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The Day I Bought Steampunky Gloves

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So, I found an excuse to own pleather gloves that stink like the real thing. Why? Because I had this wonderful idea of being a writer.

Let me back up: I had the wonderful idea of what defined a real writer. Maybe. Read on.

Jo March from Little Women had a hat she wore when she was writing. Depending on what angle it was at, her family would know what type of writerly mood she was in (my word, no hers, obvs) and how well (or poorly) the writing was going. Said I to myself, “Now, that would maybe motivate me, get me in the right, serious frame of mind to be a real writer.”

If you don’t know me from Bob, you might not know how devastatingly insecure I can be. My reasoning was that if I dressed a certain way, maybe the words would come quicker…and better. But props are props. It’s all in the mind. The psyche. The attitude and approach I take with my work.

Cheap tricks can become not-so-cheap. First it’s gloves (which I can’t type in to save Dickens, I’m sorry.) Next it’s a tricorn hat that looks ridiculous atop my messy ‘do. What after that? Hmm? A trench coat for mysteries? A bouquet of realer-than-real-life (faux) blood-red roses? Did you know that on Valentine’s Day, some poor suckers pay an excess of $50 for half a doz of these (well, real) pollen-infested plants that are just going to die after turning their vase water a sickly (and stinky) green? But I digress.

The point is…it’s good to have your head in the game. But some things become crutches or excuses not to write. “Oh, the gloves don’t allow me to make actual physical contact with the keyboard. Oh well. Guess I’ll go watch Elementary.” Or “The hat didn’t inspire me. I’m stuck and out ten bucks. And now I’m frustrated (and poor), so I guess I’ll go watch Elementary.”

Writers write. We flounder. We flourish. We have seasons. But we always jump back into the game, gloves or no.

Just some random rambling thoughts for you.

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

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A Watched Pot BURNS!

Okay, that title is a little melodramatic, yes? Yes. But what in the name of Asgard am I talking about? Glad you asked…

I have mentioned that I hate waiting. I hate waiting for the mail-carrier to come in the afternoon or early morning or late evening or WHENEVER SHE FREAKING DECIDES TO SHOW UP WITH MY PRECIOUS…You get the point. I also hate waiting in lines, waiting for my mom to get home from work so we can spill details about the day’s events. And I hate waiting to share my books with the world.

Guys, this is bad news. First drafts SUCK. They’re supposed to. Anne Lemott (forgotten how to spell) said it well–or was it Hemingway? I don’t know, but it’s freakin’ genius ’cause it’s true: The first draft of everything is s..t.

To tone it down and censor it (as I do for my younger readers): The first draft of everything stinks. We don’t parade our body odor around proudly, do we? No, of course not. We shower, we put on deodorant, we spray on cologne. We don’t impatiently skip all that hygiene because we hate waiting to get out the door. Why? Because besides our stench offending those around us, WE DON’T WANT TO EMBARRASS OURSELVES.

A watched pot on a burner still boils. But if you touch it without proper safety equipment, you will get burned. Here’s how this translates into the writing life: If you share your ideas, your first draft, your first paragraph, your first sentence too soon (before polish and proper gestation–yes, I used that word. Sue me), you will most likely get burned or burnt out.

If the person you’re sharing your first draft of…stink with doesn’t appreciate it or have the reaction you wanted, that can sink your hopes and let your old enemy Doubt creep back in and drag you under the boiling water (because I hate wasting a good metaphor.) “Oh, they didn’t like it! That means it’s horrible! Oh noes. I am a terrible author! This is a terrible book. I quit! I quit this book and I quit writing. Period.” Melodramatic? Maybe. But I’ve been there.

That’s why I need to let my pot boil and watch it boil ALONE. When the time is right, I’ll add all the fixin’s that are missing from the first draft, stir it up, thicken it up, taste test, and then…

Dinner is served to the beta-readers!

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

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Do you share your ideas and work too soon? Tell me I’m not alone in getting discouraged by lukewarm reactions.

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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