Posts tagged with: taking risks

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

The first phrase a writer hears upon bravely telling the world that she wants to be a writer is typically, “don’t quit your day job.” Everyone will tell you that the chances of supporting yourself as a writer are slim. Even if you can support yourself, it will take years to get there. And unless you’re the next JK Rowling, you’d probably still make more money stamping widgets out of sheet metal on the nearest assembly line than you ever will as a published author.

Abigail Sharpe, 2010 Golden Heart Finalist, asks WHAT SCARES YOU??

Fill in this blank:  I really wish I could_____, but I’m too scared.

I bet you could ask that of your characters, too.  What do they fear most?

Whether it’s fear of rejection, fear of failure, or even fear of success, it can be a paralyzing experience.  Sometimes sitting down to write a story can be scary.  Submitting it to your critique group is even worse.  And the most terrorizing of all?  Clicking SEND after writing that email to your dream agent.

Exercising Your Creative Muscle

While exchanging e-mails with a friend in New York whom I’ve never actually met (That’s weird, right?  I have more friends now than I’ve ever had in my entire life, and most I’ve never met), I wrote something quite profound.  I love it when that happens.  I hate it when that happens.  I like to save the profound stuff for my manuscripts.  I’d been grappling with a blog topic.  I feel like I’m always grappling with a blog topic.  My own personal blog has been neglected like my housework and houseplants.  And my husband, or so he tells me.


I was writing my NY friend about my Golden Heart manuscript—my self-absorbed, self-indulgent subject of choice.  Pleasant Lake P.D. was only the second manuscript I ever wrote (My first was a futuristic, intergalactic mail-order-bride story.  We all have one.  Don’t pretend like you don’t.).  I wrote Pleasant Lake before I joined the RWA or my local chapter of the RWA.  I spilled words on the page with no thought to grammar, punctuation, or writing rules (Rules and my disdain for them is a subject for another blog).  The equivalent of throwing handfuls of paint at a blank canvas and calling it art.  Works for me. 


What did I say to my pal that was so profound?  I told her the manuscript was a way to exercise my creative muscle and exorcise my personal demons.  Clever.  Who knew? 


At the time I wrote Pleasant Lake, I hadn’t really entertained the thought of publication or the possibility someone might ever read my incoherent ramblings that read more like a manifesto for my psychiatrist to analyze and determine the likelihood that I might harm myself or others.  I certainly wouldn’t want strangers to read about my bumbling heroine or her trail of catastrophic relationships. The truth is, I don’t want people I do know to read about my hapless heroine and her phobias, foibles, and trail of failures.  What if they thought she was based on me?  Why do contest judges call me crass, flippant, and snarky?  It’s not me.  It’s my heroine.  I swear. 


The point is (I know.  Get to the point already.), it was a no holds barred, in your face, over-the-top, expression of my creativity.  If I thought it, I wrote it.    Will she fly in the published world, or will she be edited to shreds, my neurosis, snark, and F-bombs sent to the recycle bin?  Can I recreate the magic in another book now that I know the writing rules?  Or will my inner editor tell me “You can’t do that.”


How do you flex your creative muscle?  Keep a journal?  Collage?  Dissect the work of your favorite author?  Take workshops?  Read How To books?  Interview your characters until you know them better than you know your own children?  Sit at the airport and guess where passengers are going and why?

Turning over a New Year

It’s that time of year.  Everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions, planning, goal setting, and all that good stuff we believe will change our life for the better in 2010.  I want to talk about a something different.  In fact, something different is the very subject I want to broach.

This year, I am taking on a challenge to try something different with my writing.

I don’t mean trying a new process, taking a different approach to the same line or market, or just starting a new story.  I mean stepping out of the comfort zone to write in two new subgenres.  In the past I have said I would never, ever write in these areas.  Why?  Because I developed a vision of myself as a writer.  A tagline for my writer identify.  You know how the sentence goes–it’s what you tell people at conferences or friends who ask what you write: “I write quirky but sexy contemporary romance.” Of course, it’s great to brand yourself.  However, for an unpublished author, still finding her niche, maybe the branding should be more like…penciling.

I have begun thinking this way because lately, I have hit a wall in the creativity department.  For instance, in the last manuscript I drafted, the people sounded a little too much like people I created in another story.  The words sounded too familiar.  I felt hemmed in by my own expectations of the type of story I normally write.  So I took a step back and asked myself a question:

Am I brimming with passion about this story?

The answer was no.

Uh oh, I thought.  That’s not good.  If I’m not connected, the reader won’t connect either.  Furthermore, the books and subgenres I have felt most connected to in the last year are not in the same subgenre I have been writing.

Could it be that I changed and grew but I didn’t bother to let myself grow in my writing?  What if the perfect subgenre is out there waiting and I haven’t tried to write it yet?  Or what if I need to take the kinds of stories I am writing and shift them into something fresh and different?

So I am turning over a new leaf and a new year.  This doesn’t mean that I am abandoning the kinds of stories I have written in the past, but it does mean I am expanding my toolbox. Who knows, maybe that magical moment will arrive where I just know this is where I belong.  Or maybe it will be a bust.  Either way, I will grow creatively by exploring new worlds, in new ways, with new ideas.  I will walk forth with a fresh and different perspective that can only add to my work in the future.

What about you?  Are you trying something different in 2010?

Risky Business: Should You Enter the GH with a Controversial MS?

Can you believe the Golden Heart is open for entries again? I haven’t even recovered from last year’s contest and yet here I am, wearing out my keyboard as I prepare to submit at least two manuscripts. If I win the battle against fatigue, I also plan to polish up two more books cowering in my hard drive.

To Risk or Not to Risk

You know that East German judge that was mentioned on here a few days ago?  Well, I’ve had that judge NUMEROUS times!  Me and her…we just don’t see eye to eye.  After recently not making it to the final round in a local contest, I mentioned to a friend that it didn’t exactly shock me.  I routinely receive scores in the vein of a 100 and a 45 in the same contest.  My friend asked, if that was the case, why had I even decided to take the risk with the Golden Heart last year?

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