Carol Callicotte

Author

On Being a Writer* November 18, 2018

Filed under: For Writers,Goals,Uncategorized,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 8:20 pm
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It’s not often that I tell people I write. I never call myself a Writer in my non-writing circles. I think of myself as a writer with an asterisk. A caveat. Yes, I write stuff. But.

 

I devote so much time to writing. I’ve been at this for years. I’m self-aware enough to realize that while I may not be the Next Great American Novelist, I’m not bad at this whole writing thing. Sometimes, I’m even good at it. I’ve come a long way since my first attempts and I’ve devoted much hard work to honing my craft.

 

Still. For me, the fact that I am, as of yet, unpublished, makes calling myself a writer feel so trite, verging on pathetic. I fear the glazed-over eyes and feigned interest from those I venture to tell of my hobby/passion/dream. I dread the questions: “Where can I find your work?” Oh, no, nothing published. Yet. Big vulnerable smile. “I know someone who self-published, can’t you just do that?” No, that’s not the path for me. I hate that it paints me, in moments of total insecurity, as a grown-ass woman with a ridiculous pipe-dream. Most every writer will attest: writing opens up a roller-coaster of highs that could quite possibly be delusions of grandeur, and lows of complete self-doubt. I sometimes fall into the mindset of wondering – is it worth is? All the time and energy I put into this? Will it still be worth it, even if my work is never picked up?

 

A writing teacher recently talked about Process vs. Product. It was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment. Focusing too much on Product can lead to dark places. It was a needed reminder of all the reasons I love the Process of writing: the insight I gain, the creativity I harness, the worlds I get lost in, the catharsis, the intellectual stimulation, the way writing (and reading) changes the way I see the world and improves my ability to empathize. The escape it grants me, and the complete unfettered joy that comes from seeing my words arranged onto a page in a way that I’m proud of.

 

Does being a Writer depend on the Product? No, I don’t think so. Do I permit myself the title of Author only if I am agented and published? I still tend toward “yes” on this. But. In a healthier, less self-flagellating sort of way. So much of publishing is dependent on the being in the right place at the right time. It’s good, too, to have writer friends to give me someone to talk to ad nauseam about all things writing. It helps that I’m married to a guy that will happily let me carry on about writing for hours at a time. Who will read everything I write and give me feedback and encouragement.

 

I still hope to find an agent. To be published. But hanging every hope and dream on that nail takes too much away from the joy I find in writing. And while some people may never understand the time and energy I devote to this, and I may never feel comfortable talking about it to non-writers, I can come to terms with that. Like so many things in life, it boils down to a healthy balance. I’m a big fan of the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the time spent on craft, 20 percent on pursuing publication/industry stuff. And from now on, none of the time thinking badly of myself because I’m not “legit” by the high standards I’ve been holding myself to. I am a writer. I write. And I freaking love (nearly) every minute of it. Even the minutes I hate, I still love the passion and energy it evokes in me. Begone, asterisk. I’m done trying to qualify and quantify. I am, always have been, and always will be a Writer.

 

 

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Still at it… trying… April 25, 2013

Filed under: For Writers,Goals,Projects,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 1:32 pm
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All writers, at one time or another, go through a slump. I’m in one of those with my fiction. It’s partly due to the challenge of finding time to write while caring for two young kids. It’s partly that I feel disheartened. It’s partly that I’ve got other irons in the fire, too. But I am still writing. Sometimes it’s only a page a week. But that counts, too. This too shall pass, I tell myself. I will find my passion for writing again. For now, I read, I blog on my other site, I try. Mostly, I try to not flog myself for not having accomplished more with my writing. This last one is my biggest challenge.

 

Goal Setting December 29, 2011

Filed under: For Writers,Goals,Projects,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 10:29 am
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Tis the season… for goal setting! I know there are people out there who find goal setting to be a repression of creativity blah blah blah. I’m not one of those people. I need direction in order to tap into my creative soul.

I’ve written before about the importance of goals yet somehow I’ve gotten away from setting them for myself in my writing. I’ve felt the effect: lack of direction, lack of motivation, frustration, even depression over where I am in my writing career. Of course, my main objective remains the same: write a novel that can be published. But somehow, over the last few months, I forgot to set smaller, attainable goals.

I’m realizing that, in order to keep things fresh, my goals have to change shape. After all, my life has changed dramatically, so shouldn’t my writing goals reflect that? I’ve gone from being single and working two jobs to make ends meet to being married, having a child, and working part time while trying to write during nap times. Late nights and long writing marathons are no longer an option – I’m too busy and tired! I used to think the only way to tap into my creativity was via long, uninterrupted blocks of time. Luckily, this isn’t true.

This time, I’m setting page number goals. If I’ve done that before, it’s been a long time. Given my life as it is today, I think this should work.

Happy New Year to everyone!

 

Speed Bumps November 30, 2011

Serious obstacles in my way these days. Rewriting this novel is turning out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated. I keep encountering speed bumps. I’ll be rolling along just fine then suddenly, something is in the way, I slow down to a crawl, try to ease my way forward, feel it out, but then I get stuck, sometimes even bottoming out, and it is taking me forever plus a sizable self-induced kick in the rear to get going again. Ugh. So frustrating.

I’ll take a cue from a classic I’ve been reading to my daughter: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! October 4, 2011

I’m ripping up my YA novel and starting over. Well, not completely. The main characters and the main story line (a first love story) will remain intact. At least, that’s the plan for now. The setting, however, is getting a makeover, French Riviera style.

That’s right. France!

The original form of FIRST TIMES AND SECOND CHANCES spilled from my pen when I was thirteen. I spent a couple years working on the story, typing it up on my Grandmother’s word processor and printing it out on her dot matrix printer (yikes – that makes me feel old!). It took place at a summer camp, and I’ve never changed that setting.

Over the past couple years, I’ve reworked this story several times, keeping the bones (which were surprisingly good, I have to say) but updating and maturing the story, adding more plot, more tension, more character development. I kept the original setting because it seemed to work – I needed a place where a bunch of teens who didn’t know each other would be together all hours of the day and night for a stretch of time. Still, the summer camp setting never sat well with me. It targets a younger audience; 15 and 16 year olds just don’t tend to go to summer camp. As much as I love the story, I finally had to admit to myself: the setting is getting in the way of selling this book.

Then, it hit me. I love France. I’ve spent a ton of time there. I’ve enrolled in two language immersion programs. The one I did in Antibes had: (ta da!) a program for teens! Teens, spending the summer together with a bunch of strangers, living together in youth hostels, having activities organized for them, and taking French classes together! THIS IS IT! This works! I know this. I can write this. I can have a fantastic time with this.

So Jenni, grab your French/English dictionary, your bikini, and get a passport. You are going to Antibes, France, on the Cote d’Azur, and we’re going to have some fun!

 

 

Name Change April 27, 2011

I spent yesterday morning writing – a 4 hour block, yay! Thank you, my dear babysitter. I’m working on final edits for my YA novel. I use the word “final” loosely – I imagine there will be more edits in the future. I’m just so excited to be nearly ready to send this out! It’s been far too long. The book required more edits than I’d intended – I saw some areas for improvement and it took much more work than I’d originally anticipated. Plus, morning sickness and having a baby have not been conducive to writing. I’m not complaining, I’m just making excuses for why I’m a year behind on completing this book.

Here was a kicker, though. I decided to Google my main character’s name to make sure there wasn’t a prostitute or serial killer with the same name – something we did before naming our daughter. Well, no one notorious had the same name, but a well known woman out there does share it. Probably not a big deal, but it’s not someone I want my character to share a name with. My character’s prenom, Virginia, actually plays an important role in the story, so I can’t change that. Luckily, though, I wasn’t married to her last name. It’s an easy fix. I love the internet for stuff like this! In fifteen minutes, I realized I needed to change the name, found a website with a number of options for last names, chose one that worked well, and fixed it with a find and replace in my manuscript.

Naming characters is no easy task – which is apparent from the number of books and articles on the topic. With this character, she has always been Virginia, ever since she debuted on the page as a self-conscious, sweet, sometimes snarky teen. I never troubled over her name. Not true for other characters. I name them, rename them, research names, try them on for a while, until I find the right fit.

On that note, naming my daughter was one of the most intimidating and important responsibilities I’ve ever had. Someone told me the other day that the name we chose fits my daughter perfectly. I hope she thinks so.

I also renamed my book. The title is now: FIRST TIMES AND SECOND CHANCES.

 

Finding Time to Write April 1, 2011

Filed under: Books,For Writers,Projects,Reading,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 2:14 pm
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Holy Long Hiatus! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I blogged. I have a good excuse, though. I had a baby.

The good thing (besides my baby) is this: I have been writing.

“If you want something done, give it to a busy (wo)man.” Not sure who said this originally, and I suppose I could google it to find out, but I’m too busy. The point is, this statement is so true: it’s amazing how efficient I’ve become now that I don’t have nearly the time on my hands that I once did. It’s all about making choices: Do I want to zone out on Facebook or do I want to write? Do I want to have a sparkling clean house or do I want to write? Do I want to remove the fungus from between my toes or do I want to write? Okay, maybe that last one is a tougher decision.

I’ve reclaimed an enormous amount of time since cutting myself off (mostly) from the internet; from surfing, checking email, checking Facebook….The truth is, I really don’t care about how Jack Jones’ (the guy I haven’t seen, talked to, or thought about since high school) daughter made honor roll this week, or that Anna Adams is currently getting her nails done. Yet somehow I feel compelled to read about it. And then to look at the photos of Anna’s nails, and wonder how she typed her status update while the aesthetician was painting them.

Seriously. Was there ever a bigger time suck?

The other thing I rarely do? Watch TV. That’s a habit established long ago, when I walked into my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s apartment for the first time and made the shocking discovery that he didn’t own a TV. At first I couldn’t comprehend such a life, then I realized it was pretty interesting. Sexy even.

So now, while my little one naps, I write. Those naps didn’t happen right away, let me tell you. Whoever said newborns sleep for 16 to 20 hours a day was smoking crack and ignoring wails. But now, she’s older, this Type A mom/writer has her on a schedule, and the glorious news is: I’m back!

CURRENTLY READING: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I had the opportunity to meet this talented debutante writer. What a lovely woman. Thank you, Eleanor, for inspiring me to renew my focus on my writing. Thank you, too, for writing such a fantastic book!