Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winners and Losers

As I write my post for the week, I am watching American Idol season eight and wondering who will be the lucky winner this year. There are a number of awesome singers! I would hate to be a judge, because sometimes it comes down to a song choice, which is so personal, how can you KNOW that you have selected just the right one?

As I have said a number of times, getting published is a lot like being up on that stage in AI. You throw it all out there and do the best job you can, but ultimately it is up to someone else whether you make it or not. Once you finish the creation phase and the editing phase, and embark on the submission journey, you will encounter a lot of judges like Simon Cowell.

They critique everything about you and your writing from the way you write dialogue to how good you can write a synopsis. And believe me, if you fail any of the steps along the way, you will be outed like a contestant on AI with no votes.

Why is it so hard to break through? Mostly it comes down to ability.

First, you have to have the ability to write a story. Being a storyteller is the most important job for a writer, just as a singer MUST be able to sing a song. Remember all those poor souls who THOUGHT they could sing in the auditions and we all scratched our heads and said, who told them they could sing?

Second, you have to know the basics of good writing. Don’t be too proud to buy a book or two on writing. There are so many good books out there to teach a new writer what they need to know. And many of them are exceptional reads. I love Stephen King’s book On Writing, and Elizabeth Berg’s book Escape into the Open.

Even if a contestant on AI has to go home, they can come back next year (at least until the show ends!) and writers can improve a book and resubmit in some places. Try to be a good sport though. No one likes a singer with a bad attitude, and no one will like you if you are a sore loser when you get rejected. Take your lumps like a good soldier and go back and work on your book a little longer. Take advice where it is given, and apply it to the best of your ability.

You just might be the next winner in the writer’s life.


Marta Stephens said...

Great advice, Kim. I wish I had a penny for every time someone has asked me when the next Harper book will be released (this on the heels of my recent release in November) and I have to wonder why they’re shocked at my answer.

It takes an enormous amount of time and concentration to plot out a novel and even a greater effort to edit and polish it into the end products that our readers expect. The more complicated the plot, the longer it will take to produce a book that will meet the expectations of publishers and readers alike. So yes, those rejections sting, but better to learn and improve than to face the brunt of a bad review and no sales.

Every Day Bloggers said...

Wonderful advice, Kim. I'm just starting a WIP and am stuck at ch. 11. Your post is exactly what I needed to hear.

s.w. vaughn said...

Take your lumps like a good soldier...

This can't be said enough. The only thing worse than a whiny successful writer is a whiny newbie writer. :-)

I've got lotsa lumps. And I expect many, many more. Writing can be an extremely masochistic pursuit sometimes!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

The learning process never ends, does it? I can't believe the number of phases I've gone through where I thought I'd picked up all of the key elements of writing, only to discover a whole new (sometimes subtle) crop of new skills I needed to develop. I wonder if I'll ever feel like "I'm there..." Probably not! Thanks for a great article, Kim.

Kim Smith said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for your great insights on my post. Sorry I was out all day yesterday at the hospital with my brother, who, I am happy to report, is doing fine.

The good thing about Mb4 is that we can keep each other buoyed up during all the ups and downs of writing and the writing life.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I'm so glad your brother is okay, Kim!