Hail and welcome, friends and loverz! I hope you missed me at least half as much as I missed you! My manuscript is complete–for now. A few months ago, I gave some terrible advice about writing a book because it’s all I had to offer. I was in the creative throes of writer-mania and I really meant it when I said I didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t know much more now than I did then, but I’ve got a little more brain-space now and I’ve had a lot of genuine questions from people about getting their own writing up and on their feet. It seemed right to offer some genuine answers, whether or not they’re genuinely the right answers.
How do I find time to write?
I don’t have time to write. In fact, almost NO ONE has time to write. In general, (and I say this VERY broadly and stereotypically…you may be a brilliant exception) the people who do have time to write usually don’t have much to write about. If you’re busy with jobs, school, kids, partners, all of the above….you probably have endless delicious stories to tell, but you haven’t given yourself time to write about them. Exceptions to this include periods of high drama and life-shifting events. You won’t be able to write, even if you make the time. Long before I met my partner, I was crying and drinking over a highly dramatic series of events which involved an ex and his ex, a 2:00 a.m. bottle of tequila, a sack of ice, an acid-tripping voice-over artist, broken glass, a sewer-main bust, a play about time-travel in which I played a Witch-Hunting Puritan, and the thread-bare evasion of a fist-fight in the second-worst bathroom on the Lower East Side. It was a very, very bad week. Most irritating of all, I couldn’t get my head enough together to write about anything. My very dear friend Reverend Jen said sagely, “You can’t make art when you’re living it. Once you’re done living your art, you’ll be able to write.” It was true. While I stayed busy during my book work, I tried to keep the drama at a minimum which included never looking at the news.
Anyway, moral of story–no, you don’t have time to write, so you’ll have to make time to write. Early in the morning, late at night, on the commute, at lunch, on the commode, wherever you can. It’s probably best not to wait until you can land that writer’s retreat because in the middle of all that peace and quiet, you’ll probably be blocked as I am on how to say how blocked you should be without resorting to a toilet metaphor because that would be a cheap shot and I’m better than that. If your life is chaos, though, don’t stress about not being able to finish a piece with a definitive arc and subtle but sensational symbolism. Journal wildly while figuring out how to nurse your newborn or speak the language of the natives near your Peace-Corps assignment. Or blog so we can all hear about it.
Actually, yes! Blog!
And tweet. And do other social media things I haven’t figured out, yet. Get your readers first–your publishing deal second. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how original your idea may be. Publishing houses want writers to show up with their own readership base. Get followers on Twitter and your blog. Become your own package. More so than just making people aware of you, it will also tell you what matters to people. You may be surprised at what matters to people.
Meet editors, publishers, and agents in person before you submit, if at all possible.
Go to conferences. Spend money on that before you spend money on yet another writing class. My manuscript got an almost immediate rejection notice because it first went through the hands of an intern who was basically doing their job of auto-reject. Had I not met the acquisitions editor from a conference, I would have sighed and walked away, but my manuscript got a second chance at the publishing house because I had the personal connection. My book was ultimately published by a different house, but it was the same deal–I’d met with the acquisitions editor directly before showing the book, which allowed my work to stand out. Go to these conferences. Meet people, get business cards, and follow-up. Even if they don’t take your work, they’re likely to give it more time and it makes for the start of a good working relationship.
If you have an idea for something, someone else has that idea, too. Start on it, don’t wait around.
I cannot TELL you how many times this has happened to me…I have an idea for a book and I kick it around for a
few years and then one day I turn around and someone has published what I was thinking about writing as if they’d opened my skull and stuck a jumpdrive into my brain. Once, the book even had the same title. This even happened with my Tarot deck and with my current book–other people were doing the exact same thing as I and we didn’t know each other in the slightest. We humans are not all that separate from one another. Current events inspire similar thoughts and frankly, I believe we’re all just part of the same brain…deep down. It’s not, “The Best Project Will Succeed.” It’s more like, “The Author Who First Gets Their Shit Together And Does The Damn Thing Will Succeed.” Let that person be you.
Do I feel relieved? Excited? Thrilled?
I’m starting to feel all of these things, finally. I’m excited to return to my clients. I’m relieved that I have spare time to use for things like sleep again. But a strange thing happened the day after I submitted everything: I BAWLED. I cried like squalling newborn for hours one evening. For the past few months, every worry or concern had been tossed asunder so that I could focus solely on the book, the whole book, and nothing but the damn book. Suddenly, without that blessed obstacle, I could then focus on every creepy-crawly thing that drives me absolutely crazy and maniacally, it did. Three months of “ugh-shrug” became four hours of “MY LIFE IS A WASTELAND OF UGH!” I called it post-book-partum depression and apparently, I’m far from the first to experience it. It’s not something I’ve ever heard about, so I’m telling you: WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK, YOU MAY HAVE A FULL-ON-EMOTIONAL-MELTDOWN-FUKUSHIMA-STYLE.
What happens now?
Well, the editors have to look at it and decide what changes they want me to make. Then, they’ll send it back to me and I’ll have a little over a week to make those changes. Then, I send it back to them and hopefully we’ll be good to go. In the middle of that, I’ll have to find a way to get an author bio-photo that is NOT me doing duck-face like the pic on the upper right of this page. Which also means my Covener Wendi is going to have to do my hair again. Poor Wendi….(xoxo!)
Will I write another book?
Yes, I’m hooked, now. First I want to take a few weeks and actually focus on my partner and maybe even put away the laundry and pet the cats. I also an planning on writing the second installment of my online spellcraft series, and then I’ll start bugging my poor editor with some more ideas I have. I’m also thinking about a television series….I do love television. Hm…….
Treat rejection like a wrong you must right except without vendetta weapons, use words.
Instead of feeling like a failure for your work being rejected, get mad and get even. Get even by getting published somewhere else. Once I started treating rejection like a challenge rather than a proclamation of talent, it was easier to try again.
Be willing to fail.
All those dumb memes and websites tell you to let go of fear. Fear is not bad. Fear keeps people from climbing onto the subway tracks. Fear has kept you alive, and kept your Ancestors alive for millenia. But you have to be willing to proceed, even if you’re scared. You have to be willing to fail. You must love your work so much that you’re willing to finish it even if no one ever sees it. This was the toughest one for me. I was so held up on wondering if I were wasting my time, that I wasn’t getting anywhere at all. When I made the decision to proceed even though I was scared that nothing came of the work, things worked out.
Write and write and write and write and write.
I mean, it’s going to sound corny, but it’s true. Don’t do it because I said so. Do it because Neil Gaiman said so.
Hope that helped!
If it didn’t, I hope it at the very least provided seven minutes of entertainment.
If you’re in NYC, I’m teaching a Tarot class this spring at Catland books! And whether or not you’re in NYC, there are still spots available for the Magickal Ireland Tour in August, but you need to make your deposit by February 15th!