Monday, February 27, 2012

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Just a friendly mental health reminder to all my fellow writing peeps. If you are currently WAITING (and I know you are waiting for something)--stop.

Stop waiting right now. It's nothing more than a mental trick, so perform a cognitive back flip out of the waiting place. 

Stop checking your email
Stop stalking on Twitter
Stop googling the same agents and editors over and over
Stop rereading interviews by the above mentioned agents and editors
Stop trying to devine some personal (to you) meaning from their latest blog post
Stop checking your horoscope
Stop playing online tarot
Stop trying to predict if your darling is ever, ever, ever going to snag you an agent or finally sell

If fact, stop thinking about publishing all together.

Think only about your life (you know, that thing you're supposed to be enjoying when you're not obsessing) and your writing.

Kiss your spouse, hug your kids, go for a run, notice the sky. Now, buy yourself MacFreedom, turn off your internet, open Scrivener, Word, or your purple spiral notebook and write.

Just write. 

Because the process of publishing is worse than going to the DMV. At least the DMV gives you a ticket with a number. But with publishing, you are standing in a line that you will never know the length of until you are the one standing at the front. There may be five people or five hundred people in front of you--who knows?? You can't even be sure if the person working the counter is "in", "closed to submissions", "on vacation" or simply "drowning in emails." YOU DON'T GET TO SEE THE COUNTER. All you can do is stand, breathe, and try to act like you are not "waiting" while hours of your life tick past.

The hours of your life. Find something better to do. Anything really.

Send out your work. And then, forget that you did.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Float that Hope

I realized the other day that I started writing my first book in 2002. My God, ten years. Ten years with what to show for it?

Hope. Hope. More hope.

I'm still hoping for the same thing I hoped for back then--to one day see my (professionally published) books on a bookstore shelf.

Will that happen? Hell if I know. But still, I hope.

In those ten years, I've learned to love the small (and seemingly increasing) victories. Here's a break down for your personal amusement and my own personal perspective.

2002: I'm going to write a book!
2003: I'm still working on my book.
2004: Typing.
2005: Joined my first critique group.
2005: Someone not related to me said after reading my first 5 pages, "Wow, I wish I could do that." (I will never, ever forget that person...EVER)
2006: More writing.
2007: Finished my book that I started 5 years ago!
2007: Wrote a personal essay.
2007: Personal essay accepted for publication at university press.
2007: Attended my first conference.
2007: My first Pitch Session...and they requested the full MS!
2007: I receive my first (of many, many) rejections.
2007: I wrote a query!
2007: Queried 78 agents. (I don't actually remember the exact number, it's a rough estimate)
2008: I'm self publishing my book!
2009: Tattered Cover is going to carry my book!
2009: Tattered Cover put my book on the 'staff picks' shelf.
2009: Oh, I can't stop thinking about this new story.
2009: Writing next book.
2009: Making very serious goal like plans for a career in writing.
2010: Finished 2nd book.
2010: Attended 2nd conference.
2010: Agent asks to see 2nd book.
2010: I wrote a new query!
2010: Queried 21 agents. (this number I do remember)
2010: Four full requests.
2010: Agent offer!!! *died, dead, went to heaven*
2011: Submission to publishers.
2011: Made it to acquisitions.
2011: Requests to revise.
2012: I am rewriting and pushing myself, and this story, further than I have ever done before.
2012: Agent said, "love, love, love.
2012: Back out there.
2012: Major epiphany occurs...yesterday.    *see below

*there is no end. You just keep plugging along. And if you're a "real" writer, you one day recognize that, while you may flail around in non writing funks that can last for days, weeks, even months, you will eventually, one day, be washing the dishes, or taking a bath, or mowing the lawn and the smallest seed of an idea will float through your consciousness. It will embed itself somewhere deep within your cerebral cortex and take root. Yes, it's true that you swore off writing 6 months ago. Promised yourself you would never get caught up in this agonizing cycle of creation, submission, and rejection again.



But, I'll just jot down the main idea. Maybe a character sketch. A THEME! And here is the inciting incident, "oh, that's good."

itch, itch, itch
scratch, scratch, scratch

There is no end. There is no stopping. Eventually, your hope floats back. The ideas keep coming in spite of yourself, ideas that must be scratched. Yes, you're dying to share those words of yours in a public way, but not being there yet does not stop the root cause of the need.

Only the writing helps.