Archive | February 2014

Believing in yourself through all the rejection

In recent years, I have not done much submitting in the real world instead of online. Years ago I submitted quite often and was mostly faced with rejections. In all honesty, some of the early stuff was really terrible and should never have been pronounced done, much less a possible submission. I guess we are all anxious for fortune and fame.

While fostering teens and doing programs for parents and at risk families, I decided to write a book. It was mainly about the ways in which we fostered and the kids in our homes. At that time, we were considered to be unique in our style and methods. I advertised it as a book on CD-ROM since I figured the few places I tried to submit to editors, but they were not interested. The rejections made me feel it might be worthless. I have recently decided to try to submit it as an e-book online and see what happens.

The point of all this rambling is that we must not give up as writers, even when rejections are overwhelming us. We must take it in our stride and accept that this is a large part of what the average writer would deal with every day.

Our skin must be thick, because rejection happens to writers many, many times over the years. We need to keep trying to hone those skills that are needed to produce something editors will accept.

If they comment negatively on your work, don’t take it to heart. I have found even when one online editor thinks it is terrible, another editor will praise it. So who is right and does it even matter. Your goal is to get it read and someday produce some money from this writing life. Meanwhile you must keep writing. Send out work every week, if not every day. Someone could actually give you a positive comment on it and show you the error of your ways. Positive criticism is helpful and will lead you to success.

Your attitude is everything when it comes to rejection. Those that papered walls with these slips are my heroes. They are saying I don’t accept your opinion of me and this just means I must get it before even more editors. When you open a rejection slip, don’t get frustrated since it just did not get to the correct editor or publication. Your face should not get long; your vocabulary should not consist of new but lethal words. Don’t get mad, get mailing. We have all read of the important authors of today and classic writers of the past who were turned down time after time. These are those people we admire and celebrate their success. If the greats got turned down, anyone can experience the same thing. Keep trying. Your whole attitude should be too bad, it’s their loss.

Rejection can find other forms as well. For example, how many people, look at writing as a waste of time and tell you that is their feeling? How many times do relatives or friends make snide remarks about your chosen profession? People often believe if you work from home, you have tons of time and are not really doing anything important. We must change that belief.

Rejection is nothing new and nothing to be concerned about, at least you have written something to be rejected. Many writers spend more time learning than writing. I think it should be the other way around. We all can improve and need to learn new things, but we must write tons so that the average of excellent final products is a higher. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. Do not let one person put you down in ways that devastate you. However, if three dozen editors say it is crap, you might start to accept that opinion. Then move on to another project and consider that one practice and a learning experience. Some of it may find its way into another project. Ideas research and knowledge are never wasted. Keep writing and keep working. Keep moving forward and believe in yourself since that is what really matters.

Do you study people? Staring till embarrassed!

Almost anything we write has to do with people. Even when we write about the plight of pets and animals, it deals quite a lot with people. If you write about different careers, you are writing about a specific kind of people who does a certain job. When writing about feelings, who has those but people? Travel pieces feature the culture of other people along with sights and foods that traveling people would love to try. It may be impossible to write anything without at least touching on people. They may be from another time, place or even future people, but their being is of interest to any writer or poet. So that is at the heart of the rude manners we exhibit as we try every minute to learn more about them.

Writers don’t mean to be rude, but we do stare more directly at and ask impertinent questions of people. They can be complete strangers and we devolve into conversations showing our signs of insensitivity, unquenchable curiosity and boldness.

While staring, we are taking note of the way they walk, sit or stand. We take in the way they dress or how they look in general. We are listening in conversation for strange turns of the tongue. We are listening for, God help us, lisps, stuttering or other speech impediments that set them apart from other speakers.

We spot a person that looks different, evil, mischievous or beautiful and immediately we want to follow them and see what it is they do next. We want to know where they will go and whether or not they are walking, driving or taking a bus. Our mind starts working overtime because we are watching, while creating a scenario in our minds. We have already assigned that person a role, maybe produced a set of circumstances for them, even a family, career and goals. Writers are by their very nature intrusive due to an endless questioning about everything.

Writers are gleaning fodder for their imagination animals and grist for their mills. There will be no halting this activity, just because it is not polite or acceptable so we may as well store those things away for the perfect writing project.

So what I am really curious about is does every writer do this? Or should I just be ashamed to say it’s just me.

Must experiences you write about be real? How much do you need to know when writing fiction?

We have heard of writers who write about locales they have never been to and still manage to convey a real experience. They seem to be able to immerse themselves in descriptions garnered from travel brochures and other vagabonds who have actually made the trip. I find this ability fascinating as the articles usually resonate as true. You do believe that a writer has been there.

It is obvious, that all writers who write murder mysteries have not actually experienced murdering someone. If they have, we are in real big trouble. Their research must be pretty amazing as they can describe a torture of a victim with credibility. They can make you feel the pain the person endures. You have little trouble seeing the murder on your mind. The autopsies they create seem genuine and maybe they have actually witnessed one. I would need to find the details elsewhere since I’m not that brave.

Planning a murder is another talent that must take great research to ring true. A deranged mind can possibly go beyond any normal brain for planning such brutal events, but how does a writer get inside their murderer’s head? I believe whenever you immerse yourself in writing, there must be a transfer of your mind to the character you are writing about. So many people do this well. I wonder if this is an innate skill or just takes lots of practice to do it convincingly. Some of us writers have naturally disturbing and devious minds. That must be a help when writing.

Writing about another era seems less daunting as there are so many historical references available to help you get the feeling and flavor of that time period right. Even historical novels could guide you with your setting, costumes and dialog. To feel authentic, I imagine those things must be just right.

For me, the books I enjoy have details that seem appropriate and authentic. When this isn’t the case, it is a jarring experience while your mind focuses on that wrong fact or element that does not fit correctly. It spoils your reading experience. It keeps you from enjoying the book.

When an author has nailed a time and place, suddenly everything seems real and we accept that this author is an expert. We feel we are reading something factual instead of a figment of the writer’s imagination.

The characters drawn, warts and all, are those that are believable. The too perfect character is as bad as the too villainous one. Every character must have both good and bad traits to make them seem real. The believable character is complicated much like any real person. A true character only comes across when they are neither all bad nor all good. I personally enjoy characters with strange little quirks that make you remember them. If the character traits are used wisely, you can identity which character is doing the talking immediately. That helps a lot when you have lots of characters to keep track of in a story. What often confuses me is the large numbers of characters and with various names such as in Russian novels. We, as writers, must make that more clear so the reader can follow the action with each individual in the book.

I would love to discuss these topics more with those of you doing fiction on a regular basis. Please comment.

Also would appreciate any followers as this new blog needs people to get it started.

 

Random thoughts-Don’t let anything keep you from family

I have decided that sometimes what I really want to talk about has nothing to do with my blog topic. So on these days, I hope you will forgive and maybe enjoy my transgressing and my random thoughts.

My son, his family, my husband and I finally got back to our Sunday dinners last night. I used to cook dinner almost every Sunday, but it has been weeks since I last made us all a weekend meal. Many things stood in our way since our last meal together on New Year’s Eve. My husband had the flu, my son has been in tremendous pain with a bad back and it took forever to get to see his neurologist. He is still waiting for an MRI and is on heavy duty meds which makes incidentally makes him very entertaining. We had conflicts in work schedules and grandson’s games and family responsibilities. We had a crunching of the budget due to some unforeseen events. However, none of this excuses our absence from one another.

As I sat there last night while dining I was thinking about what should be so important as to cancel or stop our weekly gatherings? No matter what is happening, we should touch in with each other often. Well, we do Facebook and text and occasionally call, but I am speaking of the face-to-face meetings. They are so important.

The importance of seeing family often is not appreciated or we would all attempt to make it happen on a weekly basis. We are only a couple miles apart (unlike my daughter and her family) so we should be able to keep in touch.

I have always held eating together as a family in the highest esteem and when I fostered teens, there were few reasons that could excuse them from the supper table. That was our time to eyeball them. Since we fostered the challenging ones who got to come to our house instead of jail, we really needed to do this. You would be surprised how much you can learn about your kids when you look at them and really listen to them. Sometimes, you find out more than you wish you knew. Still it is a valuable time to connect.

To me the enjoyment of good food in good company is my best entertainment even if I do the cooking and it is at my house. Simple desires and wishes can be attained much easier than those high cost adventures and vacations. Even those dinners out cannot often compete with the fun and laughter that accompanies family in a relaxed, casual setting.

The fact that a great attitude comes out of these meals as well as an inordinate amount of craziness just confirms my feeling it is not only wanted but needed. Recently, while researching for an article, I found out that studies have confirmed that laughter really is the best medicine. Since most of us have some illness, pain or other emotional problem it is just what the doctor ordered. We had to cut our experience a bit shorter than usual since my son is in so much pain right now. It is vital to a healthy existence to spend time together whenever possible. We must make up our mind to make this a reality no matter what is happening. Still it is a valuable experience every time we connect.

Life can be shortened so suddenly for anyone and we should remember to keep our family and all loved ones close.  

Every experience fodder for your writing

Every day brings new experiences or it should. The visit with a friend you haven’t seen in years can produce memories and pretty soon it is an experience and you feel like you have just lived it. Waiting in line at the grocery store, you witness an extraordinary encounter between two strangers and suddenly your mind starts to wonder where that story could have gone, if you hadn’t had to hurry home with the groceries. You’re waiting for your doctor appointment when a harried young lady rushes to the counter and asks can she get the doctor immediately as her mother is in her car and she thinks she is dying.

Every experience is another writing possibility. Of course, the result may not even resemble the initial experience, but may have stimulated your mind and drove you to creativity.

Even if you stay home, those experiences might come to you online or in another way but, not face to face. They can be part of a phone conversation or a scrap of dialog heard in a restaurant.

A post on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter may supply something so unique and impact you in such a way as to be your experience and produce your own reactions to it.

Viewing a photograph, piece of artwork or a movie can set the wheels in motion and suddenly you find yourself scribbling notes and forgetting what you were originally doing.

Your husband or wife shares a co-worker story and that reminds you of a character you’re working on and suddenly that written person makes sense.

Taking a drive could present you with a lovely scene just waiting to be written. Travelling always stimulates my mind and suddenly everything is more in focus and I notice signs and names, scenes and people, food and music, art and fashion. Each culture has something different to offer.

Writers use these moments and experiences because they could be totally unique and so unusual you may not come upon their likes again.

Every day and everything can be fodder for your writing. Gobble it up, savor it slowly or taste it with surprise, but use it.

Emotions fuel writing

 Even when you’re unsure what to write and haven’t even decided on a topic, emotions play a role in the writing results. I believe emotions fuel writing. What is produced at the end of this creative session will be a direct result of your feelings at the time.

Passions run high in our lives. They cause us to feel certain ways and they can color everything we do at that time. You know, for example, if you are upset or have fought with a loved one and then go to work, it affects your mood and the resulting work and day. The wrong emotions could cost you your job; they affect a person so much. The same can happen when you write.

Emotions not only affect your mood and attitude but, they bring up a state of mine that might be conducive to writing certain things. Anger might produce a rant that is perfect for getting something else off your chest and that something else could be the main theme of your next project. The anger you feel could be the impetus for the scene you need to write when your heroine is betrayed. It might help you flesh out that character with a chip on his shoulder that is always mad every day.

You just met someone new and think he may be the one. You are thrilled, ecstatic and can’t believe just how much you love him already. Those emotions propel that love scene.  Suddenly it seems easier to create and more authentic feeling.

Following this love, a new heartbreak develops when he realizes he is less in love than you are and so the sadness motivates you to write with such passion. You mourn the cruelty of life and the fact that love sucks now. Your written word takes on a whole new color and attitude.

The joy of a wedding can spread to many people besides the ecstatic couple. Everyone has that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes to most of us with weddings and warm puppies. Joy is so hard to contain, the exuberance you feel must be shared. You cannot even pretend it does not exist. Your writing will have a bounce, a warmness and happy unadulterated joy that you cannot explain. Surely, there is a scene, a character or a story that needs such an emotion.

When you experience real grief it is a feeling so deep inside and almost unexplainable. You feel remorse and guilt for all you think you should’ve done. You suddenly feel an acute emptiness that makes you believe a large part of you is gone. There is the profound loneliness that comes even if you have not been together much recently. Grief torments your mind and touches your soul and can be all encompassing till you learn to deal with it. Closure or acceptance doesn’t come very quickly and most of us go through those seven stages of grief. Each stage is an opportunity to express those feelings that are eating you alive and possibly get some genuine words on the paper.

You may say during this experience, it is not the time to write. I differ with you; it is exactly the perfect time to write.

Don’t let those emotions go unfelt. Don’t try to mask them or rid yourself of the pain, write through it.

 

 

 

What is your writing to reading ratio?

Good writers are always well-read writers. In order to excel at writing, a person must read as much as possible. Reading different authors and genres enriches the experience a writer can call upon.

There is probably nothing you can read that does not teach you something new. Everything offers some different information or a different way to look at things. Your reading may open new doors for you and impart knowledge that really excites you. Reading about a new idea can help open your own mind and make your thinking more creative. But how much should you read and how much should you write?

If you’re like me when you read, you disappear from the here and now. You are swept away into a world that exists only on the page. You are engrossed in events, not real, but vital to you while you’re reading. The characters of the book may start to feel like family and you look out for their welfare. You feel emotional about what they are going through and really wish you were there to offer advice or help them in some way. Reading can be all absorbing and the trick is to get away from what you are reading long enough to get some writing done.

I believe most would-be writers and those that have reached the pinnacle also read more than they write. They are addicted to reading and so it may take the place of writing sometimes. This is not a bad way for writers to spend their time if they are learning more about their craft and not just reading for enjoyment.

So do you read twice as much time as you spend writing or do you read ten times more than the time devoted to writing? What is too much and what is too little?

We know to learn to write, writers must produce writing. My question seems to be does reading take away from writing or is it a complimentary activity that enriches your work and enables you to use your mind and think even out of the box. Creative thought can be the germ that becomes an idea that becomes a story that can be written into a completed work and be published. So read, but not all the time. So write, but make time for reading.

What is your take on the subject?