I WHIPPED MY WIP!

Lydia "Lee" Coblentz

It was a labor of love...my latest manuscript. It was the story of my grandmother's childhood. She is an 83 year old Amish woman and her life through the Great Depression was nothing to sneeze at.

I started her memoir when my daughter was 7 months old in November 2007 and only got about 10K words in and lost my steam. So...not the best start possible. I burned out mostly because I felt I hadn't found my voice and I'd never written anything remotely non-fiction in a story form. And voice is soooo very important in any book...but, in my opinion, especially in this story because it was a real person. I did find a title during this first effort...SEASONS.

Yes, you'd think that because it was a real person that it would be easier to find my voice, but it wasn't. Especially when I had a 7 month old who suddenly decided to stop sleeping like a champ! I was EXHAUSTED to say the least. I put it down for about 2 years, much to the chagrin of my grandma (who I call "Mammie"...not pronounced ma'am-ee, like in the south...but I'm not sure how to write out the pronunciation. Kind of like "MOM" and then "ae"...not a long "a" but not a short "a" either...a Pennsylvania Dutch "a" sound). {shrugs}

When I decided to pick it up again I was in a weird place with my fiction WIP. I really didn't like the story at all and I wasn't about to invest months and months of my time in a story I don't think I'd even pick up to read. But one night I was really in the writing mood and the first chapter came to me. Now, I thought I already had a first chapter but, apparently, I didn't. I hand wrote it that night and then typed it out the next. For the next few weeks my daughter watched A LOT of PBS & Disney! {wink}

I had found my voice! er...Liddy's voice.

I sent the chapter to my mom and she fell in love. That was the first week of December and by Christmas I was 75% done with the first draft. Now...keep in mind...this book includes about 20 years and it's only about 35-40,000 words. Once I visited my Mammie for Christmas I pulled out a printed copy of it and had her look at the first chapter. Her jaw dropped and she almost immediately had tears in her eyes.

I read the entire story out loud to her that day. My mom, sisters, daughter, and nieces were there. The little girls couldn't understand why when we got to the chapter that was titled "When Winter Comes too Soon" we all cried. It was the only time I'd seen my Mammie cry when NOT at a funeral. I knew then I'd achieved what I wanted. I took her back. I took her way back to feeling the emotions, even the really difficult ones, that she felt when she was a child. I knew that while I had dragged my feet on this project and at times even completely resisted writing it as much as I could...but seeing my Mammie's face, smiles, and tears...it was worth every effort I put in.

I came home from Christmas with high hopes...and then I started getting really sick...like sick a lot! I was expecting our 2nd child! As excited as I was, the morning sickness was taking away any motivation I possibly had. Then the morning sickness went away and I had complications at 10 wks and was put on modified bed rest. Being on modified bed rest while parenting a 2 (almost 3) year old does not give you much energy or time to write. It seemed all my waking hours were trying to find ways to entertain my tot from the couch! {sigh} Not easy...

My big goal of having it completely written and maybe even self-pub'd by July was out the window faster than I could groan! But, I have no completed it. It is written...well, the first draft anyway. I have an amazing weekly crit group that has really enjoyed the story. They have given me some amazing critiques back on where to develop and where to not. It's a story of a lot of heartache, trials, hunger...but the thread of the story always shows contentment in God...even at the youngest of ages.

I have a few little hopes that I can do more with this than self-pub, but I'm not getting my hopes up. It's by far a family affair and I am not sure anyone else is interested...though, on the other hand...it's an AMISH story. People flock to the Amish.

I gave myself a few days off before starting revisions. My goal is to get it done this month...I need your tips, strategies, methods, hints! PLEASE! Leave a comment and tell me what you do or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you.

Cheers,
Elizabeth