Making a Start on my Writing, Over and Over Again

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The other day I was telling one of my co-worker’s, who is also a writer, about my intention to edit the next fifty pages of Biomalware (just in case the fellowship contest wants to see them) then go back and do a complete re-write and re-imagining of the book, to really get the tone I want.

She looked at me with something akin to admiration, “You’re really doing it.”

“Well, not really,” I replied, shamefaced. I’d been procrastinating terribly, as far as I was concerned. “I haven’t done anything with it in a couple weeks.”

“But you are,” she insisted. “You’re thinking about it and that’s an important part of it.”

 She’s right. I am doing it. Stating my intention and thinking about it is a step in the process.

I also have a huge tendency to discount what I’ve accomplished because I’m not accomplishing it as fast as I’d like. (I suspect I’m not the only one, huh?) I intended to do a complete edit on those fifty pages today. Instead I did about seven pages. I made a start though, and that’s important.

So, maybe it’ll take me a week to get that edit done, but I will get it done. Then I’ll start the re-write, hopefully by the beginning of April and complete it within the next three months. Maybe it will take longer. I’ll take as long as I have to. I simply won’t stop until I accomplish it.

Perseverance. It’s the difference between the published and unpublished.

I’ll keep writing, no matter what, because I love to write. I’ll keep growing in my writing because I love to learn. I’ll keep submitting because I love to share my stories. I’ve already found people that enjoyed my stories and I’ll find more. Hopefully some day I’ll be writing for a living.

I always recall Joseph Campbells advice to follow your bliss. If you do, the money will come. If it doesn’t, you’ve still had a damned good time in the process and life is about the journey, not the destination.

Resumes, Presenting and Marketing

Public Speaking

I never would have thought a few years back that I would need a writer’s resume or a writer’s statement, but I have created both in applying for grants and other opportunities.  I know publishers and agents sometimes want to see them too.

Likewise, I never thought about the need to do book discussions with groups of people and to polish my public speaking skills but now I know that is a key component in growing your audience.   I’m going to have to get comfortable with this.

Today was my first time speaking to a large group (over 50 people) in a long time. I gave a book review/critique on the Maisie Dobbs series for a series of talks our Friends of the Library holds each winter. People seemed to receive it well. (Particularly the few I saw relaxed enough to sleep in the audience.)

I was asked, back in October/November, to do this talk and I agreed, having never read any of the books in the series.  In fact, I leapt at the chance.  I figured this was a great way to put something on my writing resume by presenting about stories and also let people know about my own writing.

I was nervous and yet I wasn’t.  I had been a little nervous in the morning but as I sat there waiting to begin and watching people filter in, I just felt a sort of happy energy.

The reason I had a little case of nerves as I prepared that morning was that so many people had been telling me how much they loved Maisie Dobbs.  I didn’t.

Oh, I enjoyed the historial parts of the books and the writing in general, but there were a number of things that irked me about the characterization and plotting so that I had quite a lot to say.

I was afraid I was in for the wrotten tomatoes, or at least some dirty looks.

But, in the end, several people came up to tell me that I was spot on with my assessment of the books or that they simply really enjoyed my presentation.

I was told by one library volunteer that she enjoyed the talk so much that she forgives me for not loving Maisie Dobbs the way she does.

For those of us who want to break into publishing, I’m afraid this is a necessary skill.  If we are going to publish books, we have to become reasonably comfortable talking to people, small and large groups alike, in order to interest people in our work.  It’s part of the job.  It’s part of marketing.

How to get comfortable?  Two things – preparation and practice.  I spent several days looking up information surrounding my topic and then writing out my comments and marking quotes to read.  I went over it in my mind several times.  With our own writing, that won’t be so difficult but it’s best to still have a script of sorts.  Then, we just have to give lots of talks.

I think doing author talks via the Internet with services like Skype for minimal or no fees will help increase our audience and reach.  I figure, if you can get someone to read your book, you’re on your way.  If they really enjoy it, they’ll tell someone else about it, particularly if they had the opportunity to meet the author and ask us questions.

Growing my audience once I have a book out there certainly seems worth the investment of time to me.

Back when I was studying to be a librarian, I learned to create a two sentence book talk that would hook a student’s interest in reading a book.  I’ve used that numerous times to put a book in someone’s hands.  Someday it will be my book.

Of course, now I’m kicking myself for not handing out business cards for my writing.  I think it’s time to visit Vistaprint.

Writing from the recesses of my brain

It’s funny how we can write something down, tuck it away then come back to it months later and not even remember writing it.  I have a habit of scribbling down little notes and bits of dialogue then tucking them in a pocket in my bag so that they won’t be lost to the recesses of my brain.  I just got a new tote bag and pulled all my notes out of the pocket of my old bag to reconsider.   Is it worth keeping or should I toss it?  A couple notes popped out at me as good prompts.  Feel free to see where they lead you. 

“Sins of omission, causing pain through what you fail to do.”

“Write the story you’d want to read.”

I’ve published several pieces on Yahoo! Voices in the past month or so, a couple new ones just this week.  There’s a little poem based on an image, a science fiction short story, another flash fiction based on the night the tornado hit, and more.  I keep hoping another will be featured as the little flash fiction was, but nothing so far.  They seem to be going through some changes just at the moment.  I’m still waiting to see how things shake out there. 

http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1202123/melora_johnson.html   

My goal in putting writing up there is two fold.  First, I would love to make some money off my writing.  (I half jokingly refer to it as my debt reduction plan.  Anything I make off my writing goes toward reducing my debt at the moment.)  Second, and perhaps most importantly, I am trying to bring my writing to the notice of those who might be out there perusing writers.  One of the short stories I published this week, Devolution, is a piece taken out of my science fiction novel in progress.  In a post pandemic world, Sarah and her brothers search for civilization. My pie-in-the-sky hope is that a publisher might happen upon the story and ask to see more of it.  At least it’s not hiding in a drawer somewhere.

Do you have something lurking in a drawer somewhere that deserves to see light?  Why not get it out and find a way to share it?