Two and a half weeks ago Jessica and I returned from our fabulous Willamette Writers Conference with smiles on our faces and eager to go forth and write. What happens to our projects after the glow wears off? One of us hit a gigantic malaise and the other has busied herself with friends, shopping, and television gawking blahs, anything to avoid our plans to write.
We came home exhausted but enthused. So why this foggy phase? It reminds me about the let down after a holiday or vacation: the ubiquitous anti climax. The problem for us is we aren’t taking the needed respite from words, characters, and plot with grace. The “to do’s” hang over us regardless of what our mouths repeat to each other: “You need a break,” Your enthusiasm will return soon enough,” You’ve earned time away. It’s a good thing!” We intellectually believe these statements are correct in withdrawing, but, emotionally we allow guilt to hover .
I have a friend, Greg Warburton, who has written an amazing book out this October about ways to move kids into adulthood. One of his many strategies is to ask a client, (this time me), “How long are you going to continue this choice?” OK, Greg, I will give myself until September 1! Oh, now I can relax and take a deep breath.
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Has everyone heard of impostor syndrome? It’s that feeling we’ve all experienced where, despite our accomplishments, we’re unable to feel like we’ve earned our spot. Like we’re a creative imposter and someone is going to find out we don’t belong. I don’t know any creative person who has never internalized this feeling. But the truth […]
The Willamette Writers Conference earlier this month provided so much information that I’m sorting through pages of notes and handouts to remember the best ideas. One bit of information I received could be interpreted as intimidating and downright negative if any one of us decides to internalise it as a discouraging threat: “1 in 10 submitted projects are accepted for promotion by agents. Nine hundred ninety of every 1000 projects an agent pitches to publishers is rejected.” If that information from Larry Brooks carries a slap across the side of one’s head, a writer might throw up his or her hands and quit.
The reaction each of us has to such a dismal statistic forces us to focus on why he/she writes. Most of us do so because we have to and will continue regardless of stats. If money and fame are the goals, the decision to discontinue a project might save time. But if it isn’t, why do we forge ahead? We all have our reasons; maybe its a challenge, perhaps this book of ours must be completed, or we move forward without giving the odds another thought. Best selling books have been rejected numerous times, e.g.. Hunger Games, Gone with the Wind, The Twilight series, and others. One foot in front of the other, or better said, one word after another. Perhaps that will be our story, too.
Stay positive. Go forth and write!
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Funny Pics about Writing by Adam Huddleston This week I thought I’d just share a few humorous gifs about writers and the work they do. Happy writing!
With trepidation, my colleague and I arrived at the conference site late Thursday afternoon. We hadn’t planned to do pitches with agents or publishers and that (temporarily) lightened our discomfort. Attending an excellent writers’ conference is a boost and a “get going” kick in the butt, and we were not disappointed.
We talked to people from Washington, Texas, and Utah. This conference is well respected and draws notable authors and presenters from across the country. Three full days and an edifying evening on Thursday to hear pitch practice with comments from agents were helpful. Thus, our busy learning week began.
After arriving home Sunday night, friends asked how it went. I happily reported that I had bad news and good news. The bad news was that much of the back story of my characters should not be included unless it moves the plot. (Oops, a chunky part of the novel evaporated.) The good news was that I came home with renewed enthusiasm and perspective. Larry Brooks’s competencies and refocus on effective writing rocked me back. I highly recommend his books, Story Engineering and Story Physics. He breathed a fresh, new direction for my novel.
Thank you, Larry and the many competent presenters, organizers and volunteers. The conference was terrific!
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We head out today to another writing conference. The last one was what prompted the beginning of this blog. The variety of presentations boggle the mind and choosing for each time slot is overwhelming. I look forward to this with anticipation since last year’s gave me edifying information. When you await all of the last day’s sessions with a 2 hour drive ahead, you know the conference was great.
Figuring out what I want to take away from it this year is the issue. My learning curve was a straight line last August. One agent asked me what my platform was and I had no idea what that meant. Duh! What was frustrating is that the agents I saw, including disagreeing adamantly what genre my work would be labeled, asked for pages but never acknowledged them. I asked a program administrator if agents were encouraged to ask for more. He claimed not, but the requests would up the satisfaction factor for the participants.
So, off Jessica and I go! Wish us luck!