The Last Leg


I’ve been buried in the trenches, pounding away at the keyboard.  For those that think the writing life is glamorous they have obviously never engaged in the act of writing. There is nothing glamorous about stale coffee breath in the afternoon.  Nor is it glamorous wearing your hair in a ponytail day in and day out.  I don’t think the yoga pants and tees fit into glamorous either.

Somewhere in the recesses of our minds we imagine a writer’s life as . . . what? Agatha Christie with a proper Cambridge accent, boarding a train for an exotic location?  The rich lifestyle portrayed by Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle? There are obvious success stories,  but they didn’t get there overnight.  They didn’t achieve stardom with their first book or even their second.  All of them have their badges of honor filed away in some drawer: the rejection slips, the empty coffee cans, stacks of dirty dishes on the counter, the crumpled cigarette packs.

I’m an extrovert, a very social creature yet I spend hours in solitude creating fictional worlds, fictional people, and fictional scenarios. It’s the one place where all those ‘what if’s’ play out, often for the worst case scenarios that so many  worry over.

What  would happen if the girl he thought he loved dumped him? What will happen when your best friend betrays you? What will happen when tragedy strikes?  One moment can change your life forever.

Last time I shared  my revelation, that in a few short weeks my daily routine will change dramatically. I calculated to finish the day my daughter will come home from college. I had it all laid out and a goal to shoot for.  I work well with goals, if I don’t have them I tend to wander aimlessly accomplishing nothing.

I set my goal at 50000 because well,  . . . because the minimum for a romance novel for trade paperbacks is 50000.  That is a pretty small book to be honest, but it’s  the number that NANOWRIMO uses so I went with it.  A decision had to be made and it was a good round number.  Don’t argue with me about the number – I had my reasons!  Anyway,  I stated that on May 15th I should reach my goal of 50000, needing an addition 7500 words to get there.  Considering that I don’t  write on the weekends,  unless I get a few minutes with a pen and paper. I’ve exceeded the 50000, by about 1300 words and still have  five chapters to go.

Shoot for the stars  and you may at least clear the trees. Right? So now comes  the nail-biting  time –  I will be ready to send this out to beta readers next week!  Relax,  this is not a first draft.  I’ve edited all but the last six chapters,  and I will go through that before sending it out.

If this one goes well, I may even dust off some of those other manuscripts that I’ve filed away after receiving rejections from  previous publishers.  I have several amazing friends that have been encouraging me to get my work out there.  It’s a daunting thing for me, because I know there will be critics.

I’m anxious to hear from my beta readers about their emotional responses.  I shared a chapter  that I was particularly proud of with my daughter.  She laughed, then cried, then was angry with me for making the character’s life harsh.  Wil my reader’s feel the pain?  Will they rejoice with the triumphs?  Will they ride the emotional roller coaster and be thrilled or despise me forever?

I also know that as soon as I quit fiddling with it, quit editing myself, put it out there that I will be cringing at  mistakes that I find. It’s inevitable.  It’s the bane of being a perfectionist and performance oriented.  This may require more trips to  the counselor’s office.

Never the less, I have achieved a goal –  reaching 50000. ( yeah, I’ve done it before during NANO,  but the story wasn’t complete to my satisfaction.) Time to plunge into the final chapters and tackle the last leg of this marathon!

Write on my friends,  write on!



3 comments on “The Last Leg

  1. Ellie,
    So glad to hear that your writing is powering on! Good for you! As for critics–we all get them. Some of them are genuine and I read and treasure that feedback from readers, will even sometimes change things because of it. Others are trolls and we all get trolls as well. Ignore them. Don’t answer back and validate their nonsense.
    Keep going, Ellie. It’s all we can do, or the characters won’t let us rest!


  2. Aya,
    Thank you so much for the encouragement and taking the time to read and comment! Great advice! Yes. there are those that are just trolls and you’re right – don’t waste time and effort to validate their nonsense!
    Truer words were never spoken – “It’s all we can do, or the characters won’t let us rest!” Even though it’s taking me a long time to get the words down, it’s impossible to rest until I get the story down.
    I only hope that I can distingusih valid criticism from the trolls and use it to improve my craft!
    Thank you!


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