Saturday, September 29, 2012

Writer Myths: Luck and Genius

Hi, folks, I'm enjoying a rainy day.  Love it. Writing my heart out over here. Today is going to be short and sweet because I'm busy. I'm jumping into the Harper Voyager submission call.  Knock on wood. Toss some salt. Rub Budai's belly. I hope magic and perseverance mix it up and produce another success. 

Here is an observation I've made, but tons of others have noticed also - we live in a universe of dualities. Writers,  artists, scientists, philosophers (inquisitive folk) really devote serious time to thinking about duality. Who I am and What do I want. Dark and light. Male and Female. Hot and cold. The list goes on and on.

Myth #1: I was published because of luck. I have met this writer. You worked for three weeks and sent out your work and bink! was given a major contract.  Sure. You were just accidentally at the right place at the right time! I don't believe you. You persevered (you suffered), worked hard (doing something), and you have scribbled at least a million words somewhere before this day, for sure, just as sure it was your lucky day.

Myth #2: I was published because of my genius. I have met this writer too. You believe you are just that good.   You worked hard.  You perspired. You burned midnight oil.  Yes, you did. You were also lucky. I absolutely believe no matter how hard you work,  unseen forces are out there. You can make bread but you can't make it multiply. Success is a gift, a miracle and blessing, just as much as a reward for your perseverance.

I think you get it. The myths involve not accepting the the truth of duality. I  hope you work hard this week. I will too. But, also, I wish you luck. Wish me luck, too! See you next week with more inspiration. 

Today's doodle is called. "Yin-Yang Girl"

Here is a quote for your pocket:

For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.  Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writer Myths: Three Pickles

Hi folks, I'm continuing my series about writer myths. This week I'm cover the three pickles. So these myths lead to plights, quandaries, and jams.  Here are three myths to avoid. 

Pickle #1 - You don't have what it takes to write a book. This is only true if you take a good portion of your day and surf the interwebs. Or if everything must be your way and your writing is perfect. Or if you really can't be bothered with marketing and stuff like that. Or if you don't have a MFA, iPAD, connections... Or you don't have enough time to write. Or you have done everything you know... Come on.  Either you want this or not. Make up your mind. Some Nike ad said it well: "Just do it!"

Pickle #2 - You can't write because your family doesn't support you.. Family wants to have Christmas turkey/tofu. They want birthday cakes, tons of hugs and help with the homework. They  will be with you in the hospital, when you have the blues, and on your trip to Disney. They may not have time to read your WIPs. You need partners to support your writing! Here is my short list: Cathy, Conrad, Louise, Megan, Shelly, Marion, Stasia, Chris, Chris, Gail, Kevan, Vijaya, Eileen, Karen, Allyson, Jen, Lois, Susan, Susan, Katherine, Holly, Peggy, Janet, Dawn, Judy, Kathy, Susan, Robin, Andy and Ellen,  I also think a cat can be very supportive.

Pickle #3- You are too old to write a book. Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her mid-60s when her Little House series hit the shelves. Mary Wesley published her first children's books in her 50s and in her 70s published her pièce de résistance,"Part of the Furniture." Richard Adams didn't publish a book until he was 50 -- "Watership Down." James Michner was 40 before his first book rolled off the presses.  You're not to old.

I'm going to be at this for one more week.. Hope you come back for more exposed writer myths.  Seize the day.

Here is my doodle: "Girl in Glasses."

Here is a quote for you pocket.

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. Pablo Picasso

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Writer Myths: Three Dog Night

Hi folks, I'm continuing my series about writer myths. I hope that you are taking time to write. A writer friend of mine, Ellen McGinty, had some good advice for me about holding to your vision and not being moved by the fickle winds of conventional opinion. She inspired this post.

This week is for every writer that feels left out in the cold by the publishing industry. Maybe you need three warm dogs to keep you from freezing.

Dog #1: Your story is too different. No one will publish it. This kind of conventional thinking wars against originality  Here is the deal. Your story is not common. That doesn't mean it's not good.  Many, many publishing professionals will confuse not common with not good.  You must believe in your vision and keep knocking on doors. Do you believe in your story?  Be it's advocate. I am sure of this: readers will flock to originals if given the opportunity.

Dog #2: Your story is too regional. When this sage statement comes my way, I always think of this story. This guy wrote a story about a very unlikable slothful, unemployed guy in New Orleans who is looking for a job.  Man, lots of folks looked at this book and passed. The writing was wonderful, genius, really, and the rejections this guy got were flattering and encouraging.  Yep, John Kennedy Toole author of A Confederacy of Dunces hit snags with his regional work. His path to publication was through a university press. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Sadly, John, took his own life before he got to see his book find its way. The deal is that just because it regional doesn't mean it's not for the whole world. If you have a regional perspective, but know your story is for the whole world: DO NOT GIVE UP!

Dog #3: Publishing is a business. Writers and publishers have slightly different goals. Publishers want to make a quick buck. Some writers want to make a quick buck too. For example, if you want to make money, "sex sells."  Check out Ellen Degeneres reading some of that shades of gray book.  I guess this will trickle down to the YA market soon enough. Write that if you want to make money. If you have other goals, read on.

Some writers' goals include to challenge, enlighten, empower, shock, etc.readers. Some write because they know there are folks who feel very alone, and they are not.  Difficult, challenging and deep books are never an "easy pitch"  to publishers. Here is something very important for writers, artists, any creative souls-- just because you are not creating to make money, does not mean that your work is worthless. It may make the publishers money beyond their wildest dreams. It may not. Your risk taking might hinder your success but not stop it. You've risked a lot by choosing a road less traveled. This is not the easiest road, but I believe it is the most satisfying. Publishing is a business but writing is an art form. Be true to your art.

I hope that my three dogs warm you up some.   I will wrap the series next week. :)

Here is my doodle: " Glass on Your Neck."

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. C.S. Lewis

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Writer Myths: Three Little Foxes

Hi, folks, I hope you are moving forward with your projects. I'm going to tackle three more writing myths this week. Last week, I wrote about the big fish myths in writing.  This week I'm going to hit what I call the the three little foxes.  The reference comes from the Song of Solomon: Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards.... I think these little myths may hinder writers. Anyway, I hope you find this helpful. Take what you need and toss the rest.

Myth 1: There is best age for protagonists of children's stories.  Many say 12 for middle grade and 16 for YA. Whatever. This little myth gets pushed around some.  I STRONGLY believe that you should not let "what is selling,", "how things are shelved", or "what expert say" choose the age of your characters. You should choose the age of your characters based on what provides the most authenticity to your story.

Myth 2:  Pansters vs. Outliners.  Yes, there are lots of folks on both sides of this argument. The myth is: there is  a WAY to write a book. There isn't one. Follow your soul's muse, mind's genius, your philosophical demon, and your deepest heart. I have a big recommendation on this though. If you are a panster -- learn how outliners work. And the same goes for outliners. Hint: You may have more in common than you thought.

Myth 3: Edit Ruthlessly.  Don't get me wrong. You are going to edit and edit your books. It will be work.  I do think if you are ruthless, you will wash out some of the voice. Sometimes a little rambling might serve the purpose of revealing something about your character.  So I say edit delicately. Shape and reshape. Form, and reform. Be bold. Be inventive. If you are a ruthless sort of person, I guess you might edit ruthlessly, otherwise edit with virtuosity and elegance.

I hope you write something wonderful this week. I hope you find your way. I'll  be back with some more myth's next week.

This week's doodle is called: "Longhorn."

And finally to close it all off. I add a quote for the week:

If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough.  Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Writer Myths: The Three Big Fish

Hi, folks, whoa, I get busy in September. My youngest started high school. I've got two in college.  It's amazing how packed my days are right now. This month I'm going to touch on all the Writer Myths that I know.  I hope dispelling some of these myths will help you on your journey. I hope they put a smile on your face. I hope you find your spirit lifted and ready to do more work than you thought possible.

Writer Myth # 1: Write every day! Ha! Every writer finds her own rhythm. Some take a month off and write that month only. Some write on Saturdays. Some write on holidays. Some write during NaNoWrMo.  Some do write every day. There are dozens of strategies and some of them work. If you don't write every day and you are producing books, chin up! If you are not producing work, you may find writing every day helps you. Otherwise, follow your muse!

Writer Myth #2:  Write what you know! Baloney! You can read. You can research. You can write what you don't know if you want. The deal is by the time you are finished writing about it, you will know it. What happens if you want to write about someone who can fly. Do you really know about that? I mean, writers have BIG IMAGINATIONS. You might have to study stuff like bumblebees and birds and airplanes to get the flying just right in your story but I'm sure you'll find some stuff that is original to your view of flying. Writing is alchemy -- conjuring gold with a philosopher's stone. I like to say write what is true. If you start writing and find you don't know what is true, figure that out.

Writer Myth #3: Show don't tell. My eyes are rolling into the back of my head. This myth roams and roams. We don't call it story writing, but story telling. And the genius advice is: never tell anything. The trick  in writing a story is that you have to show and tell. Come on, did you go to kindergarten?  What do you show? What do you tell?  This is a good way to think about it.  Some things need more showing that others.  Somethings need more telling.  For me,  a good book has a lot to show, but slices in some telling.  The trick is to keep it all in a voice that I'm willing to stay up late at night reading with a flashlight under the covers.

I hope my mythbusting has cheered you up! I hope that you write your heart out. I really do because I love a good book. I'll be back next week with more myths.

Now it is time for our doodle of the week: "Kid Astronaut."

This week's quote is one of my favs:

"The unexamined life is not worth living."  Socrates.