Monthly Archives: September 2013

What Writing Should Be

My students are struggling with the idea of writing. In today’s society, the written word is extremely important. For example, what I am doing right now is a product of language. But what my students are really struggling with is creative writing. They don’t understand why they need to write poetry or tell stories. They don’t understand just how important it is that they learn these skills.

First, creative writing comes from the heart. It is a way to express one’s emotions on paper. This is HUGE in an age where face to face contact is at a minimum and emotions stay bottled up. Poetry in particular, allows the author a new voice and viewpoint. It is amazing what my students produce when they put some heart in it. My biggest advice to my students is to write about what you are passionate about. If you feel it, you can write about it. It really is that simple.

Secondly, creative writing enables the writer to be concise in their language use. I stress to my students that everything an author does has purpose. Every word is chosen carefully. Every punctuation mark is placed with care. There are no accidents in creative writing. This emphasizes the importance of thinking before you speak (or write). It broadens vocabulary and encourages thoughtful language, which is important since I find my students to be extremely reactive without thought.

Finally, creative writing is essential because it passes on stories. Every story comes from somewhere in the realm of fact. It is always someone’s wonderings, thoughts or feelings. Every piece of fiction comes from reality. Every manuscript, published or unpublished, is essential to the world. Stories matter. Each and every one.

These are my truths about writing. They are why I write. Getting published would be nice, but in reality I wrote the Livi Bug series because I wanted to put my heart on paper. I wanted to write my truths for other people to read. I wanted to pass on my story to my daughter and give her something special forever. Whether everyone else gets to love them too, is optional.

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I belong to two very personal professions; writing and teaching. I take my work very personally because I take a lot of pride in what I do. Both of these professions require dedication, discipline, love, blood, sweat and tears. In both arenas I have discovered a profound lack of professionalism and it is both disheartening and scary. I believe it is both a commentary on the business world today and the current state of human beings. Here is what I have seen.

1. Respect is necessary: People do not have to like what someone else says or agree with them in any way. People do however, need to be respectful of someone else’s work and opinions. I witnessed someone put other people’s manuscripts on blast over Twitter. To me, that speaks volumes and not in a positive way. I personally, would never work with that agent (even if they were the only agent to offer me representation). A writer puts their heart and soul into their work. Who are you to tear it apart publicly, as if you are the be all and end all of literature? If you don’t like it, fine, but please respect that person’s heart and soul on paper.

2. Manners are essential and will get you far: I love receiving rejection letters (yes I just said that) when the beginning reads, “Thank you for submitting your manuscript for our consideration.” It acknowledges that, yes, I did indeed take a leap of faith by allowing you to read my work. It is in fact a rejection, but the politeness of the letter is appreciated. Heck, the letter itself is also appreciated. This includes writing queries as well. I am sure agents get some impressive letters with misspellings (like the agent’s name) and no thank you or please.

3. Be honest, not rude: Honesty is always greatly appreciated. I thoroughly appreciate an agent or administrator who can be honest and candid in a polite and appropriate way. The old saying is true. It is not always what you say but how you say it that counts. I always accept all criticism or feedback. The one doling it out should be cognizant of how they are delivering said criticism. It can be the difference between someone being open to the feedback or being defensive and ignoring it. Be kind and honest.

Professionalism is important no matter what the field. It is being kind to your fellow human being and showing respect for their work. It is incredibly important and it is getting lost in our mad rush to complete everything on our to-do list. Take a moment and do things right. It is greatly appreciated by others.

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When Do I Bag It?

I am new to this author thing. I have written three manuscripts and I have yet to get representation to get one published. I obviously think my ability to write is good enough to get it published or else I would not be sending it to complete strangers for consideration. It is a HUGE risk as a writer to put oneself out there for constant ridicule and rejection. Writing is extremely personal for me, especially the subject and reason I wrote the Livi Bug series.

That being said, when do I know when to bag this idea and chalk it up to a pipe dream? How many form rejections must a person endure before getting the hint? I have received the “this profession (literary agency) is a highly subject one and someone else will love your work” line quite a few times now. The count continues to increase daily. I believe in my writing and in my work, but how do I know if I am delusional. I have nightmares of agents reading my manuscript, laughing hysterically at my cruddy writing, and then writing me an e-mail through stifled laughter that politely tells me that it is not for them even though they want to tell me it sucks. I also think about all the other millions of people who submit their work thinking it is fantastic when it clearly is not. Am I one of those people?

I am well aware that this could be my paranoia, but what if it isn’t? How do you know, as a writer, when to give up the dream and move on? If you could not tell, this project means a lot to me. I wrote it for my daughter and it will always be for her. I figured that putting it out there would be a “no harm no foul”, nothing to lose scenario (forgive the clich├ęs). This is still my truth regardless of what anyone else thinks of what I have done. I know that even writing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment and I will honestly say that I am proud of myself. Is the next step something that is feasible?

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