Waiting

I hate waiting. I need to be patient, but…as the old saying goes: I want patience…NOW!

I feel like half the writing game is waiting. Well, maybe a third. I let an idea percolate in my brain and WAIT ’til it’s better developed before I write it. Once I’ve written the crappy first draft, I WAIT a few weeks before I tackle it again in rewrites/edits. Fast forward several steps…I hit submit and WAIT ’til the publisher/agent/editor gets back to me (this can take weeks to half a year or more.)

Note that I am not blaming the publishers/agents/editors; they’ve got their plates full, that’s for sure. But what do I do while I’m waiting?

– WRITE SOMETHING NEW. Distraction is key. Plus, new words means I’m that much closer to having something to send out again.

– CHECK MY EMAIL. Because, you know, that publisher might respond early. But, ooh, look! Spam.

– READ A BOOK. Writers must be readers, after all. We’ve got to study our craft. Plus, bookish people are sexy. Yeah.

– KEEP UP SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. Connecting with readers is vital. You gotta build real relationships and trust. I can’t say I’ve made one sale from Twitter or Facebook, and that’s all right. I have some spiffy new friends through the www.

– CHECK MY EMAIL AGAIN. It is important to obsessively check email accounts several times a day. You never know if a Nigerian prince has moolah to send your way. Then you can forget the whole writing thing and relax on a beach somewhere.

– WATCH MOVIES AND MOVIE TRAILERS. Sound lazy? It’s not. The trailer to the first Sherlock Holmes movie trailer (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) broke me out of the Writer’s Block Prison I’d been stuck in for a year.

– LOOK AT ART. You can do free virtual tours online. Art can keep the creative juices flowing in a steady stream.

– CHECK EMAIL AND WEEP COPIOUS TEARS BECAUSE THE NIGERIAN PRINCE BLOCKED YOU AFTER YOUR MARRIAGE PROPOSAL. *sniff*

– ATTEND THE THEATRE. Live action shows, baby! Let them creative juices saturate your brain.

– AUDIT COLLEGE COURSES/ATTEND FREE FUNCTIONS IN THE COMMUNITY. This is more than busywork. It’ll make you more well-rounded person.

– HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS. Writing is a lonely business. Don’t neglect people in your life. Their support can mean so much.

– TALK TO YOURSELF. Sometimes you are your own best company. Take yourself on a date and discuss your latest work in progress. This is a great excuse to order two desserts.

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

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What do you do when you have to wait?

The City: A Slice of Life

In honor of this fairly bad day, I offer up this little vignette. Enjoy.

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The city, in all its infamy, loomed before Cindy, the one, the only, the fabulous…But it mattered no more. Cindy was a has-been, a washed-up star of the moving pictures before they became talking pictures.

Where there ought to have been wonder, Cindy looked around her with disdain. “Can’t they clean things up?” she thought, like she was still somebody. Someone. Something.

The buildings climbed heavenward, and the farther into the city she strutted, the taller they grew. It were as if someone, God maybe, had taken a giant watering and willed the dead concrete to sprout roots and reach for the stars.

Cindy had been a star, a bright, shining star. And now what was she? A black hole?

“Move it, a-hole!” a balding buffoon barked at Cindy, who had just stopped to light a cigarette.

So, Cindy was an a-hole. “And what does that make people who live in this city by choice?” she wondered.

She changed her mind about the cigarette, dropped it to the busy sidewalks and watched as some elderly slut in heels ground it down unwittingly. The ashes scattered beneath many quick-moving feet, and blew into oblivion, caught in a stray wind. It was a metaphor for her life: all hot one minute, withered to nothingness the next.

In her mind’s eye, she was back in her childhood home, all dressed from head to toe in satin. Cindy’s skirt was blue, the top white with a blue sash bow tied around her left arm. “You’re my little star,” Mother said as she nursed the youngest, Sarah, a golden-haired child with no sympathy for Cindy’s drama.

“I’m going to act on the stage when I’m big,” she told her older brother, James, who snatched the nosegay right out of her hands and held it aloft. “Jimmy, give it back. It’s mine, from my many adoring fans.”

“You’ll never make it on stage,” James laughed, passing the nosegay to their younger brother, Clark. “You’re too dim.”

Dim, Cindy thought as she now stared at the graffiti on a brick wall in a back alley. It reminded her of that moment in her childhood, the moment when she had decided once and for all that she would prove James and her father that they were both wrong. And now here she was, in a big, strange city with no money and no name and no star.

She thought of her father, James Senior. He had been bald for all of her existence, and maybe then some. A stern man, he had unsuccessfully forbidden her from pursuing a career in film. “It wouldn’t last, Cynthia,” he would tell Cindy. That was before they found the cancer in her throat.

He’d been right: it was all hopeless, cigarette ash in the wind. Maybe she’d take up writing song lyrics. “My career is dead.” In this day and age, it could be a hit, an anthem for a generation. My career is dead. Dead, mute career-woman walking. She slumped to the ground and wept.

A Frayed Knot and a Short Story

This is where a joke could possibly be inserted. But this isn’t funny. This is serious. I’m serious: my nerves = frayed.

You see, one of the sad truths about being a writer is that we take things too lightly and too seriously at the same time–at least, I do. “What is she taking seriously now?” you ask. Good question:

– Twelve things out on submission, waiting for an answer

– Writing/publishing future

This song

And I am a bundle of nerves. But if I were very serious and very stressed, I would be writing my book right now and not worrying over publishing. A treadmill walk, isn’t it?

So, to end this rambling/weird post, here’s a micro fiction that I wrote. I hope it stresses you out and makes you laugh, because I am so stressed and need a good laugh right now. Behold:

The Ice Cream

She sat in the park and at her ice cream slowly. It had been given to her by a stranger jogging past. Just the end of the cone, mind, and it wasn’t chocolate. It was Strawberry. Mm. Daisy’s favorite.

What would Mom think? What would Mom do? Try to grab it out of her mouth, no doubt. Maybe even make her throw it up. The thought made Daisy hurry and finish that treat before Mom got back.

Daisy saw Mom down the way and quickly scarfed down the rest. She smiled at Mom innocently…tail wagging.

The Art of Hearing “No!”

No one likes to hear no…unless they’re a masochist. Writers, artists, actors, poets, etc. must hear no way more than the average human being (had to differentiate between us and cats: “NO, TIGGER! Get off the table!”)

But how to handle no? It feels like rejection. It feels personal, when someone rejects our “children” aka writing. But did you catch two VERY important words? Let me lay it down for ya:

1. FEELS. That’s the first important word. Feels like I’m being rejected. Feels personal. Feeling is a sensation that can exist apart from truth. I can feel like I’m an apple, imagine I’m round and red and juicy. But in the end, I am white and not-for-consumption (not addressing the roundness part, folks. Not going there.) I am NOT an apple. I am Beth.

True, some people may reject you for real, but not every NO on your writing automatically equals a NO to you as a person. And not every NO on your writing means a NO on other pieces of your writing. My current publisher (MuseItUp) said no to the first book I sent them, yet said yes to the second. (A lesson to keep trying.)

2. WRITING. The second important word from way up above. My WRITING was rejected. Again, rejection of your writing is not something to take personally.

Everyone (including publishers/editors/agents) has different tastes. Note this. Copy this. Frame this: A rejection is  a reflection of a publisher’s/etc.’s likes and dislikes. It isn’t even a reflection on the merit of your work.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t heed others’ advice/suggestions. Some have merit, but not all. Use discernment when choosing whom to listen to.

Food for thought, I hope.

In closing, don’t get discouraged. Keep learning. Someone out there is bound to say yes to something some day. But they won’t if you say “No, I don’t think I’ll try.” So TRY!

~Beth