by: Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
I’ve never officially participated in NaNoWriMo, but its keep-moving-forward structure is basically how I try to write my novels, at least in theory. My goal is to get the rough draft of the story out without listening to my inner critic and resist the urge to stop, revise or obliterate.
But the trouble is that I LOVE revision (call me weird if you must) and I find writing new material to be the most difficult in this already difficult process. I think some people assume that because writers must have these vast, unlimited imaginations, the prose comes out with ease in an endless flow from the pen or keyboard. I’m not saying this has never happened to me, but it’s rare.
So my hat’s off to anyone who can make their NaNo goal without stopping to say, “Gosh, does this suck or what?” You have to keep focused and keep your eye on your goal, but it’s not easy.
The same goes for once your manuscript is ready to be pitched to agents. Now you’re past your inner critic rejecting your writing, but must look forward to an agent rejecting it, if you’re like most budding novelists. When people find out that my debut novel, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT, was actually the fifth novel I’d written (the others all garnering hundreds of rejections from agents), they ask me how I kept going. Why didn’t I just give up?
I guess part of the reason is because I am an optimist at heart. But it’s also because I can’t not write. It’s part of me, deep within my bones. And, the truth is that I like it! So I just kept trying. And I also realized I was getting better at my craft as time went on. The courses, the consultations and the practice were paying off. I was still receiving rejections, but they were more positive and offered encouragement.
So whether you’re at the NaNo stage or the query stage, just keep going. Keep your eyes and mind open. Learn from your mistakes and push forward. And don’t forget to take pleasure from the entire process.
by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
Trade Paperback $13.99 ($17.99 Canada)
240 pages St. Martin’s Griffin
Available: November 24, 2009
Web Site: www.WendyNelsonTokunaga.com
Watch the Love in Translation Book Trailer:
Listen to the Love in Translation Audio Drama Podcast:
The San Francisco Chronicle called my debut novel, Midori by Moonlight, a “terrific first novel.” Now I’m back with my second book, Love in Translation, which again explores the themes of Japan and Japanese culture and being a stranger in a strange land, which have played a major role in my life and writing.
For anyone who’s ever dreamt of finding love and family in an unexpected place…
After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysteries, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. This overwhelming place where nothing is quite as it seems changes Celeste in ways she never expected, leading her to ask: What is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?
“A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can’t help but follow along.”—Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog
“An amusing story of one woman’s quest for her father and the improbable path of love.” —Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is the author of the novels, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT (St. Martin’s, Available Now) and the forthcoming LOVE IN TRANSLATION (St. Martin’s, November 2009). Japan and Japanese culture have been major influences on her life and this is reflected in much of her writing. Her novel, NO KIDDING, won the Literary/Mainstream Fiction category in Writer’s Digest’s Best Self-Published Book Awards in 2002. She is also the author of two children’s non-fiction books, and has had short stories published in various literary journals. Wendy signed her two-book deal with St. Martin’s just as she was beginning the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco in 2006. Along with her MFA, she also holds a BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University.