the prince guy because he's a jerk. But it all works out in the end. Even when he's kidnapped and she has to save him.

I think I even had a Barbara Cartland sex scene in the middle of it. I have it buried (far, far deep away) in my hope chest, full of crap I did as a kid and thought might be of interest to me someday, if only to realize I may still be a geek, but boy, look how far I've come.

Thanks for the shout-out for the ship! I love the Love!

Maggie Robinson said...

Hellion, who knows? Your juvenalia may one day be worth a fortune! Love that the princess did the rescuing!