Weren’t You Writing A Book Or Something?

Isn’t that what started this whole nutty adventure? The desire to write a book?

It is. The whole blog, Facebook page, giveaways, interviews, published articles, all of those things are because I had have a little idea to write a book. The problem with me is that little ideas turn into big dreams. And big dreams take time, hard work, more time, and more hard work.

The little book is still chugging along. It’s the little book that could.

Last year I started sending out the first pages along with a query letter to literary agents (literary agents sell the manuscript to publishing houses). This is the most traditional route for publishing. It turns out I queried my story prematurely. Even though I had worked quite a bit on it, when you’ve never written a book before, you don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know that the book wasn’t really done and still needed a few more rounds of serious rewriting. So I stopped querying the story and went back to editing the hurking thing. I’ve been editing it for the last six months, most heavily in the last three. Which is what I blame for putting the blog on the back burner.Writing

 

I have it out for another round of edits and feedback right now. Once I get the edits back, I’ll go through it AGAIN (I mean because why not?? You’re supposed to be able to read it from memory by the time you’re done with it right?). After this next round of editing then I’ll resume querying. When I started this process I said I’d query until I had 100 rejections. That’s still my plan. I’m not going to lie, the first several rejections I received last year stung. “But my life’s work! How could they not love you??!!” Because it wasn’t ready. Now I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to set this little bird free. Will it fly into the arms of a loving agent and get published the traditional way or will she land on the desk of a small independent press? I haven’t a clue. I’m okay with whatever form the book takes. But this is the year it’s going to leave the safety of my hard drive and take it’s worldly form. I’m ready.

I can’t tell you what an amazing journey this has been. From the very first shaky conversation with a friend about my shy desire to write this story, her encouragement to blog the process (But what would I blog about? Would I have anything to say? Yes. The answer was yes. You’d have plenty to say. Sometimes maybe too much.) Then on to my first writing workshop, then writing conference, talking with a real-live Brooklyn-living, New-York-Bagel-Eating, Funky-Glasses-Wearing literary agent. I may or may not have been a little star struck. That conference is where the little idea exploded into a big dream. All of a sudden I had visions of a book tour and Matt Lauer interviewing me about my New York Times Bestseller. First of all, Matt Lauer ugh, second of all, have you recovered yet from my stars-in-my-eyes visions?? Oh sweet child. Sweet, sweet child.

Theresa Rice Writer
Looking to the future like….

If those things happen (interview with Hoda now, not Matt) I of course would be totally okay. But they are not likely. The same way me winning a million dollars isn’t likely. But I know I’ve grown and I’m on the right path with this journey because money, fame, notoriety are not my goals. I care about this story. I want women to read it and feel like I told them a juicy story over a cup of coffee and now they’re ready to go out into the world and kick some ass.

And that’s what I want to keep doing on the blog. Keep telling stories that leave you happy, thankful, inspired and like you’re ready to kick some ass.

So wish me luck. Cross your fingers and toes and your friends’ fingers and toes too. And whatever happens will be okay. Because no matter what, I still have all of you awesome people who give me a little bit of your time by reading my words. I love ya for it.

Muah.

Theresa

Why Ask Why? Just Follow The Path

I was telling someone about my story the other day and they asked me what in the world possessed me to write a book. Possession is absolutely the right word. Life is about prioritizing interests, and I have many, so it gets a little stressful trying to carve out time for my friends, family, horseback riding, house chores, dog walking, writing and oh, my husband! Yet, the writing is almost at the level of an impulsion. I sit down and write at night the way other people sit down and watch TV.

I have been writing for much of my life. I kept a journal before I even made it to my angsty pre-teen middle school years. I repeatedly started a story about a mysterious house in the woods and I actually completed a few stories in high school. I also wrote articles for the high school newspaper.

Before the invention of blogs, I would send blast emails to all of my contacts about my adventures, my time working in Arizona and Alaska, and the three weeks I spent in Ethiopia. Plus there was that awkward couple years where I used MySpace as a blog.

So my propensity for writing isn’t a new thing, but the organized and focused approach as of late is a new level of devotion. Some of you might ask why. It’s a fair question, and I ask myself that same thing sometimes. But no one asks me why I ride and show my horse. It’s obvious: because I like to. But writing seems to need some kind of purpose beyond liking to share it in a public manner. I’ve said in my About Me section that I started the blog to grow a readership when the time comes to publish my book. But the blog has also become its own beast. Not a beast of burden, but a lovely creature connecting me to people I never would have met otherwise. People who have told me my words encouraged them, made them laugh, made them think or resonated with them in some way. Those comments are food for my soul, and an unexpected by-product of me just following my passion.

These Boots Are Made For Walking Bag
…And these hands were made for writing. Another passion: shopping. This bag was irresistible, it’s by Backroads Textiles

I write a monthly on-line column for a regional horse publication (Northwest Horse Source) and I wrote to my editor (I like saying “my editor,” makes me feel fancy and official) asking for advice in the editing process. I have recently been struggling to edit my manuscript, not feeling particularly inspired to pore over it looking for mistakes and problem areas.

She, Catherine Madera my editor, responded, “Just don’t give up. Writing, now more than ever, is a tough business. But if you can’t help yourself, and you don’t give up, you’ll find your niche.” Okay, okay, she’s not really my editor, but the editor who edits my pieces for NW Horse Source.

Her response to me was both one of the most inspiring and most depressing things anyone has told me about my writing yet. I find it depressing because I know she’s right. I know the writing industry and the publishing industry, are undergoing ripples of changes and fighting to stay relevant in an age when people largely receive information passively and electronically (TV news on in the background, Facebook feeds, Twitter trending tweets). But I also found it inspiring because she perfectly captured my possession. She said “If you can’t help yourself…”

I can’t. I can’t help myself. I mean, I managed to write 76,000 words in less than a year while working a full time job and not really even knowing what I was doing. And I believe those 76,000 words are strung together in sentences and paragraphs and chapters that carve out a lovely, gripping, and powerful story of the strength we all have within us. And I will get the dang thing edited, and I will submit it to agents, because I can’t help myself. I don’t know where this path leads, maybe nowhere, but telling this story that has lived within my bones for the last 10 years will be success enough, even if I self-publish it and never make a dime.

So that’s going to be my new response when people ask why I write: because I just can’t help myself, I’m possessed. I know there are others like me. What can’t you help yourself over? What drives you forward every day? I hope there’s something you’re passionate about, life’s too short not to have something that feeds you and makes you get out of bed every day.

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Happy New Year, Happy Trails

Did you know that sometimes I stare at my blank computer screen with nothing to say for minutes on end? I’ll take a break from doing nothing to check and see if something gripping happened over on Facebook. Nothing did. So I’ll go back to my blank page, wondering what the hell I should write about. But then a really terrible thing happens, I start to wonder why I should write anything at all. I wrote my story. I made 75K words, it’s now time to clean it up, edit it and edit it again. But instead of feeling motivated to work on it, a very stupid part of my brain wishes my blabber mouth hadn’t said anything about the story, hadn’t started this ridiculous blog and started this even more ludicrous journey of trying to a publish a book.

Sometimes I tell people I feel that this process is ridiculous. But my wonderful friends remind me that millions of other people have written and published books, some of which might be worse than mine, so why is it ridiculous for me to try to do the same thing? I can’t argue with their logic.

I have a similar internal argument with myself over showing my horse. Every spring I try to show in at least one Arabian breed show. But about the time I’ve told people I’m working toward that goal, when rubber hits road and it’s time to get to work, I wonder why the hell I would want to do such an absurd thing. Growth is HARD. Getting better at controlling your body in tune with your horse’s body is hard. Writing a book, as it turns out, is also hard. Who knew? But no one wants to hear about how hard writing a book is. What a privileged and hilarious thing to complain about! So I don’t. Okay, I try not to. I’m guessing I do whine from time to time.

The only reason I start talking down to myself about attempting such feats is because I get scared that I might not accomplish what I set out to do. I linger a little too long inside my head pondering the scary what-if’s rather than actually sitting my ass down and doing the work. Whether that work is in a saddle on my horse or in a chair in front of my computer.

I seriously hope I’m not the only crazy person who engages in these kinds of over-analytical-progress-killing-thinkathons. Anyone? Please don’t let me be the only crazy out here on the edge. Please?

At any rate, even though I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions, I will again be showing in the Arabian breed show in our area in April and I want to have my story edited to the hilt and ready for agent queries by June of 2016. These are my goals. You can call them New Year’s resolutions if you want to. I generally think of them as fear-inducing personal growth opportunities. God, do you think I have undiagnosed anxiety? I sure talk about worry and fear a lot (see Why I Promised to Worry Less, Why Does My Saddle Say Die, or Why Horse Trainers Are Horrible People Who I Can’t Live Without). Apparently I also start a lot of my posts with “why.” Thank goodness you find me entertaining.

So I’ll be working toward these two goals and I’ll try not to whine about either one of them, because I would be blessed to be able to pursue, either. But I’m so blessed I can work toward both. And I hope you work toward whatever goals you have, New Year’s resolutions or otherwise.

Whatever your coming year looks like, I hope whatever you want for yourself, you are blessed with.

Happy New Year and happy trails.

Happy New Year & Happy Trails Barbed Wire at sunset