Monthly Archives: May 2014

Thankful Thursday

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I’m thankful. “Is there a specific reason,” you may ask.  And no, there isn’t.

The world is not perfect, and we can’t make it so, although we can always try. Plans take years to get going, and then stagnate. Plans having to do with writing, work, time — there is never, ever, ever enough time to do half the things I have to do.

My favorite uncle in Romania passed away recently (he didn’t die young at 83, but still, people only die once). So this could easily be a post about sadness, or complaining. And God knows I’m a pro when it comes to moaning and groaning. Then I look around me and see so much to be thankful for.  

My family                                                                                                     My voice: so good to be able to speak up against and for anything  For the sun                                                                                              Good health                                                                                          Books                                                                                                            The beautiful sight of California hawks flying over the canyon Laughter                                                                                                       The seasons                                                                                                 For my writing                                                                                           The beautiful trees outside my office window (shown above)                                                          Sushi                                                                                                              Music                                                                                                            For everything I’ve experienced in this life of mine                           Friends I have and friends I’ve yet to meet

If contentment is a state of mind, one I have control over, I’m thankful.

 

 

Breaking Into the Creative World

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So you’re really creative and looking to break into the creative/publishing world. Except everyone else is creative too, and they’re also working hard to build interest for their novels.

No question competition in any creative field is fierce. To make it more so, established writers lose their contracts time and again and go back searching for representation. Unlike doctors or lawyers, we’re not what the world calls proven commodities. We depend on our creativity, hard work, networking, and a lot of … luck. 

Yet, judging by articles penned by agents/editors, demand for extraordinary talent is higher than ever, and therein lies the paradox.

From agents’ perspectives (again, according to their blogs), there is a lot of mediocrity out there. It’s hard to find good writers, they say. Editors and agents send armies of interns into screening rooms, demanding they find the next Amazing Manuscript by the next Big Author. With thousands of queries sent out daily, that shouldn’t be hard to find, right? But it is.

Is lack of excellence the big problem? I can almost hear you say: if only it were that simple. But no, dear friends, the issue before us is more complicated.

For one, the agenting world depends on a lot of other things, such as: 1) connections at publishing houses, 2) the trending market, and 3) the business aspect of it all.

But the cited articles, you remind me, are about talent. So, then, absent name recognition is amazing talent the sole ingredient for success?

Maybe, and how does one define talent? Look at Fifty Shades of Grey — is it the product of exceptional talent? Whatever our take on FSG, the book is a huge success. Same with Twilight. What made those books attractive to agents and later colossal successes?

I wouldn’t know the answer to the first point, but here’s my guess as to the colossal-success point: word of mouth, or something, created immediate buzz, leading to sales. Maybe the agent anticipated it all, maybe not.  Irrespective of plans and expectations, something triggered that first important spark.

How in the world does one create buzz? This goes for self-published authors as well, because the major complaint I hear there is about dismal sales. Aside from talent, what does one do to stand out? I don’t know.

Of course, we can be creative for our enjoyment and not worry about this — which is what I’m doing now, just writing and editing, although plans change all the time. And when they will change, I’m sure the same questions will cross my mind.

What do you think? About any of it. (Rushing to my son’s open house at school, then back to chat with you and read you).

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Image courtesy: Breaking the Icewww.flickr.com

 

 

Too Beautiful To Work Here

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Where do writers get their ideas from? The popular answer seems to be “from everywhere.” How is that for clarity?

Neil Gaiman has an article on this topic, in which he says, “You get ideas from daydreaming. … from conversation. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

What about the office, and ideas popping out of every conversation, meeting, happening? I think that’s what happened recently at my workplace.

A young, beautiful woman, came into our office for an interview and was rejected for being too good-looking.

Apparently, she met with two male partners, but after having encountered several female employees, after having been deemed too beautiful by said women — she’d be a distraction walking the hallways, exchanging meteorological information by the water cooler, and we don’t need disruptions, really — her resume didn’t make it to the right folder.

What about brainpower, you ask? In a law office aptitude is/should be the driving force behind hiring decisions.

Well, once she was called egregiously beautiful, once the hallways erupted with: She’d have all the men (or maybe it was said everyone) distracted from their work, the consideration stopped there. No male partner wished to hire or discuss this beautiful creature whom, even if good for the job, would damage the office psyche with all her … beauty.

Case closed.

Although the talk stopped almost after it started, for a little while the office was taken over by the one person who took the elevator to our floor, walked into our lobby, exchanged pleasantries with people in the waiting room, made her way down the hall to her interview, and created all the hoopla.

I couldn’t stop thinking: this would make a great story. Depending on the viewpoint, the hero may become the villain, or the anti-hero may take on the villain only to have the hero (heroine) come to the rescue, but wait … that’s all been planned by the hero and anti-hero to bring down the villain. Aha!

Okay, I haven’t considered the fine points, only looked at it as an intriguing story idea, especially since beauty is usually an asset, or at least not a drawback, in such a situation.

Feel free to brainstorm with me, tell me this is a bad idea, or share your experience.

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Image courtesy: kayfairey.com

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

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Recently, I’ve read two writers in my critique group who made me yearn to be a better writer. Perhaps that’s not a full-blown insecurity, but it certainly is a reminder that the literary road I have to travel remains long and winding.

Both stories center on tragedies (an easy target, and maybe overdone). But in both cases, the events leading to the big reveal (what weighs heavily on the characters’ hearts) are described slowly. The pain, deeply internalized, does not overwhelm, giving the reader layers of emotion and psychological depth. 

The beautiful language many times comes at the reader in metaphors that stir the thoughts in many directions. I kept waiting for the writing to falter (those aren’t final works) but it never did. I was never pulled out of the settings, never unable to visualize the character’s emotions.

The writers did something wonderful not only for themselves, but for me, the reader. They inspired me. They gave me ideas. And that’s what reading is meant to do, isn’t it?

… literature is about the obsession with ideas.”~ Ryan McGinty of the Gustavus A. College.

After a month of daily blogging, when ideas are in short supply and energy even lower, reading great literature, or just reading, does two things: replenishes the overtapped creative well, and makes me want to get better. 

The latter is definitely in the realm of insecurities, and it can be treated only with reading and more reading, hopefully followed by writing and better writing.

Thank you.

~~~ If you’d like to share, encourage, or read other Insecure Writer’s Support Group participants, please visit this site.