Realities of the Writing LIfe

16 03 2015

writingMost writers rack up rejection slips as they dream of the day that they’ll sign with an agent. Once they get the call and sign with their dream agent, most authors discover they’ll need additional edits on the manuscript they’ve already worked to death. And except for a lucky few, a long wait follows while the book goes out on sub. Then there’s the wait for the book to make it past the acquisitions committee.

Finally comes that glorious day of signing a book contract–one of the pinnacles of an author’s life. But wait…

You can’t tell anyone your fabulous news until it’s officially announced. So you spill the secret to a few trusted friends and family members and wait impatiently for the day you can shout it to the world. Then you bask in the congratulations and eagerly await the day your book heads to publication. Soon you’ll hold your baby in your hands! Yay! Um, no…

monkey reading

Although some days it may feel as though a team of monkeys is tearing apart your baby, in the end you’ll find the book has greatly improved.

It’s time for more waiting… For the editorial letter(s). And the REAL work begins. You thought your gem was finished? Sorry, the editor has plenty of requested changes. Then the copy editor. Then the proofreaders. And then is it ready yet?

Not yet. Next is waiting for the illustrator if it’s a children’s book. Then galleys, F&Gs, ARCs, final printing. Is it a book yet? Finally, yes. But there’s still waiting for release day.

And if you thought you were done working when you turned in your final draft, you’re discovering you’re working harder than ever — promoting your book, working on the next book, setting up school/library visits and bookstore signings…

But the upside of all this is that at least you can quit your day job and totally focus on your writing. Um, no…

Is This What Librarians Are Really Like?

Noooo!!!

Even if you got a six-figure advance (which most authors only dream of), you haven’t made much money yet. Don’t believe me? Check out agent Jennifer Laughran’s post about author advances, REAL TALK: $ix Figure Book Deal$, for the truth.

So you’ve gone through all of this and still need to keep your day job? Wouldn’t you have been better off working a second job for minimum wage? Probably. But why did you do this in the first place?  If it was for LOVE or to touch lives or to increase literacy, you’ll have the joy of seeing your book in reader’s hands. And nothing is more valuable than that.Children





Fear of Falling

21 07 2010

Sometimes as you’re moving along in life, you have an epiphany. A moment when you see things with such clarity that you wonder why you never had this particular insight before. And everything around you appears in a totally different light. This has happened to me on many occasions, but most recently in the area of faith.

Hop to it

I’ve always believed in stepping out in faith, but today I realized how small my giant leaps of faith are to someone who’s looking down from above. I go into them trembling, terrified of the outcome, thinking I have to do it all alone. I forget to look up and around to see all the help that’s available to cross the chasm I see before me.

Maybe instead of worrying about falling, I could use that energy to summon help. Like the ants in the previous post, I may be so occupied with what I’m doing, I miss the opportunities for support that are right beside me or in front of me.

If I look, I might also see that a jump is unnecessary. Someone before me built a bridge that I can use to cross. So there’s an easier way to do things. Before you leap, look around to find all available resources. But then if no one has done what you’re about to do, take that leap. But be sure to leave the trail well marked for those who will follow you.





Writing a Bestseller

23 04 2010

by Darvin Atkeson

All speeches need an inspirational takeaway. So I asked my Muse for something eternal, unique, and beautiful. In what way could my life or my words be inspiring?

One of the greatest inspirations is hearing how others overcame the odds to reach success. That’s why author talks are so successful (and why people clap even if you mess up–most attendees have always dreamed of being a famous author). But that success is ordinary, although it may not seem so.

Anyone can become an author if they study hard, learn the craft, put hours of sitting in a chair and spilling their guts, keeping submitting in the face of rejection, and never, ever give up. But that’s so NOT what people want to hear. They already know that. And many of them have given it a shot. They want a magic pill they can take that transforms their idea into a runaway bestseller.

And so what do I, an author who has written for 20 some years have to share that will inspire the audience eager for pearls of wisdom? Persistence and perseverance are the keys? Never giving up? OK, let’s be honest: maybe published authors are more stubborn or perhaps more thickheaded?

So that won’t make my speech inspiring. What will? I decided to talk about how I overcame obstacles in my path and went on to conquer them. Some seemed insurmountable at the time, but I have a secret that keeps me on track. I’ll share that secret and the source of my inspiration in Friday’s post.