It's down to the nitty-gritty. Ingredients: A hard copy of my manuscript and whatever pen or pencil I can find and a quiet few hours.
A few months ago, after reading the manuscript for my second book, a well (?) meaning friend and fellow writer told me I should stick to writing short stories as that is clearly my strength. My husband, bless him, told me she was jealous (her own first book hasn't left the editing stages yet) and to blow past it. It's not easy though, when I so highly value the opinion of the person who said it. At the moment it's even more difficult.
This is the hardest phase of writing for me because it's fraught with so much room for self-doubt. Is the opener strong enough? Does that sentence make sense? Am I telling too much and not showing enough? What the hell was I thinking? I know the story is good, but does it hold up grammatically? Will an agent only see its weaknesses? Close examination of every line of every page gives me a headache and makes me wish I was wealthy enough to hire a professional editor. I've got to forge on with the resources I have and try and block out the little voice in the back of my head that insists that I'm an idiot who should never have written a book (or books) in the first place.
Like I said--I've got a bad case of self-doubt. However, I am not inclined to let that feeling own me or I'd have given this whole writing thing up about twenty to thirty rejection slips ago.
Naturally just about the time I sat down to do this, my personal life got complicated. Without dragging my already few readers through the muck and mire of this, I'll simply say that we're not far from a lot of things getting easier, but the next month or so will be high-stress. Since I run the books in our home, I'm the one who takes it personally when our finances aren't running smoothly and, believe me, they aren't. I'm paying the bills, but there's a whole lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul going on.
On the other hand my third-borne celebrated his birthday yesterday:
The peace sign is actually bunny ears and it's become his trademark in family pictures. Sam, the youngest, is usually the recipient. Joseph is affectionately known as our own little Stephen King. Like his brothers, he's a terrific storyteller, but leans toward the macbre. Perhaps if I can't make it, just the example of my efforts will be enough to convince him to try.