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So I came across this blog post about writing several books before one book is published.  Honestly, this is something that I never even considered before, but I guess it makes sense.  I mean, if I sat around and waited for my first book to be published, it would take years and years before I ever published another.  I have to have something to do while I’m waiting, right?

There is a cliché in publishing that by the time a writer finally gets published, she already has a whole stack of novels completed and hidden in a drawer, never to see the light of day. No writer gets their first book published, right?

But it’s more than that, writing another book while I’m sending out the first, I mean.  I think she missed #5, which is, Editing.

I’ve been breaking all the conventional advice and I continually edit my book while I am writing.  Not the “big edit” that I will do once I am completed with the entire novel, but minor edits.  I also have several notes that I’ve made to “go back and fix this part,” because at the time of writing, I knew it wasn’t going to pass muster.

However, once I’m finished with the “big edit,” I will move onto the next book.  Maybe I’ll do another book in the series, although I think I’m going to let the idea stew for a while.  I’ll probably end up writing a completely different novel.

And then when I’m done with that novel, I plan on revisiting my first novel and edit it again.  I’ve become (hopefully) a better writer.  I’ve entered (hopefully) dozens of short story contests, gotten feedback from those contests, went through several college classes, joined a peer editing critique group, had the book read and edited by my best friend, and so on and so forth.

And this growth is what she means about the several books before publishing cliché.

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This week, I have been giving a lot more thought to my life goals, the not-so-little master list of things that I want to accomplish before I am six feet under.  So I decided to put my writing skills to good use by writing out a scene of what my life should look like in ten years.  Call it the novel, titled Mandi’s Life.

Imagination is a powerful tool to help overcome the obstacles of your life.  I found that many times this is because if you start thinking outside the box, then you think of possibilities that weren’t there only moments ago.  A year ago, for instance, I never thought that I could write a novel.  Sure, I’d fantasize how nice it would be to see my novel in print, or to be a famous writer, or even a stereotypical writer – the one that lives in a deep forest, away from civilization.  The hermit.

It just so happens that I also came across a great article about yoga, and the imagination, which I find relevant here:

Imagination—our ability to create images not available to the sensory system—is arguably our greatest faculty for evolving human consciousness. In order to transform ourselves and our world, we need to be able to leap out of the familiar and into the unknown. The first step in doing this is to imagine a future different from the past, a self-sense different from the one we have now. Of course, we are shaped by our memories, our karma, and the patterns woven into our neurons and cells. Undeniably, we’re also influenced by culture and physical circumstances. Some of these factors are hard to change. But the imagination can help us begin to replace our internal patterns, especially the ones that keep us limited and stuck. If we can reimagine our sense of who we are, we can change our experience of life.

I especially like the line “to imagine a future different from the past.”  I guess that is what I did this week, imagining how my future could look if I follow the path that I am on now.

I ended up with about four pages of what my life is going to look like.  I’ve included my husband, and what he’s doing, too.  And also what the kids are up to.  I wrote about my picturesque house on the beach, the daily walks that my husband and I take, my afternoons filled with writing my latest novel while I hear the sounds of the ocean crashing on the shore.  I wrote about my backyard, and how I make a beautiful sustainable garden.  And the second bedroom, how it is for the guests that love to come to visit.  I even threw in the third bedroom, which I use as my wonderful office, a small room facing the ocean, filled with houseplants that never die.

That place is different for all of us.  If I can dream it, then I will make it happen.

Recently, I wrote out my life goals.  I now keep this list open on my computer all the time, to subtly remind myself of what I need to do.

Over the last two weeks, a question has been bouncing around in my head: what exactly is it that I want? In other words, if I could live in a perfect world, what would it be?  What’s my utopia?

The answer to that questions isn’t a simple paragraph or two, because let’s face it, I want a lot of things in my life.  Ultimately, I want to retire with my husband and have a happy time.  There’s a lot of ways to get there.  And in some cases, I want to get there multiple ways.

One of those ways is to become a novel writer.  I’m not really looking to strike it rich ala Stephen King or anything, but having a sustainable career (without having to write what I would consider unpleasant material – corporate or marketing writing, for instance) would be great.

Call me crazy, but the other dream that I have is to become a farmer, which stems from my love of gardening.  I would put myself in the category of “homestead” farmer, which is vastly different than a commercial farmer, the main difference being one is to live and the other is to make money.  I’m not that interested in making money by farming, or by writing for that matter.

I could go on and on about homestead farming, but I won’t bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that my dream is not a reality, or even close to it.  Firstly, I live in a condo association that likens gardening to the black plague.  And mostly, my husband isn’t too thrilled with the idea of sharing a backyard with chickens (although he does like my idea of the pool – hey, farmers can swim, too).

That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t dream about it.  The advantage of being a writer is that my very overactive imagination can fathom a place that doesn’t even exist.  I can write it down, and make it real.  I can put it in a book, and see that it becomes not a dream, but reality.

So what’s your utopia?


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I recently started writing out my life goals.  I wrote them out like I would write an outline for a book.  If you think about it, that’s exactly what it is: an outline for my life.  I keep this running to-do list in a Microsoft Word file, and I keep it open all of the time, mostly so I can jot down a note if I become inspired by something that I see. Read the rest of this entry »

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