Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Easing In by Laurie Calkhoven


I know the September theme is jumping in, but once again I am a contrarian.  It’s not that I’m not capable of big, bold moves—I’ve made them—but it’s not my normal modus operandi.  Even getting into a pool, it’s rare for me to take a leap into the deep end.  I ease in, standing on my tiptoes to keep the cold water off my stomach until the very last moment, and only then do I plunge in.

A lot of people were shocked when I quit my job to be a full-time writer (ten years ago now). I hadn’t yet sold my first novel, but being a writer without a day job was always a someday dream for me. I envisioned it, I planned for it, and I saved for it. I had enough money in the bank to get me through the first six months or so, and I did research into the kinds of freelance writing jobs that were available to writers. And so when I auditioned to ghostwrite a middle grade series for an entertainment company—and won—I made the leap.  At the time it felt like a big, bold move, but I was ready.  And when the project fell apart (a long story…), that bank account gave me the space I needed to start a healthy freelance career.

I’m the same way with new book ideas.  I don’t get an idea and start writing immediately.  That doesn’t work for me.  I have to lay the groundwork.  I do research.  I do lots and lots of mediations to learn about my characters and what they want. I brainstorm scene lists to get a general idea of the plot.  I need to know my opening scene and my final wrap up scene (even if they change down the road). Only then do I take the plunge.

I’m a believer in the phrase leap and the net will appear. But I also believe in meeting the universe half way. So I can be slow to get started, but once I do, I can’t be stopped.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks, dear contrarian. Lovely reminder that there is much to be said for inching in, too (and I'm EXACTLY like you re the swimming pool!).

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  2. Thanks, dear contrarian. Lovely reminder that there is much to be said for inching in, too (and I'm EXACTLY like you re the swimming pool!).

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  3. Thanks, Claudia. Were your ears burning today? I had lunch at Alice's with Patty and Lucy, and we talked about how wonderful your new books are!

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  4. Man, do I relate to this. Preparation is such an essential ingredient to success.

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  5. Amen! Preparing for the leap is so, so important. I compare quitting my day job to skydiving--you have to over-prepare for both and then jump!

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