Friday Morning FYI – 2/22/2019

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (something-like-a-year-since-the-last-one-of-these edition) – my chance to share observations/rants in short, easy-to-consume form.

I recently had a short story published (*shameless self back pat* – won 1st place) in a new annual anthology competition called The Bould Awards. It’s a small thing in the grand scheme and came after years of submissions, but it let me create an Amazon author page, which is kind of cool.

That got me thinking about all the paths to publishing available to writers today. It used to be that you’d type out your work (good god, how did people write anything without BACKSPACE, Cut > Paste, etc.?), somehow get the name of a publishing agent, stick your work in a yellow envelope, hand it to a smiling neighborhood postman, and pray. Now we’ve got blogs and online profiles, email, content-formatting submission forms, Twitter contests, live-pitching at conferences, small press open calls, Wattpad, hybrid publishing, a hundred forms of self-publishing, etc. This is good and bad, of course. With availability comes opportunity, but also mountains of content for decision makers to weed through and for your work to be compared against. Still, what a world!

That brings us to this week’s FYI:

The only thing worse for your art than comparing your work/struggles/achievements to someone else’s is assuming there’s only one path to whatever you define as success. Everyone’s golden ring is different. If you have one book in you, there’s options. If you have ten books in you or a bunch of short stories or fifty pieces of flash fiction or a poetry collection, same answer. Don’t get hung up on someone else getting picked over you for a contest, writer friends around you landing agents or selling short stories, or whatever. Focus on you and your art, craft it as best you can, and learn from every new sentence/paragraph/page/chapter/story. In the end the most important thing is to persist along your path, not trace anyone else’s.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}

#WDC18 – You Know the Drill

Here we are again, ya’ll, deep in the post con funk that is the week after the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in the greatest city in the world (don’t @ me, people from everywhere else, I didn’t come up with the nickname). This was lucky number five for me and, as always, it was a trip. New tips found, new writing depths explored, and new doubts over which to panic (I kid. *weeps*). Old friends and a metric ton of new ones, all there to get better at this insane make write words thing we does.

Maybe I should keep practicing.

Anyway, that brings us to my follow up post where I wax poetic about all the sessions I adored (like I did for past WDC cons here, here, here, aaaaaaaaand here). Let’s keep it tight this year, I think, yes? Simple day by day format, maybe? Okay, you convinced me.

Continue reading “#WDC18 – You Know the Drill”

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 – 3/17/2017

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (prob never gonna get one of these done on a Friday again edition) – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.

This week, I sat down with my final beta reader (lucky #6) for my latest novel. We had a few drinks, some pizza, a few more drinks, and talked/laughed/debated about/over my book for around two hours. It was a fun time, and I got some good feedback, as always. That brings us to this week’s FYI:

Writers, you’ve seen me write this before, but I’m going to beat the drum again: Beta readers are important. You’re too close to your story, even if it’s been locked in a drawer for a while. Fresh eyes always see things you don’t/can’t, providing perspective you don’t have. Before you query, give your book to people whose opinions you trust (yes, even people you suspect might not like it) and ask them for their brutally-honest opinion. Once they ‘ve provided that, honor the commitment they made to you by spending time considering their feedback. They won’t always be right, but they don’t need to be. Just getting you to look at something the way they saw it can expose problems you never recognized.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}