Saturday, January 2, 2010

Aspiring Authors



I've been wanting to write about aspiring authors and what it takes to become one. From my experience alone, it is NOT an easy thing. We are starting something from our own volition. It is a love. A passion. Something that stirs deep down in the heart of our souls.

We are like foot soldiers in battle. The first to struggle to maintain our own stance. The first to be blown to pieces. The first to experience drudgery. The drudgery of others' nodding politely with a cynical smile as you tell them your dreams.

It takes a platoon of strength to move on from the nonbelievers and hold your head up high and say, "I can do it." We especially need this fortification when we see our first works off into our alpha readers' hands. The ones who whip out their little red pen and start marking up all of our mistakes. Eek! I know the first time we see the bloody mess, our hearts sink.

Oh no! You may think, I felt so moved, I felt so clear and so sure, how can it be?

I know the pain involved when I first see all the mark ups. But there is still hope. The more battle worn we are, the tougher our skins become and the red mess on our perfect white sheets will be our badge of courage. It will be our strength to better ourselves and soon, we will welcome it for we know what comes after when we apply the useful comments. A gleaming story ready for submission!

Sometimes the comments can be destructive from those who do not know what they are doing. Once I followed someone's advice against my better judgment. Well, as I learned, it took me far away from where I should have gone. I had to start from ground zero. I put my novel back to where I thought it should have been in the first place. It is much better now.

As writers, we need to maintain a balance of what we feel is right as we listen to our critiquers' comments, but not to get our hearts tangled in the mire of confusion of self doubt! Remember that no one knows your story better than you. What they mark up is only opinion. If it doesn't feel right and you feel torn, take it to the Lord in prayer and then make your decision.

Another thing that I have found myself doing--especially after reading a self-help book on writing--is editing as I write. I wrote a novel so tentatively that is threadbare because of it. It is so skeletal because the rules kept biting me with every word I wrote. It was very destructive and made me feel inadequate.

Remember to try to write your first draft for the FUN of it. Let it carry you to those daring, fun, carefree places. Try not to think how odd it sounds as you write out that scene. Let it come straight from the heart! When you are finished, put it away for a few weeks (about 4-6) before you edit it for your critiquers.

A wolf cub is still a wolf and more so if it runs with its pack than cowering in its den. Do not be afraid to interact with published authors and feel that they are better than you. They were once where you are now.

Yes, it is an admirable thing that they have realized their dreams. Do not let them intimidate you because they are where you want to be. Let them be an example to you. You will get there. Let us be strong together and encourage other aspiring authors because without aspiring authors, the writing world will surely die. Never give up and lose sight of your dreams.

I would LOVE to hear your experiences (good or bad--be honest!) as an aspiring author and how it was for you if you are now published. :)

12 comments:

  1. An excellent, touching post, Lizzie. There's so much wisdom here--from trusting your heart, to taking it to God, to running with the pack. Thank you. It's all great advice.

    My own journey is still in the beginning stages. I'm working my way up there, one slow, steady step at a time.

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  2. Great Post Liz. And you're right about so many things. The journey can be hard, and even for those of us who think we are ready, the road can be filled with pot holes and even a huge "dead end" sign at the end, as in my case. Keep your chin up. You're a great writer and your day is coming.

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  3. Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate them. I am no rush to becoming published, but I am enjoying every step of the way--because once we reach our goals, there's no turning back!

    Laura--that is the best way to do it. Slowly but surely. I am with you on that!

    Christine--your story is so very good! The dead end is not permanent. I know that the Lord has a special place for it and it will do great. I have no doubt.

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  4. Hi Elizabeth, I think it'd be fine if you want to repost, it would be easier for people to find it who are clicking onto your blog from my site, but its your blog, so whatever makes you happy:-)

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  5. This was excellent Liz. And we're totally on the same wavelength ~ my writers blogck blog for Monday's on this same topic :) Great minds and all that!

    I'm not published yet, but I totally can see how I've grown as a writer over the years. I've faced all those nay-sayers too. It IS a hard road, but so worth it--even now, before being published. It's been worth it for ME.

    You had some real special gems of wisdom in here Liz.

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  6. It took me a little while to get comfortable with it but I now throw down a huge chunk of writing and then come back for revisions. That way the work isn't so skeletal and I can also add more as something else comes along-forever refining it to be that polished diamond.

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  7. Great post! I know I've learned a ton in the years (and years, and years) that I've been working at this. It's so true that you have to only take the advice that feels right to you. I find good critiques make me excited to make the changes.

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures in writing. I really appreciate it! I just love everyone's openness and camaraderie!
    :)

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  9. I, too, value good critiques. Just a few days ago I submitted some shorter pieces (essays & poems) to a journal with fingers crossed.

    My current WIP is 16 months in the making, but after some thought, I just may set it aside and start another story.

    As you say, I'm in no hurry, either. In time I will finish my WIP, start sending out queries and find an agent. But until then, I'm learning from other published authors and reading & taking notes like mad.

    Thanks for this post & to LT for Tweeting it (that's how I found it!!).

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  10. Terresa! Isn't LT awesome? I really appreciate her Tweeting it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate your input!

    I have no doubt that you will be successful in your writing endeavors! Keep in touch!
    :)

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  11. At times I do find myself feeling intimidated by the "Bigger and Better" published authors, but I should not. I have not yet met a published author that wasn't helpful, and wished me success.

    I want to surround myself in people who love writing, whether published or not. Every single day I want to learn, progress, and succeed in this endeavor.

    Each time a comment on a blog, I do it with a sense of nervous excitement. What if they think what I said was dumb? What if I spell something wrong, or ask a totally obvious question?

    But I throw myself out there so that I will meet more people, and they will meet me.

    The point is, I have to learn step by step, just like those who came before me. I am grateful for all the support I get from writers everywhere.

    Thanks for the post. It's good advice.

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  12. Great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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