Friday, November 21, 2008

Keep Dreaming.

There are some wonderful blogs out there. I can't keep up with all of them, but I'm trying. The information they provide is mind-boggling. I keep thinking if only I'd had the Net when I was in high school and college and university. Maybe I would have achieved more. Maybe today I'd have six books published instead of one.

It wasn't that long ago that I equated my self-worth to publishing. If you're in the profession, whether it's writing, teaching or reading, you've probably heard one or many ambition writers say "If only I was published." Or "I'm not a writer until someone pays me." Or "I dream about the day I can hold my book in my hands; everything will change. Then, people will respect what it is I do."

That's all true. Yes, publishing changes the way old friends and new friends treat you. There's exceptions, but on the whole people that generally wouldn't notice you, suddenly do. You can see the admiration in their eyes. You wrote a book and now you're one notch higher in their book.

Dreaming about getting published is like dreaming all your life about being 115 pounds instead of 215 pounds. One day, you luck out, fate intervenes, and voila your dream comes true.

Yeah, right!

It takes work, lots and lots of hard work. There is no magic pill. You work hard, you exercise and one day you look in the mirror and see the body you've always dreamed of. Or you hold the book you slaved over for ten years.

If you've ever lost fifty pounds or more, you know what I'm talking about. If you've recently published and now you're marketing, you get where I'm coming from. And you don't need me telling you that the new body or the new book won't change what's inside. That's a whole different equation.

Don't stop doing whatever it takes. If your goal is to get published, use the astronomical amount of information available to make your dream come true. Learn your craft. Revise, edit and rewrite until you're positive your manuscript is as good as it will ever be. Build a query package that is equal to none. Build your readership. Learn how to blog. Send out submissions. Start networking. Write the perfect blurb, synopsis and cover letter. Keep writing. Prepare yourself for that moment when somebody says, "Yes, we want your book."

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking. Being published is not the be all and end all. It's just the beginning of a whole new set of job descriptions. And that probably sounds as if being published is a letdown. Something that never quite measures up to what you thought it would be. All those changes you expected are replaced with demands that you can't imagine fulfilling. You, the storyteller, the one who would rather sit at the computer hour after hour, day after day, composing what you hope is the great novel, are now required to sell yourself on a nonstop tour of duty.

They call it marketing. I'm in the middle of it right now. It is daunting. I do wonder what the heck I was thinking. But during those moments when I actually do sit down and write, I feel more alive than I have ever felt. Writing is who I am. The storyteller, the writer destined to doubt, question, worry, fret and keep writing.

12 comments :

  1. ...and definitely keep writing! :)

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  2. I will, Careann. Meanwhile, you wouldn't want to do my book signings for me, would you???

    |-D

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  3. 'Fraid not, but if you schedule some signings down at the coast I'll come and offer my moral support.

    Marketing can certainly overshadow the creative aspect of our writing, but I know it's a necessary part of the write-sell-read equation. I guess finding the perfect balance is a big challenge.

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  4. Wow...your comments couldn't come at a better time for me when I'm just about done with one formal critique and about to start another.

    I think the hardest thing to learn about the writing process is the amount of sheer time it takes. Maybe that doesn't happen to the really successful people, but I suspect does, though perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent.

    It's awesome to achieve the goal of getting published, but it seems like the work load gets worse! When you're unknown and creating, you can hide from writing for a day or so. When you're marketing your own book you can't run and hide, you have to get it done NOW.

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  5. Thanks Careann & Vicki. Wise words.

    Satellite internet was down for two days, and that gave me time to reflect.

    You're right, marketing is gruesome; but if approached one day at a time, I just might get a handle on it. I keep wondering: what's the worst that can happen?

    "Nobody buys my book."

    That's my fear talking. Dead Witness is a good story. Save-On Foods wouldn't have approached me if that wasn't true.

    ps.I'm scheduled to do my second book signing Dec.6th in Prince George. The first one was at the PGX, so it doesn't really count.

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  6. You're really inspiring, Joylene. I hope you realize that. I can hear the hesitation in your voice. I know marketing is tough, you have to sell yourself. But have faith in your gift. People will read Dead Witness and know you're an author to watch.

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  7. Your advice is good. Like music, you have to know your stuff, be confident, and then let the world know you're out there. It is scary.

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  8. Thanks for the encouragement, Robin and Sam. It's like food for the soul.

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  9. Thank you for these inspiring words - I look forward to reading more.

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  10. Amazing that the minute you have the one thing you think you want so badly, you want the next thing. When I got the first publishing contract, I was so excited. But immediately wanted more. Nominated for a literary prize, but then immediately wanted to be the winner. It's human nature, but not necessarily good for the soul. The purest part of being a writer is the writing, the rest is all manufactured by society, which drives writers to distraction and which serious writers have to somehow overcome to get back to the writing. So satisfying and so frustrating at the same time. I know exactly how you feel, Marta. The marketing is hard work, but necessary or you won't be able to get your stuff published.

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  11. Sorry to not type my whole name before the comment was posted.

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