Guest Post

Mimi Cross’s A Tale of Two Manuscripts

Meet Mimi Cross.

Mimi Cross hi res author pic by Danny Sanchez.jpg

Mimi Cross is an author, singer, and songwriter. She holds an MA from NYU’s School of Education, Health, Nursing, and Arts Professions and a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College. She received her 200-hour teaching certificate from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the largest facility for yoga in the country where she lived for a month in 2001. She is a performer, a music educator, and worked briefly in the music industry. Mimi is also the creator of Body of Writing, a practice that adds an additional dimension to the body, mind, spirit discipline of yoga: story. Body of Writing is designed to help participants discover and deepen their creativity and unlock their stories using specific yoga postures, breath work, and visualization combined with powerful writing exercises.

“Mimi fuses delicacy and power, heart and gut. Her writing and singing are inspiring, evocative and refreshing.”
–Grammy award winning artist Rosanne Cash

Mimi has shared the bill with such luminaries as Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Lauryn Hill, Jill Sobule, Loudon Wainwright, and Peter Himmelman. She enjoys performing for the benefit of others, and has played shows with many other New Jersey musicians including Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi to raise funds for the Light of Day Foundation.

Her YA novels Before Goodbye and Shining Sea, were published by Skyscape in 2016. She resides with her young son in New Jersey, across the street from the beach. She always says yes to chocolate. Her music can be found on iTunes.

https://twitter.com/mimicross

https://www.facebook.com/mimicrosswrites

https://www.instagram.com/mimicrossauthor/

 

Guest Post – A Tale of Two Manuscripts

It was the best of NaNos, it was the worst of NaNos, it was the manuscript of coffee and romance, it was the manuscript of swords and fantasy . . . it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

Okay, so I changed a few words of the famous Dickens opening sentence, but I think it’s the best way to tell you—

I am a 2017 NaNoWriMo winner, but I’m also 2017 NaNo loser.

Would I be writing this if I hadn’t promised a piece on NaNo for this blog? No, I absolutely would not. I’d be keeping quiet about my win/lose. If asked, I’d be saying what I always say: NaNoWriMo is the best way to get out that vomit draft.

I’ve won NaNoWriMo several times now, and one my NaNo manuscripts eventually became my first novel, Before Goodbye. Traditionally published in hardcover and paperback, and available as an audiobook, that book is proof that NaNo works, and that dreams come true.

But.

This year my experience with NaNoWriMo was different. This year I won NaNo—that is, I got down 50,000 words—but I also lost. I didn’t complete my story, because there wasn’t a story. There were two. I started two new manuscripts.

And then—the unthinkable happened.

I fell for The Shiny New Idea.

That’s right. I couldn’t resist that little slip of a thing, decked out in rhinestones and glitter.

But here’s the thing. The Shiny New Idea wasn’t so new. It’s been haunting me for years, and this November, it finally caught up with me. You have a whole month it whispered, trying to persuade me. And the kicker—

I am the book of your heart.

And so I started yet another new manuscript, and was master of none.

Do I have excuses? Hell yeah. The current administration for starters, and then there are those pesky sexual harassment headlines every other day, each of which makes me burst into flames, because #metoo of course.

Phone calls, letters, the NJ gubernatorial election, and listening to the news multiple times a day via NPR because I can’t bear watching it on TV. Some days it felt like my word count was the only thing keeping me going. The stories. And isn’t that why we write?

I’ve won NaNoWriMo five times. My daily average is 1770 words, and my lifetime achievement is 253,202. Before my first NaNo I had completed songs, blog posts, and picture books texts. But without National Novel Writing Month, I never would have written a novel. So I highly recommend NaNoWriMo, but not for me, not next year anyway, because I have three new manuscripts to complete and revise. Plus, I’m a different writer now, in part because of NaNoWriMo. Through my NaNo practice I’ve become a better writer. I edit more as I go. I don’t just spew forth, don’t just shoot now, and ask questions later. This more careful drafting, this slower pace, is another reason I didn’t complete a novel in thirty days this year, but that’s okay.

I’ve heard that one of my favorite writers, Kate DiCamillo, has a pattern to her productivity. She completes two pages a day, and no more. That might not sound like much. But when you add it up, think of how much she must write in a year, even if she takes weekends and holidays off.

I’m not as good of a writer as Kate, but what I realized this year during NaNo is that my process has changed. I polish as I go now, which means my first drafts aren’t really first drafts anymore. Some sentences are fourth drafts; some paragraphs are fourteenth drafts. My biggest challenge, after being someone who could crank up the music and let the words fly, is to honor my new writing ways.

So I hope that’s your takeaway here: to allow yourself to write each book in its own way, in your own way, and in your own time, and especially in your own voice. Because the truth is, each book is different. Each book has its own writing rules. So follow your heart and your gut when you write. Listen to your body. Listen to the story. And if bouncing back and forth between manuscripts is what works, go for it! Just make sure you finish each one eventually. Completing the work is what makes us writers. Wish me luck please, times three. Thanks.

 

Stay tuned for Mimi’s interview coming soon!

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