Thursday, November 29, 2007

7 Days With Shirley Jump, Old Manuscripts Never Die

One of my prettiest friends recommended this author-interview series on a writer's forum yesterday saying, "Shirley makes writing seem so...possible."

I heartily concur. I first "met" Shirley in 2004 after one of my frequent trips to the public library. Every few weeks I would pile an enormous stack of books on the counter with titles like, How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write Fillers and Short Features that Sell, Writing the Breakout Novel, The Joy of Cooking (how did that one get in there?), and Amelia Bedelia Helps Out. All the librarians must have known my secret: I was a writing mother. I would search their faces as they beeped my books through week after week, but there was no sign of either disapproval or discouragment. Thus encouraged (it didn't take much), my rampant checking-out-of books continued.

But it wasn't until I slid How to Publish your Articles from the top of the stack at home and started reading through it that I shouted "Eureka!" (Which, as I learned from Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist, means "I found it!") Quickly, I secured my first-ever writing assignment (college English class notwithstanding)for a local magazine. Soon after that, I Googled Shirley so I could somehow thank her, found her JustWriteIt group, and from there I became Shirley's biggest stalker - I mean fan, her biggest fan. :) I'll admit I was a little bit disappointed to find out she had moved on to fiction, but I hung around at JustWriteIt anyway, to pick up whatever crumbs I could.

And yeah, it got to me. I started a novel. Which brings me to today's question:

6a. Where do you get your ideas? (Just kidding!)

LOL. Ideas are everywhere though, honestly. I wrote about it here if you want the whole long spiel:


See? Shirley's so nice she even answers the cliched questions. And now for the real question - What am I going to do with 85,000 words of crap if they turn out to be crap? Or, to put it another way:

6b. I’ve always wondered about something: You wrote 10 books in 8 years before you had a ‘yes’ from a publisher. What happened to those 10 books? Were you ever able to resurrect characters or scenes from those?

I sold one of them (the 8th out of 10) and that was THE VIRGIN'S PROPOSAL, my very first book. I used seven pages out of the second one to become THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE and reused just characters for THE DADDY'S PROMISE. I don't think I even used a word of the original draft of that book. Everything else was truly hideous. :-) Most of it was so old, too, that it's on those really old, really big floppy disks, too, those kind that went in pre-Windows computers, LOL. What were they, 5 1/4" or something? I don't even know if I could recover them, if I even wanted to. I have a couple of them on my hard drive but they are truly that bad that I'd never do anything with them.

They were practice. A mini college education. :-)


Tomorrow is our last day. Shirley gives advice to aspiring writers.

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