A Question for New writers...
The rain is pounding at the windows in my office as I write and I am snuggled up to the radiator.
Recently I realised that I had all but stopped writing. I actually know exactly why. I have been working away on my other business Safe Space Coaching and dreaming up new business offerings. I don't really believe in Balance. We are always giving our attention to one thing more than another.
Currently I am learning French, researching my second fiction novel, thinking of finishing my first non-fiction novel (part memoir/part self-help), learning the language of sales, improving my written English, competing in my first Bikini Series Challenge (don't ask) and taking care of my home. Now, I cannot possibly get all of the work done that I need to do on all of these during ONE day. I have trello boards for all of them and plans too but that doesn't mean they are balanced...AT ALL. I'm tired just reading that back really. ZZzzzzz
I adore writing and I have a friend who is waiting on my completed chapter, which I have mostly completed, but once I finished the book I must admit I got impatient and wanted to start the next one right away! Alas, I find myself unable to start writing it because I know nothing about the time period...PERIOD! It will take lots of research to know how things were in the 1860's in Scotland and NZ.
Then why aren't I writing more of just anything?
You did look at the list above right?
I know, I know...So everyone is busy, I get it. We all have the same amount of time in the day as the next person so I ought to just dive in.
Except, I want to do my best and not do something half-arsed.
Is it better to do something than nothing?
That is the question I pose to you new writers?
How do you ensure you are writing daily? What do you sacrifice to make it happen? What falls off your plate?
I would LOVE to know. You can comment here or tweet me back @safespace.
Happy Monday :)
Not only a great writer...
Not only is one of my fave authors a great and talented writer, she is also a wonderful speaker. Her messages are clear and simple yet profound.
Submission & Rejection
So I submitted my book Harper Collins NZ Wednesday post and Allen & Unwin’s Friday Pitch a few weeks ago.
It was with a slightly trembling hand that I pressed the submit button first making doubly sure I had actually filled everything out correctly and attached everything I needed to attach.
It was scary and yet exciting. HC wanted the first three chapters. Allen & Unwin only wanted one chapter.
I knew deep down that it would be a miracle if I heard anything back at all. I knew this but yet some small part of me hoped that maybe this would be it. Then I thought how I would feel if it went either way. I boldly said to my husband, chest puffed and fists tight, that if I just expected not to hear anything back then I would be ok. He looked at me and smiled. It will still sting he said. Remember though, it is all so subjective.
Then it got me thinking. It is so subjective. This writing business is not for the faint of heart but take heart in this, new writers out there (who aren’t yet published), it is not a rejection of you as a person.
I will repeat that because the weight of these words deserves a repeat.
It is NOT a rejection of you as a person. Period.
There is a reason that they tell you, once you actually work up the courage to push the submit button, that if unsuccessful you will not hear back from them. They get hundreds of manuscripts in these open submissions- they simply couldn’t give feedback on every single on now could they?
Back to the rejection part.
Imagine your email with attachments is opened. The person opening them will have got up that morning and maybe they had a great sleep, maybe they had a shitty one. Maybe they just had a fight with their boyfriend or parent and without them knowing it already, their world is a different place. Trust me, I work with people…a lot and I know the subconscious mind well.
So their filter may be on or off depending on their morning.
They read your synopsis and maybe they snore, maybe they yawn. They have just had so many like this lately. Same storyline, same idea and they may not even go any further. They may still read it but say they have already just accepted someone whose story is very similar to yours. Or whose writing style is in the same vein.
Your manuscript will just go into the reject pile and they will move on.
Now that is perfectly ok. They may even have thought your writing sucked or lacked any sparkle or potential.
This STILL doesn’t mean you have been rejected. This is just your manuscript we’re discussing here. The person who reads your manuscript may never meet you, doesn’t know what you look like, who you are or what goodness you have carried out in your life. All they know is that they don’t wish to publish this particular piece of work.
Don’t make it about you.
When I didn’t hear back after the 2 and 3 week cut off dates, obviously I was a little bit stung. Then I looked myself in the eye, no I actually did, in the mirror and I told myself that I was bloody brilliant. I wrote a novel. A friggin novel.
Me, someone who always said they wanted to finish a manuscript had actually ticked that off her list.
I will obviously keep trying to get it out there and even if I have to go down the self-publishing route, I will do what it takes.
I will not allow myself to feel defeated by a rejection and neither should you.
Imagine if J.K had done that…
Would love to hear your thoughts on this one.
When Elizabeth gilbert came to town
It was my husband who sent me the information on the upcoming Writers Week in Wellington.
I received the email and glanced at the poster but then forgot about it as one does. Only, how could I have forgotten? I am an aspiring author. I am a full on lover of words. I adore books and yet I completely forgot to look into the festival.
Yet as fate would have it, I was reminded nearer the time and when I heard him say two words I just knew I had to go book tickets right away.
Those two words were Elizabeth Gilbert.
I, like millions of others on this planet, adored Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. I like countless others before me went on a trip to Bali as Elizabeth did. However, I wasn’t aiming to get over anything or seek something. That part of my life was completely sorted when I found the Love of My Life (aka hubby) when I was just 21 years old. We have been together ever since, although there is a whole story that goes with that one and that will be talked about in a future post I am certain.
The seeking is constant for me too so I don’t have to ‘go’ anywhere special for that. In truth I simply wanted to go to Bali because I wanted to visit this spiritual place people talked of. I had already been to Italy and India has never been high up on my list. Well it wasn’t but I would like to go some day.
Anyway, I am digressing.
Post EPL, I quickly consumed everything Elizabeth Gilbert had written. Then one day on twitter I noticed she had written another book called The Signature Of All Things. I couldn’t wait to get it on my kindle!
I read it joyously and when it was finished, I was sad. That’s the sign of a great novel to me, when I miss the characters after the last page has been devoured.
This post is my take on Elizabeth Gilbert coming to town. If you were there you likely took away different nuggets than I but here is my account for what it is worth.
So Liz (can I call her that? She wouldn’t mind I’m sure) Liz talked about how in every novel either someone goes on a trip or a stranger comes to town. Liz almost doesn’t feel like a stranger though, I’m guessing not to the people who read her books and have been affected by them. She also made a brilliant reference to one of my favourite TV series Breaking Bad when she said that her main character, in the second half of the novel, changed and became ‘I’m the one who knocks.’ Those of you who haven’t seen BB can just ignore that bit though.
She also talked about her childhood and she said a line, which struck me in my solar plexus. She was talking about the triad of female relationships and how her mother once said to a small Liz, when her and two friends were going through something at school within their friendship, ‘there’s nothing more evil than three little girls.’ It struck me because I have personal experience with evil and the forms it comes in (again, in another post I promise).
Liz didn’t know it, but she was giving me lots of ideas for future novels during her talk. Something else she gave me, which I actually didn’t expect, was a swelling in my chest and a full feeling in my eyes. She was talking about how women need a vocation. Not necessarily the source of your income but a source of your identity. She said that if you don’t give this something to do (pointing at her own head) it’s gonna do something bad.
Again, I have personal experience with this. I won’t leave this for another post because I think it needs to be understood.
I am a lifestyle coach and a meditation teacher but I don’t seek clients. I know weird right? I don’t seek clients because I don’t want to let my writing go by the wayside as I feel it would. Yet, I have guilt surrounding my husband supporting my lifestyle and dreams. Yes, I have clients but I could have more. Yet, the writing won’t do itself now will it?
I can also get quite destructive up here (pointing to my head) when I don’t let my creativity flow. So I heard Liz when she said this. I mean, I really heard her.
Liz said that her writing has kept her sown together (at least that’s what it looks like in my notes of the talk but I apologise profusely if I have it wrong Liz, if you ever happen to read this…ha ha I wish).
She said that she is lucky to be able to write and said that things like writers block still beats doing any other job for her. She said she goes over, under of through any obstacle with her character and this works for her. Good to note!
She then went onto to talk about the Creative Genius. Something she is very passionate about as I watched her practically leap out of her seat!
Again what she said spoke volumes to me. She said you don’t need a permission slip to create art. WOW!
I am aiming to coach my 12-year-old niece at the moment as she is quite into writing and books and creating. When we wait for someone to tell us its ok to do something we may just be waiting forever right? Liz said that she once had a teacher who basically said to her that she would never be a writer because she hadn’t suffered enough. Then she gave the audience the double fingers. Well, she didn’t give us the fingers but rather she said that was what she thought about someone saying that to her. I was almost cheering at that point. I now keep those words close by, you know right under my shirt slightly to the left where my heart sits under my skin and bones. There is truth and power in them and I’m all for that.
Liz even said that when she was researching her book, because of the time period, she consumed research until she knew the language in her bones. She said she didn’t need to tell everything to the reader that the author knows. However, I would love to know everything this author knows.
I asked a question at the end of the talk about my own manuscript that I have just completed. I even got a congrats from her, which was lovely. I told her that my first beta reader (a term she wasn’t familiar with) had read my first draft and given me tips and great feedback. I asked her how she knew when her books were ready to send in to publishers. She leaned forward and told me that feedback is great but it’s like a house, don’t dismantle everything you have already built (the bones of your book) from others’ feedback. You will intuitively know when it’s right.
Intuition has always served me well when I go with it so I nodded in agreement.
She said much more but this post is getting on a bit so perhaps I will pepper it through future posts like little nuggets of wisdom for you to chew on but for now I’ll just say that Liz’s talk was not only insightful but its like she handed me a permission slip to create my art and that is what I am going to do.
This is my first post and I would love to take you on my journey. Please find me on twitter @safespace for future updates.
P.S, I know I look like a hobbit in the above picture but by golly she is tall, although to be fair she was wearing mules :)