Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wolves & Writers

I have several writer friends who are experiencing stress for various reasons. They include:

  • fear of not getting another contract;
  • fear of not meeting deadlines;
  • fear of declining sales;
  • fear of not writing a book an agent or a publisher wants;
  • fear they'll be abandoned by their agent or publisher for the next big thing
  • fear they might have to go indie.

From my perspective, fear has replaced the one thing that matters:

  • love of what they're doing.

And from my perspective, most of the fear is tied to traditional publishing. 

Take a look at that list. Do you agree?

One writer I know is about to turn in another book. It's the last one he owes his publisher under his current contract. And then he's taking a break to reevaluate what he wants out of his career and out of his life.

This is the same writer who was screaming with angst because it had taken him over a year to get his second book out. He was worried he'd lose the readers who'd found him with his first book.

And he loved his readers.

What happened?

Again, this is what I see from the outside looking in (and my vision could be seriously distorted): 

  • Attention from either an agent or a publisher is an incredible affirmation of the work we've created and the value we have as an author. 
  • Affirmations are the things we say to ourselves to help us feel more confident and sure. Build up our egos.
  • If we're getting affirmations from a source outside of us, it can be difficult to truthfully analyze it for potentially negative consequences, especially if that source is something we began our careers dreaming about.

What's a writer to do?

  • Understand that fear-based decisions are never as good as love-based decisions. Not ever.
  • Focusing on those things you love will help you cut loose those things you fear. 

There's a Cherokee legend about two wolves. While the legend describes one of the wolves as evil or full of anger, I think substituting the word "fear" is equally appropriate. The other wolf is usually described as good, and I think substituting the word "love" works just fine.

"A fight is going on inside you," the old Cherokee said to his grandson.

"It's a terrible battle between two wolves. One is filled with fear. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, hate, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is filled with love. He is joy, peace, hope, harmony, serenity, humility, kindness, awareness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith, and light."

The grandfather continued, "The battle is relentless. It's to the death. And it's in you."

The young boy considered the words of his elder. "Grandfather,"  he asked, "which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee looked his grandson in the eye and said, "The one you feed."

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I'm at THAT Place and it SUCKS, sort of

When I talked with a writer friend earlier about my insecurity about where I am with this manuscript, her advice couldn't have been more clear... don't let on that writing a book isn't a natural flow of my creativity. In other words, pretend I come out of the starting gate with the book that gets published. First draft. I'm that good. 

Just smile.

That's not how I roll.

Writing a book, at least for me, is one of the most amazing processes ever. Mostly because I'm not that good. I struggle. I search. I regret. I chastise. I belittle. I get on my knees. 

I'm amazed at the words that came out of nowhere. Surely they didn't all come from me. The rotten ones? I remember writing those. They stunk then and they stink now. The brilliant ones? They surprise me as much as I hope they will ultimately surprise my readers.

The bad news? I feel like I'm floundering. There's a great thread (several, actually) that should weave this new story together perfectly. But as soon as I feel as if I have a grasp, they're teased away.  It's as if all of the planning and research I've done to get this point is a big pie in the face. Larry, Moe and Curly have nothing on me. I'm the butt-end of slapstick with the best of them. Or the worst of them. Or whatever.

The good news? This is my fourth (publishable) book. It's also the fourth time I've felt this way. Feeling like a fraud is part of what makes me close my eyes and trust the process. Move on. Push through. Let it happen.

Take a breath.

I trust that in the end, FLAME GAME will have an entertainment value that will resonate. In the meantime, I'll just keep writing. And then rewriting. And then rewriting some more.

It's what I do. 

In the meantime...

It's all better with friends.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Deadly Dilemma

An author I know is deathly tired of writing mysteries. She wants to write psychological suspense.

After having written a successful series with a character people have enjoyed, she has tried to express the fact that this last novel is the end. Readers however, are contacting her to say how much they loved the book and can't wait for her next one.

The next one.

As a writer, I know how she must feel. I've heard it before from bestselling authors—they're bored to tears with the character but the sales are too good for their publisher to allow them to move on. It's like being trapped in a once wonderful, but now terrible, marriage year after year after year.

As a reader, I would be terribly disappointed if a favorite character was abandoned by their author. But would I abandon the author? Probably not.

What about you?

It's all better with friends.