Sunday, August 19, 2007

Finding Inspiration

I’ve had an incredibly difficult time trying to find something to write about. I started a couple subjects only to dump them. I was dissatisfied with the words dragged out of my fingers. Everything appearing on the wide white screen lacked inspiration, simply because any inspirational words seem to hit a road block in the creative section of my brain.

Then I got the UTube video, I passed on to the Black Diamonds of a cell phone salesmen, in England, by the name of Paul Potts.

His voice brought tears to my eyes. He was competing in an English, American Idol type show. His comment, “All I’ve ever wanted to do was sing opera.”

He inspired me. He took a chance. Is he as good as the great opera singers of our time? Probably not, but still he was wonderful. Most of the singers on these shows are young. They sing hip hop, country, and more modern tunes. I have yet to see an opera singer, although admittedly, I don’t watch it that much, and don’t know if they even would consider one. Since the competition goes on, and the singers have to really be able to sing different types of music. Still this man took a chance.

In order to get what you want, or to even give yourself a chance, you have to put yourself out there. For writers the competition is stiff. There are hundreds of thousands of aspiring writers, chomping at the bit as they fight their way towards publication. The field is incredibly crowded, not just from the RWA stand point, but even then I suspect we make up for most of the queries going to agents. Outside our genre, the writers stand shoulder deep in desire to see their dreams come true. Most won’t make it. It’s only the few who do.

But we can’t think that way. We have to be the Paul Potts of this world and take a chance with a contest, or agent and go for the gold. Will he get a recording contract? Maybe. Will he stand on the world stage and sing? Maybe, but maybe not. He will have the knowledge he tried. He stood up on the stage and sang, if only for his fifteen minutes of fame. And oh, how he sang.

When I first started writing, in my naivety, I queried agents, just knowing they’d want my story. Just knowing they’d love it. Wrong. I squirm at the query letters, and have sense shredded them, out of fear someone might read them. The rejections were harsh, they were many, and it hurt.

Still I’m here, still trying, still writing, still learning. The rejection letters are getting better. I’ve gotten requests for fulls and partials from well known agencies, the rejections were not of the standard type, but personal, giving me advise I so much needed and took to heart.

I still enter contest, placed in one, get back better and better comments, with higher and higher scores. I can read the comments now, without grimacing. In one contest, in the past, one judge hinted, loudly, I should give up writing. I don’t get those anymore, either.
There are times we all ask ourselves how long we can do this. I know there may come a day when I’ll stop sending out the query letters, but the day will never come when I stop writing.

For now I’ll continue to take my chances, to enter contests, go to conference, meet agents, and send out queries. For now I’m still Paul Potts, who loves to sing.


To see Paul sing. Go to: com/watch? v=1k08yxu57NA& mode=related& search=

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer and other mild distractions to your writing rhythm.....

I don’t know about you but I love summer. The long days and walking the dog at twilight; listing to the bugs and watching the sky change as the sun sets. I have a very hard time sitting still in the house during summer. I feel guilty if I am not enjoying Mother Nature.

So needless to say I didn’t make many of my writing goals. So I decided to buy a laptop so I could sit in my back yard and enjoy the weather and write. Wonderful idea I thought; but it took 5 weeks for said laptop to arrive, two days before I left for vacation. We were vacationing in the California redwoods; tent camping with no power or Internet. I work in the IT field so no computers, cell phones, Internet or Blackberry is truly the break I need. I had a wonderful time enjoying my family, catching up with family members that joined us, hiking with the kids and floating on a raft in the middle of the river. The laptop would be there when I returned to use in my back yard.

Then I pulled a muscle in my neck, which is still hurting me and my hand goes numb when I type too much. So I must preserve my typing for my job which pays the bills. So my beautiful laptop sits in its bag waiting for the day that it can site on my patio table and help me create my book. I figure my shoulder will be better in a couple weeks, about the time the kids go back to school and the days start to get shorter.

Of course then it will be my favorite time of year to write and now I will be able to take my laptop with me next to our fireplace and write about far away places.

So what types of things distract you from your writing?

Lyn Emerson
Black Diamonds Vice President

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Fear of Flying

Recently, RWA had their National Dallas. Since I live in Northern California, that meant getting on an airplane and flying halfway across the country. For several years, flying has not been a pleasant experience for me. After 9/11 it has become a true phobia.

Actually, I don’t have a fear of flying; I have a fear of crashing, burning, dying; in that order. Once I’m airborne I’m fine. It is takeoffs and landings I fear. I grip the armrests in the handhold of death. My mantra is: I’m going to die; I’m going to die.

A friend told me the joys of Xanax. I took one just before my flight to Dallas. It was like being a child again, and experiencing the joy of being in a plane, of seeing the ground far below, and having the exhilaration of a roller coaster ride during the turbulence portion of the trip.

I believe all our phobias are the same. I also have a phobia of the new and unknown. I’ve had several agent appointments at conferences now, so I can do them no problem. This conference I had not only an editor appointment, but also a group appointment. Oh no, a double whammy, and my stomach let me know it that morning. I was thisclose to canceling my appointment, blowing it off. The only thing stopping me was the disappointment I would have felt in myself and from my friends. Okay, mostly my friends. Looking good to those you respect is a very good motivator. So, I deep breathed, I threw back my shoulders, chin up and determined, and sailed through the appointment with a request for a full manuscript.

Lesson learned: I don’t have a fear of flying; I have a fear of falling, of failing. Sometimes we have to fail, to fall down, so we can learn to pick ourselves up, dust off our sore bottoms, and try again.
(Jill James, chapter president)