Wednesday, October 21, 2009


1. Have you written today?

2. Have you wished you were writing today?

3. Have you emailed, tweeted, read or written a blog today about writing, rejection, publishing, agenting, or the subject of your latest research?

4. Did you check your email before leaving home, hoping to see a name from New York?

5. Did you check your cell battery in case you get THE CALL?

6. Did you check a list or chart to remind yourself who might be calling or emailing so you'll recognize their names as they all scramble for your attention, after a long night of reading and re-reading your material?

7. Did you lose sleep anytime in the previous week imagining one or more residents of New York reaching for your submitted work, the look on their faces as they read, or the times during the day when they may have tried to call but either the phone was busy or a satellite in space lost the connection to your voicemail?

8. Did you try to memorize all the area codes in New York so out-of-state sales calls won't give you a heart attack? (Good luck)

9. Do you keep praise for your writing near at hand, like hiding alcohol in a drawer, for particularly hard days?

10. Is anyone in your family under the misconception that someday they will be rewarded handsomely, and with cash, for all the times they tolerated your eccentricities and various forms of abandonment?
If you answered 'yes' to question number one, you are a real writer.

If you answered 'yes' to questions 6, 7, or 8, you are a psycho. The good news is, if you also answered 'yes' to question one, the world will overlook your illness.

If you answered 'yes' to number one and to any of the following--2,3,4,5,9, or 10--you're quite normal for a writer. Especially 10.

If you answered 'no' to question number one, but yes to any of the other questions, shame on you. Return to your word processing program and earn your shingle.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I say again, you are not Dan Brown...unless you are Dan Brown and you've gotten lost while searching for someone else's blog.

For the rest of you, knock it off!

We, the silly writers of the world, have somehow gotten it into our heads that we are capable of anything any other writer does or has done. If Mr. Whatsit can get a contract for 17 books to be written in a couple of years, or if Thee Nora can crank out a book every two months, or less, we assume they're spinning gold right off their tongues, or fingertips, landing on the hard drive in a perfected state. After all, it's not unreasonable to believe that after you've got your head on straight and that writing muscle pumping like a machine, you are able to pump out fantastic first drafts.

You would be wrong. They would be wrong. We are all bloody wrong, okay?

Of course we get better the more we write. The fourth book is always better than the first, and so on--unless we are burdened with a degenerative disease or an incredibly stubborn pride in every word we write. Yes, stubborn pride is a burden--don't be proud of it! Remember Elizabeth Bennett won the day only AFTER she put her pride aside. So will you. Okay, we.

The point, Nuwanda, is that the only one who might enjoy reading your first draft is you--not your critique partners, probably not even your mother. You are the only one who could think your raw material is brilliant. If you think your first draft, or second, is a gift to the world, you'd be the kind of chef who would advertise two eggs for ten bucks because they have the potential of becoming a gourmet omelet.

I have news for you. No one wants your eggs. Eggs are a dime a dozen, (or a dime each these days).

Recipe for a sellable omelet? I can only guess. Second drafts might crack the shell, but drastic revisions can break them wide open. At this point, it's just a mess without a bit of containment/organization. Using tips from other writers and conferences should add a bit of spice, but you still need to put in some elbow grease and a lot of heat/focused attention.

You selling fresh eggs with great potential?
You may as well be selling blank paper.

Need more professional advice than mine? See this post from Jessica Faust: