Writing Wins and Woes: Recognizing the genius

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Okay, so you know you’re a genius. You’ve written a story, a book, a poem etc. and it’s great. It’s better than great. It’s phenomenal. Someone else has read it (probably a family member, but they’re objective, right?) and they said, and I quote, “Yeah, it’s good.” That’s a tad understated with your work of art but you’ll take it, so you send it in to a publisher. And they send you a letter of congratulations, nominate you for an award and pay you oodles of cash (okay, paypal money). Yay! Yeah, right. Actually, they send you back a brief email saying your piece is not right for their magazine/publication etc. They don’t even tell you why they don’t want your masterpiece. Huh? What planet are they from anyway?

Believe me, I feel your pain. I’ve been there. Let’s just say at least 400 times. People just don’t recognize the genius and what’s sad, you don’t always either. So what’s my word of advice? What can you do when someone/anyone doesn’t recognize your true talents?

1. Get a second opinion. It’s like when you see a dr. and you don’t like his prognosis. See someone else. Let someone else read and or critique your piece. Make sure it’s not a family member or even a close friend. You don’t believe all your friends and family will be honest with you if they don’t like your stuff, do you?

2. Revise it. I know you will get the advice if it’s been rejected, it’s probably no good. I don’t agree. Sometimes, it just needs fine tuning. Look at it again and revise it.

3. Change it completely. Suppose it isn’t as genius as what you thought, but maybe the concept is good, give it a total make over, but keep the essence.

4. Send it out again, and again and again. I will attest that you can sell something that has been rejected to someone else. I’ve done it, more than once. Just because your story has been around the block doesn’t make it bad.

5. Set it aside for awhile. I have many set aside stories. They are my children. I can’t wait to get rid of them, but I want them to succeed. I don’t want them to grow up homeless. After awhile a place may materialize that is just right for this story, or I might think of something I want to change about it. Who knows?

6. This may be in the revise it category but I don’t think so. Make it shorter or make it longer. Maybe your story needs more detail or less detail. Only you can know that.

7. This goes with number 4, but I’m too lazy to add it. Research where to send it. Read the stuff the magazine/publishers like in their publication. Does your story fit? Does it sound remotely like any of the stuff they publish? That’s really important. Yeah, sometimes publishers change it up a bit for true genius, but sometimes even genius doesn’t wash with topics publishers don’t like or are overdone in their opinion. They often tell you in their writer’s guidelines what they don’t want to see or do want to see. Respect that.

8. Keep believing in your genius. This, I believe, is the hardest one of all. When you’ve been knocked around a lot and told you’re no good, you tend to start believing the press, but don’t. Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true.

So, you’re a genius and you know it. Prove yourself right and write.

Writing Wins and Woes: What kind of writer are you?

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Am I a story writer or am I a poet? Do I write children’s picture books or middle grade fiction? Do I write Christian fiction or fantasy? Do I write allegorical or straight forward? I don’t know, because when you’re a writer, you write. When an idea comes to me, I just write it. I love children’s stories, but I like to write for adults, too. I am a Christian writer, so I write Christian fiction. I hate being put in a box, but I’m told if you don’t specify it could take much longer to become a writer who sells. People like to read certain genres. Some people like fantasy; other enjoy literary; still more like YA.

What to do? I’ve always followed the advice of writing from the heart. My passion is to write. The more I focus on the selling aspect of it, the more it becomes just a job. I hate jobs. They suck up my time, my energy and they don’t give me satisfaction. But jobs do make money and money is needed to live.

I don’t care what kind of writer I am. I’m not going to focus on that. I’m just going to write.

For those who don’t know I am also a poet, here is a link to two of my poems just published at Page and Spine. Poetry was actually how I started out in my writing to be published career. When I found it hard to publish poetry I moved on to stories. Hope you like these:

http://www.pagespineficshowcase.com/the-reading-lamp.html

By the way, these paintings I included were done by my lovely daughter proving that artistry runs in the family.

Writing Wins and Woes: Write Right

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This week I’m going to share some tips on writing well. I’m no expert. I’m just learning like every other writer. If you have some thoughts of your own, add them on the comments.

1. Read aloud what you wrote. If it sounds bad, it probably is. Even better, read it to somebody else and get their opinion. Try to make it someone objective. Your family and friends will usually tell you that it’s good.

2. Check for repetitive words or non-descript words. Example: very and nice.

3. Write in the proper tense. Looking back at some of my old writing, I find things like “She had started…” or “She was thinking…” It takes only a few seconds to change those mistakes to “She started…” and “She thought…”

4. Eliminate unnecessary words. I once cut a story that was over 2000 words down to 900. If you can do that, you’ve overwritten.

5. Don’t use too many speaker tags. I’m sometimes guilty of this. You don’t need to share every spoken emotion. The reader can figure it out.

6. Watch your punctuation. You’ll often hear, “Make sure you’re using commas, semi-colons or periods where you need them.” I’ll add to this. Don’t overuse commas. I call myself the Comma Queen because I’ve done this so much.

7. Begin with an interesting sentence. Nobody wants to start out a story/book already bored.

8. End with an interesting sentence. If first impressions matter, so do last ones. The last sentence will stay in the reader’s head. Make it a good one.

9. Choose the right words. Many words are good. Some are better. Only one is best. Work on picking the best word.

10. Keep your story simple. I hate reading a story with too many characters, too many plot twists, weird language. The reader wants to understand what you write. If they don’t, they might give up on your story, even if it’s good.

So, that’s it. Take them or leave them, but keep writing.

Writing Wins and Woes: Winter’s Angry Roar

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I sometimes wonder what winter thinks it’s doing when it rears its ugly head in March. Just when I was thinking daffodils and hyacinths, it dumps a foot of snow on us. We’ve had more cold and snow than our share these last months. I haven’t even seen one crocus this year. The weatherman said it was winter’s last gasp but after a foot of snow, I recognize it for what it is; an angry roar.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, my writer’s soul has been wintering lately. I’ve felt myself huddled up, secreted away and forsaken. Despite my writing goals, and I have been writing, I’m not feeling it with my writing. I’m lacking a lot of motivation, and I’m really struggling. Although I’ve had a publication in my ever faithful Guardian Angel Kids. See it here: http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/03-015-3Dflip/index.html
I’ve also had two rejections; one from Daily Science Fiction and one from Cricket, which makes me feel, need I say it, mediocre.

This is something every writer agonizes with; to keep going despite insurmountable odds. So, here’s my quick tips to keep writing despite disappointments and distractions:

1. Write for a theme. Sometimes I can’t for the life of me come up with one lousy idea on my own until a magazine says write on this theme. Then, I say Ahhh, I think I’ve got it.

2. Use writing prompts. Writings prompts get the juices flowing.

3. Read all/most of what you’ve written last. If I’m working on a novel, sometimes reading a good portion of it makes me think what to write next.

4. Work on something new. Let’s face it. We’re all out with the old, in with the new. Sometimes the old is boring, so writing something new motivates us. After you’ve been away from the old for awhile it may become new again.

5. Meditate. When I meditate I often come up with writing ideas or the next part of my manuscript.

6. Write those random thoughts down. Whatever they are, you are at least writing.

So beat winter’s angry roar with a roar of your own.