Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fly, words, fly

It's not always a good idea to go to bed early, especially not on a full mind, because I wake four or five hours later and can't get back to sleep. If I decide to check my email, I know I'll never get back to sleep until morning and I have a lot to do this weekend. Such is the case tonight.

I look forward to reading Funds for Writers (FFW) every Saturday morning and technically, since it's after midnight, it is Saturday morning, although I prefer to think of it as still Friday night, so when I woke just before one I checked my email and began to read FFW. Hope's editorial about her friend, Tom, from her writing group in the hospital for gallbladder surgery hit me right between the eyes. It isn't as though I've not written many times about each day being precious and not postponing life for some nebulous day in the shadowy future, but reading about Tom and how he held out for a traditional publisher while he put on one more coat of polish and ran his novel through one more edit made me realize I've been holding back, too, not in the same way, but I've been holding myself back.

There are several novels residing in the bits and bytes on hard drives and floppies and CDs and DVD-ROMs that need a little more polish and one more edit. While I've been writing stories for anthologies (and getting published) and reviews and articles and blog posts in the cracks and spaces between life and my day job the novels have languished because I thought I had more time. After all, I plan to live to the ripe old age of 150 (140 now that my cousin, Ellen, scared ten years out of me the other day with her cyber-joke) and I have time, except that maybe I don't have time. There may be more days and years behind me than before me and I'm wasting them.

Okay, I gave up cable television and I use my television only for watching DVDs, rationing myself to one a day, and I download what few shows I watch to cut out commercials, but I'm still wasting time by not putting more of my novels out there. It looks like I finally have one novel on its way and will fill in some blanks this weekend so the publisher and I can go to second base, but there are other novels that need just as much attention, not to polishing and editing just one more time, but to kicking them out of the nest. Having spent ten years not writing until my life and sanity depended on it and using my experience and expertise to put other people's books and stories in publishers' hands, it's time I do the same for myself.

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for those of you who have already signed on to write a 50,000-word book this month, and I have something planned, but I may put it aside to push those novels, cozy on the hard drive and protected on data disks, out of the nest and into publishers' hands. To that end, I am going to send out one novel a week until they are all making the rounds. I have no more time. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I no longer have a gallbladder to put me in the hospital and cut off the remainder of my life and the hope of publishing my novels, but something else could go wrong. I could still die today or tomorrow or next week. There are no guarantees. The waiting for just one more anything is at an end.

What do you have sitting on hard drives and disks and gathering dust and cobwebs in drawers, boxes and closets that you don't think is quite good enough to send out? Get them out, dust them off, take a quick look and send them out the door. You may collect a few rejections, but along the way some publisher may tell you what you need to hear, that you are a very talented writer and all you need to do is answer a few questions, fill in a few blanks and you've got a contract. You'll never know unless you push your hatchlings out of the nest. Not next year or next week or even after the next critique session with your writing group, but now. Don't agonize one more minute and don't discount what you already know. You may be too close to see that you have something worth saying that one publisher (you only need one) is going to claim for their schedule. Get your work out now.

And that goes for anyone who is wasting time not making their dreams a reality and putting off their needs and desires until some day.

First thing on my agenda after I finish writing this is filling in the blanks that the publisher asked about and getting it to her this weekend. Thank the electronic gods I don't have to wait for snail mail. I have no more time to waste. It's time to let the words fly. Thanks to Hope for reminding me that I've been sand bagging, too.

That is all. Disperse.

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