Friday, June 29, 2007

Keepin' on keepin' on (and free books!)

Guest Maven Carrie Ryan The Manuscript Mavens are excited to welcome Guest Maven Carrie Ryan!

Here's Carrie:


First off, in honor of this awesome blog I wanted to give away some awesome books. Read through to the end of the post to find out how (ha! made you read it!)

Some of you who know me, know my boyfriend is also a writer (spec fic short stories). Last year, at the beginning of 2006, we embarked on what we call our 10 Year Plan. It's pretty simple: in ten years we want to be able to support ourselves with writing. We recognized how hard it was going to be, how long it would take (hence the 10 years). We started off great: in my first year on the plan I wrote 171,701 words and JP wrote 50 stories and got a sale. We've both plugged ourselves into the writing world, learned about markets, etc. We've told ourselves time and again: the only people who dont' make it are those that give up. If you just keep writing, eventually we'll make it.

So why do people give up? And for those of us who don't, what keeps us writing?

I've been thinking about this because today my boyfriend wrote and said: ... I could really, really use a win in the writing department. It just seems like it's slipping through my hands. Every place I turn, I get a door shut in my face and I can't figure out why.

That's why I think people quit. It is so hard to keep going in the face of rejection, to keep banging against that door. To spend 6 months or a year or more writing a manuscript and polishing it and getting it critiqued and revising it and then submitting it and then... no sale. No agent. Back to the beginning. It just gets hard to keep going back for more.

And I think what it comes down to is, at some point you have to learn to write for yourself, and not just for publication. If it's only about the win, if it's only about other people, then you'll give up. It's too hard not to. I'm not saying all of that selling stuff isn't important, because it totally is. I'm just saying, at the end of the day, you have to write because you want to tell the story.

I'm always reminded of Diana Peterfreund saying when she wrote Secret Society Girl, her fifth manuscript, she wanted to write something that would fail in the contest circuit--something that broke all the rules. She had footnotes, lists, and spoke directly to the reader (*gasp*). She wrote that book because it was a story she wanted to tell, and it launched her career (as seen by the giveaways today!)

I took that attitude to heart when I wrote my most recent WIP. I was already in the middle of writing 2 other books when I started WIP.* I wrote the first line just to get it out of my head. And then, since I was stuck on the other 2, I kept writing. I decided I wanted to write this story for myself and for my boyfriend--it's set in a world he created. I loved this story. Of course, after about 20k I started to care about selling it (which threw me into a tailspin for about a month because I stopped writing for me and started thinking too much about the market). And now that WIP is done and is being critted (Thanks Erica!) I realize even if it doesn't sell (*gulp*) that I love this book. Unequivocally, I would not take back writing this book for anything.

Do I want WIP to sell? Heck yeah, man! To a certain degree, that's the point. But we have to love it, too. We have to love getting an email from a critique partner that says "this is fantastic" or getting a shout out on a critique partners blog. We have to love reading it out loud to our friends and loved ones and hearing them laugh (or get really turned on and say "you wrote that steamy scene?!"). We have to love that rush of losing time when we write and of becoming our characters: of being a tooth fairy, or a teenager, or a member of a secret society. You know, that feeling when you look up and realize you've been writing for what felt like 20 minutes but it's actually been two hours and you've written so many words that you just now realize how much your hands hurt. Or how you didn't even touch that glass of wine you poured to get you loosened up for writing.

These are the things we have to remember when we come face to face with that door. It really is true that the people who fail, who don't sell, are the ones who give up. Who can't face that door any more. It's times like that when you have to turn to yourself, to your friends, to your writing community. Go back and read your writing: remind yourself of how good you can really be (haven't we all read something and been like "huh, that's actually pretty good!"). Email your friends and say "help! I need a pep talk!" If you're lucky, maybe you'll get an email like the one Erica wrote here . Read the archives of a published author's blog--go back in time and experience her insecurities and fears and the the ebullience at selling. Join an online writing community and let them tell you about their own experiences, about how they kept pushing against that closed door. Email your significant other and let them blog about it :)~

I know, I know. Just like saying "those who suceed are the ones who never give up" is easier said than done, so is writing purely for the love of it. The truth of the matter is, it is so hard to face rejection. We all have to admit that. We all have our days when we just want to throw up our hands and ask why why why! Those days when it feels like the dream is slipping away and we're working so hard and not getting there. And we're allowed to have those days, it is not weakness or betraying the dream to say "dude, this rejection stuff really stinks!" We just can't give up because of them.

In the end, it may feel like we face that closed door alone, but we really don't. If you're reading this blog, you're already a member of a pretty cool community of writers--a wonderfully supportive group (just say hello in the comments and you'll see what I mean!). My boyfriend and I prop each other up all the time. We both get this--we both understand. But it's hard. And we whinge about it and then we get back to writing. That's how I wrote over 170,000 words last year and he wrote over 50 stories.

So keep pushing against the door, and when you get tired, let your friends help you push. You'll make it through. It's all about not giving up, of remembering why you love to write in the first place.

YOUR TURN: Let us know how you keep yourself writing. What keeps you going?

About those free books... in honor of this great blog and of writing for the love of writing, I'm giving away autographed copies of Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl and Under the Rose. The 25th commenter gets Secret Society Girl and the 50th commenter gets Under the Rose.


Thanks for stopping by and reading! And thanks to the Manuscript Mavens for inviting me--y'all rock!


Happy Writing!
Carrie

_________

*while I think it is very important for beginning writers to finish a manuscript before moving on. First of all, it's an amazing accomplishment and a huge ego booster. Second of all, finishing a manuscript teachers a ton of important things about the process, etc. Third, you just gotta do it.

60 comments:

ERiCA said...

Great post, Carrie! Thanks for guest blogging! I am in awe of your 10 Year Plan and wish I'd thought of that... oh, say, 9.5 years ago. *g

You know, that feeling when you look up and realize you've been writing for what felt like 20 minutes but it's actually been two hours and you've written so many words that you just now realize how much your hands hurt. Or how you didn't even touch that glass of wine you poured to get you loosened up for writing.

I *love* these moments. I *live* for them. They're what makes writing worth it! (And you're right--those moments are for ME, not for money. Writing because we love the story!)

So keep pushing against the door, and when you get tired, let your friends help you push.

That's such an awesome analogy. I've got nothing to add, except that I'll probably quote you. ;)

Kelly Krysten said...

Great blog! The only thing that keeps me writing is that, apparently, I can't not. When I was in this very intensive Vet program last year and couldn't write(or read non-vet related things for that matter) I felt adrift.lol. Which sounds totally melodramatice. But it's true.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Excellent post, Carrie. You're absolutely right - ultimately, you have to write for yourself. I'm getting ready to wrap up the first draft of my fourth book. I'm editing books one and three. Two is on hold in the querying process until after we move. I haven't gotten an agent or made a sale (not even my piddly-few shorts), but I keep plugging away. I like my stories. So far, most people like my stories. *shrug* It has to be enough for now. =o)

MerylF said...

Thanks Carrie, I really enjoyed reading your post. Good advice to we struggling amateurs; honest but encouraging. Thank you!

Heather said...

I completely agree with the plan thing — and how great to have your boyfriend along with you on the journey. Having someone share those ups and downs must make it just a bit easier when it's rough, and all the sweeter when you succeed.

What keeps me writing? Well, I set a goal for myself, and I want to reach it. Also, since I've dedicated my free time to writing, I've felt more alive — and being involved in a world outside my family has strengthened my sense of self. It's so easy for me to get caught up in other people's lives, whether it's my husband or my child or my sister. Writing reminds me of who I am, what I'm good at, and that I have dreams outside of life as I know it right now. Does that make sense?

Carrie said...

Erica - thanks so much for inviting me! I love those moments too - it's like a writing high!

Kelly, I think you're so right - with most of us I don't think we could quit if we tried! I think I'll always have stories in my head (and I love to make up stories for people I meet).

b.e.: great job on so many books! I can't help but think that we learn a ton with every one! That's just awesome dedication on your part!

Thanks meryl - I love the online community and how we help each other out. Doesn't it feel like we're all in it together?

Heather - you're right about that feeling alive stuff. I totally feel that way when writing (and I love it). I love that writing has strengthened your sense of self - that is just so awesome!

Maggie Robinson said...

I "only" started about 4 years ago...and didn't get serious enough until about 2 years ago, when I finally got two full-length books started. I know now almost everything I wrote is riddled with both ignorance and bliss, so I've improved some. I figure in another 4 years, there's hope!

I also can't seem to stop, but I'm rethinking exactly what my best chances are. Short formats seem to work better for me, so e-pubbing is looking better and better. I'm also hopelessy muddled when it comes to "branding," because I'm alternately angsty and amusing (and apparently, alliterative). Really should decide for one or the other.

But I can definitely see why people give up. This is an incredibly subjective business, with emphasis on the business.

Bill Clark said...

what it comes down to is, at some point you have to learn to write for yourself, and not just for publication.

I think you've hit the nail on the head. Trying to write for someone else, or in someone else's voice, is counterproductive, wasteful, and ultimately self-defeating.

One of my favorite adages comes from Sir Philip Sidney:

"'Fool!' said my muse to me; "Look in thy heart and write."

ERiCA said...

I'm getting ready to wrap up the first draft of my fourth book. I'm editing books one and three. Two is on hold in the querying process until after we move.

Wow, B.E. You are SO busy! That's amazing! =)

What keeps me writing? Well, I set a goal for myself, and I want to reach it. Also, since I've dedicated my free time to writing, I've felt more alive.

Heather, I agree with this 100%! It's changing my life in a really good way.

I know now almost everything I wrote is riddled with both ignorance and bliss, so I've improved some.

LOL, Maggie. That's how I feel when I look at a previous story (which at the time, seemed brilliant compared to the story before that, and so on. *g)

lacey kaye said...

she wanted to write something that would fail in the contest circuit--something that broke all the rules.

So this is what I'm doing right!

Great blog, Carrie. I really needed this right now--to remind myself that I *knew* my manuscripts weren't the sort to final even though I REALLY WANT THEM TO! I'm telling the stories I want to tell in a way that's not totally unmarketable. Sometimes it's tempting to step back and start over with more of a cookie-cutter story, but those aren't the stories that are in my heart, and in the end they'd just sound forced and cardboard coming out of my fingers.

I WILL SELL YOU, DAMMIT!! <--Can I get that on a t-shirt, anyone?

lacey kaye said...

Maggie, you made me laugh. The ignorance and bliss is SO nice, isn't it? Then you smack your head. What was I thinking?

Seriously, though, keep on keeping on! You have a very active imagination, woman ;-)

Lenora Bell said...

These are the things we have to remember when we come face to face with that door. It really is true that the people who fail, who don't sell, are the ones who give up. Who can't face that door any more. It's times like that when you have to turn to yourself, to your friends, to your writing community.

Those are words to live by, Carrie. I just finished blogging about a time when the door was opened, and then slammed in my face, and how I overcame the paralysis that set in. If only I could have read your entry during that time.

Thanks so much for an excellent post. I know the 10 Year Plan will work for you.

And thank you, mavens, for having Carrie as your guest.

Lenora Bell said...

p.s. I loved this post so much that I just linked to it. Thanks, again, Carrie!

lacey kaye said...

Thank YOU, Lenora!

Darcy Burke said...

Finally, I can leave a post! I've been blackballed by Blogger all day for some reason. Carrie, what an awesome post. I love the high from crafting a particularly good phrase or a scene that gives me all the emotion I'm looking for when I read a really good book. It's those little moments, often solitary, that make it worthwhile.

And thanks Lenora for the link! (I'm still trying to figure a way to post to your comments, but haven't been successful yet.)
Darcy

B.E. Sanderson said...

I WILL SELL YOU, DAMMIT!! <--Can I get that on a t-shirt, anyone?

Sign me up for one of those. That's what I keep saying to my first book. Carrie, you're right. I did learn so much with each one. (Which is why I'm back editing the first one again.

Thanks, Erica. I don't feel busy. I feel like a slug because I'm not doing everything fast enough. Ugh. Maybe if I stopped watching TV, or sleeping. Okay, sleep I need. =o)

Isabel said...

This is an awesome post, Carrie. :) Inspiring, motivating, honest; defintely speaks to me.

I'm just coming out of "paralyzing" "too scared to write" phase. After I wrote a really crappy book last year, I thought I was ready to go and move on to another one. Nearly a year later I had done nothing to accomplish my writing goals. It's been discouraging. I'll admit it, I did quit. For like a day...

I started asking myself why do I want to write, the first answer that came to mind was, "because you want to, because you love this madness you call writing." And that's how I began to get back on track. For the love of writing and with the support from my friends. ;)

Yesterday I opened that book I wrote last year for the first time since I typed "the end".
What an eye opener!
It's crap, it really is. LOL.
But you know what? Everyone who's said "you gotta finish a book, you learn so much after every book you finish, you get better", is right!

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.
~Conrad Hilton~


Mavens ~ Thanks for inviting Carrie to blog.

Isabel said...

I want an "I WILL SELL YOU, DAMMITT!!" t-shirt and mug. :)

Diana Peterfreund said...

*Erica* is reading your book? Just Erica?

Hmph... what am I... chopped liver?

Just kidding!

lacey kaye said...

I love the high from crafting a particularly good phrase or a scene that gives me all the emotion I'm looking for when I read a really good book.

You said it, Darc. This is why I write.

lacey kaye said...

B.E, I *love* sleeping. I would rather give up eating--which sometimes does happen, hurrah! Those are the really good times, like Carrie was talking about.

But sleeping...nah...gotta have it!

lacey kaye said...

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.
~Conrad Hilton~


Let's put this on the back of the "I WILL SELL YOU, DAMMIT" t-shirt. Or better yet, stamp it on my forehead :-)

lacey kaye said...

Hi, Diana!

You should never ask questions you don't *really* want to know the answer to :-P

Lenora Bell said...

Sorry to hear you're having trouble posting to my contest, Darcy. You have until the 5th. I'll be watching for you! (And thanks, Lacey, for your sweet and hilarious entry).

Now where is Erica???

Sign me up for the Manuscript Mavens, I WILL SELL YOU, DAMMITT!! scoop neck T-Shirt.

Anonymous said...

Yes put that quote on the back of IWSYD tshirt!

~Isabel~

Mary said...

I should have kicked my sister (visiting for the weekend) off the computer earlier! Congrats to Isabel. Maybe I'll be here for comment 50. =)

"How do I keep myself going?" I started up the Wilcox Writers for that very reason. With six of my siblings also writing, we check in on each other and provide motivation. It also helps me to have a goal - finish my WIP by my birthday (Nov), with the reward being a night away with my hubby.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Darned garage sale... Missed #25. Now to try for #50!

=oD

Carrie said...

YAY ISABEL! Our first winner! Email me at quitclaim [at] gmail.com and I'll get your book out to you!

As for the rest of y'all, there's still another winner at 50 - keep those awesome comments rolling!

Carrie said...

Sorry Diana! Diana is critting my book too! (and no, I'm not apologizing because she's forced to read my rough draft -- hopefully it's not causing her the type of pain that necessitates an apology -- but because I didn't give proper props for all that work!)

Carrie said...

Man, you guys make me teary with all you're great comments and support! See! This is what I'm talking about -- what a great community of awesome people! I'm glad that y'all found something helpful in my post, I can't tell y'all what that means to me!

Isabel said...

Thanks for the congrats! I'm so happy. :)

This is what I'm talking about -- what a great community of awesome people! I'm glad that y'all found something helpful in my post, I can't tell y'all what that means to me!

I'm writing because I love it. There are days I just sit in front of the computer and NOTHING happens. As was the case the last two days...

When I start to feel guilty or insecure about my writing I re-read encouraging emails, notes from friends, or bring out my book of inspirational quotes. The best part of this is the support from friends. They light my path with their kind and direct words of support.

Writing, as many say, is a lonely business, that's why it's so important to reach out and build your own circle of support, just like the MAVENS are doing here.

You all have lifted my spirits!

~Isabel~

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

lacey kaye said...

I think someone wants to make our tshirts :-)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Using freetranslation.com, what Rodrigo actually said was:

"Hello, I found your blog by the google is well interesting I liked that post. When it will give gives a passed by my blog, is about undershirts personalized, sample I pass to pace as create an undershirt personalized well way. To more."

It's a computer translation, of course, so it's not exact. (And it's Portugese, btw. Took me four tries before I got it.)

Maggie Robinson said...

Hey, my son owns 2 art gallery/gift shop stores in Key West and can personalize anything from T-shirts to mousepads (words, pix, etc.) and no Portuguese is involved. His wife is French though---much easier to translate.

Mary said...

Did the Mavens get my chapter I sent last week, or do I need to resend it?

B.E. Sanderson said...

I need a t-shirt that says 'The Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript'. I have the technology! I can rebuild it! I can make it better stronger faster! (And then maybe I can sell it.)

*Can you tell I spent yesterday editing?*

lacey kaye said...

b.e. - omg that's so funny! I didn't know what language it was, either, but I recognized "camisetas personalizadas." Which is the only reason he didn't get deleted as spam :-)

lacey kaye said...

Maggie -- spiffy! We'll keep that in mind. We need a few more ideas before we start getting professional, though. I do like "six-million dollar manuscript." There's someone (she will remain nameless unless she wants to out herself) who might get a kick out of "six-million word manuscript."

Do the words count if you end up deleting them? Or is word count like Work, and if you push it up and then drop it back down it effectively sums to Zero?

ERiCA said...

Lacey said:
Sometimes it's tempting to step back and start over with more of a cookie-cutter story, but those aren't the stories that are in my heart, and in the end they'd just sound forced and cardboard coming out of my fingers.

Exactly. I tried this once (with a targeted category book) and that's exactly what happened. It was an important lesson and I learned a lot, but it's a book I doubt would sell (and is no longer being pitched).

Darcy says:
I love the high from crafting a particularly good phrase or a scene that gives me all the emotion I'm looking for when I read a really good book.

Exactly!! THAT is why I write!

Isabel says:
I had done nothing to accomplish my writing goals. It's been discouraging. I'll admit it, I did quit. For like a day...

I am so glad you didn't quit for good! Quitting is the one sure way to ensure we never make it. Keep writing!!!

ERiCA said...

Lenora says:
Now where is Erica???

Erica is still in Costa Rica (until Wednesday) and was on the other side of the coast from her laptop for a couple days. (And has apparently launched in to that third-person thing again. *g)

I will be making the blog rounds tonight, no worries!!

ERiCA said...

Mary says:
With six of my siblings also writing, we check in on each other and provide motivation.

How cool is that??!! Man do I wish I had a family who "got" my writing addiction!!

B.E.: D'oh! No garage sales during contest weekends! And LOL re: 'The Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript'.

Lacey says:
Do the words count if you end up deleting them? Or is word count like Work, and if you push it up and then drop it back down it effectively sums to Zero?

I think they count as new writing... I mean, the first draft counts as the first draft, even if you completely rewrite the story for the second draft, right?

Isabel said...

Have a safe trip back, Erica, and I'm removing "quitting" from my vocabulary. Not allowed! lol.

b.e ~ thanks for the computer translation, I had no idea it was portuguese. :) I do know the word "camiseta" though. :)

Darcy Burke said...

So close to 50! We've discussed Maven tee shirts before. We may have to get serious, especially since our Portuguese friend has so kindly offered to help! (That was hi-larious B.E.!)

Darcy Burke said...

Yes, no quitting Isabel! I'm sure you've got a busy pre-wedding week ahead of you! So exciting!

Darcy Burke said...

Good for you B.E. Editing is a wonderful day to spend a Sunday. Much better than running errands until your head spins off, doing more laundry than you thought you had clothes/linens, and organizing the garage! (Yes, that's how Darcy spent her Sunday.)

That said, I did manage to tweak my synopsis based on Maven feedback, so it wasn't a total loss!

Mary said...

I agree that words count even if you delete them. They had value when you wrote them - whether finding out what didn't work, getting into the flow, or honing your skill. =)

Bill Clark said...

Writing, as many say, is a lonely business, that's why it's so important to reach out and build your own circle of support, just like the MAVENS are doing here.

Isabel speaks for many of us, I'm sure. Go, Mavens!

Bill Clark said...

Oh, and a wave to Erica as she packs her suitcase!

Bill Clark said...

And a wave to me as I hit 100!!

Mary said...

I could have posted four times in a row, but refrained. :-p at Bill. Lol

Bill Clark said...

Whoops - I mean 50.

Or 39. Or whatever.

Sneaky, I know, but I saw several multiple posts, and did the math, and said to meself, well, why not? Anything for a copy of UTR!!

Bill Clark said...

You're right, Mary - why don't we share? Do you want the first half or the last half, or perhaps you would prefer the even-numbered pages? ;-)

lacey kaye said...

Haha! Funny!

We'll see what we can do. There's no end to the books that can be shared :-)

Isabel said...

Yes, no quitting Isabel! I'm sure you've got a busy pre-wedding week ahead of you! So exciting!

Darcy ~ yes it's crazy.
I totally underestimated this week.

Which is why I have yet to submit my piece for Maven critique.

Isabel said...

Congrats, Bill. :)

Diana Peterfreund said...

Bill already has a copy...

B.E. Sanderson said...

Congratulations to the winner!

Darcy- I try to portion my time out so I write new words on the weekdays and edit on the weekends. Each bit gives me a break from the other and I can still keep my pledge to do writing work every day.

If anyone does make a Six-Million Dollar Man-uscript t-shirt, can I have royalties??? ;o)

Carrie said...

Hey Bill - Congrats! Email me at quitclaim [at] gmail.com to claim your book!

Thanks so much to the rest of y'all for all of the wonderful comments!!

Bill Clark said...

Thanks, Carrie! And Diana, what I have is an ARC (gorgeously inscribed in gold ink - thanks!) which I will treasure forever, but which was full of minor as-yet uncorrected proofing boo-boos (as in, is "Boo" capitalized, or spelt as "'Boo", or "boo", and if so when and by whom and under what circumstances - all very confusing). And whatever happened to that stray "nonplussed?"

So now I hope to sit down with the published oeuvre and read it again from stem to stern without having to worry about looking for lapses. I'm sure it's perfect now, right, Diana? ;-)

And thanks again, Carrie, for guest-blogging for the Magnificent Mavens!

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