Tag Archives: writing while the rice boils

Writeful Blogging

I may not be a published author but I consider myself a writer. I’ve worked at my craft hard enough and long enough that I think I can claim the title “writer”. I have several complete manuscripts ranging from first drafts to final drafts (final until I decide to tweak it again) and I try to write every day in order to get better. If someone else has a different idea of what it means to be a writer, I’d like to hear it. So what I’m saying is I’d consider myself pretty far along that subjective scale, but I’m still learning. I read a lot, go to workshops and follow blogs that have some great advice for writers. Books and workshops are great but a lot of times you have to pay for them (unless you utilize your library and your local writers group) but blogs are free. At the most you might have to ignore some ads. So I thought I might spotlight a few of my favorites.

My Name is Not Bob

Robert Lee Brewer is a father, a poet and one of the editors at Writer’s Digest. His blog is chock full of advice for writers trying to navigate the digital world. In April he did a whole month of posts about how to build an online platform. Take a stroll through his archives and you’ll find help with things like time management skills, wading through social media like Facebook and Twitter, and what you really need to know about SEO (search engine optimization). Robert’s posts were invaluable to me while I was setting up my blog. They really helped me get a handle on what I needed to concentrate on and what I could ignore. I even participated in his April Platform Challenge. I’ve only noticed a slight increase in my site traffic so far, but I feel so much more confident about my efforts on the web now, and to me, that’s worth it.

Writing While the Rice Boils

Debbie Maxwell Allen is a homeschool mom, a writer, and a blogger. Her blog is a treasured resource for people like me who have a hard time finding things on the internet. I don’t know what my problem is, but I can never find what I’m looking for. Some people can’t whistle. I can’t Google. But Debbie makes it easier by finding new, interesting, and above all, helpful tools for writers on the web. Each post focuses on a different topic with several links to great articles that flesh out the idea and really give it some meat. It’s like a best of the web for writers. She’s also been doing it for a while so you can find just about anything you might need in her archives. As a bonus, I’ve met Debbie and she’s just as sweet and encouraging as she seems online.

The Other Side of the Story

Janice Hardy is a blogger and the author of The Healing Wars trilogy. I like to follow the blogs of my favorite authors and while I was reading The Shifter I looked Janice up. Little did I know that instead of just a well-kept author’s blog, I would find an Aladdin’s cave for writers. Janice has been blogging about writing almost every day for three years now and you can see her expertise and her passion in every post. She takes submissions from unpublished writers and breads down her critique of their work. She has guest posts by published authors who talk about how they write and manage their careers. Not to mention endless posts that teach the craft of writing to any level of aspiring writer. The amount of information on her blog is a little overwhelming at first (I gave up on trying to read everything and settled on searching for the most relevant posts) but it’s worth having bookmarked as a reference.

Just as every writer should have reference books on their desks, I think they should also have a Google Reader full of writerly blogs.

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What Now?

Rejection lettersSo agents and editors have the notorious slush pile while writers have the drawer or shoe box full of rejections. Actually mine are in a folder; the hard copies, that is. There are plenty more that are archived in my email, and it’s hard to collect the ringing silences that are most rejections today.

My friend Debbie posted on her blog on Monday, “How do you react when you hear ‘no’? Have you heard it yet? Is it time to start accumulating some rejections?” Well, this question seemed very timely for me, so here’s your answer, Debbie.

I first started trying to get my books published when I was nineteen, many years ago now, so I’m pretty familiar with rejections. I had no idea what I was doing, and I made lots of rookie mistakes. I just wanted to get the novel that I’d slaved over for five years out into the world. It’s like launching a ship. You smash that bottle over the prow and let it slide down into the water, hoping and praying that it will float, that it will glide majestically out of the harbor on its maiden voyage.

Let’s just say, my ship sprung a leak. It’s lying on the bottom of the harbor, making a nice home for fish. But that first rejection was like a badge of honor. I was a writer. I had a letter from a publisher that said so. Actually, it said, “Thank you for your submission. We do not feel it is right for us at this time,” but same thing, right?

Now that I’ve been doing this for years, it gets harder and harder to hear ‘no’. I feel like my work is the best it’s ever been, and if that’s not enough, then maybe I’m just not cut out for this business. I know that’s not true, but it’s so easy to believe the lie.

After months (years if you count writing the book) of preparation, I sent Kristin Nelson my first thirty pages. A week ago, I got her reply. Since this is a post about rejections, you’ve probably already guessed she said ‘no’. It wasn’t devastating, but there was that flash of disappointment and descent into self-doubt. This was my best work and she said ‘no’. What now?

Sending your work out into the world is scary, whether it’s to a publisher, an agent, or even just a critique partner. As writers, we wear our hearts on our sleeves. We bare our deepest selves right there on the page. With experience we develop a thick skin, a coat of armor.

It's just a flesh wound

But every rejection, every ‘no’ tries to poke a hole in it. When my first ‘no’ came back, it stung, but I shook it off, saying that wasn’t so bad. But then one ‘no’ becomes ten, and then fifty, and then I realize I’ve exhausted my whole list of possible agents and editors. What now? How long can I keep doing this before my armor is so riddled with holes, it falls apart? When do I give up on my dream and decide to self-publish?

It’s at this point that I have to step back and remember why I write. Yes, my dream is to one day see my name on a book cover. Yes, I want my stories to touch people’s lives and change them for the better. I know I’m not the only one who feels these things, but the world isn’t going to notice if my book never appears on a shelf in Barnes and Noble. I didn’t start writing because I had narcissistic desire to see my name in print or because I had a message to get across. I started writing because I had stories in my head. I kept writing because I realized I loved it. I can’t stop putting words on a page anymore than I can stop reading (it’s been tried, the result was fugly). If someone was to say, “I can see the future, and you will never be published”, would I stop writing? Hell, no.

So I guess that’s my answer. What now? I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep putting words on the page, keep telling my stories if only to myself (and my sisters who never get tired of hearing them). When I’ve exhausted my list of agents and editors, I’ll send out the next book. I’ll keep working, keep making them better. And I’ll keep collecting the rejections. Maybe I’ll make a collage.

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