Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reinvent Your Writing

Today's guest-poster, the lovely Lynne Gentry, knows a thing or two about reinvention.  Her debut novel, Reinventing Leona,  is all about making changes for the better.

Also red lipstick.  But I'll let you discover that for yourself.  Here's Lynne!

Writing good stories is like raising good kids, they never happen by accident. Someone has to invest a lot of time and effort in the project to achieve an award-winning result.

How many times have you thought you’d written the next bestseller only to take it to your critique group meeting and have them mop the floor with you? I’ve done it more times than I can count. Yet, every Tuesday night I print out a chapter and set off for another grueling round of iron-sharpening-iron.


Why do I put myself through this torture?

Because these trusted friends have only my best interest at heart. I’d rather hear what’s NOT working with my story in the comfort of someone’s cozy living room than have the flaws plastered all over an Amazon review.

True writing friends are not here to tell me I’m wonderful. They’re job is to make me a better writer. I’ll admit, crits can sting. But I’ve learned to consider their points and to think through why something tripped them up. Their suggestions challenge me to ratchet up the tension here or find a fresh way to drive my point home there.

Are you writing in secret?

Don’t do what I did. I wrote my first 400 page novel without letting anyone take a peek. When I finally summoned enough courage to submit the book to an editor, I received this terse response eight minutes later: I’m sorry, your writing does not measure up to the standards of our publishing house.

Ouch!

What did I learn? Don’t submit another thing until you get some help. I needed a group that would challenge, yet encourage a pleaser like me to continue in this often brutal and solitary calling.

Fortunately, I found a constructive writing group. And humbly submitting to the process reinvented my writing.

When I consider what each of the members of our writing group bring to the table, I’m reminded of how women used to gather around a well or quilting frame. Together, they helped each other raise their families, withstand the hard times, and make the world a better place.

What if writers did the same today? 


About Lynne's novel, Reinventing Leona:

Leona Harper loves being a pastor's wife. Her impressive resumé touts thirty years of coaxing hot water from rusty parsonage plumbing, planning church potlucks, and standing beside her husband while members take potshots at his sermons. Except for the little tiff with her grown children, Leona feels her life is right on track with the wishes of the Almighty...until her husband drops dead in the pulpit.

When the church board decides to fill the Reverend's vacated position Leona is forced to find a paying job, mend her fractured family, and tackle her fears. With life spiraling out of control, Leona might find the church members antics comical if she weren't so completely panicked. Can the faith of an overwhelmed widow withstand the added heartache of two resentful children and several underhanded church members?

If Leona can't trust God, how will she learn to trust herself?

Don't miss it! Full of warmth and wit, I recommend reading with a glass of iced tea.

7 comments:

  1. So, sounds like it takes a village to raise a novel. I like the "cozy-living-room" vs. "Amazon-review" perspective. Thanks for sharing this, Lynne!

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  2. Awesome interview! I agree 100%!

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  3. Be sure that iced tea is sweet tea! 'Cause that's how Leona really likes it, southern style! Have that box of Keenex beside you 'cause you'll laugh so hard you'll cry. Beautiful story by a beautiful writer.

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  4. Aww, good post, Lynne. We are a blessed group. And our writing is stronger for the input. Even after we take our rounds on the floor. Janice - you must have very clean floors by now. : )

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  5. Great advice, Lynne...our greatest allies in writing are other writers. :)

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  6. Great words! Thank you Leona. :) I want a slice of lemon in my sweet tea, please ma'am.

    Miss you!

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  7. Thought id drop by and say hello. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa.

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