How Big Are Your Balls?

What do we think about writing, publishing and every other aspect of our craft?  Do we envision that at some point we won’t be staring at the keyboard wondering what the hell to write next?  Do we imagine that once we finish the, “Great American Novel,” that editors and agents will be breaking down our door to get at it?  The reality of getting published  takes balls the size of Texas.  The author of the 2009 bestseller, The Help, Kathryn Stockett, retells her journey to publication for More magazine:

“It took me a year and a half to write my earliest version of The Help. I’d told most of my friends and family what I was working on. Why not? We are compelled to talk about our passions. When I’d polished my story, I announced it was done and mailed it to a literary agent.

Six weeks later, I received a rejection letter from the agent, stating, “Story did not sustain my interest.” I was thrilled! I called my friends and told them I’d gotten my first rejection! Right away, I went back to editing. I was sure I could make the story tenser, more riveting, better.

A few months later, I sent it to a few more agents. And received a few more rejections. Well, more like 15. I was a little less giddy this time, but I kept my chin up. “Maybe the next book will be the one,” a friend said. Next book? I wasn’t about to move on to the next one just because of a few stupid letters. I wanted to write this book.

A year and a half later, I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry. “You have so much resolve, Kathryn,” a friend said to me. “How do you keep yourself from feeling like this has been just a huge waste of your time?”
That was a hard weekend. I spent it in pajamas, slothing around that racetrack of self-pity—you know the one, from sofa to chair to bed to refrigerator, starting over again on the sofa. But I couldn’t let go of The Help. Call it tenacity, call it resolve or call it what my husband calls it: stubbornness.

After rejection number 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.”

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Now you don’t have to like Stockett’s work. You do not have to even like Stockett.  But you have to admire her balls.  You will need a similar pair to  get you through the BS that people are going to throw at you enroute to publishing your book. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with self publishing. Too many people do it, tho and some to avoid having anyone critique their work.  But even if you self publish at some point you will have to deal with a thorough critique of your work. Are you ready? Writing the book is just the beginning.  Re-writing your book is where the real work begins.

Sorry guys…still working on a better e-mail system. It will be running smoothly soon. I hope the writing is running just as smoothly.  Remember when becoming a writer was your naughty pleasure…your secret indulgence? It was something you loved that was just for you. We need to recapture that urgency again. teenager_typing_188220

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Writing Challenge

Sometimes when you are writing you will hit a brick wall no matter what you do.  The drills do not work.  The character sketches are complete….nothing works.  When this happens take the time to  improve your knowledge and your skills of your craft.  Build a library of skill books that explain the mechanics or plot, structure, character building, etc.  Even if you think you already know all there is to know about the writing craft.  Dare to know more.

 

 

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Writers Challenge

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Aaaaaggghhhh!!!!!!  Character sketches! They drive me nuts! My process is to know my characters well because I want believable actions from them. So, I always chart out my characters even down to the smallest details like what they like to eat for breakfast even if they never eat breakfast in my story.  This can be good and this can be bad. The bad is it takes too freaking long.  The good is people believe in the possibility of my characters no matter how outrageous they are because they are not irrational. No matter what your process I highly recommend trying out character sketches and seeing how they enhance your characters in your stories.  There is a good guide to doing this:

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Any questions?

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”
—Stephen King, WD (this quote is from an interview with King in our May/June 2009 issue)Unknown-1

 

 

 

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King, WD

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