Partial blogging break – until February 21

December 5, 2011 | Writing | 20 comments

Alas, God has not answered my prayers that I could have 40 hours in a day, so I guess that means that something has to give if I’m ever going to get this book finished. I’ve decided to take a partial break from this blog, so I’ll only be writing 7 Quick Takes Friday posts until Mardi Gras (February 21). I may occasionally pop in during the week if there’s something interesting to say, but for the most part I won’t be here Saturday through Thursday. I’ll still be writing for The Register, and will probably write tweets with embarrassing frequency.

Even though the break is longer than I’d like, I’m excited about the next three months. This is the final shot (seriously this time); of course I’ll revise this draft based on feedback from my agent and editors, but I’m not rewriting it again. They say that the first book you write is usually not the first book you get published, and now I understand why: It took two complete drafts for me to understand what it takes to write a book that people might actually want to read. And now, as I start this third total rewrite, I think I finally get it.

Unless you’re just an incredibly fascinating person, a good memoir has to be more than a retelling of the stuff you did during a certain time period. You have to carefully unearth the best story to tell, which may not be the same thing as the story you want to tell, and almost definitely won’t be the easiest story to tell. You have to understand what makes a “story” in the first place, and how that’s different than a chronicle of events. You have to find what’s universal about your experience, and use that as the thread that ties all the details together. You absolutely must understand the difference between scenes (bringing the reader into a specific moment) and exposition (glossing over events in a narrator voice), and know when to use which. And you have to feel comfortable enough with all of this that you can lighten up and have some fun.

I’ve been studying all of this since 2008. I’ve read over a thousand pages on the subject, and wrote another thousand pages testing out what I’d learned. I even convinced a couple of bestselling authors to talk to me on the phone so that I could ask them questions about the craft! I finally — finally! — feel like I understand it all well enough that I can stop thinking about the process, and just let the story flow. I’m fairly detached from how it does in terms of sales — I know enough about the publishing industry to realize how difficult it is out there. But I am confident that I can put together something that will achieve the most noble goal of any book: That when the reader finishes the last sentence on the last page, she’ll say, “I’m glad I read that.”

Any prayers you could send my way would be appreciated. I’ll be seeing you on Fridays, and will be back for good on February 21!

20 Comments

  1. Victoria Madrid

    Jennifer,

    Your news tastes bittersweet … for it’s a bummer for regular readers who like checking out your posts but it’s also wonderful because you’ll get that book done already!

    Writing a book is hard, hard work. And sometimes, you just end up writing several versions of the book until it’s juuuuust right.

    Read this quote and thought of you: “Books aren’t written—they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” (Michael Crichton)

    Keeping your project in my prayers!

  2. That Married Couple

    Prayers sent. I love what you have to say about the craft of writing and can’t wait to read the result of all this hard work. Best wishes on your rewrite!

  3. Kathy

    Aww, we’ll miss you! But it sounds like a sensible idea, and we all wish you be best of luck!

  4. Lizzie

    You will be missed by please be assured of my prayers. I don’t know how you do it! God bless you.

  5. Kris Detrow

    Rock on, friend. You can do it!

  6. Meredith

    You’ll be missed, but I have a feeling that the book will be worth our wait. Best wishes, Jen!

  7. Jen Raiche

    Best of luck on the book! Godspeed!

  8. Sara @ Embracing Destiny

    Praying for you! Good for you for doing what it takes and sticking with it. That dedication is an ESSENTIAL part of writing a book, too. I can’t wait to read it.

  9. elizabethe

    Yay! Jen, I’m so happy for you that you are taking this time for yourself and your book. Good luck. My prayers are always with you my fellow novelist in arms.

    My secret hope is that after you’re all done you’ll find a way to share some of your newfound craft wisdom — I know this isn’t a writing blog, but your perspective on things is always appreciated. And at least three books you’ve recommended here have been transformational for me.

    Thank you SO much for all you’ve given us. I can’t wait to read your book.

  10. Loretta S.

    Yay!! Go finish that book tiger!

  11. Jessica

    I’ll pray for you, it sounds like this break is just what you need. Your writing here has been so insightful, I can’t wait to read your book.

  12. DawnGes

    Since I’m new to your blog I may have missed it, but I’d love to know what your book’s all about…?

    Ah–to have time to write a book!

  13. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    Praying for you! And, I’ll be here Fridays and when you get back 🙂

    Jenna
    callherhappy.com

  14. Kimberlie

    Yes, finish the book so we can read it. I know for a fact, because I always basically have to buy my own presents, that I am getting a Kindle Fire for Christmas. It’s actually my 2011 Mother’sDay/Birthday/Christmas present. Can’t wait to put your book on my new e-Reader. 🙂

    Reading this post reminds me once again about how we can live a better story as Donald Miller wrote, and reminds me that Paul and I need to get on with living a better story.

  15. Valerie

    Thankyou for this blog, Jennifer. Best wishes with your writing project. Have a blessed Christmas; good health to you and your family. See you on Fridays and in the New Year. Thoughts and prayers from NZ.

  16. Katherine

    Prayers for you, and thanks for all the free ice cream.

    Time is not found, it is made. Meaning you will never “find the time” to do something, you must “make the time” to do it.

  17. Helen

    Good idea to stay away from the blogging for a spell. All the best with putting the final touches on your book! And you are right. It’s not about sales, it’s about touching hearts. Even just one.

  18. Jennifer Fulwiler

    Thanks for all the kind comments! I really appreciate it!

    And DawnGes – It’s a memoir about how my husband and I sought fulfillment from worldly stuff…and ultimately found it somewhere else. 🙂

  19. Kate Wicker

    Happy writing!

  20. Conversion King

    Go write your heart out Jen!

    From your fan the Conversion King

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