Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wrapping your mind around the big "R"

My editorial calender--remember I said I'd have one?-- tells me that this week I am supposed to write an article on tips for aspiring writers.
In my opinion the biggest hurdle between a writer and their dreams is the big "R." The big "R" is rejection. Some people can't write a page because they are concerned people will reject their story. Others can write a page, a chapter but can't finish the book because they fear some one, some where will laugh at them...reject their words, their work...their soul. Still others finish book after book and hide them away under the bed, in the closet, in the attic without ever letting anyone read them. Why? They are afraid of the big "R." Still others will write a book, send it out and when they get their first rejection-they feel so horrified, so humiliated, they never do it again.
The thing is people assume famous writers never get the "R." I'm here to tell you that rejection goes hand in hand with creativity. I have over 600 pieces of paper- some 7 pages long, telling me why my book isn't "right for them." Each piece hurts like a laceration to the soul. I've been told you have to have a tough skin. I'm here to tell you that I don't have a tough skin. I don't. I whine. I cry. I hurt. I tell my friends- some of whom tell me to "get over it" or "suck it up and quit whining." These are usually people with one or fewer rejection letters. These are people who don't finish books or don't send them out. They imagine that to be successful means you shrug off rejection like a gnat and move on. Then there are those who say- celebrate each rejection with chocolate and champagne. A rejection means you are out there-trying-writing, revising and sending out stuff. Celebration doesn't make it easier either.
I've written 25 full manuscripts-published eight and revised, rewritten and scrubbed so many it hurts. Don't listen when they tell you the fable of being able to sell all those old manuscripts once you are's a fairytale. What those manuscripts are is learning, loving pieces...right idea, wrong time... kind of relationships. They are there to teach you how to wrap your mind around rejection.
So, what about the big "R?" It is the price we pay to walk in the sun. Like a shadow that sticks to your feet, it never goes away unless you stay out of the sun. Sure it's scary. Sure it's painful. But like a shadow is only made in the sun, rejection comes only when you are creative. Bravery is living creatively anyway.
Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel or act or be when faced with rejection. Go your own way-cry, whine, kick, scream, pout, put the work away if you must knowing full well that soon you will write something else and send it out. Pat yourself on the back every step of the way. It's the only real reward...for once you're published, you still get rejections from your agent, your editor and reviewers and readers alike. If you don't, then you're playing it far to safe. So, go ahead, stretch and grow and try and bravely face the hurt and humliation of the big "R" and know at the very least you are living in the sun.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Marketing a fact of life

Self marketing is a growing trend that many writers dread. It was okay when books got smaller and we had to self edit. But so many writers cringe at the idea of hawking their own wares. To the point where they don't want to go out and sit at a book signing and say, here's my book. buy it. I promise, you'll love it. Instead they sit at home and worry that they aren't any good at this. That it takes too much work.

Truth is marketing is a human condition. From the time we are born, we "sell" ourselves to family and friends. We label our selves as "the bright one," "the pretty one," "The oldest," "the youngest." Marketing is finding out who you are and interesting people in keeping you in their world. You market yourself to your best friend as someone who is loyal, understanding and important to their world. You market yourself to your boss as a good worker in order to keep your job. You market yourself as a mate in order to keep your spouses interest. The idea that you are "in this together" has kept many family groups going. Marketing. It says I'm useful, important, necessary. It's a natural drive.

As creative people, writers shouldn't shun marketing. It doesn't have to be left to "business experts." In fact, writers make better marketers. We have a natural talent for paying attention to society, people, the human condition. It's as simple as using your natural gift to your own advantage. Something you've done since you were born. It all begins with an introduction, then you find a way to get noticed, become a part of someone's life. You've just marketed yourself and your book.

But wait, there are people who tell you it can only be done this way or that way. If you haven't done x then you're not doing it right. Hmmm, the people telling you that are merely marketing themselves as those "in the know." It's up to you to allow them that power. Turn it around and tell them how they need you and your work in their life. Remember, marketing is something you're naturally good at. Tell your story. Share your story. Enjoy the rewards.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

General chatter

This week is about reviews, popular culture and general chatter. First of all, Happy Mother's Day! Hugs to all the women out there who nuture.

I went to see the movie Smart People with Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker. It was not funny, there was no action. It was, in fact, a character study. These were real and mostly unlikeable people who didn't change much, although the ending implied that they did. From the viewpoint of a writer who loves to watch people, it was an interesting movie. From the viewpoint of a movie goer, don't waste your money and I wouldn't even bother renting. There isn't anything entertaining going on here.

In my spare time I love to read. I just finished J.D. Robb's, Innocent in Death. I have been hooked on this murder mystery series from the first book, Naked in Death. I enjoy the gritty, edgy feel; the futuristic vibe; the relationships of the characters. Lately the series has grown a little stale, less grit, not so sexy, but Innocent worked for me. If you're a fan, pick this one up. It's an interesting read even if the killer is easily spotted.

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Conference day II

Friday at Spring Fling was a huge ego boost. Then came Saturday... I did enjoy a hot breakfast of cinnamon pecan french toast casserole. Then the breakfast speaker was wonderful. I didn't go to workshops because I had a pitch interview with an editor. She was great but said she thought my story was too "big" for her line. I told her I understood...but she said. Send me a partial and let me look at it. I thanked her and went off to find my lunch partners. After another wonderful speaker at lunch were more great workshops and a pitch session with an agent. The pitch session tanked. The agent didn't even look awake. She kept saying, "I don't do that." In a monotone voice and I was taken aback by her sheer lack of interest in me, my career and why I would want to pitch to her. After the initial shock of her weird/rude behavior I realized I had only set up the interview to meet her and see if we were a match. That goal was reached. She is definitely not a match for me and I doubt I would recommend her to others.
After this disappointing afternoon, I was set to volunteer in two places at the same time. Funny how that happened. I thought one session was after another-so it was my own fault. I chose to work at the book signing. Without a book out at this time, I volunteered to help manage Debbie MaComber's line. She is a NYT bestselling author with a huge fan base and this was her first signing of her latest book. The line snaked out the door. I enjoyed chatting with people, preparing them by spelling names on a post-it and placing it on the signing page, handing out promo goodies and in general agreeing with each and everyone how amazing Debbie was a blast. I've been lucky enough to do the same thing for Julie Garwood at her signing.
I finished this after two hours and ran to my other volunteer post where I helped with the finishing touches on the silent auction set for that night. Then it was time to change into party clothes. They had a conference dinner, drinks, dessert was banana's foster and Debbie gave a wonderful inspiring speech. The silent auction progressed through dinner. We earned over $8,000 for literacy. After that a jazz band played and we danced the night away. I hit my room by midnight feeling like it had all been worth it. Good friends, good food, great music and money for literacy what more could you ask for?