Friday, September 19, 2014
Last night, our Kansas State football team played a rare game on a Thursday evening which was shown on national TV. They faced a powerhouse Auburn team, ranked #5 in the nation while we are #20. It was a big, big, big game for us.
The stadium was full to capacity and then some, with over 53,000 fans that added deafening noise, cheers and a few jeers as well. The weather for the 6:30 game was near perfect. The teams both came out to play. The fans were ready, too. Our team held Auburn to 20 points, which is below what they usually score, but the K-State guys made a few costly mistakes that cost them the game. They ended up losing by 6 points.
Yes, the sun came up again this morning but I doubt the players cared much about that. Their thoughts are on the next game. Last night's game is history, it's time for them to move on. And they will. I know that as sure as I know that I'll write a new blog post next Monday. When practice time rolls around, coaches and players will work on those mistakes that cost the game. They'll watch film over and over until they're satisfied that there is no more benefit in doing so. The team will be ready to take on UTEP on the 27th. The fans will be back in the stadium cheering them on, too.
So, how does all this relate to your writing life? Think about it. You work hard to write a short story or an essay or a chapter of a novel. You give it your all, but perhaps you make a few costly errors in the writing. Things that an editor will spot immediately. Maybe the editor likes the general premise of what you submitted but finds that those little errors in the writing are too prevalent. Few editors today are going to help you rewrite a piece. They want you to send work that is publish-ready.
When your work is not accepted, you need to do what those football players and coaches will do this week. Go back and find the mistakes, make corrections. Write stronger, perhaps with more emotion. It all depends on what might have gone wrong with what you had written.
After any rejection you receive, the same thing happens for you. The sun will come up no matter what. Learn from your loss just as the football team should do. If you've made mistakes, your goal is not to make them again.
Last night, every K-State fan hoped for a stunning win over a great opponent. You hope for your work to be published with every submission you make. Sometimes it happens and, many times, it does not. When that occurs, move on. Don't beat yourself up over what feels like failure. Every writer knows that rejection is part of the writing world. We all just happen to hate when it is us who receives the rejection.
Yep, the sun will come up tomorrow no matter what today brings us.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
One more repeat post, one that was very popular when it first ran.
Years ago, I told my five-year-old son he could not go to kindergarten until he learned to tie his shoes. "The teacher is too busy to do it for every boy and girl," I added for emphasis. For weeks, he struggled, gave up, and tried again and again. The day before school started, he achieved his goal. What happiness radiated from that little face when he demonstrated his new ability to me.
This little episode illustrates two universal truths. We push ourselves harder when there is a deadline and achievement is all the sweeter when we can share our success with others.
In our writers world, don't we tend to work better when there is a specified deadline? Of course we do. We think and think about writing a story or article but life tends to get in our way. We make vague promises to ourselves thinking things like Tomorrow, I'll get to it. Tomorrow arrives, the phone rings and we're off to another meeting, pick up a sick child (or grandchild) at school or....
But if a story must be sent to an editor by Thursday, we'll create time and get the job done.
That deadline looms over us, so we move it to the top of our To-Do list. The machine can answer the phone. Pizza places deliver night and day, so the family will be fed. Few of us like to dust or vacuum anyway, so that's not a problem. The library committee meeting can go on without us this time and a niece will appreciate a check for her birthday as much as a gift. We need to block out everything but the writing project. We don't want to face failure or the humiliation of telling the editor the piece is not ready.
Achievement is accomplished by setting priorities and being firm in keeping them. Get your ducks in a row might be a good illustration. If we're wishy-washy, our goals float farther and farther away.
When we receive good news from an editor, we've achieved a goal. We'd love to share the good news with someone--usually someone who means something to us. Like my son, we radiate joy when sharing news of an acceptance from a publisher. Satisfaction settles over us like a warm comforter. That, however, is not the end. Success only inspires us to continue writing and submitting. If you receive eleven rejections and one acceptance, which one do you think you'll remember longest?
That small son of mine is now a successful businessman. He learned all about achievement before he went to kindergarten Here's hoping you did, too. If not, it's never too late to learn.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
A repeat post with some story links
We do not remember days,
we remember moments
I read the quote above at the bottom of a Happy New Year greeting someone sent me this morning. It fit perfectly with the topic I'd selected for today's post. I wish that the person who wrote this quote had been named. Sadly, it is anonymous.
We do remember the special moments in our lives with a clarity that I find amazing. I've had special moments that have stayed with me for the many decades I've walked this earth, and it's been those moments that have created those memoir stories that seem to be perfect for many anthologies.
Each one of those special moments is like a pearl, and as writers, we can string them together to create a memoir of our lives. The individual moments shine in our memory bank like the pearls on a necklace. They shine and step forth clearly so we can write about them.
One of my favorite pearls is a story I wrote for a Chicken Soup Tea Lovers book. My grandmother and I had afternoon tea at the famous Walnut Room at Marshall Field's department store in Chicago when I was four years old. Only a young child, I still remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. Because the memory remained vividly in my mind, I found I could recreate the event well enough to have the story published. Read it here.
Another is a story about a valentine box my dad made for me during my second grade year. I remember it so well, I think, because a revelation hit me while Dad and I spent time together making the box. You can listen to or read the story here.
Yet a third special moment memory that produced a publishable story is about the first time I had surgery. I was four and staying in the hospital proved frightening until a beautiful and compassionate nurse eased the experience for me. She set me on a path of service to others for the rest of my life. Read it here.
When an event occurs in our life that has some importance in shaping our character or signifies love and family, the memory becomes more important than the mundane things in our days. The memories are stored until we pluck them out and add one more pearl to our life'sl necklace. All it takes is a little trigger to bring the memory forth. Once it's there, it's up to you to write the story.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
We're traveling again so I'm repeating some popular posts for a few days.
I read a wonderful book recently,which shall remain nameless for reasons apparent farther into this post.
It was a real page turner and so well written that it grabbed me in the opening pages and held on until I closed the book after finishing it.
I decided I'd like to read something else by the same author, so I looked up her credits and found that the boryyok I'd just read was her second published novel. I checked out her first book at our library and was eager to read it.
What a disappointment it was. It was a historical novel, like the other book, but set in an earlier time. It had all the elements of what should have been a good novel. There was a little romance, a mystery, a ghost, descriptive passages, an interesting setting. But I had to littering slog through it. There was an abundance of unnecessary material, and I got frustrated waiting for something important to the tale to happen. I kept plugging away at it thinking it was going to get better. It didn't. Finally, after going two-thirds of the way through the book, I flipped to the final chapter to see what happened to the characters. It was then that it hit me that I didn't really like any of these people, could not relate to any of them. The whole dreary thing disappointed me.
It made me wonder why an author cannot write a winning story every time. Maybe it's like a race horse who cannot win the race every time they fly out of the starting gate. And maybe we shouldn't expect an author to write the same kind of story (an interesting one) every time. The ones who stay in our minds and who make lots of money writing have the ability to do that. Maybe we shouldn't expect it of every author.
I don't write novels,, but I do know that some of my essays and inspirational creative nonfiction is better than others. It would be wonderful to have a winner every time, but that might happen only in a perfect world.
I reminded myself that even though this author had written one excellent book and one not so hot, she did get two novels published which is more than a good many writers can claim.