Publish, Writing

How well have you chosen your writing path?

After a few detours, I’m comfortable on my writing path. In her recent blog post, Chris King called my decision to publish my first novel a “display of bravery”. I’ll accept that, but I’ll be honest enough to qualify it. It does, for each writer, take a degree of bravery to share your writing with others, to risk ridicule or indifference as well as praise and enthusiasm. But for me, a degree of impulsivity also contributed to the decision.

Where do you expect your writing path to lead you? Or more to the point, where do you really want that path to lead you? Someone may have asked me that before I published, I don’t remember, but I’m certain I never considered the question with the sincerity it deserved.

At various times throughout my life, I dreamed of being a rich and famous author—not that I was writing a book at those times. My dreams were sparked by reading good books and imagining that I could write like that. Eventually, I did write a novel and I believed it was good enough to publish. I dreamed of getting a top agent who would sell it to a major publisher who would pour massive resources into propelling it to the top of the bestseller lists. In other words, I would be rich and famous.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Neither is it likely to. Why? Judged on the quality of writing, I believe The Brevity of Roses could hold its own against any midlist novel. And I believe I have the talent to write a potential bestseller. What I’m missing is the personality to make that potential a reality. As stupid as it sounds, I never really considered that part while I dreamed of seeing my name at #1.

I’m not an expert on this personality, but I do believe I lack certain aspects of it. I don’t have what it takes to join writer’s groups and organizations, attend seminars and conferences, enter contests, submit my work at every opportunity, guest post on blogs, “work” Twitter and Facebook, etc., etc., etc. In other words, I lack the drive and self-assurance to do whatever it takes, in a positive way, to make connections and gain name recognition in the publishing world.

Though writing requires a good degree of seclusion, that doesn’t mean all writers are introverts. Certainly, not all writers are hermits like I am. Some of you are comfortable in a group of strangers—instead of praying that some non-life-threatening emergency will arise to rescue you. Some of you could stand in front of a large audience and speak coherently—instead of breaking into a sweat and quivering to a heap behind the podium. Some of you … well, let’s just say, some of you are the opposite of me.

So, consider your personality before choosing your career path. You might avoid the wasted time and effort trying to attain—or the shock and regret of attaining—an unsuitable goal. For sure, if you’re a writer like I am, you’ll save yourself the frustration, bitterness, and envy of seeing yourself as a “failure” before recognizing you actually have the kind of success that’s perfect for you.

Image courtesy of Evgenie Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Revision, Writing

Going back to move forward

As odd as it may sound, my next step forward will be a step backward. With the preparations for the holidays ahead, I know I won’t have much time for writing, but I’ll have time for reading and thinking. Luckily, that’s exactly what I need right now.

I’ve decided to make my first novel fit for reader consumption. I completed it ten years ago, put it away, and haven’t read it since. I scanned through it a few months ago, and even cleaned up the first chapter for submission to my critique group, but I haven’t read the synopsis or even the scene list/outline because I want to read the manuscript with fresh eyes.

I know the book is not horrible, but I don’t know how much work it will take to revise it for publication. This novel started as a paranormal romance, but about a third of the way through, I discovered it didn’t follow the prescribed formula for category Romance, and I scrapped that idea. Obviously, I was not a reader of Romance novels, paranormal or otherwise. What I read at that time was a lot of Stephen King, so …

In the last few months, my writing career has slipped into a sort of depression. It’s time to shake things up. I have other ideas, some plans. I’m not psychic, I can’t say what will work, what won’t, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

Your turn: How’s your writing career moving? Do you ever feel a need to shake things up?

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Advice, Agent, Tips, Writing

Watch your digital mouth!

Have you given any thought to the digital footprint you leave? If you hope to be—or already are—a published author, you should. I follow several agents on Twitter. Most of them are quite candid there, and some regularly share tips for aspiring authors. Several times, I’ve seen the admonishment to be careful what you write online because agents, editors, and publishers all know how to Google your name or username. Have you tried that? You might be surprised to find how much of what you’ve written in posts, comments, and tweets is available to anyone who considers doing business with you. And never forget that publishing is a business.

Assume an agent has received interesting query letters from each of the following writer types. Their sample pages show them to be equally good writers, so the agent does some background research to see how these three present themselves online (blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

  • Writer A:  openly admits they work only when the mood/muse strikes them; believes they know it all; thinks the rules don’t apply to them; criticizes other writers, agents, editors, publishers, and reviewers
  • Writer B:  displays no faith in their work; complains constantly about the stress of writing;  declares they would never be able to handle promoting their work to the public
  • Writer C:  reveals they work on their craft as often as possible; is willing to learn; has a pleasant demeanor; appears supportive and respectful of others in the business

Which of those writers will the agent likely offer to represent? How would that agent categorize you after an internet search? Yes, we’ve all probably made some of Writer A’s and Writer B’s mistakes at one time or another, but how do you consistently present yourself online?

Another group to consider is your readers, present or potential, who just might search for more information about you. I suppose it depends on what you write, but do you really want your readers to know about the time you got wasted and danced naked in the street? And if you accompanied said revelation with photos or a video, you might want to consider writing under a pseudonym.

Don’t forget: the internet is infinite and eternal.