Client Spotlight: Meg Bodemer, Book Coaching
Meg Bodemer is an accounting consultant living and working in Northern Virginia. When she’s not busy crunching numbers, Meg is writing her fantasy quartet, PHOENIX RISING. The series follows Lady Illiana of Chevanier from the time she is an eleven-year-old girl, through personal and political tragedy, to hopeful redemption through revolution as an adult.
I first started working with Meg on a partial manuscript critique in fall 2015. Moving forward, Meg requested chapter-by-chapter feedback, so we opted for book coaching, in which the freelance editor coaches the writer through the drafting process. I can coach a writer from outline to manuscript in as few as four months, but to give deference to Meg’s demanding work schedule, we are working on the draft in a piecemeal fashion, when time allows.
I recently sat down with Meg to learn more about her writing process.
1. What inspires you to write what you do?
I've always been drawn to fantasy. I grew up lost in the vast landscapes of Narnia and Middle Earth. (The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains an obsession of mine to this day.) There's something inspiring to me about the freedom to create an entirely new world, with its own inhabitants and their unique conflicts. While what I write tends to have similarities to real life, it's refreshing to take real experiences, drop them into a completely different environment, and see how things change and evolve.
2. What does your writing nook look like?
I don’t really have a single writing nook. Whenever I picture my dream home, I have a separate space that no one else can enter, complete with a big bay window, a comfy window seat, lots of natural light, and at least one wall covered with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. There’d be lots of white with bright pops of color, and at least one plush floor cushion for my dog to nap on while I write.
That being said – my current writing space serves triple duty – for my day job, writing, and managing the finances of my two-person household. It’s often cluttered, but it’s bright and there’s a nice window that looks out over some trees, including one with vivid red leaves that I adore. It may not be my dream writing space, but it’s colorful and bright and it’s all mine.
3. What has been the most challenging part of editing your book? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part of editing any project is managing my self-esteem throughout the process. It can be difficult to check my emotions at the proverbial door and do an impersonal review of my drafts. It can feel so defeating and disappointing to review sections that you were sure were absolutely perfect when you were writing only to realize that in reality they are horrible and need to be scrapped. To this day I struggle with this issue – of separating the writer and the editor in me – and often rely on third party help for significant plot/content review. (Hatch Editorial Services has been a true lifesaver here.) The edits are mine to make, but I have a hard time accepting when they NEED to be made at all.
The most rewarding part of editing is the realization that all of the thoughts and ideas in my head have finally been put on paper exactly as I imagined them. I live for the feeling of knowing that I’ve been able to perfectly capture the characters and worlds I have dreamed up so that others may be able to share in that escape. Editing can be painful and emotional at times, but it culminates in the realization of the story I have been living in my head for however long. There’s precious little that feels better to me than that.
4. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Write for you. This is still something I struggle with, but my best work has come out of stories I have written for me and me alone. Don't write what you think agents or publishers want to read. Don't scrap an idea you love because that particular genre or theme isn't currently in style. If you are passionate about a story, it is worth writing. It is ALWAYS worth writing.
5. What's next on your world domination agenda?
Saving up so I can afford to take a mini-sabbatical from work to pursue my Phoenix Rising series full-time, without threatening my family's financial stability. It can be hard to find the time or energy to write with a demanding, full-time day job. I dream of having the freedom, even if just temporarily, to do what I love - write - for more than a handful of stolen moments during the week.
Learn more about Meg's books by following her on Twitter at @APhoenixWriting.