UNFUCK YOURSELF, PART DEUX

Air Cav infantry Soldiers compete in company challenge

I’m continuing with my list of toxic crap writers shouldn’t do, courtesy of Chuck Wendig’s terrific blog post. If you haven’t yet, please skip on over to read his, because it really is right on the money. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/03/25-things-writers-should-stop-doing/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-2

I have renewed enthusiasm and vigor now. The kids are back in school and, wait—can you hear that? You can’t? Exactly. It’s called peace and quiet, and my sanity depends on it. As does my writing.

8. Your body is not a teenage wasteland. Sure, you could once get away with staying up until 3 am, chowing down on pizza while guzzling cheap beer, but nowadays whenever I do exactly that, it takes me 3 days to recover and I feel like hell to boot. Disciplined Mind = Disciplined Body = Disciplined Mind, which essentially means if you’re sitting in your chair like a lump on a log, with your mind fuzzy and tired, how productive do you think you’re going to be? Not very, plus you’ll get Writer’s Ass. Eating crap and not being active will result in all those words that should be flowing onto the page to settle in your ass, instead.

9. If I didn’t complain, I’d have nothing to say. I’ll admit part of my endearing charm comes from my pessimistic, glass is half-cracked attitude. Can you imagine if I were a boring optimist? I’d have nothing to blog about. I know I could temper my negativity a tad. In fact, I’ve actually been trying, thanks to Facebook and all the warm and fuzzy inspirational quotes on there that make me want to go hug my cats. Yes, I’ve lost a few friends from my bad attitude (“I say FUCK ‘EM all the way to the moon if they can’t—” Uh oh, deep breath. I digress.) The point is, if you don’t have anything good to say, then STFU. Nobody wants to hear it. Or channel it into your writing and make a million dollars so you can rub it in the faces of all those frenemies who once rejected you. As I always say, Success is the best revenge.

10. Speaking of…it’s because of those frenemies that you’re in the sorry boat you’re in. Or it’s because of your parents. Most likely, your parents. Part of the job description of being a parent is to get blamed for everything that’s wrong by your kid; it’s why I’m saving for my son’s therapy, instead of his college. However, the first rule of therapy is to stop blaming everyone, especially one’s parents for one’s crappy life. I tried blaming Facebook for my woes, then Amazon, if for no other reason than they’re just so huge and successful. Then I tried blaming the inventor of Post-its, because had I thought of the idea first I’d be huge and successful, but in the end, Meh, blaming doesn’t do a rat’s ass bit of good.

11. Be the writer’s version of Madonna or Justin Timberlake. So what if my father wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer and has disowned me because I’m not one? Had I listened to him, right now I’d be an overachieving, perfectionist anorexic with fake breasts and Botoxed lips who drinks too much and can’t hold a relationship together due to fear of intimacy. Thank goodness I’m only one of those. I’m proud to be a writer, and I tell everyone who’ll listen. Madonna’s not the greatest singer in the world. Did it matter? Nope, but she had passion and complete originality in everything she did. Is JT embarrassed to admit he was in a boy band, with a gazillion teeny-boppers screaming his name every day? I’m guessing his bank account says NO. Everybody has to start somewhere, so get your name out there and shout it loud and clear.

12. Everyone makes mistakes. Sigh. Some more than others. According to my “therapy” sessions on Facebook, you’re supposed to learn from them. Or at least that’s what those square-shaped inspirational quotes with the rainbows say. You wanna know my biggest mistake? Not learning how to type! There, I said it. That’s right, I’m a writer and I don’t know how to type. Oh, the stupid irony. So, other than that mistake kicking me in the rear each and every day, I suppose I should let all the other mistakes go so I can move on (to type slowly).

13. I may not take risks like I used to, like riding on the back of a motorcycle going 120 without a helmet, or traveling alone through Southern Italy, but you don’t get huge rewards playing it safe, either. That’s why I go to Target on a regular basis and shove one of my bookmarks for The Accidental Cougar in the center of each bestselling romance there. Think outside the box. It’s the only way to get noticed. Or arrested, but we’re trying to think positive here.

14. Embrace your control freak and then kick him/or her out of bed for eating crackers. I’ll admit I’m a control freak, but that’s only because nobody else can do things the way they need to be done. That’s why I don’t let my son wash dishes or clean the bathroom. When it comes to reviews though, or the collapse of traditional publishing, or e-book piracy, I could care less. There’s nothing I can do about it, so why stress? There’s soooo many more things to stress over within my control, like Writer’s Ass and getting caught by security at Target.

15. Unless you’re obsessive-compulsive, variety really is the spice of life. You can choose to write only novels your entire life, or poetry, or a sex column, but I’ve noticed that the writers today mix it up. If they’ve written a novel, then they usually try to get an article published somewhere to promote that book. Well-known magazines pay ridiculous amounts of money, and also give the opportunity to exercise a whole different set of skills. Diversity is the name of the game. In all areas of life.

Nope, I’m not done yet. There’s 25 of these bad boys…

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UNFUCK YOURSELF

Struggle

I don’t know how many of you are writers, but this blog post I came across by Chuck Wendig can apply not just to writing, but any pursuit in general: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/03/25-things-writers-should-stop-doing/?subscribe=success#blog_subscription-2

I’m acknowledging Chuck’s brilliance in this piece because it resonated so greatly with me. I’m not going to lie—I suffer from each and every one of these dreaded mindfucks. Well, all except for one: I don’t chase trends. If I did, I’d be writing about vampires and handcuffs, or vampires in handcuffs. But I do ALL 24, which is why I know I need a complete lobotomy—metaphorically-speaking. And I plan on performing one on myself just as soon as the boy starts school in 12 days, 14 hours, and 22 seconds.

I’m tackling 7 of the 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (in my own words). I can only stand to admit a few at a time. I’ll tackle the others in the next 2 weeks. (My propensity for self-flagellation over these heinous habits is already at an all-time high.) Please read Chuck’s piece though. I cannot do it justice.

1. STOP ONLY FOR COPS, HEART ATTACKS, AND COOKIES WARM FROM THE OVEN. In other words, don’t stop writing. Too late. I’ve already stopped. My present ms had been edited by another; I proceeded to go over it another 2 times even though I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore. Then I happened to read this article on Editors’ Pet Peeves, and they listed passive verbs as being a major one. Surely I couldn’t have THAT many, could I? So I took a little looksie and discovered I had pretty much written my entire story in this offensive manner. Back to the drawing board I went only to discover was and looked and felt and watched…UGH! I knew I had to go over this mofo yet again, line by line. There was no way it was going to happen at this point in the summer. My concentration is shot. I stopped at page 35, ready to tear my hair out. I will resume once the boy is back in school. (Really, I will.)

2. DON’T WRITE AS IF YOU HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. No copycatting; Be unique. Have you ever read a book you loved and started writing in the cadence of that author? I do it all the time with 2 of my favorite authors, Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich. They both have such a distinctive, memorable style about them, I’m not even sure I do it consciously. In any case, I AM conscious of plagiarism, so I’ve learned to keep myself in check with this by never reading these guys while in the middle of a project.

3. DON’T BECOME MY POLISH GRANDMOTHER (i.e. Don’t Worry). This is like telling Anthony Weiner not to sext, or the Kardashians to go away. It’s not going to happen. I worry about finding the time to write; I worry my lifespan will be shortened because I sit for hours while writing; I worry when I don’t write that I’ll never, ever write again. However, I can try to control it to the point where I don’t give myself an ulcer or a stroke. (I hope.)

4. BE THE TORTOISE NOT THE HARE. I am the SLOWEST writer. All I hear in the publishing world, especially the epub world is: If you want to make any money, you need to pump out 3-4 books a year. At least. So the readers don’t forget you. Um, yeah. Come November it’ll be a year since my book, The Accidental Cougar came out, and I’m not even finished editing my next one (see above).I need to stop beating myself up over this one, because I know if I were to churn out 3 books a year the results would be worthy of lining my bird cage and not much else.

5. UNLESS YOU’RE AT THE DMV, THE ALTER, OR DILATED TO ONLY 4 CENTIMETERS, DON’T WAIT. Chuck writes, “What the fuck are you waiting for?” I dunno. World peace, my son to go to college, a 20-pound weight loss? I’ve always waited for my life to begin. I’m one of those freaks that buy things in preparation for when my life will begin. A gorgeous dress for when I’m a size 4 again. A beautiful tablecloth for when I give dinner parties (right after I learn how to cook gourmet meals).A stunning necklace for when I accept the award for “Most Prolific Author.”

6. IF YOU THINK IT WILL GET EASIER, YOU’RE DUMBER THAN I THOUGHT. I don’t think writing gets easier the more you do it; I think you simply get better at it. My third book was harder to write than the first 2 put together. I have no idea why. All I know is it’s quite possible to write one outstanding novel and then follow it up with a piece of utter crap. And of course, I worry about that all the time.

7. IF YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN AS A BARISTA YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, KNOCK YOURSELF OUT. I have nothing against baristas. I spent a caffeinated chunk of my life as a barista, but you’d better believe I was working toward other things—acting, writing, something else. And I made sure people knew that. In my 20s when people asked what I did, I didn’t say, “I’m a corporate copy editor/proofreader.” I proudly told them I was an actress. And I received nothing but Oohs and Aahs. I’m proud to tell folks I’m a writer. I even tell them I’m a romance writer. When I took a social media class, there were a number of romance writers who were adamant about wanting to keep their personal identity a secret on Facebook. Especially the ones who wrote erotica. I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice of being stuck in an elevator for 9 hours with either an erotic writer or a phlebotomist, guess which one I’d choose?

Until next week…

IT’S ALL SO DAMN SUBJECTIVE

dr-seuss-be-who-you-are
“SUBJECTIVE” is the word I hear most when discussing the publishing business, and writing in general. At first I really didn’t get what that meant. I figured if I wrote a great book, everyone would like it. (Stop laughing!) Agents always say, “Write the best book you can. If it’s good, it will find a home.” (What they don’t tell you is that home is usually your own. Which is where it stays. Forever.)

Here are some excerpts from various agent form rejection letters we all know and love:

“In my search for clients I wish to represent only the manuscripts with which I feel a real connection. Ultimately—and for purely SUBJECTIVE reasons—this query did not spark that kind of enthusiasm.” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)

“We mold our client list from the many submissions we receive every month, and the process is both SUBJECTIVE and based on the direction of this agency.” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)

“Please keep in mind that mine is a SUBJECTIVE business, and an idea or story one agent does not respond to may well be met with great enthusiasm by another…” (Which we writers interpret to mean, “Your manuscript sucks.”)

Book reviews are also SUBJECTIVE. The most obvious example being the thousands of reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey. The reviews range from “If Heaven exists, it would surely be wallpapered with the pages of this trilogy, so we can all read this masterpiece for eternity,” to “I wouldn’t wipe my dog’s ass with the pages of this crap.”

SUBJECTIVE. SUBJECTIVE. SUBJECTIVE.

What the hell does this word even mean?

Based on (or related to) attitudes, beliefs, or opinions, instead of on verifiable evidence or phenomenon. Contrasts with objective.—BusinessDictionary.com

Proceeding from or taking place in a person’s mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.–thefreedictionary.com

Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.—Dictionary.com

Do you see a pattern here? It means what floats one’s boat may not float another’s. What may be one person’s cocaine may be someone else’s bad LSD trip. One person’s kink may be another person’s therapy session.

Personally, I’ve found some of my female friends’ partners revolting. I pretty much think all of my ex-boyfriends’ wives are like, “Ugh.” To each his own, and even more so when it comes to writing.

I bought a book in Target a few months ago by a contemporary romance author I’ve wanted to check out for awhile. She’s been around a long time, has written a gazillion books, has beaucoup fan followers, and is a NYT bestselling author. And yet…

I picked up and put down this book so many times it took me forever to finish it. It wasn’t that this woman wasn’t a good writer; she was. But the heroine bothered me, because she was too adoring of the hero, so she came across (to me) as a sloppy puppy dog. There was too much conversation about feelings and too many internal monologues about feelings, which tend to bore me. I prefer more zingy dialogue. And there just wasn’t enough of a plotline to hold my interest.

But that’s simply my opinion. It wasn’t my cuppa. Hundreds upon hundreds of fans love her books, and loved this one, in particular. Does that mean it sucked because I wasn’t crazy about it? Of course not. It just means it wasn’t my cocaine.

If you were an agent, you’d want to sign someone who wrote a book that was your cocaine. Just like the person you marry should be your cocaine. And your passion should be your cocaine.

The next time you receive a rejection letter or a bad review, or get dumped by your lover, remember that damn word…no, not cocaine…SUBJECTIVE.