Tuesday, December 13
Guest Author Angela Ackerman: Keeping Despair at Bay
I'm delighted to have with us today, Angela Ackerman, who is one half of the amazing The Bookshelf Muse blog. (If you haven't discovered this one yet, pop on over. You'll be glad you did). Angela is a long-time supporter of both me and my blog, so I'm honored to have her here sharing her tips on surviving this thing called writing. She's also a fellow zombie-fan, which earns her extra points in my book.
Angela often writes about mythology in the real world, but twists everything so that it's much darker and interesting. Bad things happen, but her teen and pre-teen characters always rise to the challenge in impossible situations. This is no surprise, because kids have internal strength that represents the best qualities in all of us. They struggle, adapt and survive. This is why she writes for this amazing YA & MG audience. She is represented by the ever-tenacious Jill Corcoran of The Herman Agency.
Take it away Angela...
Becoming an author is not for the faint of heart. Not only does it take time, discipline and hard work, it also takes the WILL to see the dream through. I don’t know about you, but as an author-in-waiting, I’ve learned there is a big difference between knowing this and living it.
The road to publication isn’t a woodsy drive through sun-drenched glades, listening to birdsong and breathing in fresh country air. No, the path is twisty and slow, pocked with ruts, wash-outs and road blocks: the unanswered queries, the form rejection letters, the close-but-not-quite manuscript passes. At times it feels that the few bright spots are overshadowed by gloomy stretches of uncertainty and frustration. So what happens when worry and dejection leads us to the blackest pot hole of all: doubting the dream itself?
There’s no darker road stop in the journey than when we stop and question our path. Negativity has killed many a dream. So when thoughts like, Why is everyone else succeeding but me? and I’m just not good enough start to overwhelm, it’s time to fight back.
3 CRITICAL ways to shuck off the negative & boost fortitude:
1) Remember the dream. Sometimes all the little disappointments and frustrations build to a point where we feel like we’re drowning in them. When this happens, remember why you chose to be a writer. This dream of publication is no small thing--it might be the biggest, best dream you’ve ever dared to chase. When you started, you knew it would be hard, but you also knew it would be worth it. This dream is worth fighting for!
2) Examine the path. When negativity clouds judgement, a trip down memory lane will provide a much-needed reality check. Remember that first story, the one that shone so bright it fuelled your desire to write? Pull it out and read it. And while you’re cringing, indulge in some pride. Look at how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved!
Still in the driveway of despair? Make a list of what you’ve done to get to this point. How many books have you read to improve your craft? How many hours have you spent researching, reading & critiquing all in an effort to improve? Did you join a writer’s group, sign up for a workshop or attend a conference? These are road markers of your commitment and should be celebrated! What about your accomplishments? Did you complete a novel or find the courage to submit your work? Have you sold a poem or short story to a magazine? These are victories in your pursuit of the dream.
3) Take control. What often leads to despair is that at a certain point, success feels out of our hands. We can craft a sizzling query, but can’t force an agent to request the full. We can write a great novel, but we can’t make an editor to say yes. The wait times, that contest win, the rejections that will at least contain eye-opening personal feedback, yep you guessed it--not ours to control.
Keep focused on what is in our control: writing, pursuing knowledge and creating an online presence. Writing the next book means more product to sell. Expanding our writing knowledge gives us a greater command of story. And working on a platform makes us more attractive to agents and publishers. There is never a point where we ‘know it all’ or have ‘done enough’. This business is not about sitting back and waiting. Stay busy and focused, and it will bring about success. I believe this and live it.
There isn’t a writer alive who has not doubted the dream at some point. But the ones who were able to find the strength to move past that gnawing doubt...these are the ones we call AUTHORS.