BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR

Searching for reviews for your latest publication might bring about some unwanted words. Did you ever read some of the reviews for literature that newspapers like to put in their review pages?
You know, those coming of age tomes about self-involved young people agonizing over dumb little problems like mom loved you best, or an 800 page book critics like to refer to as an internal odyssey, which is fancy talk for Nothing Happens. And then there are those introspective novels filled with psychobabble and those called delicate by the critics which are actually several pages describing dew in the rose garden.
Your local newspapers reprint these reviews from New York or Los Angeles critics so they don’t actually have to hire someone capable of reading a book and telling the reader whether it’s worth reading or not. That translates to local writers get squat on these pages.
See, I never wanted to write great literature, I just wanted to tell good stories, but I figured I was doomed. I would never be published. I didn’t go to college, didn’t even take any night courses, or that one on TV that promises you’ll learn to write in three months. Or was that learn to draw? I forget.
At any rate, I’m here to tell you, you all can go for it, no matter what. No one was more surprised than I when I sold my first book, then a second, then a third, and so on. If I can write books and actually have them published, you can too. I promise you that. But you must do and not do several things to make sure you accomplish this.
Do Not: Write about an American who goes to the Catskills to remodel a summer camp for Jewish teenagers. Do not write about a Frenchman who moves to Arkansas to fix up a chicken ranch. And for goodness sake, don’t write about colorful local old guys who hang around downtown spitting and jawing. You know the ones? They’re called old farts.
I have a few other don’ts for you while we’re at it. They don’t have anything to do with writing, but should help you out anyway:
No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats. You can’t trust dogs to watch food. And most important, never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.
While these may not help you in your quest for writing a publishable book, they will keep you from attempting these actions as a way to put off sitting down at your computer to write.
I’ve always believed that if I’d been a serious writer by the time I got married at the young age of 17, I’d be a best seller by now. I waited so long that my mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely.
So those of you out there who have gray in your hair and when you stoop to tie your shoes you wonder what else you can do while you’re down there, take heart. You youngsters can listen too. The wonderful thing about writing is: you can look up words you can’t remember in a thesaurus; if you forget what you’re doing it’s not like you just jumped out of an airplane; and sitting in front of a computer is a wonderful place to rest or doze off. Make sure you buy a comfortable chair.
Okay, those are the don’ts, more or less, and I can’t claim them for my own. Isn’t the Internet wonderful when you have nothing to do but read jokes someone sent you in the email? So I didn’t waste my time, I used some of them here. But let’s get to the DO’s of writing, and let’s get serious.
Join a writer’s group that suits your needs. If you can’t find one, start one. Everyone you know is probably fascinated that you’re a writer, but they certainly don’t want to hear about it.
If you don’t believe me, just try telling a non-writer friend how an editor just sent you a form rejection. Try railing that the least he could’ve done was have written a little personal note, such as: I don’t like it because it stinks.
Your friend’s eyes will glaze over before you finish the sentence. But writers, now, they’ll commiserate with you and tell you the editor sucks and doesn’t know what she’s talking about and wouldn’t know a good story if it hit her upside the head.
Mostly though, these writers will give you the courage to submit again and again. And believe me, nobody can help you celebrate a sale better than writer friends.
After you’ve settled on a good group, make sure you realize that you are not the only one there who needs help and compassion. Give as well as you take. But if someone does trash your work, don’t forget: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.
Oh, and here are some don’ts for critique groups: Don’t mess with their voice. Don’t mess with their style. Don’t be mean. The Golden Rule applies here just as it does in the rest of your life.
If you can only afford one conference, then pick the best one for your needs. If you can’t afford any, get on the Internet and find some workshops, writer’s list serves and the like. You can be chatting or emailing all over the world with those who have been there.
CAUTION: Don’t become so addicted to the Internet that you forget to write. Set a time limit and get off. For the same reason, don’t become a conference junky and go to so many you never get to write. Discipline is all important.
And on that note, having stated the most important thing in my last sentence, see you next week.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in book reviews, Internet, literature, Velda Brotherton, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR

  1. Becky says:

    Velda, I need to listen to you more. You not only give great advice you follow it so people like me knows that it works. Now you just have to develope a way to kick me in the butt to get me moving!!! Love ya' Becky

  2. Claire says:

    Great advice, Velda. I'm glad you mentioned the cat and dust buster combo because I was about to do some cleaning. You know my writing hat is on backward when I'd rather clean than write! But, now I know I can't hold my cat and vacuum so I guess I'll get back to writing. After I read these six other blogs. . . addicted to the Internet? Never going to happen.

  3. 王雅筑 says:

    人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

  4. Rose Mary says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Rose Mary says:

    Hi Velda, thank you for the great advice!

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