Showing posts with label Encouragement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Encouragement. Show all posts

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Pitch Wars Prep: Why You Should Enter (And What to Expect)

Okay, so you've got a polished manuscript, a perfected query letter, and you've conquered the dreaded synopsis. Congratulations, you're ready to enter PitchWars!


That queasy pit of nervous excitement in your stomach? Totally normal. 

Other feelings that are also totally normal:
Doubt
Fear
Anxiety
Questioning the quality of every word in your manuscript


Also, voices. The ones that say things like, "Do you really want to do this? Do you really want to bare your writer soul to a group of strangers in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they'll like your book?"

Yes. Yes, you do. Here's why:

Being a writer is all about putting yourself out there. And if you're serious about becoming a published author, it's unavoidable. It's also hard and scary. But at some point you're going to have to decide that you've done all you can do, your book is finished, and it's time for it to leave the nest. Pitch Wars gives you a great opportunity to let your book test its wings. 

The entire Pitch Wars process is the life story of a querying writer. If you've never queried before, it's a great way to dip your toes in the water. If you have queried before, well then you know the drill! Just like when querying agents, you have to polish your manuscript, prepare your submission materials, research the mentors' wish lists to see who would be the best fit for you and your book, submit your entry, and then...wait. (Waiting is also part of the writer's life story.)

But what if I'm not chosen? I hate the thought of being disappointed. I get that. I've been on both sides of the Pitch Wars coin: I submitted in 2014 and didn't get in, tried again in 2015 and was chosen as a mentee. I've felt both disappointment and elation on announcement day. But disappointment is something all writers have to deal with, through every stage of the writing journey. If writers weren't willing to risk disappointment, books wouldn't exist. It's totally okay to feel bummed and have a cry and eat the ice cream, just don't stay there. If you're not chosen, take any feedback you receive, apply it to your book, seek out CPs and Beta Readers, and KEEP GOING. Remember, Pitch Wars, and other writing contests, are not the only way to get an agent. Plenty of writers - myself included - get their agents through the slush pile and old-fashioned querying. Not making it into Pitch Wars does not spell the end of your writing career. DON'T GIVE UP.

And whether you're chosen as a mentee or not, there's something all you hopefuls gain: An amazing community of fellow writers. The other writers on the #PitchWars feed are amazing! You guys are (hopefully) already connecting, swapping manuscripts, and encouraging one another. That doesn't have to end when the mentor picks go live. Writing is a tough business, every step of the way. Having a solid community of people who know what it's like, who can help you strengthen your writing, and talk you down when you're ready to quit is so important. Keep cultivating those relationships.

But what if I AM chosen? What can I expect as a mentee? Hard work. There will likely be late nights, or early mornings, or lunches eaten in front of your laptop. You should be ready and willing to listen to critique and thoughtfully consider your mentor's suggested revisions. Some may resonate with you right away, some you might want to think about for a day or two, some might spark a different "Hey, what if we did THIS?" idea. You may have to kill some darlings and cut a few (or a lot) of words. The days until the agent round will both drag and fly by. And there will also be fun! Twitter chatting and team names and gif wars and taunting and all sorts of shenanigans. If I had to sum it up in two words: Challenging & Awesome.


But you can't experience any of it if you don't put yourself out there and jump into the fray! Don't let doubt, insecurity, or fear prevent you from taking the plunge. No matter the outcome, you'll have the chance to grow as a writer, and that my friends, is a win. 

I can't wait to read all your amazing middle grade submissions! (I mean, we all know MG is the best category, amiright?)

And since I'm obsessed with these adorable gifs, I leave you with a viable option for retrieving sustenance during the flurry of Pitch Wars...



Friday, March 30, 2018

When You Wish Progress was a Cheetah, Not a Snail

Timing is everything. Or so they say. The problem with timing is that it’s often out of our control and isn't usually concerned with our opinion on how quickly it should move. There are few times this is better illustrated than when you’re working toward a dream. Dreams are rarely instantaneous, just-add-water-and-viola sort of things. And if that dream involves the publishing world, buckle up and enjoy the ride. For most of us, it will be proceeding at a snail’s pace. I hope you brought some snacks. 



But the idea of timing, while frustrating at times, has also become a source of comfort for me when I feel stuck in the middle, between where I am and where I hope to be.

As a Christian, my personal belief is that timing is all about God knowing what’s best for future me better than I do. But whether you believe things happen as a result of divine orchestration, or fate, or serendipity, or pure chance, I would bet you’ve uttered the phrase “perfect timing” at least once in your life. I've been thinking about this a lot lately—how perfect timing doesn't usually feel perfect in the moment. More like everyone else is speeding past you while you're standing still and screaming at them to WAIT UP like an irate toddler. 




That's the other problem with timing: It usually takes being on the other side of something to appreciate the path you took to get there. When it feels like you've forever been in a season of waiting—just on the cusp of seeing dreams come to fruition—it's hard to stop and think of the good things that have happened in the wait. To be honest, I'd often rather whine about how I'm feeling than have someone remind me to take a different perspective (and if that's you too, and you already want to strangle me, I feel you, but just walk with me for a minute...)

If my agent had signed me for the first book I submitted to her (almost 5 years ago), I would have never entered Pitch Wars. I would have never formed the close-knit friendships that have sustained me through the ups and downs of the writing process. I would never have had the opportunity to mentor other writers and their beautiful stories. Not only that, but I was a fairly new author, it was my first children’s book, and I was still ignorant (and in many ways just naive) about so much of what it takes to write and publish great stories. I’d never experienced the self-imposed pressure and expectations that come with writing book #2 (or #3, or #4). I hadn’t yet questioned my dream, or wondered if it was all worth it. If I’d gotten everything I’d hoped and dreamed of in that moment five years ago, quite frankly, it probably would have wrecked me. 

In the moment, it felt like failure. Now, I look back with gratitude for how things have ultimately progressed. 

This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I have plenty of days where I'd rather just wallow—in disappointment, in sadness, in jealousy. Days when my inner critic tells me I'm a big fat failure. On those days, I need someone else to nudge me in a different, more honest direction. To remind me that I have to trust the process—I have to believe that when the time is right, it will happen. And that someday, I’ll look back and say, “Thank goodness it worked out this way.” 

Recently, I was listening to Annie F. Downs'* podcast conversation with singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb. Ellie was telling the story behind her album, Red Sea Road. As she was getting ready to release it, her dad was diagnosed with cancer, and in the midst of his diagnosis and treatment Ellie missed a deadline, which caused the record release to be delayed. It was an additional blow in the middle of an already difficult time. But when her record finally did release, she received so many messages from people who had listened to her album in the midst of their own personal struggle and heartache who told her, “Your song came at the perfect time.”

And therein lies the comfort. So much is out of our control, but if we have faith in the process and trust the timing, we can believe that we will be better for the wait. And we can believe that the wait isn’t just about us, but about that one kid, out there in the universe, who will pick up our book one day...at just the right time. 


*Annie F. Downs is one of my favorite humans on the planet. We're not, like, IRL friends or anything, but I wish we were. Go listen to her podcast: That Sounds Fun.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Writing: A Survival Guide for INFJs

Note: If you don't know your personality type, I highly suggest taking the 16Personalities test.

The day I discovered I'm an INFJ and read my first personality profile, it was like WHO ARE YOU AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SPYING ON MY LIFE? Suddenly, all my weirdness made sense. As I continued to learn about common strengths and weaknesses for my personality type, it was illuminating not just for my everyday life, but for my life as a writer.

They say INFJs make up the smallest percentage of all personality types—less than 1%. And from my very unofficial surveys it seems like writers ARE the 1%. It makes sense, since most INFJs are naturally creative. But while being an INFJ can make us feel unique, it also comes with a unique set of challenges, especially as writers. These struggles are something all writers may face (and on the flip side, not all INFJs may struggle with these), but if you find yourself having a particularly hard time in these areas (like me), here are some tips for surviving and thriving as an INFJ writer...

Struggle: We tend to be more sensitive to criticism and critique.



Why this can be a problem: If you're going to write a book, you're going to need critiques and you're going to face criticism.

What you can do: Realize that critique of your work is part of the process and business of being a writer. And it is NOT personal. When your critique partners read your latest manuscript and come back with suggestions, it's easy to get defensive. It's also easy to despair. Resist the urge to get sucked into either of those whirlpools. Find writing partners you trust and then remind yourself that they don't hate you or your book, no matter how many comments they make on your manuscript. In fact, they want to help you succeed. Critique is essential to growth and success as a writer—and FYI, none of us ever reach a point where we've "made it" and no longer need feedback. If it's not coming from your CPs, it's going to come from an agent or an editor. Learn to see this part of the writing life as a positive, not a negative.

Criticism can be a harder beast to face. My advice? Don't dwell on it. I know—easier said than done. But again, it's par for the course as a writer. Reading is subjective. What one reader thinks is amazing, another might hate. Think about all the books you've loved...and the ones you didn't. Yes, it might feel like a personal assault when someone dislikes our book, but in the end, it's just one person's opinion, and we don't have to let that opinion become part of our identity—as a person, or a writer.

Struggle: We can be extremely private.



Why this can be a problem: We try to go it alone.

What you can do: Find yourself a community of writers who know what you're going through. You don't have to tell them every detail of your life, but having friends who understand the ups and downs of the writing life—and who can offer encouragement and a safe space to feel all the feelings that come with it—is essential to staying emotionally healthy as a writer.

Struggle: We tend to be perfectionists.



Why this can be a problem: We can be tempted to quit in the first draft, or edit and revise for ages, convinced our words are never good enough.

What you can do: Learn that first drafts and perfection do NOT go together. Writing is messy and it takes time. Find trusted CPs and send them your work even when you know it's not perfect. In order for that manuscript to grow up into a book, it has to leave the nest. It will be okay, and so will you.

And remember, editing doesn't stop until that book is in print. Any agent you sign with is probably going to request a few changes, and once you have that glorious book deal, you'll be working with an editor who's going to request a whole lot more. Learn to let go and not obsess over every comma. Or should that be a semicolon? Maybe I should just rewrite the entire sentence so I don't have to figure out which one is right...(Don't pretend you haven't done this.)

Struggle: We hate feeling like we're not making progress, routine tasks are an annoyance, and interruptions push us over the edge.



Why this can be a problem: Cranky writer snaps at anyone and anything that causes delays in their writing goals or interrupts writing time. Despair sets in and we begin to question our life choices. Is this really worth it? Is it ever going to happen? I should just give up. 

What you can do: First, give yourself grace. Life happens. Sometimes you have a week where everything goes according to plan and you hit your daily word count goal with ease. Other weeks, the kids get sick, or appointments stack up, or bad news leaves you mentally and emotionally exhausted. You're lucky if you manage a paragraph. Realize that this is okay. It may be frustrating, but it's also out of your control.

Secondly, learn to prioritize. 99.9% of the writers I know (including myself) don't write full time. We're also students, employees, business owners, SAHMs trying to juggle writing and motherhood...all with tasks that *aren't* writing screaming for our attention. It's easy for writing to become that thing we do when we've managed to get everything else done. I don't know about you, but I have a strong tendency to get overwhelmed by the length of my to-do list, and I don't always prioritize that list very well. I want to check everything off the list as quickly as possible, but what I need to do is decide what HAS to be done today, and what can wait until tomorrow or the next day. If I have a graphic design job that's not due for two weeks, I don't have to finish it in the next eight hours, I can space it over the next few days. As much as I hate the stack of dirty dishes next to the sink, they'll still be there after a quick writing session. Figure out what part of your day is going to be the best time for writing (said time may shift from day to day), and when that time comes, write. For me, it's usually in the afternoon when the kids' homeschool work is done and they're free to watch cartoons or play video games. Sure I could be tempted to tackle that stack of dishes, but it's a lot easier to write during that window of relative peace and quiet. Later, when the husband is home and the kids are running wild through the house with their Nerf guns, and the dog is barking because the neighbors have dared to pull into their driveway—then I can do those dishes.

Struggle: We tend to neglect self care.



Why this can be a problem: Creative burnout is a real thing.

What you can do: This goes along with the last problem, in that it's easy to push yourself TOO hard to juggle life and responsibilities AND write your novel. That's why balance—and knowing when to take a break—is so important. 

Confession—when I'm deep in a project, writing or otherwise, I forget to eat. Yeah, you're not the first person to make that face at me. This is the point where I usually lose people. I have a couple of friends who totally feel me on this, but most folks hear that and are horrified. ("You forget to EAT? How is that even possible?") Turns out it's an INFJ quirk. I mean, I'm in the middle of a five hundred-word streak! Having to stop and make food is SO annoying. Do you know how long it takes to microwave that noodle bowl? Four minutes! I just...give me a second...if I don't write this down, I'll forget this brilliant line...it's okay, I had breakfast this morning...I think...how long have I had to pee this bad? 

Even on days where the words aren't flowing, it's easy to spend hours trying to squeeze something out of your brain and through your fingertips. When you're not actively writing, your mind is still swirling, trying to craft that perfect sentence or fill in that plot hole. Soon you're tired and cranky and your brain is mush. Every sentence sounds idiotic. Your anxiety is skyrocketing and you're convinced you're a sham—you'll never be a successful writer. Who were you kidding? Whut R werds? 

This is your hint that you need to take a break. Rest. Do something that inspires you creatively and/or relaxes your mind and body. Take a walk. Listen to music. Watch a film or read a book. I'm not a person who believes you have to write EVERY SINGLE DAY in order to be successful. In fact, I've found that I'm much more successful at meeting my goals if I include consistent breaks and moments of rest. Take time to recharge. Your manuscript will thank you. And when you do get back to writing? Take a muffin with you.


I'd love to hear from you! Did you connect with any of these struggles? What strategies have you implemented to help you overcome? 

This post is also appearing on To the Shelves - be sure to check out the other great writing tips available on the site!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Letter to the Pitch Wars Hopefuls Who Didn't Get In

Dear Heartbroken Hopefuls,

As someone who didn't get into Pitch Wars (or land an agent) with my first book, I know the sting of rejection. I know how much it sucks to anticipate and hope and wait and then not have things work out the way you wanted them to.

I'm here to tell you, it's okay.

It's okay to feel really, really sad. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be jealous of those who got in. It's okay to be upset, to question everything, to wonder if being a writer is really worth it. To wonder if you want to keep going.

All of these feels are normal feels.

I love the scene in Gilmore Girls where Rory has broken up with Dean and is acting totally okay but Lorelei knows she is, in reality, not okay at all.


This is me telling you it's okay to wallow.


Let me say it one more time.

It's. Okay. To. Wallow.





Take a break. Stay off Twitter if you need to. Set aside your manuscript or WIP for a day or two and indulge in a Netflix binge.

And then come back.

My pastor said in a recent sermon "Bitter experiences in life aren't optional, but becoming bitter is." I know that's super heavy and serious after all those Gilmore Girl gifs, but it's true. Disappointments happen. If you're a writer they happen A LOT. But don't let it cause you to miss out on great things. Don't wallow for too long. Don't go into permanent hiding. Don't stop writing. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The opportunity to learn from the mentors, and your peers, doesn't end now that the Pitch Wars mentees have been chosen. We'll still be writing blog posts and answering your questions on Twitter and sharing encouragement and advice. The feed is still full of other writers looking for CPs and beta readers and just a friend to talk to who understands what they're going through. Embrace that community. Trust me when I say you'll not only want it, but NEED it as you continue to work toward your goals.

And of course, I'll tell you everything you've already heard from us mentors over the last week: Pitch Wars is not your only shot at an agent. It's not the only path to publication. Even those who did get in have no guarantee of either of those things. Keep writing, keep revising, take feedback into consideration, find good CPs, polish to best of your ability, and start querying. All this is great advice, and some of you have already put it into practice. But some of you want to punch me in the face right now because even though you know it's true, it doesn't make you feel better. If that's you, first let me extend you a virtual hug. The pizza guy is on speed dial. There's ice cream in the freezer. And I'll say it one more time.

It's okay to wallow.

We'll be here when you're ready to keep going. And we're already stocking up on confetti to celebrate with you when your time comes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How to Wait Well: Get Out Your Pom-Poms

Confession: I don't always wait well. When I was a kid and I had to wait for something, I would just make a paper calendar with elaborately doodled pages and mark off the days until the SUPER EXCITING THING arrived. But give me a wait without a specified end date, and waiting well quickly turns into waiting cranky. I don't think anyone has ever died from waiting, but dang it if it doesn't feel like a real possibility some days.

Ask a writer what it's like to write a book and you'll get all sorts of answers. It's fun...it's challenging...it's fulfilling...it's exciting. And it's all those things. It's an amazing experience in which we sit at our computers and populate the blank page with words, bringing to life the vibrant world inside our heads as our characters whisper their stories in our ears.

...

Yeah, mostly it's this:


But honestly, I think the hardest part of writing comes once the book is finished, because if there's one thing all writers can agree on, it's that pursuing a career in the book world involves a whole lot of w-a-i-t-i-n-g. In fact, if I were to make a pie chart to illustrate life after writing a book, it would look something like this:


(If my agent is reading this, I promise that "write next book" slice is a lot bigger than it looks.) 😉

And the waiting comes with every stage of the journey. First you wait for agents to reply to your queries, then you wait for them to read your manuscript. Then you countdown the hours until THE CALL, and the moment you can officially announce I HAVE AN AGENT! And once you've waited for your agent to finish reading your revisions, guess what?

YOU WAIT SOME MORE!

Because once you're on sub, then you're waiting on replies from editors and eventually, if you're lucky enough to get a publishing deal, there's more announcements to wait for and more edits to complete, the countdown to publication day, and by then, you've hopefully finished another book and get to start the entire process all over again.


So, how does one survive? How do we wait well and not end up a hot mess, clutching our manuscripts and begging PLEASE JUST LIKE THESE WORDS I WROTE while consuming an entire pint of triple chocolate cookie dough ice cream? "Write the next book" is the suggestion I hear most often (for good reason). And of course, there's always the distraction of that never ending pile of books waiting to be read. But I've found that one of the best (and most fun) survival techniques is cheering on my fellow authors.


A great way to stop focusing on your own wait is to support someone else in theirs. And let's face it. It's super easy to fall into the comparison trap in this business. No matter where we're at in our own journey, there will always be someone who reaches the next stage ahead of us. What better way to beat down the green-eyed monster of jealousy than by celebrating others' success? (Something I need to remember not just in writing, but in life.)

I'm fortunate enough to have a great group of writing friends, both locally and online (looking at you, Pitch Wars 2015 crew) and they've been incredible examples of what it means to wait well and root for one another. My time in the waiting trenches would be ten times harder if not for their camaraderie. The writing world is such an incredible community precisely because of the support we lend each other, so...

Obsessively checking your email? Send an encouraging note to a friend who's in the midst of a first draft. Are the aisles of Barnes and Noble silently mocking you with their rows of bestsellers? Offer to CP or beta read for a fellow writer who desperately wants to be on those shelves, too. Procrastinating on social media? Retweet that deal announcement, blog post, or book trailer. 

While you're waiting for your own time of celebration to arrive, LET THAT CONFETTI FLY.


And, hey, a little retail therapy never hurts, right?


Monday, January 18, 2016

Learning to Embrace the Story

For the last couple of years, I've seen a trend on social media. Come January, people start posting their "word" for the year. Something that speaks to them, to what they want out of the shiny, clean slate that is a brand new calendar. A word of encouragement; one that points toward a goal. A hope. An area of growth.

I like this idea. But then again, I'm a fan of words in general.

After pondering for a couple of weeks, I think I've landed on my 2016 word of the year...

Embrace.

            em•brace  verb
            1. to accept (something or someone) readily or gladly
            2. to use (an opportunity) eagerly

I especially love how this word applies to both my life in general...

Embrace the messy house. I have two children. And a life. Mess comes with the territory.
Embrace simplicity. Contentment is the new black.
Embrace the present. There are memories to be made now. The future can wait its turn.

...and to my writing career...

Embrace the wait. The perfect thing later is a lot better than the wrong thing now. 
Embrace the rejections. That agent/editor/publisher wasn't the right one. But the next one could be.
Embrace who I am as an author. Focus on sharing a story, not selling a book.

That last one is the hardest (at least for me). I think one of the most sought after - and most feared - words in the writing world is "marketable." If you're a writer you've probably heard people say, "Don't write for the market! Write the story only you can tell!" And if you've ever been told that your book is lovely but not marketable enough, you've probably felt the strong desire to pummel those people with the largest, heaviest book you can get your hands on. (I keep a nice, fat hardcover copy of War and Peace in my living room for just such occasions.) 

(Just Kidding.) 


(Or am I?)

I realized recently, as I've been exploring ideas for new writing projects and revisiting old ones, that I've been trying to shove myself into the elusive box of marketability. And it's sapped a lot of the joy I once felt at the prospect of putting new words on paper. It's a difficult balance, wanting to write the story that brings you joy, but also wanting it to bring you an agent and a book deal. And while I think writing with the awareness of what makes a book marketable is a good thing, writing solely with the intention of creating a sellable story is a recipe for disaster. Writing is like cooking: the secret spice is love. It's the difference between a bland TV dinner and a spicy home cooked meal. It's the difference between a good book and a great one. 

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg

That's not to say that the story you're passionate about comes easy. Even things you love can make you want to pull your hair out (every mother in the world knows this). But it's worth every single edit. Every single rewrite. Every single moment of questioning your sanity.

I read a story this week, after the passing of Alan Rickman, that really drove this point home for me. Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, shared a story on her Facebook page of an interaction she had with Alan at a charity dinner a few years after the filming of the HP movies. At the time, Evanna says, she "was stressing about the pressure I felt to already be a successful actress and that I'd run out of time to make mistakes." Then she goes on to share Alan's advice...

"As an actress, already having to lie about my age at 24, it seems mad that Alan only found his vocation and began his acting journey at 26 and turned out to be…Alan Rickman. But when I told him that I was worried if I didn't figure myself out quickly I would miss the most important opportunities and never get them back, he simply told me that I was focusing on the wrong thing. He said not to worry about getting 'there' and instead to focus on feeding my soul and following my heart from place to place."

As I move into this new year, I want to embrace the stories that are tugging at my heart. The ones I can't stop thinking about. The ones that bring a smile to my face and make me eager to take up my pen again...and again...and again...even when it's hard. 

Because after all, those stories are the reason why I started writing in the first place. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

A New Day

In my last post I talked about the joys of waiting...  

You send your manuscript, finally complete after months and months of grueling labor, to a magazine/publisher/agent...and then you wait. But...there are no guarantees. Sure, you could be waiting for that hallelujah-angel-chorus moment of acceptance. But you could also end up with that heartbreaking, pass-the-tissues-and-the-Ben-&-Jerry's-please rejection.

On Friday I was on my way out the door to run errands with a car full of kids and had just picked up my cell phone when I heard that adrenaline-inducing, new-email chime. I looked at the screen, saw the sender's address and my heart skipped a beat as I opened it and got my answer...



I haven't posted many details about this particular part of my writing journey which has been happening over the last few months, because in my opinion (and in the general opinion of writers and writerly professionals everywhere, if I'm not mistaken) it's not in good taste to kiss and tell, as it were, when querying. My writer's group, of course, knows all the nitty gritty details, but the long and short of it is this: I had a nibble on my novel query, sent an agent my manuscript, and after one phone call and several emails, sat back and waited to find out whether or not said agent would sign me.

In the end it was a no. A very sweet, very complimentary no, but a no nonetheless.

Honestly, I expected to feel crushed. Maybe even cry a little. Instead I found myself remarkably non-hysterical. In fact--dare I say it?--I felt relieved. Through this whole process I've grown and learned so much and received some invaluable encouragement and advice. Now I had my answer, and while it wasn't the answer I would have preferred, at least I knew that door was closed and the time had come to go knockin' on some new ones. So, I allowed myself the Ben and Jerry's (because you don't pass up the perfect excuse for indulging in tiramisu flavored ice-cream) and a good 20 minutes of pursuing the latest issue of Glamour (because Olivia Wilde) and then proceeded to stay up til almost midnight submitting my manuscript to Pitch Wars. And you know what? I think it's the most triumphant I've ever felt hitting "send".

After all, a dream isn't a very good dream if it's not worth fighting for, no?

Earlier last week, I bookmarked this quote for a future Picture Quote Monday and I think it's perfect for today. (Thank you to my friend Jacqui of Simply Jacqui Photography for the use of her photo). Here's hoping for some of that magic.


Friday, August 8, 2014

The Waiting Game is Afoot


I've never been all that good at waiting. When I was a kid, I'd make countdown calendars, painstakingly hand drawing every square and number, making fancy fonts for the month at the top. I'd start about September 1st and draw a big red X every night before bed until I made it through not just one, but TWO WHOLE MONTHS, and reached that glorious square marked MY BIRTHDAY!!!! Yes, I'm that annoying person who starts buying Christmas gifts in October. And my husband rarely gets his birthday or father's day gifts on the actual celebratory date in question because he knows it takes a minuscule amount of coaxing to convince me to hand them over early. (When it comes to Christmas I hold firm, but the rest of the year--once the postman delivers it, it's pretty much over).

But what I really hate is being forced to wait for some ambiguous point in the future which may or may not bring good tidings. Unfortunately, this is pretty much 45% of a writer's job description, right under the ability to survive on scant amounts of sleep and sanity. I've found that as a writer, waiting is one hundred thousand three million seven hundred and ninety-eight (to borrow a number from my six-year-old) times harder. At least I know that if I can just make it through the next 87 days (thank you, Siri), my patience will be rewarded with birthday cake--or in my case pie--mostly because I'll make it myself. It's so nice to be in control of things.

As a writer...no such luck.

You send your manuscript, finally complete after months and months of grueling labor, to a magazine/publisher/agent...and then you wait. But this time, there are no guarantees. Sure, you could be waiting for that hallelujah-angel-chorus moment of acceptance. But you could also end up with that heartbreaking, pass-the-tissues-and-the-Ben-&-Jerry's-please rejection. And since there's no saying when that reply will come, you can't even make a count-down calendar to help you cope. It's emotional Russian roulette. And if you're anything like me, the wait goes something like this:

I'm not going to get my hopes up.
Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, oh, please...
They hate it. I'm doomed. It's never going to happen.
Maybe?


So, what to do? How do we make the waiting game not suck so much? In the wise words of Sherlock:


Really. In all honesty I'm just commiserating out loud here. Of course there are ways to try and distract yourself. A new writing project, a relaxing hobby, catching up on your Goodreads "To Read" list. Binge watching anything involving Benedict Cumberbatch that's available on Netflix. Now that I think about it, turning off the alert sound for new emails might not be a bad idea (nothing like a rush of adrenaline wasted on yet another 40% off sale at rue21). But, in the end, I suppose there's nothing to be done but...

Wait.

What about you? Patient, or impatient? What do you do to pass the time when you're forced to wait?




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tiny Potato Believes in You

I haven't posted in FOREVER. Mostly because I've been desperately trying to finish editing my book so my writers' group can read it and tell me whether or not it's any good.

Sometimes, doing what you love is hard.

Sometimes, you just need someone to believe in you.

I believe in you.

And so does tiny potato.


(Image stolen from my friend Becca's Instagram. For more awesomeness follow her here. And here.)