Writerly Endurance: Try again. Fail again. Fail better

The anxiety you feel after submitting a requested revision to an agent is paralyzing. Because with R&Rs, you’re oh-so-close to landing an agent, yet oh-so-close to falling back into the Query Trench.
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So that’s where I’m at right now — I sent the R&R and am now waiting for the agent’s response. How do I feel–knowing this is my second and final chance with Agent A? Initially, I was incredibly stressed (so much uncertainty, too many feelingsss!) until I picked up a book at the library and read this:
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I’ve heard it said that everything you need to know about life can be learned from watching baseball. I’m not what you’d call a sports fan, so I don’t know if this is true, but I do believe in a similar philosophy, which is that everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write…
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The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to be alone with oneself. To be gentle with oneself. To look at the world without blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined, and at the same time, to take risks. To be willing to fail–not just once, but again and again, over the course of a lifetime. “Ever tried, ever failed,” Samuel Beckett once wrote. “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It requires what the great editor Ted Solotoroff once called endurability.
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-Dani Shapiro, Still Writing
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After reading this, I was like…Oh yah! This is what it means to be a writer. Fine. BRING IT ON! I can take whatever comes my way.
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So, to the writers who are querying/on an R&R/on submission, we can never be certain of what awaits us around the corner in our writing life, but we CAN be certain that if we do get rejected (heaven forbid), we’ll probably wallow in self-pity for a few days, but then we’ll get back up and begin again. Why? Because we’re writers. We are ones who endure.
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Upcoming Period Films 2014-2015

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (2015)

I’m super excited to watch this one.

Based on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.

 

PAN (2015)

Offering a new take on the origin of the classic characters created by J.M. Barrie, the action adventure follows the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny—to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

 

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015)

In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex was assaulted by something no one could believe: a whale of mammoth size and will, and an almost human sense of vengeance. The real-life maritime disaster would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. But that told only half the story. “In the Heart of the Sea” reveals the encounter’s harrowing aftermath, as the ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down. Based on the book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.

 

BELOVED SISTERS (2014)

n 18th century Weimar, devoted aristocratic sisters Caroline and Charlotte fall in love with Friedrich Schiller, a rebellious poet taking the literary world by storm. Soon their journey of shared passion and creativity inspires a ménage-a-trois that invigorates and complicates their entire world. Germany’s official Oscar submission, this sweeping yet intimate romantic drama illuminates two bold women and one of classical literature’s most celebrated figures with charm and contemporary energy.

 

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Click Here For More Period Dramas/Films

Writing Tip: Your Plot in Three Acts

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During my work break at the library, I was skimming through the Entertainment Weekly magazine. In one of the articles, the author Miriam Toews made an interesting statement about how she constructs her novel:

You must first establish tenderness, [Mariam Toews] says. Then the excitement will build, as you put “the violence and agony of life into every note” until you must make an important decision: either return to tenderness or “continue on with the truth, the violence, the pain, the tragedy, to the very end.”

I love books that follow this construct. I try to follow this arc myself when I write.

Without this three-act structure, I lose interest in a story fast. And by the three-act structure, I mean, the beginning introduces the conflict, the middle is when crap hits the fan, and the ending is how that conflict is resolved. According to the filmmaker Edoardo Nolfo:

The three- act structure is intrinsic to the human brain’s model of the world; it matches a blueprint that is hard-wired in the human brain, which is constantly attempting to rationalize the world and resolve it into patterns. It is therefore an inevitable property of almost any successful drama, whether the writer is aware of it or not.

During my work break, I ALSO discovered the literary agent Paula Munier’s book PLOT PERFECT, where she gave a breakdown of the conventional beginning, middle and end:

Love Story

Beginning: Boy meets girl.
Middle: Boy loses girl.
End: Boy gets girl back.

Murder Mystery

Beginning: Someone gets murdered
Middle: The cops, detective, or amateur sleuth investigates the murder
End: The murderer is brought to justice

Coming-Of-Age-Story

Beginning: A young person longs for adventure — and new acquaintances and events conspire to make that happen
Middle: With the help of the new friends and mentor, the young person undergoes a series of transformative experiences.
End: Armed with this newfound knowledge and experience, the young person triumphs against overwhelming odds — and comes of age

War Story

Beginning: Our hero (or heroes) learns of the mission.
Middle: Our hero (or heroes) plan out, train for, and undertake the mission
End: Our hero (or heroes) must go above and beyond to overcome the enemy — and the mission is won

Each model shows that by the middle of a book, the Main Character should be tackling some kind of conflict. This conflict should threaten what the MC wants most in life.

 

What does the character in your book want most in life?

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My Writing Music:

Period Drama 2014 (II)

THE GREAT FIRE (TV series 2014)

The drama unfolds over four consecutive days as the fire indiscriminately takes hold of the city and the people desperately attempt to overcome the flames, as no matter what your path in life or status all human life is vulnerable. The fire consumes homes and lives as loyalties and friendships are tested and passions come to the fore.  As the greatest city of the 17th century is destroyed, the fire is a catalyst to acts of forbidden love, deceit and despair (synopsis).

 

THE KNICK (TV series 2014)

….Also called the “gilded age gore.”
I’m currently watching this show. So far so good!

Medical drama set in the 1900s charts the exploits of the staff and patients at a New York hospital, where they try to maintain their reputation for quality care while struggling to keep the doors open (Rottentomatoes).

 

P.S. I finished watching AMC’s TURN a few days ago. The series was preeetttyyyy darn good, though a little slow at first. I might write a quick review for it. And it’s been renewed for a second season, so hurrah!

 

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Other Period Dramas

 

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One Lovely Blog Award: 7 Curious Facts About Me

one-lovely-blog-awardFellow writer and critique partner Christa Wojo has tagged me for the One Lovely Blog Award (to participate in a blog tour where we share 7 curious facts about our life). Be sure to check out her lovely answers!

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Here are the rules.

Rules:

  1. Share 7 Lovely Facts about myself
  2. Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that I enjoy reading….I just shared the 10 blogs I often visit or wish would be updated more often! haha.
  3. Nominate the authors of those 15 blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the original Lovely blog. (That would be this page)

Without further ado, here are some interesting facts about me!

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1. I thought my dad was the prime minister.

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My dad is a theology prof, but before he pursued his PhD, he was a pastor. Once, in kindergarten, I was conversing with my friend’s mom, and somehow we talked about jobs, then this happened:

Her: So what does your father do, sweetie?
Me: He’s the prime minister.
Her: You mean minister?
Me: Nope. The prime minister.

For many years, I continued to believe I was right, and that she was a silly woman.

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2. I enjoy watching Korean Dramas.

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A few years ago, I watched Boys Before Flowers (25 episodes, each episode being one hour long) in two days. I slept no more than two to three hours each day so that I could wake-up and immediately watch some more. Towards the 20th episode, I was so dazed with exhaustion I had no idea what I was watching, but I kept watching anyway. Talk about addicting!

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3. I LOVE watching action shows.

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After watching an episode of 24, I once stared at my apartment door, then solemnly asked my sister, “Do you think our door can be shot down?” She looked genuinely troubled by my question.

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4. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Peter Pan so, so badly.

I was, of course, old enough to know that flying was impossible and that Neverland didn’t exist.

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But still, I longed to be Peter Pan with such intensity. During family strolls through the forest, I’d find myself a stick (my sword) and jump off tree stumps and rocks (in my mind, I was flying and fighting off pirates). My mom swears that she once found me sobbing uncontrollably at home, and when she’d asked why I was crying, I had supposedly answered, “Because I’ll never be Peter Pan!!!!!!”

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5. The first time I learned how to swim (the doggy paddle) was when I nearly drowned.

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We were at a water park and I somehow wandered away from my parents to try out a waterslide. The slide plunged me into the deep end and I remember being in a state of panic – because I was a little kid who had never been taught to swim before. I started flapping my arms and legs, and managed to reach the surface. Fortunately a life-guard was nearby and immediately hauled me out.

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6. The books I reach out for most often these days are are non-fiction.

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After graduating university, I’ve come to enjoy reading non-fiction more than fiction. Yet I love writing fiction more than ever.

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7. One film changed my life.

I was the kid in school who hated English and thought chapter-books a great bore. Becoming an author was the last thing on my mind. Then I watched this film – and my life was changed forever (though now this film cracks me up!).

After watching Pride and Prejudice (1940), I hunted down the 1995 adaptation. This version left me SOOOOO obsessed with P&P. I read the book, then wanted to read more, so I tracked down every sequel I could find. When I ran out of sequels to read, I wrote my own continuation (where Darcy & Elizabeth were spies for Napoleon….yah, I know. I was 13). And that’s how I began pursuing writing at the age of 13.

 

I tried to share some non-writing facts about me – but I couldn’t help add a few in! Now I will pass the award to the awesome writers and friends of blogs that I follow ( If I’ve missed any blogs, please let me know! And if you’ve already done this blog hop or don’t have the time, please feel free to decline.)

 

Congratulations to:

Rowenna

I write young adult fiction and am represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. When not typing or attacking pages with a purple pen, I enjoy sewing, baking pies, and trespassing.

Julie Dao

MG/YA writer, runner, dessert enthusiast, and hairy-footed hobbit at heart.

Jude Knight

I am a writer of historical romance novels, the first few of which are set in late Georgian England.

Rika Ashton

Book reviewer & blogger. Aspiring author of Fantasy fiction. An English Lit. & Education graduate via UBC. Addicted to coffee & words!

Ms. Reiter

I am a thirty-something, mother-of-two aspiring author. My current work in progress, The Long Shadow, is a historical novel dealing with the troubled relationship between British prime minister William Pitt the Younger and his elder brother John, 2nd Earl of Chatham. This blog mixes historical musings, novel brainstorming and thoughts on the difficulties of writing a novel with small children tugging at one’s trouser-legs. It is also turning into a one-woman attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the man known as the “Late” Lord Chatham. He doesn’t always help out.

Sybil Lam

I recently left my day job (August 2014) to pursue fiction writing and other projects. My current project is ASHA, a fantasy story that explores the topic of skin, including eczema and psoriasis. It combines the adventure of L. Frank Baum’s WIZARD OF OZ with the imagery of Guillermo Del Toro’s film PAN’S LABYRINTH. I hope to query Book 1 (of 2) early 2015.

Tom

Tom used to write books for business, covering everything from the gambling industry to new developments in printing technology. Now he writes about love and adventure in the 19th century, which is not nearly as well paid, but much more fun. It also allows him to pretend that travelling in the Far East and South America is research. Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which he does quite well.

Philippa Jane Keyworth

Author of Regency Romances. I love writing, reading, horses, dogs and movies! My debut novel, The Widow’s Redeemer, is out now!

Linotte Melodieuse

Writer, nail polish addict, tea-a-holic, rabid history lover, voracious reader. Don’t worry, I won’t quit my day job.

Judith Arnopp

I am a novelist. My books concentrate on history from a female perspective. what was it like to be constrained within a corset, refused a proper education, passed from the jurisdiction of father to that of husband, denied legal and moral rights that we now take for granted?