In December, you tend to see "the year in review" popping up in magazines and on TV. I decided it was a good day to do a review myself, and I'm sticking to people. Despite the teeth-gritting, sugary sweet kitsch of it, I'm calling them...
My Writing Angels
They're like Guardian Angels. But instead of keeping me safe, they're nourishing my need to write.
So here they are.
My husband, Christian
On weekends, he sometimes sweeps the kids away for ten hours straight so I have quiet time with my laptop.
Even more important: he defends me when the in-laws complain how the family "suffers" because of my writing. And the best part? His defense isn't "it's not so bad" or "hopefully someday she'll earn some money with it", but "we're not suffering." It's the only thing he could say that could even attempt to make me feel less guilty, because his parents aren't completely off the mark. If I didn't write, our house would have less dust, a tidy living room, more home-cooked meals, and maybe even crystal-clear windows. (Okay, that's actually not likely. I hate windows.)
My friend, Ivonne
She's always been my first beta reader. Despite two toddlers and a demanding job, she's the one who supports and encourages me even though she's only ever seen my rough drafts. Ivonne, I swear they've improved.
My friend, Tanja
My idea-sounding-board/walking-partner. She asked a lot of questions. Often, my first reaction was that the reader didn't need to know that stuff. But her questions planted themselves in my brain, sprouting detailed backgrounds and new developments. The answers had an immense effect on how Lexi's story unfolds. And as for my WIP, Neve's character darkened into a much deeper, more interesting person.
My first critique partner, Sissy Kinghorn
What a learning experience! Sissy helped me get my wordiness under control - or at least to begin to. In a case of divine serendipity, Sissy was a doctor! She corrected my medical details where Dr. Google and Dr. Wikipedia couldn't be trusted. I couldn't have asked for more.
My next critique partner, Alisyn Busico
Ali pointed out where I gave waaayyy too much backstory. Where I stuffed the cake down the reader's throat instead of leaving a trail of crumbs for them to follow (that's me paraphrasing her – see, Ali, it sank in). I cut more words than I care to mention, and that's a good thing. I look forward to finalizing our critique sessions. As for her story, I'll admit I'm missing Matt. Oh yeah, and Clair and...well...not so much Evan.
My Pitch Wars coach, Deana Barnhart
Even in merely asking for a partial, she made me dance with happiness. It was a first for me. Someone out there, someone who knows what they're doing, found my writing interesting!
You know that scene in The Shining where Shelley Duvall discovers novelist Jack Nicholson has been filling reams of paper with "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy"? A part of me fears that. What if I spend this much time on writing, and in the end, the result is boring and useless? So when Deana picked me as an Alternate in the Pitch Wars contest, it added cheerful song to my less than graceful dance.
There are so many others who've helped me.
WriteOnCon participants who critiqued everything from my query to first five pages to the dreaded synopsis (and the organizers who made it possible!).
Friends and relatives who answered questions about music and geography.
My dad and his automotive advice.
Colleagues who didn't look at me like I was crazy when I disclosed how I spend my free time.
Brenda Drake for setting up Pitch Wars.
My SCBWI Germany colleagues for letting me babble and offering to beta read.
All of them were my Writing Angels this past year. Because of them, my stories, my prose improved. Because of them, I trusted myself to keep trying. And because of them, I've been able to spend time doing something I love.
I've been blessed to have every one of them touch my life. Thank you, my Writing Angels.