Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guest Post: Eating the Elephant

by Lexi George

As a mom with a full-time job, I’ve always had to squeeze time out of my busy schedule for writing. I’ve been writing steadily for more than fifteen years, but for the first few years it was hit and miss, a little writing here, a little writing there. No pressure or time constraints and no real goals, other than to finish the manuscript I was working on... at some point.

In my forties, with the ugly Five-O looming on the horizon like Godzilla with a bad case of hammer toe, I got serious about writing. If I was going to do this, I’d better get cracking, I told myself. I was going to finish the darn book and get published before my fiftieth birthday.

Good grief, fifty! Where did all the time go? If I didn’t do this thing by then, it was all over but the crying. Of course, I knew my odds of getting published were slim—my husband is a numbers guy—but I didn’t dwell on them. I had a goal.

With Doomsday looming ahead, most days I managed to carve out some writing time. I had a self-imposed deadline to meet, with dead being the operative word. Fifty, sheesh. D-Day crept closer and closer, and Godzilla eschewed orthotics.

As writing became a more regular habit, I began to get anxious if I didn’t get my daily dose of prose. There were still plenty of times when life intruded upon my creative efforts, so I cut myself a little slack. I set a goal of writing a chapter a week, which for me averages anywhere from 2500 to 3700 words. That way, if I missed a day because of work or the kids, I could make it up the next day without feeling guilty or anxious.

Did I mention that guilt is a motivating factor for me? Guilt is my friend and my enemy. It keeps me on the straight and narrow, but it also makes me crazy as a June bug.

I finished the manuscript I was working on before Doomsday, but I didn’t get published. I have the pile of rejection letters to prove it. A quite impressive pile of rejection letters, I must say. Enough to wallpaper several bathrooms.

Fifty came and went and I kept writing. I decided to try my hand at something else, a romance about Addy, a small town Southern florist and a hunky immortal demon slayer named Brand. Lo and behold, thanks to luck, prayer and a lot of help from friends, Demon Hunting in Dixie sold to Kensington in a three-book deal! Holy smokes! Great jumping Jehoshaphat, I’m a published writer. Whoo hoo!

Then I got a reality check. I was given my first deadline, a deadline set by the publisher and not my inner nag. I had to complete a 30,000 word novella in three months. Having learned a little about time management and goal setting over the years, I gave myself a goal of 10,000 words a month, highly doable, given the fact I haven’t quit my day job or turned in my mom card. I am happy to say I met my first deadline. The novella, The Bride Wore Demon Dust, comes out this August as part of a Halloween anthology from Kensington entitled So I Married A Demon Slayer. The icing on my cake of happiness is the fact that I’m in the anthology with paranormal romance writers extraordinaire Angie Fox and Kathy Love. Somebody pinch me!

Then my second reality check came: the deadline for book two of the demon hunter series. I’m hard at work on it, but I will admit it has been challenging. I am a slow writer (I revise as I go) and I haven’t given up my day job or put up my teenager for adoption. But I will get there!

So, my advice is to set goals, whether they be daily, weekly, or month. Whatever it takes to get your butt in the chair.

When you set out to eat an elephant, take small bites. That’s my philosophy and it works for me.

Oh, and by the way, I’m fifty-four. Life didn’t end at fifty and neither did my passion for writing.

Or my ability to dream and reach for that big, brass ring.

Hmm, wonder what I should shoot for next?


Lexi George is an appellate lawyer by day and a romance writer by night. She started her writing career in the third grade penning bad poetry about hydrangea bushes and Erik the Red. Ironically, she ended up marrying a Viking, a Northern boy who came to Alabama with the Air Force and stayed. She wrote poetry all through high school and college. And then she decided to go to law school and the muse left in a huff. The muse hated law school.

The muse returned when Lexi’s oldest child was a toddler and Lexi has been writing ever since. After piling up an impressive number of rejections on her first book, a fantasy romance that she worked on for more than ten years, Lexi decided to try her hand at something else. The result was
Demon Hunting in Dixie, a paranormal romance about demon hunters in the Deep South. The muse is very happy, and so is Lexi.

Visit Lexi on Facebook and Twitter (lexigeorge12) and check out her website at www.lexigeorge.com.

Demon Hunting in Dixie is available from: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, BooksaMillion.com, indieBound.org, Borders.com, or your favorite retailer.

22 comments:

  1. Great post! It is incredibly important to fit that writing in wherever you can. If you really want to be a writer, you have to treat writing as LIVING, not as a negligible part of your day! Could you go a whole day without breathing? No, and neither should you about writing ;)

    Loved this story, and congrats on getting published! (And ouch on the deadlines, good luck!)

    YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward
    Adult: Shackled

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  2. Thanks, J.E. Deadlines are a reality check, for sure. Yes on the treating writing as a living and not a hobby, although that's okay too. But not if you want to be published!

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  3. Awesome post, Lexi. You give all the rest of us hope. Congrats and keep on writing. :)

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  4. Put your teenager up for adoption, brilliant. I'm thinking of black marketing my 5/10yo boys for the summer so I can get some work done. I have a hard time sticking to my deadlines too and I hope it doesn't bite me in the but when I eventually get published. Congrats on the series and novella. Both sound fun.

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  5. Eating the Elephant is a very apt way of describing i it. Just put one foot in front of the other and eventually, you'll get there!
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  6. Robyn, I am glad I'm good for something. :) Seriously, never give up on your dream.

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  7. Kids are a time suck, but they are so worth it! You'll get there, Dana. Butt in chair, butt in chair. Keep at it and you will get there!

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  8. Yep, Tracy, you are so right. One step at a time. Remember the little engine that could. Corny, but it works!

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  9. What a great post, Lexi. People so often forget how precious time is, and how the time combined with creating a habit is so vital to succeeding. After a year-long break to sort out major life issues, I'm finally struggling back into a routine, so this was a great reminder for me, even though I'm not near the dread Five-Oh yet. :)

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  10. Glad to hear you're back on the horse, M. Sometimes taking a break can give us renewed focus and energy. Here's to your finding (and keeping!) your muse.

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  11. Thank you so much for posting this Lexi! Great advice and a lot of inspiration.

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  12. Thanks for stopping by, Lahn. It's been a long road but the passion for the writing kept me going. It ain't over till it's over.

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  13. I've blown by soooo many milestones in my life as have my friends. But it seems we manage to hit the important ones. Not without work and dedication, though. Sacrifice and reprioritizing our priorities. Gotta want that elephant badly enough, though, eh?

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  14. Lexi, that's funny because I deleted hobby when I wrote my comment! Writing as a hobby is fine, I agree, but it's not the way to get published. I feel the chances of a hobby-novel outstripping a novel by a worker of the craft that spends their moments striving to improve... well, I think it's quite a stretch.

    I feel I definitely see a difference in the product of someone who "likes to write" versus someone who is driven to!

    YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward
    Adult: Shackled

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  15. I have gone through your post and found some information which is quite important for me.
    So, please keep it up with your these kind of posts.

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  16. That's right, Phoenix. You gotta want that elephant badly enough to take that first bite. Elephants are chewy but filling! Best with all your future milestones. You have a great attitude!

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  17. J.E, writing is not for wimps, not if you want to get published. I wrote for YEARS without having a clue what I was doing. I had a blast, but then I gradually started learning about the CRAFT of writing, and that's a whole different elephant! Fortunately, there are a world of resources out there for writers and I took advantage of some of them. Workshops and conferences are a fabulous way to grow your writing muscles. It is hard work, but so worth it!

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  18. Sam, glad I could be of help! That's why networking with other writers is so important. We can learn from one another. I know I don't know it all or have all the answers, not by a long shot. But my prayer is to grow and improve as a writer. Learning and growing is the exciting part!

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  19. I like this. I just recently finished my first novel, which took me over a year and now working on part II. Haven't submitted to any agents yet...wondering of I even should with self-publishing and all; but writing part II is a challenge because I know what' supposed to happen in the beginning and in the end, but I'm having a hard time with the in-between--the flow to flow from chapter to chapter--and so because of that I can't meet my personal deadline. Ugh! Maybe I should try your 'a chapter a week' plan and see what happens. Perhaps it will buy me time to come up with the "fillers" as I like to call it.

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  20. Chevonese, lots of people have trouble with what's called the sagging middle. Maybe you should try story boarding so you know where the story is going, beginning, middle and end? Me, I struggle with beginnings. And every new chapter is like starting a new book. Arggh! Best of luck and keep on writing!

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  21. So sagging middle is what they call it. I will most definitely keep on writing and see if the story board idea helps. Thanks for your input and all the best with you too!

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  22. Very wonderful informative article. I appreciated looking at your article. Very wonderful reveal. I would like to twit this on my followers. Many thanks!

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