Tag: Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Making Time To Write

Last night was a bit rough. Workday stresses lead to an evening bereft of energy, and then I was awakened at 2 in the morning by a particularly aggressive peal of thunder. I find myself struggling just to write a few hundred words a day, which is never a good thing. I know a realignment is coming in the very near future, and I need to prepare for it, but there’s still frustration I have to deal with.

Anyway. Here’s a Throwback Thursday post from 2010. Some of my early posts were quite unfocused, even downright embarrassing. This isn’t one of them.


Hourglass

I am in the unfortunate position of not getting paid to do what I love.

I know, that doesn’t make me special. A lot of people are passionate about things that are very different from what they do. I doubt that most people that work for, say, Bridgestone or Michelin are passionate about making tires. Your average folks get up in the morning, put on some clothing that allow them to conform to the expectations of peers and coworkers, and commence a commute to some sort of job during the day that pays the bills, keeping the family feed and the lights on.

I’m glad to have people in my life who’ve broken this mold. They do what drives them, what fuels their imaginations and haunts their dreams. I know that sometimes the money that comes in from this lifestyle can be a bit more sporadic than the steady day job paycheck, and that bill collectors sometimes need to be dodged or placated. It might seem glamorous at first, but going for long periods of time with little to no income is no picnic.

I’ve been there. I was unemployed for quite a long time not too long ago. And even now, with this steady job I hold, things easily become strained. The combination of my pay rate with the necessity of supporting what I support takes a toll. But before I degenerate into self-indulgent whining, let me get to my point.

I need to make time to write. You might, as well, and here’s why it’s so important to do.

Nobody else can write what you’re going write.

The original idea, the seed from which your work is going to grow, is all yours. You might look to write it yourself, it might become a collaborative work or you may feel the need to hire a ghost writer. But however you plan to do it, there’s a big yawning gap between shaping the core of your idea and coming up with a finished product that’s capable of being sold. One of the biggest components of that gap is time, and to get across it you need to take time away from other things.

I say, when you get right down to it, sometimes you have to shut the world away. Disconnect the phone. Unplug the television. Turn off the Internet. Yes, believe it or not, you can turn off the Internet! Tweets, blogs, memes and streams will still be there when you’re done. Set goals for yourself, be it to write a few hundred words or a few thousand. Then, stick to those goals. Sometimes I have trouble with this, myself, so I’ll be struggling right along with you.

If you have any other tips on how to make the most of the time you try to set aside to write, please let me know. Because as much as guys like to project a “lone wolf” image, I know that until I reach that point where I can roll out of bed, amble over to the home office and flip on the espresso machine, I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Throwback Thursday: The Fine Art of Selling Yourself

Technically, this is a From the Vault entry. But it’s Thursday! So let’s call it Throwback Thursday instead, just to mix things up. I’ve been running this blog for over five years now. This is an entry from the very early days. Enjoy!


Mario selling IT on the Jersey Turnpike (Zero Punctuation)

So you’ve written the next great American novel, or at least a Twilight-killer. It sits pristinely on your desk or hard drive and you can’t wait to get it into the hands of the public who are hungry for something new and interesting to take them away from the dark soul-draining mire of everyday life, spinning your words into gold. But there’s something you need to do first.

You need to sell yourself.

Now I don’t mean that it’s time to pull on the fishnet stockings and hit the streets of the nearest slum. No, I mean you need to send the right queries to the right people.

Would You Buy This?

I might go into more detail and give examples on what not to do in a query letter in another Thursday post, but suffice it to say that the old adage of KISS applies – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

  • Open with a hook. Introduce a character or situation that you think will drive the work.
  • Give a synopsis of the plot. Let the reader of your query know what they’re in for in general, but don’t give away all of your twists & secrets.
  • Thank them for the time they’ve taken to read the query.
  • Offer them an outline and sample chapters if you’re pitching a book.
  • Let them know you’re looking forward to a prompt reply.

Again, I’ll elaborate on these points at another time. Let’s talk about where these queries are going.

The Knife Guy

I have an old edition of the Complete Guide to Novel Writing, and one of the authors describes agents as “knife guys.” Basically, the agent’s job is to cut through the slush piles and red tape of publishing houses, going right to the heart to someone they know on the inside who can help your work see print.

Finding an agent is the most expedient way to get your work published. And by most expedient, I mean that if you get your work accepted, an agent will be more prompt in responding to you than a publisher will be, in most cases. This is because an agent is part writing partner and part mercenary. They understand your need to express yourself and tell your story, and they’re willing to do your dirty work if you pay them enough, usually on commission from your advance & sales. If you win, they win. I’d advise going this route, even though I myself have had zero success in hooking one. Though it has occurred to me I might be fishing in the wrong pond.

Go to the Source

You can, if you prefer, send queries directly to the editors at publishing houses. While this means you don’t have to share your spoils with an agent, it also means it’s much harder for your work to stand out. An agent tends to work face-to-face with publishers, whereas your query letter is one of quite a few that flood into publishing houses on a regular basis.

However, a work that is unique enough or fills a void a publishing house is hungry for might survive the bucket of swamp run-off that is your typical slush pile. Your mileage will vary depending on your genre and the nature of your work. While nobody else on the planet can write exactly in your style on the subject you’ve decided to work with, there might be enough similarities between you and another author that the recipient might decide neither are worth an investment.

Don’t Give Up

Sending queries is a long, thankless, and depressing process. You’re facing entry into a field of entertainment that is crammed with both existing authors looking to continue their careers and new talent frothing at the mouth to get noticed. Know this: you are going to get rejected.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and get a letter of interest within the first wave of your queries. But it’s more likely that you’ll get a bunch of form letters saying that your work isn’t quite what they’re looking for and thanking you for your effort. Try not to think of it as a reflection on your work, but rather an increase in your chances of getting a positive response.

Another book I own, I believe it’s What Color Is Your Parachute? says something about the interview process that applies to sending queries. Your responses are going to look something like this:

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO YES

That “Yes” will make the mountain of rejections disappear so fast it will make your head spin.

Do It Yourself

You could always try to publish your book yourself, but this is an expensive and time-consuming process and you’re better off writing instead of going through it. Even if it’s just writing & sending more query letters.

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