Posted tagged ‘Motivation’

One would think…

July 4, 2013

One would think that since it’s summer and the usual grind of driving kids around and making school meetings were no longer an issue, I’d find it easier to focus. Well, one would be wrong.

Last summer, I was immensely productive and found it easier to focus at this time of year. For some reason, I’m struggling. Perhaps it is because my kids are older and the demands are different. I suspect, though, that it is a shift in priorities and not a lack of focus on my part. Maybe it’s the mother in me clinging to the last summer before my oldest goes to college and my youngest goes to boarding school.

Whatever the case, I feel like a ping-pong ball bouncing from one crisis to another. It’s time to buckle down and finish these three books I have in various stages of completion. Time to re-center and put those author blinders back on–even if it’s only for a few hours a day.

Anyone else having summer slump focus issues?

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The Game is On

January 30, 2009

Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.

resizedimage450299-persistence11Writing can be a discouraging business.  Less than 1 out of 100 writers who completes a novel can get a literary agent.  Those lucky and/or talented enough to be in that 1% are still not guaranteed the joy of seeing their book in print.  Only something like 60% of agented books sell to publishers (That includes books from established authors). 

Once the reality of the stats sets in, a writer reaches a decision point.  He must ask himself, “Do I give up and do something else, or do I learn how to play this game and stick with it?”  

Now, I’m not making light of this business by referring to the process of getting published as a “game.”  It is a game in that there are winners, losers and rules–lots and lots of rules.

First of all, you have to learn how to write.  Really write, not put a story on paper.  One of the rejections on a full request for my first project was telling.  It said something to the effect of:  

           Your story and characters are intriguing.  I was disappointed that the writing didn’t live up to the premise.  

Okay.  Well, crap!  I had all my commas, semi-colons and quotation marks in the right places.  No run-ons, no sentence fragments that weren’t intentional.  Gah!  I even had all the formatting correct.  So what gives?

Well, DUH!  Writing isn’t grammar and punctuation.  Naturally, a writer has to be able to write correctly, but a writer has to write well.  I majored in English Literature in college, so I’m the master of the thesis paper and formulaic literary analysis.  Writing fiction is a different beast.  

          I was disappointed that the writing didn’t live up to the premise.  

Yep.  There it is again.  I see those words every time I sit at the keyboard with the intent to write.  The fix?  I read everything I could get my hands on in the genre in which I write and paid attention to the writing itself in addition to the story.  And you know what?  I realized my writing stunk.  

At this point, I had written the sequel to my sucky first novel and had begun my third, which was unrelated to the first two.  I intentionally simplified my style and intensified my characterization.  I then found a critique service through a university graduate program.  The professor critiqued the first thirty pages of my first and third novels.  She found the things I do consistently in my writing that weaken it.  

I focused on the third book, which was superior to the first (Huge understatement–the first one was…well, it was a typical first novel: Over-written and as a result, way too long). I applied her suggestions from the first thirty pages all the way through the novel.  

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.  

Albert Einsten

I researched the process of querying and followed all the rules. I was amazed at the difference between the reaction of agents to my new manuscript compared to my first one.  Night and day.  

My writing gets better every book I write. I am so grateful to the agent who was honest with me and didn’t just say, “No thanks,” or, “Not for me, but another agent might feel differently.”  She told me, in essence, “You have a good story but your writing sucks. Quit or fix it.”  

Imagination is something we are born with, but writing skills are learned.  I’m sure I’m going to look back on my novel, SOUL PURPOSE, and think it is a total piece of crap, but it did the trick and I got the agent.   And twenty years down the road, when I begin to feel like  my writing does live up to my premise, all I will have to do is read the first few pages of a novel like THE GRAVEYARD BOOK  or MARY and O’NEILL to bring myself back to the reality that I will always have a long way to go.

In the meantime, I’m going to press on and keep writing and growing.  I didn’t even hesitate when I reached the point where I had to ask myself the question, “Do I give up and do something else, or do I learn how to play this game and stick with it?” I’m in the game.  

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan “press-on” has solved and has always solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.  

Calvin Coolidge

Now, I’m not solving the problems of the human race, but the quote shoe fits anyway.  I’m persistent if nothing else.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Nuh Uh. I’m Not Swimming in that Pool.

January 20, 2009

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“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”  Helen Keller

“Optimist: Person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.”  Mark Twain

The Query Tracker.net blog chain topic was started this round by the always hilarious and clever  Elana Johnson.  Jessica Verday, author of  THE HOLLOW, posted before me and Kate Quinn’s post will follow.  The topic is:

When you’re in a pool of writing funk, how do you get out? 

nscn16lWell, anyone who knows me is aware that I’m an optimistic fool.  Rarely have I submerged completely in the funk pool.  My outlook is more like a fountain of hope.  Sometimes the fountain runs dry.  No life-saving device necessary for me–I acknowledge the suckitude of my writing (which is, at times, significant), distract myself with something less stressful and soon the crisis abates.  

It’s that half-glass full thing I try to maintain at all costs.  It works for me.  

Now, I’m not talking about ignoring the problem; I just acknowledge it and give myself time to cool down  and come up with a solution.  The pool of writing funk is so insidious, you find yourself drowning before you even know you’ve fallen in.  My strategy is to try to stop myself before I get my feet wet.  When I reach a block, I take a shower, pull weeds and work in the garden or spend time with my kids.  Music often provides the stimulus to stay away from the funk pool and move past my block or self-doubt.  

What makes me happy?

Elana provided a second part to her post topic.  She wanted us to include things that make us happy to add to her arsenal of funk pool shields.  Sorry, Elana, but the thing that makes me laugh the most is my kids.  You can’t have them, but here are some pictures exemplifying why they make me laugh.  They are witty, adorable and twice as smart as I am.  So much fun.  The ultimate comedy routine.  They have a thing for hats, mud, and silly hair styles.  They also are experts at hiding rubber roaches in places you’d never expect!  Now that the twins are 11 and Hannah is 12, the scope of their humor has expanded to the point it borders on being a riot.  I promised them I wouldn’t post current photos and embarrass them. (Shhhh.  I’ll do it when they aren’t looking.)  Here are some older photos.  Yep.  They make me happy. 

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