Thursday, May 20, 2010

Got an Agent

Don't know what to do with her.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

What it Takes to Be an Author, Part II


Pure and simple.

You can't be an author if you're not willing to face your fears. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of letting others down.

Fear that the answer to the following questions is 'No!':

Will I ever write another book?

Will I ever write another GOOD book?

Can I really do this again and again and again?

Those three questions have haunted me since day one of this journey.

I love to write.

I hate to fail.

To write, I must be willing to fail and to learn from it.

That's the difficult thing. That is the struggle. I must not only allow myself to fall from the high of, "I've completed it!" to the low of, "It stinks worse than rotten eggs", but I must also be willing and able and even compelled to pick myself up, brush myself off and fix whatever is broken (in me and my manuscript).

It's a gigantuine task. One that takes a will of steal and a whole lot of coconut cake (please see previous post for details).

Writing, you see, is not about one victory. It is not one defining moment. We often discuss The Call as if that were the end of the journey, but it is truly only the beginning. The Call is simply an opportunity. It is an editor saying, "I believe in you," and us responding, "I believe in what I'm doing."

Because without that belief, we will publish one or two or three books, and the journey will get more difficult as we try to balance family life and writing and editing and creativity. We will feel overwhelmed and wonder if it is worth it, and we will begin to doubt what we are doing. If we are not careful, we will lose our passion to our panic and self-doubts. Sadly, I have seen this happen. I know several people who have published one book and never published another. Or published two or three or four and then thrown in the towel and said, "enough!".

So, yeah, The Call is the defining moment, but it is not THE moment. That does not exist. To be an author every moment must be THE moment. Each time we sit down to write, we must force aside our anxiety and worries and endless questions, and we must pour ourselves into the book with nary a thought of rejection and failure.

And that's a hard thing to do.

What does it take to be an author? It takes guts. Lots of guts.

And, of course, friends.

And faith.

And the belief that what we're doing is exactly what we were made for.

Monday, May 03, 2010

What it Takes to Be An Author, Part I

Seriously, I know it seems like being an author should be all about writing the book. Creativity, inspiration, passion, those are the things I expected to bring to the party (so to speak) when I began my journey to publication.

And I have.

But there is a lot more to writing than....well....writing.

Take for example, the copy edit stage.

Once you've written "The End", sent your baby off and had your story accepted by an editor, you can't just wipe your hands of the matter.

Really. You can't.

A few weeks or months after acceptance (depending on how far you are from publication date), your 300 or so pages of writing will be sent to a copy editor. It is the copy editor's thankless job to check the details of your story. Does John Doe have a different name on page 21 than he did on page 10? If so, the copy editor will notice it. Things she notices or has questions about are jotted down for future reference. Meanwhile, your editor is hard at work making her own notes.

When they are finished, you will open your front door and find this on your stoop -

Generally speaking, the big red sticker means that what is inside is extremely urgent and time sensitive. Take my advice and do not set the package on the counter to be opened at a later date. Otherwise, receiving a manuscript just days before it is due back to your editor might pose a problem. Case in point, the cover letter from my most recent copy edits. I received them on the 29th and they needed to be back on my editor's desk on the 5th.

Once you gird your loins and open the package, you'll find your entire manuscript marked and ready for your critical eye. During this stage, it is not the editor's job to make you feel good. There may be smiley faces and hearts sprinkled in the margins of your masterpiece, but you will also have comments like, "Please don't have them kiss when she's got strep throat," jotted down in the white spaces. Such comments will, of course, make you cringe, and it at this point you must hike up your big-girl britches and face your nemesis head-on (and by nemesis I mean your embarrassment, defensiveness, self-doubt, etc....NOT your editor's comments.)

In order to tackle your copy edits effectively, you may want to read through the comments and get an idea of what may need to be fixed.

After that, you will spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the perfect red pen. Okay. Maybe you won't do that, but in my house, with five kids constantly borrowing my pens, that's how I begin.

Now, this is the time when things get tough. It is your job to answers the queries presented by your editor. You may feel that what you wrote was fine, and you may STET the recommended changes. You may realize that the editor's keen eye has once again caught you in less than stellar writing form. Either way, you must employ full use of your red pen, cutting and hacking and recreating so that your vision for the book and your editor's align.

The process is labor intensive. The beauty of a manuscript is in the details, after all. Slowly, slowly, you will work your way through the pages, reading comments, reworking sections. You'll get a crick in your neck and a massive headache, and you'll be reduced to breaking your diet and eating this:

Which will give you enough of a sugar rush to get you through the remaining pages. That's when you will realize that your house is silent, and that it's the wee hours of the morning and that every sane person is asleep.

But who said you were sane?

You are a writer, right? And writers, must do what they must to get their books to production. So, you'll print new pages of manuscript and attach them to old pages

At least, you will try to.

If your house is like mine (and it probably isn't, because my house is NUTS!), you'll spend too much time searching for paperclips and finding them like this:

By this time, the house will no longer be quiet, and you will enlist help in finding paperclips.

And finally, you will be done.

At this point, no matter how bad the weather, you will hop in your car and you will take your manuscript off to be overnighted (if, like me, you had only a few days to return it) into your editor's waiting hands.

Because that is what an author does if she is truly an author.