Tag Archives: publishing

One Hundred Down- Hundreds to Go

This, as you may, or may not believe it, is my hundredth blog post. Miraculous right? It just makes me think back to little sophomore me starting this out as a school assignment all those years ago (alright two, but seriously who’s counting?)

I suppose in this post I just wanted to reflect some on the never-ending nature of being a writer. It’s a fantastic life. But it’s tiring sometimes. Because it reminds me a lot of having a yard infested with mushrooms…or dandelions…the moment I get one part of the job done, ten more things pop up. As a nanny it seems even more like the joy of parenthood, cleaning and then having ten more things get dirty in the next hour.

Life is like that in some ways, circular in nature. But that doesn’t make it any less exhausting.

The day I finished my first novel I was overjoyed. There was such a level of excitement, unparalleled by most of my other achievements. I was unable to stop scanning through the pages, pausing and reading favorite parts a second or third time However, I soon realized it wasn’t even close to over.

After writing comes even harder processes like editing, revising, query letters, rejection letters, and finally maybe if you’re lucky…the beautiful nature of publication.

Three years down the road and I’m still not published. I still haven’t even begun typing up letters or working back through old pieces with much energy. I have four more completed works to add to my collection, but not one shred of evidence that I’ve truly accomplished anything, at least in the traditional writer sense.

I suppose the one thing that has given me comfort recently was reading about Jane Austen.

I’m not really a lover of Jane overall. She writes beautifully, yes, but I find myself often bored reading through monotonous dinners and lengthy dances. And while I recognize Austen’s irony and wit, I fail to get the same joy many young women do over the most esteemed Mr. Darcy. However, my one small piece of true infatuation with Austen is this: she wrote her books young and she didn’t publish them for many more years down the road, and not without ridiculous amounts of revision.

It can be hard as an author to get done with one task and then have to proceed to working on another. And while I’d set my sights on trying to edit and then move to query letter stages with my last novel, I have been swept up in a senior project of writing a novella over the course of the semester which has hindered my editing abilities. But that hasn’t made me lose hope.

Life is tricky. We do things only to have more work thrust in front of us. We regularly find that the job takes more than one step, and even when finished there’s another job finished. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. It simply means we push forward with more vigor, with more hopes of continuing to improve and learn and grow.

So as I finish the mark of this hundredth post and look forward towards the more to come, I look with joy rather than dread. For there is plenty more time to come, to write, to edit, to submit, to face rejection, and to carry on in the face of hard work.

For more on author’s publishing period see: http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/books/what-age-did-well-known-authors-publish-their-most-famous-works

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“My Rambling Brat (In Print)” or the Problems of Perfecting Writing

As a writer I sometimes am extremely self-critical. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the negatives and see only your faults rather than your talents. In many ways it’s in our nature to be critical, especially of ourselves. I am always reluctant to share my writing with others for this reason, frightened to let my books into the world fearing they might not be good enough. Yes, I’m a bit of an obsessive editor who constantly is trying to improve my works. And I never can explain to my eager friends why my book is just not ready yet!

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However, today I realized not only am I not alone in this belief, but published writers long before me have also struggled with these self doubts.

In my American literature class today we were reading Anne Bradstreet, a brilliant Puritan poet from the early 1600’s. She has marvelous poems, and I encourage everyone to take a look at a few of them. However, my favorite remains “The Author to Her Book”.

The story goes that Bradstreet had a book that her brother-in-law published without her permission. My literature professor equated it to friends hacking your facebook when you’re out of the room to post ridiculous things. However, it’s a bit more extreme than that. Bradstreet wrote this poem as a reflection of how she didn’t want it published, comparing her book to an ill-formed child that she is sending out the door hoping only the best for. Read it below and see what you think.

The Author to Her Book

  by Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i' th' house I find.
In this array 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

So here is this brilliant woman worrying about what is going to happen to her book she thinks is “ill-formed” and not ready to be sent out yet. It amazes me to think far greater writers than I have also worried about their works. So I guess I need to worry less and just be brave and send things off. Because I’ll always see my books as rambling brats not yet ready to leave the home.

 
Who are some writers who have inspired you to see value in your own work? What do you do to overcome compulsive editing problems? Any other valuable literary wisdom you can provide?

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Moving Beyond Gendered Book Covers

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With all my research on publishing, one of the most interesting elements I’ve run across is the making of book covers. Whether we like it or not, we do tend to judge a book by its cover, and, as a result, the art on the front often determines whether or not we put the book back on the shelf or pick it up to read.

Just this morning I ran across an interesting article about the gender tones behind book covers, and how females books get passed off as romance novels (even if they are not) and therefore are considered for the less educated. Women are apparently more likely to get a paperback while their male counterparts get hardbound copies. This is a sad reality of the world we live in. Please feel free to read the article and I encourage you to watch the video that goes along with it: Coverflip: Maureen Johnson Calls For An End To Gendered Book Covers With An Amazing Challenge

I had never noticed this influence in my life before. I had never stopped to think how a woman’s book about the same subject matter often gets a female image on the cover, or slightly more feminine print for the title. I had never considered that I might subconsciously assume something about the books intended gender just from the images on the front. We live in a world where images are constantly being flashed in front of us, and I suppose books are no different. Sometimes we just need to stop and think.

And so, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to examine title and the description more than the outside imagery of the book. Just because there is a female on the front doesn’t mean it’s filled with romance or other more “feminine” plot ideas. I hope in the future of our society we’ll begin to move away from having gendered covers. Men and women should be able to read and enjoy the same things.

As a future author I shudder at the idea of men putting my book aside simply because someone decided to slap something “girly” on my cover instead of something gender neutral. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean my ideas are any less valid or that I only want to write about females finding love. I want to go beyond that, and I hope that in the future book covers will help me and other authors finally conquer the idea that women’s writing is somehow worth less.

Any thoughts? What makes you more or less likely to pick up a book? Why do you think we do this to our book covers? Is there a good way to change this or do you think it should remain the same?

And school is finally done for summer so I should be able to get back to posting regularly. Thank you loyal readers for your patience!

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What To Do When Children Are Surpassing You?

It was a Saturday afternoon as I was strolling through Costco. I was glancing at the various displays from giant packs of batteries, to fancy furniture. But as my family passed by the book section something caught my eye.

A table was set up. And at it sat someone with books in front of them.

A book signing? Really? In Costco of all places?

I stared for a moment, surprised. I was wondering who it could possibly be, and if I’d heard of them perchance. And then I finally looked at the face of the writer sitting at that small table in the busy Saturday rush of the store.

She had glasses. Straight brown hair around her face. A posture that indicated not too many books were getting picked up. But those things were not what I noticed most. No, the writer sitting there looked younger than me. In fact, she looked to be a child.

For a moment I thought there was a mistake. Maybe the writer had left their child there while they went to go to the bathroom…um…or…

I couldn’t come up with possibilities. I simply was puzzled by this little girl sitting at the table looking bored. And then I finally took a glance at the signs to see if I recognized the author.

I don’t remember her name, but the biggest words on the signs were: Twelve-year-old author.

I took a moment to simply take that little fact in before I began to bemoan my family with the horrors of being surpassed by children. I am twenty! I am in the prime of my life! And yet somehow I have yet to publish a novel and this little girl has (though admittedly it could have been self-published).

What do you do when life seems to be slipping away and suddenly children are rising up to take the spots on bookshelves that you have dreamed of for ages? Is there a good way to get over that horrifying blow that you are frankly running out of chances and other younger authors are taking them in your place?

I don’t have a true answer. I guess it just takes perseverance. Keep trying. Never give up. Even after twenty rejection letters. It may sound redundant and silly but that really has to be the key. If twelve-year-old girls can do it, why can’t you?

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