Monday, January 24, 2011

Why I Don't Always Keep My Trap Shut

Many of you may have already read agent Jennifer Laughran’s awesome post about When to Keep Your Trap Shut. And, if you already have, you probably had the same panic attack that most of my writing friends have had. (Okay, and me. I’ll admit that I panicked, too.) We've all been bad kitties and have shared TMI online.

But as the week progressed I noticed the mood online (at least in my online circles) had changed, and I wasn’t excited about what I saw. Too afraid they were saying something they shouldn't, people stopped talking about anything important at all. Friends erased blog posts and bios that I had found uplifting, and even private emails I received from writing friends were full of fear and nervousness. It felt like the support structure I have relied upon the last three years had been wiped out by one innocent (and well-argued) entry on an agent’s blog.

This has distressed me. I’m not usually one to argue with those who know better than me, especially those I admire and trust (and I admire and trust Jennifer Laughran immensely), but I’ve thought a lot about this and I’ve decided I needed to say something.

We live in a well-connected world. With a few keystrokes, people can learn more about a topic (or a person) than ever before. So, yes, I agree that we need to be careful about what we share online. My agent advised me on what I should and shouldn’t say online way back when I signed with him. And so I’ve been careful about sharing anything. I never share names and dates and personal correspondence. And I always think twice before I post anything online.

However, and I’m probably killing my career by saying this , I haven't shut my trap completely.

And this is why:

When I first started querying agents, I didn’t know what to expect, and I had no writing friends who could tell me. So I turned to the internet for information.

What I didn’t expect, however, was the support I would need, too. This business is stressful. And no one understands that more than another writer. I was grateful when I found others who were sharing their progress (or lack of it) with the world. I lurked on their blogs or the message boards where they posted, and it gave me the extra strength I needed to push through the difficulties and keep going. Soon I started sharing myself. It wasn’t a lot (I’ve always been a little nervous about sharing too much online anyway), but it helped to join in the conversation with other writers.

And when I signed with my agent, it was a whole lot of fun to share the exciting news with others who really understood what an accomplishment that was.

But now I’m in that place where it’s shadows and whispers. Where I can’t say anything because it might make my agent mad at me, or might turn off an editor, or it might kill a deal.

Yes. I’m on agented submission.

And being on submission means you are supposed to put on a happy face for the world and keep your trap shut.

And I have tried. I promise.

Unfortunately I haven’t always succeeded. I’ll admit that I have sent out more than one poorly disguised plea for others to share their struggles. Because it’s hard when you know you’re struggling, but even harder when you’re feel like you're struggling alone. I’m sure somewhere I have shared what I think are basic, generic thoughts and feelings that some editors or agents would think is too much information.

But I am grateful to those who brave the backlash and publicly share their struggles. For example, about a month ago, I came across this post by someday author Natalie Whipple. I can’t tell you how much her post meant to me. Because I’ve been through some (most) of the things she described. And it helped to know I wasn’t alone.

So today I open my trap to plead for a little more understanding from industry professionals. Yeah, you might find out through Google that my manuscript has been on submission for a million years and you are the 400th editor/agent to read it, but cut me a little slack. A million years is a long time to wait…and after the first hundred-thousand years or so, you start to wonder if it’s just you or the industry in general. And when you find a group of writers going through the exact same thing you are, it helps.

More than you might realize.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How often do you update your sidebar links?

I confess. I haven't updated my links since I put this blog together. And there are a few blogs I adore that you won't find on my sidebar. Why is that, besides the fact that I'm lazy when it comes to updating my blogs?

I wondered if I was alone in this. So I checked my friends' blogs. Not a lot of new blogs showing up there, either. Or a lot of links, period.

(And, I'll admit, my blogs don't show up on most blogrolls. Or any, come to think of it. That is so not good for my plans to take over the world. But I digress...)

I think we're doing each other a disservice. Sure, the only reason I really care right now is because I am basically trying to do anything I can to procrastinate the work on revising my WIP (Curse you, dual first person POV!), but still...shouldn't we fill those blogrolls full of places we love to visit?

So let's all get to work and update those links! Then I'll have more places to go than I could possible visit in this lifetime. And that will help me immensely with this procrastination thing.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Multiple Personalities (aka Dual First Person POV)

Does your book (or manuscript) have multiple personalities?

Mine sure does.

I'm dealing with a fun, popular, talkative but somewhat shallow 12yo boy, and his sullen, ignored, uncommunicative but deep thinking 14yo brother.

Getting these two very different points of view to mesh has been...well, difficult.

Okay. Truth be told, I'm not sure it's any good. I've had to step out of the revision cave for a few days to give my poor, overworked brain a rest.

The biggest problem is that both boys' moods are so different, so the mood of each POV feels different. Almost like each POV is a different book altogether. The 12yo's POV is light and fun and silly (and, I'll admit, it feels just as shallow as he is). And the 14yo's POV is more serious and substantial (but a whole lot less fun). And the story, though it is really is about a mystery the brothers solve together, it also deals with how these two brothers learn from each other and grow. So, by the end of the book, the 12yo is less shallow than he was (and a little more serious about life), and the 14 has learned to lighten up a little.

So I'm trying to start out from two very different places with two very different moods, and slowly move them closer together by the end of the book.

And did I mention that I'm trying to keep this MG, which is hard since one main character is definitely MG, and the other is more YA?

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Though it could be that I'm making this way more complicated that it needs to be. I tend to do that. A lot.

Do you have a multiple POV story you'd like to share with me? Please do. I could use all the advice/support I can get.

*dives back into the revision cave*

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reinventing Myself

Okay, so not really. But I am thinking about reinventing this poor, neglected blog.

In my defense, I've been really really really really busy with searching for a new house, and then moving into the said new house, but that's no excuse to let this poor, neglected blog become...well, neglected.

And since it's a new year, and I'm in the mood to make resolutions I will most likely not keep past April, I've been thinking about what I can do to make this poor, neglected blog a well-loved, happy place once more.

Yeah. I'm totally drawing a blank.

So please chime in and tell me all the stuff you like (or don't like) about this blog. I expect to hear from all six of you, so don't let me down. And most likely, in the weeks to come, I will do something about this poor, neglected blog based on the feedback I hope to receive from all you readers.

I do miss spewing my odd and slightly insane thoughts about the writing life. I'm hoping there are a few of you out there who miss it, too. And if not, well...I'll probably keep doing it anyway.

So there.

Let's hope that 2011 brings plenty of new and exciting posts to this poor, neglected blog! Here's to Reinventing Myself!