Today’s entry may turn out to be a rant. Everyone has there limits, even me. Oh, it’s not that I’m angry at anyone or anything … just the world in general. That and the fact that I’m STARVING.
Writers out there, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not just the poor struggling artist kind of hunger either. With all the changes and mutations within the publication industry, a lot of us can’t help but feel the twinge. It’s all so close, isn’t it? So close we can almost taste it. Gonna make it this time! Gonna reach success!
And suddenly, as though the magic curtain has been pulled away, everything we can possibly imagine to help meet our goal is on display. Amazing complicated contraptions, expensive gold plated plans and of course, those shiny, sparkly things that are so bright they’re hard to look at – those are usually the scams. Been around that block already but lookie here! There’s more.
Eyes wide and panting like a cat in labor, I finger all the pretty new publishing business profile ideas on the shelves. It feels like I’m a kid in the candy store and I want everything. But like most, I have my preferences and without warning the flashing, pulsing lights dim and the world comes into focus.
Writing is a bug that bit a long time ago and no matter that you have enough rejection letters to build a Viking funeral ship and send your manuscripts off to Odin, we both know it ain’t happening. It’s a hunger that spreads and throbs from our brain to our core, trembles in our soul and demands sacrifice. Does that make the fancy new candy store a distraction?
I’ve been discovering that my starvation to reach my goals as a writer and the shifts in the market are both hard cookies. I know what I ultimately want and so do the plethora of new business ventures out there to help make me a published author. The shelves are loaded with goodies … come on down, pick your pleasure, choose your vice.
Vanity press; self-publishing; joint publishing; e-publishing; small traditional presses; big publishing houses and traditional publishing kits (those require your own handy dandy literary agent, batteries not included).
Now let’s explore this aisle. Down here we have all the newly evolved services developed to support the latest version of ‘getting published’. We’ve got intermediary literary agents; aggressive acquisitions agents; creative properties attorneys; author’s liaisons and publicists … since now an author published by a big house or a tiny one must toe the line just like self-pubbed authors to get the word out or fail.
Around every corner and in my own email inbox are a hundred invitations to classes (free and extraordinarily expensive) covering everything from writer stamina, to plot and style development, to building an author platform, to self-marketing without drawing blood. We can learn how to develop a character and make him America’s next heartthrob in one three-hour seminar! There are people who can show us how to eat without dropping crumbs and cola onto the keyboard; and people who teach yoga for more powerful creativity at the keyboard.
Everything has come to a head in the publishing world and if we’re not overwhelmed with all the amazing new possibilities open to us as writers … we’re probably ready to take a bridge, eyes glazed over and confusion waving from below. “Come on in! The water’s fine!” Yeah. Trust that.
A writer is a unique blend of thinking machine and feeling blob. A writer is an entity which constantly struggles to function like normal people while our invented worlds smear with the other one (the one where the IRS and the gas company want their payments). A writer is a miracle among mundane beings. Who else can function with so much creativity buzzing inside our heads, while the requirements for success shout for attention outside our skin?
There’s a solution. It comes with a great sandwich and a glass of stout. See, there’s a fantastic trick for everyone out there. It’s very important to take a serious look at everything offered, but running willy-nilly to every seminar and class isn’t the way and we all know it. Attending every single conference is as much a question of time as finance. Jumping at everything when it calls just isn’t the thing. Here’s what I suggest.
Get a big-ass piece of paper, really big, like yards of it from a butcher’s paper roll, enough to cover a whole wall. Plot a line across the top that covers twelve months from that day. At the top of every month choose a category which could help you reach your publications goal. For example: Critique or inspiration or website or mentor seeking or platform development or query scheduling, etc. You get the drift.
Now this is the genius part of my plan (evil grin).
Without missing a stroke to your keyboard or a moment of your committed writing time, take the current month’s goal and focus on it. Nothing else, just writing and the month’s info gathering subject. Trust me, I know lots of other elements like to latch on but stand your ground. Just because you read somewhere that you shouldn’t begin to understand the function of a website without understanding your platform (which is scheduled three months later), it’s okay. Stay focused and keep your eye on the prize, one area at a time.
What I propose is that for twelve months we are writing and information gathering machines. At the end of the year, you will have a completed novel, mentored, critiqued and edited. You’ll have begun an aggressive campaign to find the correct publication for that novel, know how to create your website and clearly know your platform and promotional intentions.
Just imagine, when a prospective agent or publisher asks anything about your manuscript or marketing plan … YOU WILL ACTUALLY HAVE THE ANSWER! Go figure?
Not rocket science. Simple focus. There are literally hundreds of wonderful solutions out there for every writer’s needs. Being careful of what we gather and how we digest it will make all the difference in getting our hunger satisfied.
That and not forgetting to eat. Is it really two o’clock?