Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pieces of Advice

As I approach my 25th birthday this weekend, I thought I'd take some time to reflect on the best advice ever given to me - advice I've ingrained into myself and which has helped me become a better person and writer.

In no particular order of importance:

1) Act your wage.

Pithy, but useful. And so true. While most people my age are out buying new cars, TV's, and leveraging a house whose payment constitutes 30-45% of their income, I've rented, kept my very nice car my dad gifted me, and paid off my school debt. I don't owe Sallie Mae a penny, and it feels great.

2) Be yourself.

Anyone who knows me will attest that I follow this one. I'm not much of a conformer; I'm a little bizarre. However, I am happy with myself, and that's something many people cannot say.

3) Don't waste your youth; do things you really want to do.

I can't count the number of people older than I who get wistful and tell me not to waste a minute of my life. So I don't; I don't want to be wistful with regret when I'm their age. I enjoy leisure time, but I also put my time into my future writing career, I maintain good relationships, and I attend important events and places.
4) Live in the now with an eye for the future.

Don't let current events immure you and what you hope to achieve, nor should you let your hopes for the future cause you to ignore the present.

5) Writers use lies to tell the truth.

Maybe not advice to you, per se, but it certainly is for me. It's easy to forget why writing is so wonderful when dragged down into the grammar games, but regardless if it's a literary masterpiece or a thriller, books let us come away with a deeper understanding of the world around us.

6) Trust, but verify.

My boss calls this the Ronald Regan approach. Regardless if it means fact-checking for a book, a political candidate's claims, or your phone bill, it pays to monitor what makes it into your psyche.

7) Get your butt in the seat and work.

There's a time for procrastinating and - ok, really, there's never a time to procrastinate, and if we all spent less time tooling around and focused on the job at hand, we'd have a lot more time at the end to have our fun and games. Following this one is hard. It's a work in progress.

8) Patience.

As a goal-setter/achiever, this one is hard for me. The past year has taught me an insurmountable load about patience. Pushing won't always yield the results you want, and may have the opposite effect.

9) I can fix a bad page; I can't fix a blank one.

On my desk there's a lamp I inherited from Suzann Ledbetter. She wrote writing-inspired quotes on the lampshade. I heard this one often enough at our workshop, and it's certainly true. The number of writers who never take the time to finish penning those thoughts deny themselves the pain and joy of revising. Yes, revising is a daunting, sometimes overwhelming experience, but it's like any other large task.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

10) Ask yourself: have I done the best I could today with the given knowledge at the time?

This one is hard for me. We don't make things perfect the first, second or twentieth time around. We don't always have the tools we need to tweak something to just the right balance. And sometimes, it's tempting to say "I don't have everything I need, so I'll put this on the backburner."

Worthwhile projects will always require more changes, better revising, patience, and the ability to let go of perfectionism at the same time. Sometimes you really just have to do your best and remind yourself you can have a better best the next day.

Happy Halloween, everyone. This Halloween baby is going out before digging into the writing cave.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Happens at OCW stays at OCW...

... Except the information I’m about to share. Let’s hope the shiny black SUV’s don’t roll up and take me away.

I attended to Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference on October 8-10. What a fun experience. An author friend of mine recommended I attend. The three keynote speakers were Susan Stoltz, editor for Women out West, Pat LoBrutto, acquisitions editor for Tor-Forge and editorial consultant, and Doug Grad, literary agent.

The Industry Skinny:

All three touched on digital age and digital book publishing. In addition to reinforcing digital rights needing to be hammered out, how this will affect book sales (consensus seemed guardedly positive), and its impact on the author’s future, the other big point that came up several times was how it’ll will affect the publishing side. The publishing industry itself has been slow to change, and worked hard to maintain the same sort of process they’ve had in place for over fifty years; the digital age is forcing them to evolve, whether they like it or not.

So keep an eye out on how e-books affect payment structure (both advances and royalties), and watch the small publishers – their increased popularity may also be another big future wave.

Non-Industry Skinny:

I made several good contacts, and met many wonderful writers, both aspiring and published. I meandered the town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. They have a fun trolley ride, by the by, if you happen to go there.

Best news: I pitched my novel, and it went well. I'm finishing my revisions now so I can take my next step in January, which is sending some pages on. Here's hoping he likes what he reads. *crosses fingers*

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Neil Gaiman is Tweeting a Book Today

If you haven't heard about the whole Neil Gaiman and BBC Audiobooks America, who are working together to create a tweetbook today with all of their followers, you should check it out. Here's the article from Publisher's Weekly, and on Twitter - you can follow the official picks @BBCAA. The hash is #bbcawdio.

For those that don't want to follow, but are curious as to what Neil's line was (he started the book, with contributors to help finish the story), it was:

Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled & said, "We don't love you anymore."

Great first line, and classic Gaiman.

My trip to the Ozark Creative Writer's Conference went well. I'll be sure to dish out my findings when I get a chance. I'll be coming back to blogosphere now more. Weekly postings should resume now that I have my house mostly sorted.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Honorable Mention

One of my pieces I submitted to a magazine received an honorable mention. Over at Allegory Magazine, if you're interested. Keep on trucking on.

I have a writer's conference next weekend. Work has exploded, and boss has estimated that it'll stay this way through the fall. I might be getting an upgraded position soon at this rate.

Focusing on life and writing. I'm here, promise.