Category Archives: Creative Stuff

An unedited picture of my tidy workspace this morning. It looks something like this most days.

On Being a Tidy Artist

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Forget politics. It seems the most polarizing issue in my news feed these days is tidiness. Marie Kondo is in the zeitgeist again thanks to her new Netflix show, and many of my artist friends are taking serious umbrage to the idea of tidying up their living and working spaces.

I was reading a blog post by Austin Kleon this morning, and even he gets in on the KonMari-bashing act. He quotes from his latest book Keep Going:

“This is a bad time to be a pack rat. The propaganda against clutter and the mania for tidying has been whipped up by TV shows like Hoarders and Storage Wars and countless blogs that fetishize orderly studios and perfect workspaces with “things organized neatly,” culminating in Marie Kondo’s gigantic bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While Kondo’s tips can work wonders on your sock drawer or your kitchen pantry, I have serious doubts about their usefulness to artists.”

There’s a particular camp of self-proclaimed messy artists who feel that art can only be created out of chaos. I find this insulting. Do you honestly believe there is only one way to be an artist? That’s an incredibly limiting point of view. Especially coming from an artist.

Several years ago I had a small party of friends at my house in Los Angeles, and one of those friends brought along with him a fairly famous rock musician. After pleasantly chatting with this musician over drinks by the fire pit, he happened to see my workspace. He turned to me and said, “I thought you said you were an artist? Your space is way too organized to be an artist. How can you come up with anything creative in this environment?”

I was thunderstruck and of course totally embarrassed. And insulted. Because I AM creative in my space. And my space is super organized. If I get to the point where my space gets messy, it causes me stress, which is not conducive to the work I do. My space is not minimalist, but it’s tidy.

I feel like I can be more creative because of my tidiness. I have enormous respect for every object in my space – from the mug I use to sip my morning coffee to the box that corrals all of the as yet unused greeting cards which I will someday send to friends and loved ones. I don’t believe I am the owner of these objects. I am merely the steward. And I feel a responsibility to them because a) I derive great pleasure from them and b) in most cases they will far outlive me. I treat my home and the objects within my home as though they are all living beings. I think that casually accumulating objects for use “someday” robs them of their potential to be put to greater use elsewhere. They get piled up or tossed aside or lumped together in boxes. They don’t get to breathe.

I am inspired by the idea of only keeping objects that spark joy. To me, it is a form of mindfulness. I am paying attention to what surrounds me. I am connecting with the objects in my life. I am giving those things that spark joy in me the opportunity to inspire me. Everything in my workspace is needed and wanted and cared for. And yes, I do only own about 30 books though I’m an avid reader. I only enjoy keeping the books that I refer to again and again. The others, I pass along so that other people can enjoy them. If I need to reference something again, there are many libraries from which I can get those items. And guess what? The library is an inspiring place to go where even more ideas can take shape!

I am not against collecting. I have several small collections, everything from wigs to puppets. But I don’t see these things as “mine.” They are simply passing through. Some stay longer than others, and that’s OK. Letting go of things inspires me to go out into the world to find new things that spark joy in me. It’s a cycle.

It can be isolating to be a tidy artist. I don’t know too many of them but doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Are you a tidy artist? I’d love to hear your take on the issue.

An unedited picture of my tidy workspace this morning. It looks something like this most days.
An unedited picture of my tidy workspace this morning. It looks something like this most days.
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Raising My Vibration With Houseguests

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I’ve been giving myself a bit of a hard time lately. I wanted to document our Epic Move on Ye Olde Blog, but, dammit you guys, this settling-in process has been overwhelming to say the least. I find it difficult to write when my environment is in an upheaval. Upheaval doesn’t even begin to describe what this relocation has been like.

Nonetheless, I also try to practice self-forgiveness, so I’ve been doling out heaping helpings to myself, too.

But we’re finally edging towards normalcy and routine here, as evidenced by the fact we had our first overnight houseguests last week! There’s nothing like knowing someone is going to have an extended look at your home to motivate you to get it together.

My dear friends from college, Anthony Wood and Anne-Margaret Redding, own a yoga studio in New York (The Giving Tree in Astoria, check it out), and are currently on a year-long Raise the Vibration Tour of America. The tour was born out of a deep and intuitive need they have to help heal inner and outer divisiveness on a local level. They have a series of workshops that focus on yoga, meditation, community-building, live music and performance. I’ve been following their adventures on Facebook.

https://www.raisethevibration.com/
https://www.raisethevibration.com/

As it so happens, we have an incredible shop here in Miller Beach called Vibrations Health, Wellness & Juice Bar that just this week was debuting a new studio space called The Breathing Room for yoga, meditation, massage and other types of wellness services.

Vibrations
Vibrations

Since I’m eager to get friends to come stay with us in our new place, and since the connections between the tour and the shop’s new space were incredibly self-evident, I suggested to Anne-Margaret that perhaps they could come to Miller Beach and give a workshop in the new space at Vibrations.

Not kidding, guys, an hour later the whole thing was in the works. Synchronicity much?

So this last Thursday, Vibrations celebrated the opening of their new space with an evening workshop presented by Anthony and Anne-Margaret. I suspected the community here would be receptive to this kind of thing, but even I was surprised by the turn out. In fact, so many folks showed up there wasn’t enough room in the new space, and we relocated down the street to the Nelson Algren Museum.

I love that in our community, the shop owners in our small commercial corridor work together and have each other’s backs.

We were treated to an evening of gentle yoga, meditation, deep breathing, live music and spoken word poetry. The vibe in the room was incredible. Anthony and Anne-Margaret are confident and capable, and holy cow does Ann-Margaret have a beautiful voice. If they’re coming through your town, you should get yourself to one of their events.

But the real joy for me was having them as guests in our home for two nights. I love being a host, and while hubs thinks I go a tad overboard, I really enjoy creating an environment that is warm and welcoming.

I think one of the reasons I haven’t been writing so much is because so much of my creative energy has gone towards creating the environment in our new place. These last two weeks I’ve been looking at that environment through the lens of being a guest, and trying to make the house as comfortable as possible, especially in the guest bedroom. Good books to read? Check. Tasty and healthy snacks? Check. Information about local attractions? Check. Earplugs? Check. I really tried to think of everything.

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Come stay awhile…

There is something about focusing my attention so closely and specifically on my home that puts me in a state of flow. I lose track of time and feel more finely tuned in. It is such a joy to prepare for guests and create just the right environment.

At one point over the weekend, Anthony and Anne-Margaret interviewed us for a series of webisodes they’re making for their YouTube channel. They asked us what raises our vibration.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I think the time I’ve spent infusing my home with love and intention has seriously raised my vibration. Having guests over, connecting with them, sharing our stories, and sending them back on their way with full bellies and hearts raises my vibration. Knowing that their visit to my community had a positive effect on so many others raises my vibration.

Long story short – be sure to check out the tour. And if you ever want to spend a night or two in Miller Beach, our door is always open.

We’ll See What Happens

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The view out the back of my new home studio in Indiana.
The view out the back of my new home studio in Indiana.

When I worked through The Artist’s Way almost 3 years ago, I had an idea of what the book and 12 week program might offer me in the short term – some insight into my creative strengths and weaknesses and hopefully renewed energy for my creative pursuits.

What I wasn’t sure about was how it might affect me in the long term. What would stick? What would be cast aside, like so many other creative coats I’ve tried on over the years?

Well, here it is almost 3 years later, and I am surprised to report that what has stuck with me the most are the morning pages. I write them nearly every morning. Sometimes life gets hectic (I’m looking at you, stressful cross-country move) and I set them aside for a few days or even a few weeks. There’s a lull in the conversation between my psyche and me. I just can’t be bothered, or I’m too overwhelmed, or I’m so focused on a big project that I don’t want to sacrifice that precious morning time. Those handful of magic minutes first thing in the morning where I’m most positive, enthusiastic and ready to get down to business.

But I always pick them back up.

Mostly, they are a laundry list of what I did the previous day and what I’m hoping to accomplish on that day. I list my worries, my complaints. I think the phrase I use most often (usually several times in one sitting) is “We’ll see what happens.”

And then there are days like today, where I plunge a little deeper. I shine some light on some of the darker places. I don’t just write down that I feel kind of shitty or disappointed or tired or overwhelmed. I ask myself WHY I feel kind of shitty or disappointed or tired or overwhelmed.

This move from Los Angeles to Indiana has taken my almost complete focus for the last six months or so. I knew this would happen. Which is one of the reasons why I was so resistant to it for so long. I already feel like I’m behind in my life. Like I’m racing to catch up with everyone else. I didn’t want to get even further behind.

Now that we’ve successfully packed up all of our stuff, shipped it across the country, took our two nervous and drugged cats on a plane, lived with my parents for a month, closed on a house, moved all our stuff and the cats into the house, totally redid the plumbing, painted some rooms and have mostly unpacked, I’m starting to feel a little restless.

Restless?

I suppose that’s kind of weird to feel restless after such a huge expenditure of energy. But I haven’t put any energy whatsoever into any of my creative pursuits for the last six months, and I feel it. I think that’s why I feel so shitty. I’ve been neglecting that part of myself, and it’s ready to come back out.

I’m a little overwhelmed thinking about all the pieces to pick back up again. What will I focus on? Writing? Acting? Creativity coaching? Something else? I’m hoping that as I continue to get settled, that I’ll find the focus.

In the meantime, I’ll get back into my creative routines (morning pages, weekly blog posts, sending queries out for my first novel, working on the second). I’ll start some new routines (walking on the beach, joining a local writers group, seeing theater in Chicago). I’ll see what rises to the surface, what clamors for more attention.

We’ll see what happens.

 

 

 

 

A Call to Creative Women Over 40

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Friends!

Many of you know that I’ve embarked on a journey towards becoming a certified Creativity Coach through the Creativity Coaching Association.

What the hell is that, you say?

That’s a good question, and one that I’m working to answer through this certification process and my own life experience and perspective. What I do know is that as a creative person I have faced challenges that I wasn’t sure how to address. That in my life I’ve become blocked, or bored, or hopeless, or even experienced a crisis of meaning. I’d ask myself, “What am I doing? Where am I going? Is any of this worthwhile? Am I wasting my life?”

As I get older I see I am not alone in these kinds of challenges or obstacles. I’m not the only creative person struggling to answer what seem like unanswerable questions, like, “What does this all mean?”

I happened upon the idea of coaching when I was researching ways I can expand my skill set and to use my creativity to be of service. At this point in my training I’m beginning to see not only how difficult the coaching can be, but also how valuable and rewarding – both for any potential clients and for me.

In our training, we’re encouraged to consider different ways we might specialize in our coaching. This could be exclusively offering services to writers or painters, or working with artists who have anxiety issues, or coaching creatives who struggle with marketplace problems. There are so many ways to specialize, it can be tough figuring out where to focus!

One area, though, that has come up again and again as being important to me personally and potentially valuable to others like me, is to offer coaching specifically for creative women over 40. We are a group of artists who face our own particular sets of challenges, and I’d like to be of service in this area.

If you are a creative woman over 40, I’d love to hear what some of the struggles or obstacles are that you face.

What gets in the way of having a satisfying creative life?

Where do you feel most vulnerable?

What types of struggles do you face?

What is most important to you in your life, what are your priorities?

What kind of help would be valuable to you?

What looks like success?

I’d like to begin crafting an online workshop and e-book that address specific issues related to you (and me!), so any stories or thoughts you’d like to share with me would be incredibly valuable.

Please feel free to write in the comments or send me a personal message at amy.clites@yahoo.com.

Thanks, and happy creating!

Tidiness and Creativity

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The Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, totally gets it.
The Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, totally gets it.

There’s a polarizing topic trending in my social media feeds these days, and I don’t mean Democrat vs. Republican, pro-gun vs. anti-gun or the Great Bathroom Debate of 2016.

I’m talking about tidy vs. messy.

Normally, I don’t care too much about whether someone is a tidy person or a messy person.

OK, that’s a lie, but I’m trying.

What kind of irks me about the topic is that there’s this idea that creative types are messy while non-creative types are tidy. That might be putting it too simply, but there have been studies done and articles written about how messiness is inherently tied to creativity.

I call bullshit on that idea.

I am a tidy person. I am also a creative person. I do not think those two things are mutually exclusive.

Yet the idea persists in our culture that you cannot be tidy and be creative at the same time.

Case in point – a couple of years ago I had a smallish party at my house. As sometimes happens, a guest will bring along a friend or two.

In this particular case, my guest’s friend happened to be a rather well-known musician of the rock star variety. Very interesting, cool and friendly guy. Obviously super-creative. Accomplished. It was humbling and exciting to have him at my house in my very un-posh neighborhood.

At one point during the evening, he noticed my little workspace. I have a tiny house, and I’ve cordoned off a corner of the living room and made it my “studio.” It is very tidy. Nobody is allowed in my space. Leaving something on my desk without my permission is a punishable offense. At that time, I had a tall set of drawers next to my desk. Each drawer had been labeled with a label maker with its contents and the drawers were alphabetized.

“What’s this?” he asked me, in his perfect rock-star British accent.

“It’s my supplies,” I answered. I mean, fuck, wasn’t it obvious? They’re labeled.

He looked at me incredulously and said, “But it’s so organized. I thought you were an artist.”

The tall set of drawers in question...
The tall set of drawers in question… It looks a little messy in this picture, but I assure you, in real life it’s quite tidy compared to the rest of the house.

I won’t lie. My heart sank a little. It’s hard enough being an artist without having other artists question your credibility. And it also kind of made me a little mad. He told me how he couldn’t create unless things around him were a little chaotic. And I get that sometimes you need a little upheaval to spark the imagination and see new connections.

My mind is constantly in motion. I am always thinking of the stories I’m creating, working out plot points, figuring out the characters. Or I’m thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner with the disparate bits of this and that in the kitchen. Or I’m thinking about how I want to paint the hallway. Or I’m thinking about a craft project I’d like to do.

I’ve always got creative ideas bubbling around in my mind.

And here’s the thing – if my environment is messy, it’s distracting. I can’t fully focus on my thoughts or feelings or what I’m trying to create. A messy studio makes deep and meaningful thought almost impossible. I tame my environment so that my mind and heart have the freedom they need to explore.

So yes – I am tidy and I am creative. I can be both.

What about you? Are you a tidy creative? Or do you thrive in a messy environment?

 

 

 

 

Exploring Creativity

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creativity einstein

Woah! Where in the world have I been since April?

Sitting right here at my desk, actually, caught in a whirlwind of work. I’m afraid I had to set aside some things in order to focus and finish, and posting updates from the fray was one of the casualties.

But here we are, the first day of summer, and things have quieted down a little bit. Seems appropriate for summertime, no?

One of the things that has captured my attention these last few weeks is exploring the idea of creativity.

I’ve been thinking about its place in my life and how it affects my happiness. I’ve noticed that at times where I’m disconnected from my creative wellspring, I feel “off.” My happiness levels plunge, I feel less in tune with my internal barometer and more disconnected from the world around me.

It’s gotten me to thinking about how creativity plays into everyone’s lives, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a creative person.

I’ve been thinking back to times when I’ve connected with other people over their similar detachment from their own creativity. Talking about it and helping each other through those times have been enormously rewarding for me.

I’ve also been thinking about ways to expand my freelancing business, looking for other opportunities that align with the skills I have and how I’d like to spend my time.

Lo and behold, I stumbled across the idea of becoming a creativity coach.

What? Does that even exist? Apparently, it does. And a person can take classes and become certified in it.

I’ve signed myself up for the introductory class, and I can tell you I am blown away already. The entire thing is conducted through email (a Google Group, to be exact), and there are about two dozen creative souls taking this course along with me.

What surprised me is that the other students are from all over the world – various places throughout the US, Canada (including the High Arctic!), the UK, Australia, Switzerland, South Korea, Greece, Cyprus, and even an aide worker in Turkey who lives about 100 miles from the border of Syria.

Reading everyone’s stories, hearing about their creative lives, where they struggle, how they want to help others with their own creative struggles, is even more inspiring than I thought it would be. I feel re-energized and excited to pursue this so that I can confidently add “creativity coaching” to my skill set as an artist.

Along with the class, we need to do 100 hours of private coaching to become certified. I’ve secured my first client (yay!) and will be looking for others who might be willing to give it a go with me. For a limited time, while I’m getting certified, I’ll be offering private coaching for FREE. If you’re interested, drop me a line either in the comments or through the “Hire Me” page on this blog.

I’m really looking forward to this adventure, and I’m excited to share with you all some of the insights from the journey. Stay tuned!

What’s On My Mind…

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Do you ever feel like you have so much on your mind that you couldn’t possibly fit one more thing in there?

Do you have those days where the happy thoughts are working overtime to try to shoulder out the unpleasant ones?

Are there days when it feels like your brain might actually explode?

Yeah, me too.

The last few weeks I’ve been re-doubling (quadrupling?) my efforts to expunge some of these negative thoughts from my head. They don’t do me any good, really, and I’m getting tired of them.

So…I did what any creative person might do and I busted out my beautiful new journal with the thick, buttery pages (that I scored at Marshall’s for $5.99!) and committed some of these negative thoughts to paper.

Sometimes, I just need to get them out, let them have their say, thank them for whatever lesson it is they’re trying to impart (mostly, I know, they are just trying to protect me, however misguided they are), and show them on their way.

I took the most unflattering picture of myself that I could, pasted it to the paper, and over the course of about two weeks, dumped whatever garbage was hanging out in the dusty corners – or, admittedly, right in the front – of my mind.

The more I wrote them down, the less weight they had. In fact, some of them seemed downright ridiculous once I wrote them 6, 8, a dozen times.

Now the whole thing seems kind of ridiculous, and makes me laugh at the absurdity of it.

And since I’m getting in the practice of sharing some of the harder stuff, so that maybe it will become easier stuff for all of us, here is that ridiculous masterpiece of the absurd:

What is on my mind...

Sometimes you just gotta confront those demons, acknowledge they exist, and politely send them on their way. Or, in this case, expose them to everybody so they diminish in power.

I highly recommend this little exercise. I’m embarrassed to show it to you, but I think that’s the point. In sharing it, I’m taking away it’s power to shame me.

So…what’s on your mind?

Why Rupi Kaur Gives Me Hope For the Future

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Have you heard of Rupi Kaur?

I hadn’t, until my 15-year-old stepdaughter asked if I was interested in reading her favorite book – a book of poetry, no less.

I am not normally a poetry person. I continually try to open myself to poetry, and there are some poets I do love (Walt Whitman and e.e. cummings and Mary Oliver come to mind), but I often struggle to make a connection to poetry. To hook into what the poem is conveying. I have problems finding my way in.

But when a 15-year-old girl gives you an opportunity – an invitation – to peek into her world, to have a glimpse of what grabs her attention, what penetrates her heart, what expresses even a sliver of her own inner life – you don’t say no. It’s an honor to be let in.

So, she deposited “Milk and Honey,” Rupi Kaur’s first book of poetry, on my nightstand. I’ll admit — it sat there for two weeks before I finally picked it up. But the universe has a way of tapping you on the shoulder by way of synchronicity, so when a close friend shared a Rupi Kaur poem on Facebook, I took the hint and immediately picked up the book.

 photo by rupee rags
photo by rupee rags

You guys – wow.

First of all, the language is simple and bold. There’s no fluff, no fancy constructs, no unnecessary elaboration. It gets straight to the point and immediately taps into some decidedly raw feelings.

Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Secondly, the subject matter speaks to what is arguably the every day experiences of many women around the world. It’s about hurting and loving and losing and healing. It’s about vulnerability and strength. It’s about learning to be female in the modern world. It’s about self-knowing and growth.

Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The poet is in her early 20s. She was born in Punjab and moved to Canada when she was 3. In addition to writing poetry, she performs spoken word and writes fiction and plays.

But to get to the point – Rupi Kaur gives me hope for the future.

Why? Well, millennials are often maligned in our culture, characterized as being lazy and self-absorbed and stupid. And, OK, when I see interviews where young people can’t correctly tell you who the Vice President of the United States is or who won the Civil War, I worry. I do. This characterization isn’t totally unfounded.

But when I read Kaur’s poetry, and when I know that it resonates in the soul of a 15-year-old girl on the precipice of adulthood, I’m fucking grateful. I’m grateful that our culture has birthed young women who are unafraid to speak about their experience, their emotions and their bodies.

For the past five years I’ve been involved with charity productions of The Vagina Monologues, V-Day and One Billion Rising. I know that odds are 1 in 3 that a woman will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. I know that we have thousands of years of patriarchal culture to unwind before women can feel safe and heard and equal.

But I think we’re making headway. The teenage girls I know are smarter about their bodies than I was at their age. They have less shame. Many have cultivated an emotional intelligence that probably outstrips men twice their age. They are empowered in many ways. There is still work to do, of course, but I can see how positive change has affected this next generation.

And it gives me hope.

Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Rupi Kaur (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

If you haven’t, check out “Milk and Honey.” And if you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

How to Use Character Boards When Writing Your Novel

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I love a good collage. There is something about taking found objects and arranging them in new ways to give them new meaning that has always sparked my creativity. I’ve been making collages for as long as I can remember, and in the last few years I’ve gotten on the vision board bandwagon, which REALLY taps into my desire to rip pictures out of magazines and tape or glue them to poster board.

I’ve also used collage to some success in television development. I’ve worked on projects where I was tasked with creating boards to either evoke the mood of a show in development or to help visualize and capture the essence of the main characters in a new show. In a collaborative effort such as working on a TV show, these boards are then used by the artists who are taking these ideas and turning them into something concrete.

When I was working on the second draft of my novel, INSIDE CHANCE, I knew I wanted to go deeper with the characters. I wanted to flesh them out more, understand their back story and motivation more, I wanted to get inside their heads and inside their worlds more. So I figured, if I’ve used collage to create visions for my life, and I’ve used collage to help develop characters for TV shows, why couldn’t I do the same for my novel?

I spent a couple of pleasant hours diving through stacks of magazines at local thrift stores, and scored some truly unique titles and even found some from the 80s, which is when my novel is set. Then I set aside an afternoon and looked through them all, pulling whatever sparked my interest or spoke to me in some way about the character, even if it didn’t make logical sense. Here are three of boards I made:

Joni Chance

Character boards for Joni Chance
Character board for Joni Chance

Cash

Character board for Cash
Character board for Cash

The Bearded Man

Character board for the bearded man
Character board for the bearded man

I hung them over my desk in my workspace, and whenever I was writing, I took some time to look them over. I can tell you that there are things on these boards that made it into the novel – details I would have never included that I took directly from these images, which I think give each character more dimension, more color and more humanity.

If you’re feeling stuck or simply want another way of developing your characters, your setting or your story, why not give collage boards a try? Anyone out there ever done this before when working on a novel? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

3rd (and Final) Draft is (Almost) Complete (For Now)

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I’ve reached yet another milestone in the saga that is writing my first novel. I have finally slogged through a third draft. I say slogged because this draft was by far the hardest.

When I completed the second draft, I had five beta readers look it over. Each one then answered a five-page questionnaire (I found a really great one here and tweaked it a little bit for myself). Have I said how much I love my beta readers? It was a tall order but I have really good friends and the thoughtful feedback they provided was invaluable. Thank you Adam, Lita, Kristina, Kristofer and Jeff. You guys rock.

After reading through everyone’s responses, I then sifted through them again to find out what issues came up more than once, those clearly needed to be addressed. For the remainder of the feedback that wasn’t as crucial I spent some time sitting with the ideas and decided which ones I thought I should incorporate. I then made a list of all those things.

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After that, I sat down with the second draft and basically made a beat sheet – a list of everything that happens in each chapter. It was about 40 pages long. But that was INVALUABLE to me, and I’m really glad I had the idea to do. With that beat sheet and my list of notes, I went through with a red pen and marked all the places where I needed to make changes. In some cases, chapters just had a few things, details that needed to be polished or some dialogue that needed tweaking. Other chapters got a big red X through the whole thing because the entire chapter needed to be rewritten.

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Once that was completed, I took the beat sheet with the notes on it and started back at the beginning of the novel and slowly, SLOWLY, worked my way through to incorporate all the notes. It took me one month to write the first draft. It took me three months to write the second draft. Good lord, it took me about six months, on and off, to complete the third draft. It was hard. It made my brain hurt. It was time to agonize over lines and dialogue and to make them as sharp as possible. Most of the sentences were rewritten. Entire chapters were rewritten, condensed or expanded. I took out about 8,000 words but added in 15,000 new ones.

On Saturday, I finished. I printed the fucker out. Here it is. 58,000 words of a young adult novel.

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This week, I will read through the whole thing again, hopefully in one or two sittings. I’ll make notes as I go, and polish when I’m done. I’ve got someone willing to read it, so it’s time to send it off. That day will be very, very soon. Perhaps as early as next week.

I realize that if anything comes of this, I will more than likely be rewriting the whole thing yet again. And possibly several more times after that. I have come to the realization that I think most writers finally come to, which is that when writing a novel, you will probably rewrite the entire thing from beginning to end. By the time this thing is ready for publishing, I’m not sure any of the original sentences will appear in the manuscript. This is painstaking work, but I keep seeing ways to make it better, and I want to serve the story and these characters that I’ve invested in. They’ve taken on a life of their own, and I want to get their story out there.

Here we go!