O' Fickle Muse

I never have more ideas, really good exciting ideas, than when I'm stuck on a project.  Right now, for instance, I should be writing my novel about a modern office worker caught up in the machinations of the gods of Olympus.  Instead, in the past few days I've had a really great idea for a short story (finished), four children's books (three of which I finished…the fourth languishes because I'm having trouble coming up with monsters that grade-schoolers would recognize for every letter of the alphabet), and two other novels (which I'm trying really hard to ignore).

I also have ideas for a bunch of craft projects, and an urge to redecorate my bedroom.  (‘Redecorate’ implies that it was ever decorated in the first place, which might not be altogether accurate.)

Basically, I'm inspired to do just about anything other than figure out the plot snarl in chapter 15 and finish the dang novel.

And that's because inspiration is (to paraphrase Thomas Edison) only one percent of creation.  The idea is the easy thing.  When it's shiny and new, all made of potential and dream-stuff, it’s fun to hang around with your creative endeavor.  But trying to turn that dream into reality is HARD.  The words don't come out right.  The plot you thought would just flow onto the page instead dribbles out in contradictory fits and starts.  The characters you hoped would practically write themselves turn out to be cardboard cutouts with no motivation.  And you can't remember how to spell ‘volunteer’, or whichever other word you can never remember how to spell.  Bonus points if it's one spell-check doesn't recognize.

Here's the part where you were probably hoping to find a simple, easy solution for this conundrum.  But you no doubt realize that if I had one, I wouldn't be writing this essay.  I'd be writing my novel, which is what I'm supposed to be doing.  Or better yet, I'd have already finished my novel since I have a simple, easy solution for overcoming writer’s block.  Then I'd slap together a book on how to write your novel in six easy steps.

All I have is persistence, and I don't always have that.  You're never going to get past the block by ignoring it or fleeing from it.  I try really hard to write every day, and at least some of that time I try to work on my book.  Some days I get a little done.  Most days, I get practically nothing done.  Every once in a while, my muse graces me with her blessing and I get one of those days where my inspiration overwhelms my keyboard buffer.  Those are beautiful days, all the more so because they're so rare.

Most days, it's a hard slog with little reward, just like anything else worthwhile.  Writing, if you want to be good at it, is hard work.  It's not always fun.  It's hardly ever easy.  But at the end you get to turn your dreams into reality so other people can experience them.

That's worth a little existential agony.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I should be getting back to my novel.  It's not going to write itself.

--David Goodner, DFWWW member since 2012

photo credit: _Untitled-1 via photopin cc

Martin Madness

jennymartinPhew.  It’s hard to keep up with DFWWW member Jenny Martin and her crazy schedule.  But if you try, you’ll be better for it.

In the near future, you can catch her at the YAK Fest (Young Adult Keller Book Festival) on January 25th.  It will feature over two dozen YA authors, including our very own Jenny.  Details can be found on the website, and it looks like it will be a fabulous event.

If that date doesn’t suit you, then swing by and see her speak on Monday, January 27, from 7:00 to 8:30 at the Richardson Public LibraryThe Texas Writer’ Guild of Texas is hosting her, and she’ll be talking about finding and strengthening your writing voice.

If all else fails, and you can’t make any of those offerings, just swing by her blog and read her latest musings.  This will have to hold all of us over until her book’s much anticipated release!

Poetry, PoETry, PoeTry

poetry festivalIf you write poetry, wish you did, or just like it--don’t miss the 22nd annual Austin International Poetry Festival on April (poetry month) 3-6, 2014.

From Thursday through Sunday there will be open mics, workshops, special readings, and a continuous stream of all things poetry.  All registrants are given a ten minute time slot to read their own work.  (Go to the slam if at all possible!)  Fellow attendees, numbering in the hundreds, are from both coasts and across the pond.  The cost is $45 or, for students and retirees, $30.

Register before Jan. 15th to submit up to three poems for consideration for the formal anthology, di*verse*city.  If one is selected, it will be considered for possible prizes as well.  Watch the website- www.aipf.org -for more information.

[Underage?  Check the "youth" tab on the site.  Poetry doesn’t discriminate.]

Email DFWWW lifetime member Del Cain at del.cain(at)sbcglobal.net with any questions.  If you ask them nicely, he might even answer you in a haiku.

Redlights and Rejections

My husband hates red lights. He will take a longer route through lesser-used roads to avoid a traffic signal. Red lights don’t bother me. They only last for thirty seconds, or maybe a minute at busier intersections. Sometimes, they even give me time to check the map, freshen my lipstick, or make a phone call before the light changes.

We need to view rejections like red lights—a temporary stop on our journey to publishing a book. Sometimes, we need to find another way to continue our journey.

When I’ve really got my hopes up, rejection hurts. The DFW Writers’ Workshop claps for rejections because they know that writer has finished a manuscript and had the courage to send it out. And sometimes I celebrate rejections with my favorite dessert, a hot fudge sundae, before I get back to writing the best book I can.

Recently, I just got stopped by the biggest deterrent of all.  My publishing company--which had sent me a contract, edited my manuscript, and sent me a copy of my cover—went out of business. Now that’s red light with a capital R. (I had an extra large hot fudge sundae, by the way.)

Did I decide I wasn’t fated to be published? Did I quit writing? No. The next day I examined my options and sent a query letter to the best one.

But I haven’t pinned all my hopes on that one book. As a productive writer, I have several manuscripts that have made the rounds and I’m working on others. In response to a positive rejection by a Harlequin editor who suggested I submit to a different Harlequin line, I’m polishing a trilogy I’ve been working on. I will submit it with a copy of the editors’ positive comments.

And the sequel to my ill-fated novel is about to be critiqued by a published author (a nice benefit offered by the local chapter of my romance writer’s organization). I’ll use that author’s comments to revise my sequel before entering the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest. Since I’m not published, I am now eligible for the contest. How’s that for a silver lining?

As I’ve written several novels (that have garnered several rejections), I am also exploring self-publishing, where being able to put out my collection of  books in a short time is a decided advantage. Of course, if I go that route, I will hire an editor to help me fine-tune the story and a cover artist to make it look as professional as possible.  A good package is very important to help sell a book.

In the end, though, what can rejections teach you? You can get  praise for your writing that uplifts your spirits, even though the editor is ultimately rejecting you. Sometimes you receive good feedback about what editors don’t like and then know not to send that type of story to them. If you get a scathing rejection, you may realize how your story needs revising so it will get better results next time.

What else can you gain from rejection? A fighting spirit. Don’t get even, get mad. Show the editors of the publishing world that you can do better, that you are a force to be reckoned with, and that you have what it takes to entertain a reader. So forge ahead and let red light rejections be damned. Nothing can stop a hardworking, determined writer who keeps at it from achieving that dream.

--Carolyn Williamson, DFWWW Member since 1977

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Lamott in the House

Anne Lamott2Most writers know Anne Lamott because she wrote one of our most sacred documents, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. If you haven’t gotten around to reading it, do.  Just perusing a few quotes from the book will convince you that she has something to offer you as a writer, we promise.

At any rate, Anne is coming to town to promote her new book, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair.  And though this is not necessarily a writing event, we’re dropping a line about it here because it’s probably (definitely) worth it to go hear her talk and let her sign your old (or new) Bird by Bird copy. All for free.

Details below.  See you there.

“Popular author Anne Lamott will be speaking at Fort Worth’s Arborlawn United Methodist Church on Thursday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m. The author will be talking about her new book, Stitches. Anne will sign books during a reception following her talk. The event is free and open to the public.”  For the flyer, click here.


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