07 July 2007

A New Attitude

Last month, I blogged about writer's block and how my muse had left me for another more talented writer. This couldn't have happened at a worse time, because I had scheduled two pitch sessions at the HNS Conference on Saturday, June 9th. It didn't help to hear Bernard Cornwell say during one of his lectures, that writer's block was really just a figment of my imagination and all I really needed to do was just write. I'd tried that for weeks prior and all I seemed to be doing was crafting nonsense and frustrating myself in the process.

I arrived for the conference on Friday, June 8th, went to the Desmond hotel and met up with one of the lovely members of my online critique group. As we're mingled with fellow writers, I found myself stunned by everyone's ability to summarize their stories, and draw me in. Within two hours, not only had I learned fascinating details about Queen Margot, 16th-century America, and Nefertiti's Egypt, but I quickly realized everyone else had amazing material for their pitches and mine just wasn't going to cut it. Panic set in - time to rethink that pitch!

The next morning, I arrive with my hastily scribbled notes, still wondering exactly what I was going to say. Everything else I had rehearsed the previous night still didn't sound just right. My first session was at 10am and when my name was called--if anyone had a camera aimed on me at that very moment, it would have been the "deer in the headlights" look captured for posterity. I crept into the room and slunk into my seat.

Then the most amazing thing happened. I began to talk about what was surely someone else's book; intrigue and passion set in 13th century Spain during the last centuries of Moorish rule. I never realized eight minutes could pass in five seconds, but at the end of it, I had a request for the full manuscript. Needless to say, I was stunned. I spoke about my writing in ways that I've never done before; certainly, I hadn't been as passionate in my queries as I was in that short interview. By the end of the day, I'd completed both pitches with requests for fulls.

That experience, as terrifying as it was, re-energized me and my writing. Back went the flurry of fingers on the keyboard, and Cindy Vallar's session on Pirates at the conference even sparked ideas for the next WIP. I'd fallen in love with my writing again, and my lovely muse has been at my side since. It's so great to have her back; I missed her.

Have you had a similar experience that's given you a different perspective on your writing? Is there anything new and challenging which you've done that's taken your writing to the next level?

May The Muse Be With You.
Lisa Yarde