My friend, TJ Loveless, is here this week to share her lesson. She claims she's not worthy of the title experienced writer, but she's too modest. You're the tops, TJ. You can find TJ on twitter, her blog or facebook.
Every writer has a story all their own. Whether it is beginners and their first steps, those somewhere in the middle, veterans published with their words out in the big, bad world. All carry words of wisdom, something to learn, hope to accomplish our shared dream – our words out in the world, enjoyed by others and perhaps, some wisdom imparted.
I'm barely past the newbie stage.
A year ago the opportunity to dedicate myself to writing popped unexpectedly into my family's life. I'd been writing full length novels (60k+ words) for the last three years, but had no clue what to do next. Our move to Wyoming let me stay home and learn.
It's been twelve months, four seasons, three hundred and sixty five point two five days. During that time I've learned how to lessen passive writing, to spot scenes of such poetic visuals as to draw a tear to the eye – and cut those buggers from the manuscript. I've learned to critique for others, to love red ink, try to write queries (Kryptonite, anyone?), and realize while my stories may be similar to others, they carry my unique signature.
But the biggest lesson I learned the hard way? To have a sense of humor. To laugh at myself, the mistakes I made – and still make – and find the funny silver lining wherever possible.
Rejections hurt and cause gaping holes in our egos. Every story has a piece of my heart, sprinkled with a little soul for spice. How can they not love it as I do? Rejections can make an author doubt their talents, abilities and imagination.
I'll use this example: I'm currently writing an Urban Fantasy and gathering every critique possible as I go. In other words, I'm sending it out in rough draft. I've gathered more than thirty, and I'm only halfway done. I read the pointers, and often end up laughing with tears.
Seriously? I wrote the following line: “I hugged myself tightly, wrapping my arms around each other.” I'd turned the MC into a pretzel. Luckily, the agent who critiqued it thought the line worthy of four sentences of puns, sarcasm and a “I haven't laughed this hard in ages. Thank you.” She knew I sent a rough draft, and quickly forgave me. Go ahead, laugh. I did. It is funny and worth a lot of comments. I don't mind – anymore. Before I might have thought about walking away, cursing my stupidity.
We are human, we make mistakes. Although I'm thinking of applying for that superhero job.
Learn to laugh at your mistakes. An MS received a full request from an independent publisher. After I ran around the room, squealing in glee, jumped up and down while trying to hug the Hubby, made a complete fool of myself, Hubby had to force me to send the MS. I sat there, deer in the headlights expression, wondering what on earth I'd gotten into this time. I quickly tapped an email, attached the MS and clicked on “Send” before I could change my mind.
Only to find out I'd left out pertinent information such as: My name. Contact information. Other info requested by the editor. I was mortified. Burned so red with embarrassment I gave myself a headache. Kept thinking, What a bloody idiot! Great email, ya Spaz! I sent the info, apologizing, but made a few remarks aimed in my direction.
I laughed after the second email. So did the editor - who talks to me on Twitter at least once a week.
I now have a great story for others, let them know they aren't alone in the stupid mistakes we all make. It's worth a laugh, and has helped quite a few relax.
Moral of this rambling blog? Don't be so hard on yourself. Let the mistakes be a stepping stone, I doubt you'll do it again. Laugh, see the humor, make it fun. And most of all, enjoy this journey. After all, it bears your indelible signature.