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Friday Morning FYI – 2/2/2018

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (I’m-in-Sao-Paolo-Brazil-recovering-from-a-beef-hangover edition) – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.

Last week, I FYI-ed my writer chums about being patient with revisions, relaying how it’s taken me nearly a year to revise my latest book. A friend reached out and recommended I take that post down because “You shouldn’t post about your writing or revision process. Agents are going to reject you if they read that and think you do things you shouldn’t.” If you’ll indulge me (if not, close the tab now) I’d like to address that concern.

First, no matter how much some perpetuate the myth, agents aren’t heartless monsters combing the interwebz for reasons to reject you when you eventually query them. Nuff said.

Second, I don’t plan to take a year revising any book I’ll write going forward. For the two books I queried before my current novel, I made mistakes in both the writing and the revising (and so, subsequently, the querying). Taking extra time with book three allowed me to identify where I’d gone wrong process-wise with the first two. What I learned will prevent me from now making certain mistakes in the first place, and write/revise smarter and more efficiently.

Last, writers should blog/tweet/whatever about their experiences, because we can all learn something from each other. We’re all students and teachers in this mad escapade of trying to line up 100K words in a pleasing order. Play nice and share.

Oh yeah, I need an FYI. Hmm. Maybe this… :

Don’t be afraid of agents, grow beyond your mistakes, share what you know.

That’ll do.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}

Friday Morning FYI – 1/26/2018

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.

I’m not generally one for broad catch phrases, but ‘It’ll be done when it’s done’ is one I like. As both a writer and trainer, I see a lot of impatience. Writers make up deadlines for finishing revisions, folks think they can be trained to an expert level on something in a day, etc. Were I not such a well-rounded human, it would be upsetting.

Still, I feel for those who impose unrealistic deadlines, writers in particular. I know how stressful that can be, because I used to do it. I wrote a book a year for three years straight. Queried the first two way before I should have, because I declared them done before they were, and because ‘I had to’ according to some dates I’d made up. I finished the first draft for the third in late 2016, and still haven’t sent it out wide. Some will call that dragging my feet, but I’ve worked on the book the whole time, doing everything I can to make it great rather than rushing it out the door at ‘good enough’ just to get rejected because it wasn’t.

And it’s so much better than it was a year ago, or six months ago, or three.

That leads us to this week’s FYI:

Sure, deciding to finish a first draft in six months is a good idea (here’s another phrase: ‘Just finish it’), but first drafts are normally a mess anyway. Revising your novel (one more: ‘Writing is re-writing’) will take much longer. Accept that.

You aren’t going to take your book from mess to awesome after one beta reader and a couple weeks of edits. You’re not.

No, you don’t have to query in February, or any other month for that matter. That’s in your head.

No, you shouldn’t pitch your book if you finished the first draft a month ago. Or two. Or probably three.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t rush (last one: ‘A writer’s worst enemy is impatience’). If you’re story is badass, agents and editors will love it when it’s razor sharp. Don’t risk them passing it over when it’s butter knife dull.

Huh, I guess I like catch phrases more than I thought.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}

Friday Morning FYI – 1/19/2018

Eyes dry and vision blurry, I crane my stiff neck to peer up from my manuscript. I shape my sore, crooked fingers back into something resembling a human hand, and wipe dust from the lower right corner of the screen.

Can’t be. How could so much time have passed without a Friday Morning FYI?

Must. Fix. That.

***

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (been-revising-my-MS edition) – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.

I decided to crawl out of my no-blogging hole to address something I keep hearing/reading: that creative people are bad at, well, everything that folks consider uncreative. You know the story…

“It’s okay, Cynthia. I never expected you to finish on time. You’re the creative type.”

“We can’t give that project to Scott. He just does creative stuff. He won’t be able to coordinate everything.”

“I’m not good at managing my time, or my money, or my life; I’m a creative. Wanna do shots?”

Utter nonsense.

Baring some life tragedy, I make my deadlines, for instance. Be it day job stuff or writing stuff, I get done on time. Just because someone can draw/paint/write/sculpt/design/make original music/act/dance/Photoshop (yes, I used Photoshop as a verb, move along) doesn’t disqualify them from effectively managing their time, carrying out defined processes, or meeting deadlines. That’s this week’s FYI:

To anyone working with creatives, please stop assuming we’re one-dimensional art monkeys who don’t know how to (or care to) tell time or have any other appreciable skills besides sleeping late. That’s silly.

To creatives who perpetuate this impression, please stop honoring only your creative side. You’re doing yourself (and the rest of us) a disservice. We’re more than an elegant turn of phrase, and understanding of color theory, and perfect pitch. Those things are pretty cool, though 😀

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}

The Villains Guide to Winning #NaNoWriMo Part 3: The Final Chapter

So you’re doing #NaNoWriMo again?

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Good one! You almost had me there.

Oh, you’re serious?

Do you hate yourself? Are you off your meds? Is your family so intolerable you’d rather suck blue light into your eyes like mother’s milk for nearly seventeen-hundred words a day, every day through November? It can’t be because you actually want to write fifty-thousand words in a month. That’s frikkin’ batty! And by batty, I mean torture. All of it. It’s the worst, for realsies.

No? You’re not looking to waste dedicate hours of you day, every-damn-day, or lose days off the end of your life from the stress, doubt, and self-loathing that comes with legitimately participating in National Novel Writing Month, but still want the blog badge and Twitter header image?

Now you’re talking sense.

Continue reading “The Villains Guide to Winning #NaNoWriMo Part 3: The Final Chapter”

#WDC17 – Thoughts and Roundup

Another Writer’s Digest Conference has come and gone. This was my fourth straight, and I, as always, had a blast. Reading that, you may be itching to ask: “Hey Ron, did you see the eclipse?” If you did, I’d answer: “Why are you thinking that right now? Have I bored you to distraction in two lines? Focus!”

I kid. Everybody’s been talking about the damn eclipse. It’s okay. At least people didn’t look at it through their fidget spinners. I hope.

If you’re not thinking about the eclipse, you may be wondering how the conference went.

It was awesome, for all the reasons I listed for past WDC cons here, here, and here. In addition, there were some extra-awesome-chocolate-lava-cake-with-chocolate-syrup-and-whipped-cream moments, too. That’s where we’ll spend our time.

In no particular order…

Extra-awesome-chocolate-lava-cake-with-chocolate-syrup-and-whipped-cream moment #1

If I haven’t shouted it loud enough, take note: Tabitha Lord is a badass. We met as baby writers at WDC 14, wet behind the ears, just writing all the things we wanted to write. Since then it’s been my inexpressible pleasure to watch her grow as a professional writer, taking control of her stories and career like a boss. She was part of three sessions this year (two panels, one of which she moderated, and a solo session), and at the closing keynote received her Writer Digest 2016 Self Published Novel of the Year Grand Prize award. I couldn’t be happier for her. Check out her books here.

Extra-awesome-chocolate-lava-cake-with-chocolate-syrup-and-whipped-cream moments #2

This one is HELLA self-serving, and has nothing to do with writing. You’ve been warned.

Before the panel on world building, Tabitha was talking to Chuck Wendig and gestured in my direction for some reason–probably because I’d been taking pictures and tweeting like a fanboy. Chuck (yes, I’m going to call him Chuck because we’re (not really) bros now) looked and me and asked: “Did you submit a picture for a contest on Terrible Minds?” Filled with inner panic, I responded “I don’t remember, that was a long time ago.” (which it was) and then made a lame-y lameface doppelganger joke. Seriously, I’m still *facepalm*-ing over that one. Cringe City, USA. Anyway, everything goes back to normal and the panel starts. Flash forward two hours and I see on twitter that my bro Chuck tweeted and old pic of me @ me with “Isn’t this you?”

How. In. The. Blue. Hell. Did. He. Remember. That!?

Extra-awesome-chocolate-lava-cake-with-chocolate-syrup-and-whipped-cream moment #3

Talking with independent writers is fun. They’re people doing stuff their own way, taking advantage of tools and options writers have never before had available to them. Ben Sobieck and Rob Dircks participated in the self-publishing panel, and I got to hang out with them some. Ben is a Wattpad rockstar, and Rob’s first book has over 300 reviews on Amazon and has sold more than 10K copies, which is tremendous for any novel, let alone one for which the writer did everything himself. Cool guys, both smart and eager to share what they’ve learned.

Extra-awesome-chocolate-lava-cake-with-chocolate-syrup-and-whipped-cream moment #4

Round Table Companies had a table where you could secretly share something about yourself, and one of their crew would put that up on their chalkboard. It was part of raising awareness for their game, ‘Vulnerability is Sexy’, and added some much-needed newness to the vendor area. I got to play the game with my dear friend Amy and some new friends, and it was everything RTC promised. You draw a card from one of three piles, and then do what the card says. This can range from something fun and silly, like high-fiving everyone at the table, to revealing something deep about yourself. It’s all about sharing and opening up in a fun, safe, bonding way. Very cool idea. I was able to snag a copy of the game from the cool folks at the booth. Friends, if you want to play, let me know. (disclaimer: I’ve always been an open book, so come willing to experience all my weird-ness 🙂 )

Extra-awesome-chocolate-lava-cake-with-chocolate-syrup-and-whipped-cream moment #5

You’re seeing the people-centric theme here, yes? Writing conferences are wonderful for writing tips, learning how to query agents (Barbara Poelle was great), pitching practice, marketing strategies, publishing industry secrets, etc., but the most profound experiences come from the people. As usual, I met several friendly new writers, all eager to soak up as much as they could and apply that to their writing; all making writing friends in and out of their categories/genres; all looking to be inspired. That’s what keeps me going back–reconnecting with people I feel like I’ve been friends with forever, and building new friendships.

The days of the isolated writer are over, people. That’s a great thing.

Blah blah wonderful people blah blah. What about the writing stuff, right?

There’s always a theme that emerges at these conventions; some kind of trend I see crossing between sessions. I don’t think it’s some Machiavellian plot devised in the war room at Writer’s Digest, it just kind of happens. This year, it was writing honestly.

Lisa Scottoline talked about writing stories based on her experiences.

Steven James talked about writing ‘worthy stories’.

Richard Russo talked about “Fuck it” writing.

David Levithan talked about how editors see through a writer being dishonest.

There were other examples, but you get the idea.

It seems like a simple idea, but is quite profound. No matter what story you’re telling, regardless of your tea-sipping dragons, pacifist ninjas, cannibalistic were-goldfish, etc., tell it from your heart. Don’t cut corners, don’t make characters do things that aren’t loyal to them just to move the plot, and don’t write something you don’t believe in because you think it’ll sell. Agents and editors see right through that, and so do readers. Fantastic message.

Okay, that’s enough, I think. There was a secondary theme I saw, but if I write about that, I’ll make it another post because it carries beyond writing conventions.

Another great event. I highly recommend, if you can float it, you get yourself to this show next year.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}