Fear of producing means fear of success

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My mother once told me that when I reached real womanhood – which she defined as menopause, because you aren’t existing for any purpose but to be – I would feel delight in throwing away the rule books on many aspects of my life.

 Over the course of the last few years, I kept thinking about what Mom said. The thoughts always returned back to the same question: Why do I have to wait until I’m there (although, yes, admittedly, I’m not far from there)?

 I had always steered clear of self-publishing or even blogging outside of my LiveJournal. I have been convinced that if I didn’t go the traditional route of getting an agent and then having the agent sell my stuff, I wasn’t a “real” author. Not being a “real author” also precluded me from talking to other authors.

But, then I watched other authors, ones like Christina Katz, Elizabeth Bear and Caitlin R. Kiernan, put their stuff out there via the Web or via subscriptions and being successful and it leading to more and more success. They were self producers. I went to writing conferences. I took classes from other writers. I talked to them over a coffee or glass of wine (they were happy to talk to me, even though I was an introverted fangirl that didn’t always know the right thing to say).  It was clear that self-producing was part of, as Katz says, “surviving in the gig economy” that modern writers live.

 If I wanted to be successful, I had to be brave and get my work, get me, out into the world.

Almost always my coffee table is covered in books. Research books. School books. Books in my genre to read. Magazines on publishing and world events. All manner of everything. I went out and got that material without much prompting – why couldn’t I go out and get some “gigs?”Besides we all know the internet makes it a whole lot easier to move from unknown to “followed.” Faster and faster I was learning that I had any number of paths to find areas to get my writing in. In 2007, I reached out to other writers in my community and founded SnoValley Writes!, which is growing, as is the success of my fellow authors in that group. I didn’t follow the rules – I just went out and said, “Hey, let’s get this going.” Together nearly 50 of us are “reaching for new literary peaks.” In just a little over two years, our group is being published in newspapers, magazines and literary journals. We also have a few lucky ones that are being considered to be represented. We worked together to make things happen.

For my own personal “gigs,” I am currently working several projects and being as productive as possible. I’m entering contests; submitting articles, agent queries and launched this blog and then took another self-producer, my friend, Samantha Tiner, and partnered with her for a partnership in a web novel, Martius Catalyst, which just launched this week.

I’m no longer waiting around or following some archaic belief that there’s only one way to be a writer. The opportunities are endless. However, it won’t be delivered to your door step.

I often tell my fellow writers the story about a friend of mine who upon learning that I was having a short story published asked me how she could go about getting her novel published. “I have it sitting in a shoebox in my closet,” she said. My response was, “Get it out there! It won’t be published sitting in a box in the closet!”

Additionally when I hear people say, “Someday I’ll write (insert novel, article, poem).” I say, “Someday is today.”

The stacks of research to do that covers my coffee table.

04.26.10 – Balancing writing to dos with a busy life

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 Like many writers I’m forced to have a day job, especially given that I have a very large family. Therefore there are often times when I have to let my number one passion – writing and storytelling – take a back seat to paying the bills. It’s not that I don’t make money on my writing – it’s just not enough. YET. 

Until I get to “yet,” I need to balance and juggle. This juggling often times makes me feel like that famous picture of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. You see The Cat is balancing the fish bowl on a rake, while balancing a ship on his index finger while holding an umbrella and on the other hand a stack of books; on his head a lit birthday cake and cup of coffee; with one foot he holds a plate with a glass milk bottle and corresponding cup; his tail is fanning a fan…all the while balancing on one leg on a beach ball. That’s kind of how it feels to be trying to be a writer while maintaining a 9-to-5, work-for-someone-else schedule.

In addition, I volunteer in my community to help other writers achieve “new literary peaks,” which also is the fan in my tail. So, there is work towards that as well, since our group would like to as soon as 2012 host its own writing conference as well as become partner in educations with our local schools to get students excited about writing and being writers.

 Don’t get me started about how my family’s activities, namely my youngest two children, impact my schedule as well.

 Then someone had the brilliant idea to not let my G.I. Bill go to waste and get her fanny back to school and score my MFA.

 So, how do you do it? How do you make the writing a priority?  Here are a few tips that I use:

 1)      Write any where and any how. I use my lunch time during my day job. I get up early or stay up late. When waiting on my children for activities or at the doctor or dentist’s office, I write.  While stuck on boring conference calls that devolve into conversations that don’t concern me…I write. Napkins at coffee houses end up in my portfolio with poems scratched on them. Old envelopes from the mail pile are used while cooking dinner and I have a premise for a short story or see a new scene in my current novel project. I have pens and paper every nook and cranny of my life, to include the laundry room.

2)       Make a schedule of regular writing times. Take off – away from the house to the library or a café, or even a spot in the park. Block it out of the family calendar just like you would a doctor’s appointment and go write. Make that regular time – once or twice a week – as sacred as possible. Only let actual emergencies get in the way.

3)      Take a class. Check your community or senior center and see if there’s a crazy person like me giving a class for free to help you improve your writing. Again, it will carve time out for you to devote to your craft, hone your skills and focus some energy behind it.

4)      Sometimes I let the writing slip. Yes, sounds contrary to what I just said. What I mean, is that you do have to give it a rest. You need to give the creative process some time to recharge. You have to sleep every night. Sometimes your writing time needs a nap, too. That’s when you go out and observe. Sit in the coffee shop without writing and watch people. Go for a walk in the woods. Take a bike ride, or a long car ride. Get the other brainwaves in your head moving, too.

5)      Surround your self with people who support you and give support back. For those family members who think your writing is just a hobby or a bad distraction, talk about the weather with them – provided you’ve already made the best attempt possible to ask for support from them. For my family they know that I turn into Mr. Hyde when I don’t to write. They much prefer Dr. Jekyll. Friends who don’t get my writing tend to fade away; whereas my fellow writers and I have grown closer and closer over the years.  Don’t forget to attend book signings, writing conferences, art shows, and conventions as well as performing art events. Support your local library, too, since they are some of the artists’ biggest fans. Send a note to an author, editor, painter, singer, songwriter…etc. that made you feel something. Pay it forward and you’ll see huge rewards.

 Some days the beach ball I’m doing the ballet dance on rolls out from under me. But, I just get back on and roll on along – keeping in mind the top five things to keep me juggling effectively.

Now it’s time to go work on Martius Catalyst. Oh and I think the laundry is calling. 😀

 What do you do to keep things in balance?

4.26.10 – The debate over the publishing industry…

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I think like every new medium, it’s a matter of balance. Honestly, I think these devices have opened up even more opportunities for authors and writers and the entire industry. That’s not to say that I prefer the Kindle or iPad to a good ol’ fashion book. People need to remember that you can’t take those electronic devices on the beach or in the tub with you…well, I mean you could. But, it’s a hazard, or course. So, it’s about reaching a new audience and then balanacing resources. I’ll have more to say on balance later tonight. Stay tuned.

4.25.10 – Creating Yourself as a Writer

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I will try to make something make sense here…You all get to take this journey with me. The journey isn’t about finding yourself, but rather, about creating yourself. My self is a writer. It always has been. It is the one constant in my life.

So, if I’m really going to create myself as a writer — fully take the plunge in the year 2010, I have to have this nice little presence on the “inter-tubes.”

I don’t claim to be a great tech whiz or geek extraordinaire. But, as a writer, it’s about sharing the stories, the worlds, the characters, the great human themes and dilemas.  As a writer and an artist, it does no good for my stuff to be stuck on a thumb drive or in a box in my garage. It’s time for these stories to have a life outside of my own world, and hopefully sneak into yours and create a stir of feelings — whether good or bad.

Welcome to my personal Web page. Welcome to my Writing World. Come join me as I struggle, learn, fall, rise up again and finally (hopefully) succeed.