Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pulling Yourself Out Of The Mud (Part Two In: No One In Publishing Is Ever Going To Save You

Okay, so this is Part Two of my not-sure-how-many-part series in "Writers, No One In Publishing Is Ever Going To Save You." Here is the link to Part One.

Pulling Yourself Out Of The Mud.

In 2002, I started writing my first book. I didn't know why, I didn't know exactly what it was, but for some reason, six months pregnant and living in a crappy little apartment in Chino, California with horribly napped carpet that had been dyed a color that can only be described as almost black, I opened my giant Toshiba laptop and began writing the book I would (much, much) later self-publish, A BETTER LIFE.

I didn't know what I was doing and it didn't even matter. Unable to keep flying (I was a flight attendant at the time) I was passing long pregnancy minutes on maternity leave. There was no thought of doing anything with these words, they were just words collecting on a hard drive, words becoming a story to fill the hours.

Now, because this is a blog post and not a memoir, fast forward through five more years: babies are born; graduate school is started and dropped out of, homes are bought and sold; a move is made from California back to Colorado; graduate school is started back up--life continued.

And I began attending my first writers' critique group. It is at these group meetings, that the publishing seed is planted.

I began paying attention to publishing stories; seemingly miraculous events where it looked like obscure housewives were just minding their own business and then, they had a dream they wrote down and the next thing they knew a multimillion dollar publishing tour bus carrying power agents, smart editors, and savvy publicists parked outside their house and proceeded to sweep the rest of their life off to New York and other far flung international ports of call.

Sign me up for that!

Seriously, guys, where do I sign up for that?

Having never found that particular 'Instant Success' booth at the job fair, the months and years of querying, revising, and submitting made me lose hope, made me question what I was thinking, made me believe that if my story didn't happen like magic too, than it probably meant I was not "supposed" to be a writer--never mind "author."

In comparison to pursuing a writing career, balancing new motherhood with graduate school was a snap. Clearly, this was my 'get real' destiny.

Only, it wasn't that simple. Like a filthy writer addict, I kept lurking the agent blogs, crafting new queries, reading the deal reports. All of this watching others accomplish what I (now secretly) desperately coveted, was making me very, very unhappy. I could no longer even pass by a bookstore, and you can forget about going inside, without experiencing great self pity.

I was utterly sad and pathetic. Mired in the mud of my own making.

Now this next bit I share, I am fully aware, opens the door to full fledged ridicule and skepticism. But it's the truth, so here it is. In 2007, while my almost four-year-old and two-year-old were taking a nap, (in true housewife fashion) I was watching an episode of Oprah. She was talking about a film, THE SECRET. I'm sure you've head of it?

Like it, love it, hate it, dismiss it--say what you will. What I say is that day in 2007 was a beginning for me. It was on that day I began to understand that I DO have power over what happens in my life. The intentions I focus on coupled with the choices I make and the actions I take are what propels me though life and toward any number of potential possibilities. Up to that point, I had focused on intentions and made choices that created a version of me as a mother and a graduate student--while I had walked away from intentions and choices that would lead to a version of me that was also an author.

I DID THAT. Not publishing. I gave up, didn't give it my all, and stopped believing (although I don't think back then I ever really believed I could in the first place.)

I am no The Secret master, or more accurately, I am not a Rosicrucian; however, I do know that anything you truly want to accomplish starts with the belief that you can get there and must be followed by taking action in its direction.

It does not take a quantum physicist to tell you that of course I was never going to become an author when I had given up writing all together!

So great! I'm out of the mud, (or getting out anyway) and I'm starting to recognize I have some power here. What now?

Next in the series: Taking a Look Around and Picking a Mountain.            


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Writers, No One In Publishing Is Ever Going To Save You


This post is for my fellow (yet to be published) writers out there. I've been thinking for quite some time about how to word this post and now, having failed to come up with anything brilliant, I've decided to just pour it straight up.

If you are waiting for your publishing white knight to ride up and save you from the depths of your own obscurity, go ahead and get comfortable, cause you are (more than likely) going to be there for awhile--maybe forever.

Now before you think I'm about to get all ranty and foot stompy about "Why not me publishing world?!?!" Give a girl a second to explain herself.

First off, who is this magic white knight leaving waiting-to-be-discovered writers in the dust? Maybe it's those contest judges who are marking up your manuscript with a careful balance of praise and critique. It could be your dream agent (or hell, let's face it, it might be ANY agent.) What about that editor at that small press you submitted to last week. Maybe it's any one of the Big Six who have been sitting on your submission for six months (confession--this was my white knight all through 2011 and half of 2012.) My point is, wherever you are along the continuum between "Just Started Writing My First Book" and "My Book Is Being Published" if you are waiting for some "professional" to pull you up out of the collective mud--stop.

Stop waiting for someone else to crown you, "Author" or "Professional Writer" or "Grand Master Writer Of All The Stories Worth Reading." You must (MUST) move into the life that you want first BEFORE any of the other people (judges, agents, editors, givers of the 5 star review) will show up at your party. YOU have to pull yourself out of the mud, look around, spot the particular mountain you want to climb, make a plan for getting there, and then show up everyday (or as often as you possibly can) to implement your plan.

It took me a long time to get this--I'm still "getting" this. But I want to share my personal examples (because I like me some personal examples) about my own journey (so far) starting in 2002, when I started writing my first book, to 2013 when my first YA novel will be published by a small press.

Disclaimer: I am STILL on my journey. I am STILL learning many, many things about myself, publishing, and how to create the change I want in my own life. But I think it can be valuable (to some people) to see what changes have happened in my life in this pursuit of becoming an author and, more importantly, how NONE of these changes had anything to do with being rescued by a "professional" and had everything to do with deciding on a target, taking aim, and shooting at my mark.   

So on tap for tomorrow: Pulling myself out of the mud and washing the dirt from my eyes (back then, it was probably with my own tears.) 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trashing Books I Hate

In response to someone complaining about Pollyanna type reviews--here is a not exactly quoted example, "I don't understand people who say they love every book they read. Have some balls and don't be afraid to give a book a negative review if you thought it sucked."

Here's the thing--I am not a book reviewer. Nor would I ever care to be.

I am a book recommender. If I've read a book, and I enjoyed it somewhere on the scale between "Liked It" and "The Aliens Can Take Me Now!!" I want to tell people about it--and I do.

I respect writers personal decisions about whether they choose to negatively review other writers' work or not, but it's not a choice I would make. There are many, often very popular, books I've read that damn near made me want to rip out my frontal lobe. Invariably, because people in my life know I read a ton, someone is going to talk to me about that very popular book and then proceed to gush at me about how much they "The Aliens Can Take Me Now!!" that book.

And while I likely glowered at that book so hard it burst into flames the minute I finished it, I have no wish to do that to someone I care about--or don't care about for that matter. I respect that others will like books I hate and realize people will probably hate books that I love. This is the magic of preference.

So, to sum up, you won't hear about the books I didn't like. You might hear that I read them which would be followed by a strange and eery silence. You will, however, see me do back-flips for the ones I thought were great.