Friday, March 9, 2012

Dream Agents: The showdown

Searching for an agent?

As a loyal, devoted, rabid fan of mine, you will recall that some months back, I blogged about my dream agent. Cut to the chase, I said my dream agent is Martin Short in the cult classic movie the Big Picture, with Kevin Bacon.

Go read it, then come back.

Good. So with that in mind, I had to share with you my new dream agent. I saw this posted on The Southern California Writer's Conference Facebook page, so I just had to share it.

I need you (my friends) to understand why it takes so long to finish a novel--even after you think you're done.

You want opinions, so that you have a comfort level with the "goodness" of it, or said differently, you hope it doesn't suck. You want it to shine. Hence, you enlist the helpf of others. 

Most professional readers (agents, editors, etc) are very good, and when they give feedback, they are coherent, amazingly sharp and perceptive. In other words, they make your story better and your writing better. The only real way I found you can get this type of help is at conferences that accept submissions for agents and editors. 

Some so-called professionals, however, are all over the place, leaving you to wonder, did he/she read my work? Or is he/she asking me to be the ghost writer of the story he/she hopes I will write? This can also be true with writing groups. You need to pick well, otherwise you will be writing their story, not yours.

Yes, this video is a comedy sketch... but I will say this: I recently had a very similar conversation with an agent. Let's leave it at that :)


And just to be fair, here's Martin Short, once again:

I must admit, I don't know which one is my favorite... Which is yours?

Fight the good fight!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sticks and Stones?

-- Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me) --

It's a cute saying. False, but cute nonetheless.
Photo credit: Photoshop Player 2009 on Flickr

The fact of the matter is that the impact of words last far longer than a bruise or a broken bone. Words can shatter. Words can alter. Words are powerful.

Think of the words that continue to haunt you since high school. Think of the word that your significant other said, only once, but you never forgot. 

(Before you lecture me, yes, I get it -- the rhyme's goal is to encourage the reader to not allow words to hurt them, because after all, they are only words... audible expressions of air... tell me how that works out for you)

As writers, we have a fundamental issue to reconcile. We aspire to get our work in front of as many readers as possible. But do we really? Are we ready to take what comes with the territory?

I've met some writers, and know of many more, who have yet to put themselves out there. They don't like to share their work with others, afraid of the feedback. They don't want to be critiqued publicly. Not yet, they tell me.

Then there are those who do have their work our there, and the first negative comment on Amazon, or critical book review by a blogger causes a meltdown. Their reaction is either a public embarrassment or a psychological breakdown that throws them off track.

It seems to me that a successful writer is the resilient writer. 

FADE IN: Definition by

    adjective /riˈzilyənt/ 
    1. (of a substance or object) Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed
      • (of a person or animal) Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions


    I used to say that athletes were the most resilient type of people out there. Have you seen how a football or rugby player gets squashed by another giant? The very next moment, they're up on their feet, spitting out a tooth, then smiling. 

    But I've come to realize that if a writer wants to last and produce material for a few decades, then they have to become the poster boy/girl for resiliency. 

    My friend Webster says a resilient person can 'recover quickly from a difficult condition.' Check. Writers are bombarded by the most damaging type of 'difficult conditions.' We are judged and punished by words for our words, for our art, for our babies. 

    They're judging us! Us! Who do they think they are?

    Reality check, the best are judged and critizized. King, Rowling, and everyone before them and after them have been told and will be told they suck. This is the nature of art. More than ever, everyone is a stinkin' critic. And you can't stop the democratization of opinion. 

    How will you handle it? Will you implode, or will you sit in front of your computer and produce more? 

    Butt in the seat, or your face in the sink? Choose.

    Only one will produce art and make you better. Only one will stop you from pursing your dreams.

    Words by others will hurt. And that's okay. We need to absorb that, acknowledge them then move forward--always move forward. If we're going to let words hurt us to the point that they stop us, then maybe we should consider an easier vocation. Maybe rugby?

    Fight the good fight!
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