Tuesday, December 23, 2014

7:30 BELLS: The Bells of New Beginnings--by author Holly Schindler

Author Holly Schindler's 7:30 BELLS Guest Post is perfect for this time of year, when we're all ringing into the New Year.

What fuels me, always, is a new beginning. The excitement of the unknown, of possibility. Opening a door and not knowing what’s on the other side.

I am, in all honesty, a junkie, an addict, when it comes to beginnings. I adore the set-up in a novel: those initial 50-100 pages when we are introduced, as the readers, to the characters and their conflicts. I love the lights-down moment at a movie theater. I love the split second before the needle hits the vinyl, and the opening chords of a new album fill the room (aw, come on, there’s nothing better than vinyl).

There’s nothing quite like a new beginning in my own work, either—the eyes dilate, the heart picks up pace, and I do, in fact, feel my own internal bells going off like mad. Mostly, the bells ring with the initial “ah-ha!” moment. That “this would make a great book!” moment. And no part of the actual novel-writing process is as exhilarating as penning the opening chapters. Not even coming to the conclusion of a project. Really, I don’t think seeing a finished book on the shelf is as exciting as either the “ah-ha!” moment or creating a new file and beginning to type chapter one.

This can be a blessing, of course (I’m never without new ideas for books), but it can also be a detriment—especially when I’m trying to actually finish a book. When I first became a full-time writer, I would hit the sluggish middle of a WIP and find myself drawn to shiny new ideas, to that lovely feeling of starting a new project all over again. I even tried to convince myself I could work on multiple projects at once, in order to justify indulging in that “new project” feeling. Doesn’t work. It only resulted in finding myself in the midst of about fifty unfinished books.

I now know I have to write my “ah-ha!” moments down in my “Book Ideas” notebook, then get back to the task at hand, knowing that the new project with be there waiting for me when I’m done with my current book-in-progress.

Of course I want to write my ideas down so that I don’t lose them, but I also would never want to turn the ideas off completely. Doing it this way—letting the new ideas come in, recording them, then putting them aside—isn’t in any way distracting. It’s energizing. I think once you get in the habit of letting ideas pop, it can help with your WIP. After all, even in the middle of a project, you need new, fresh ideas, mini I “ah-ha!” moments about established characters or sub-plots. Finding fresh insights regarding a current project—finding ways to come back to those internal bells—can certainly make you feel as though you’ve hit your second wind, carry you through to the end…


Holly Schindler is the author of four traditionally published books: A BLUE SO DARK (Contemporary Realistic YA, Flux, 2010), PLAYING HURT (YA Romance, Flux, 2011), THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY (Contemporary Realistic MG, Penguin / Dial, 2014), and FERAL (YA Psychological Thriller, HarperTeen, 2014). Her work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, has won silver and gold medals in ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, has been featured on Booklist's Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal's What's Hot in YA, and has been a PW Pick of the Week. In 2015, she'll be branching out into hybrid author status, publishing additional work on the independent platform. The first planned release is a New Adult Romantic Comedy.


7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Join me on January 14 for a guest post with author Nikki Grimes.

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