9 Winnie-the-Pooh Quotes Every Writer Must Trust

20130910-173747.jpg The problem with dreaming REALLY BIG dreams is being constantly reminded that you and your dreams are, in fact, quite small. Nearly invisible to the average eye. At least, that’s how it feels sometimes. Especially in the world of Twitter, where we have to hunt like dogs to recruit followers. I only have 36. Lame, I know. Meanwhile, the dreams of those whom we follow are currently coming true, or came true a long time ago. Those people are just maintaining their dream, keeping us hooked so that we’ll keep their dream thriving. Which we do (because we’re nice, or because we hope our engaging with them will somehow help our own dream), but we’re constantly wondering, when will it be my turn?

We artists are wired with a grand emotional spectrum; one that occasionally requires a great big hug and some kind words from an old friend. Like Winnie-the-Pooh. Thanks to the Great Golden One, we “creatives” can write through any ugly, frustrating storm (eg. writer’s block, rejection, Twitter), to eventually see our dreams shine like a rainbow once again.

So I share these insightful quotes with you, dear writer friends, in hopes that you too will stay motivated and continue to Write On!

Pooh’s advice for picture books is a no-brainer in the writing community (today’s picture books are expected to be 500 words or less), but he doled them out long ago, and they are still relevant to this day:

1) “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?'”

In the face of Writer’s Block, you must:

2) “Think, think, think.”

Much like Pooh, a writer must strengthen his creative muscle through reading and writing:

3) “A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.”

When Writer’s Block strikes yet again, it helps to:

4) “Think it over, think it under.”

Even Pooh knows the importance of proof-reading and editing:

5) “My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”

In a world where a million other writers are vying for an audience, you are a single digit. But that is no reason to give up. Even if no one else understands, Pooh does:

6) “It is hard to be brave, when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

Even Pooh knows better than to dwell on backstory and info-dumps:

7) “So perhaps the best thing to do is to stop writing Introductions and get on with the book.”

When your book is finally published, will people like it? Pooh says maybe, maybe not. But you will never know unless you try:

8) “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

Pooh’s most important advice is to not lose hope. Simply flow with the course of your life, and at some point, someday, you will reach your dream destination:

9) “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.”

Happy Writing.

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Are You An Authorpreneur?

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Consider me a self-publishing convert. I know, I know. In the past, I’ve been hard on self-published writers, opting for traditional methods toward publication. But not because I didn’t admire their dreams. Heck, I live by the creed:

WISH IT. DREAM IT. DO IT.

And I have nothing but respect for anyone who dreams up a new life for themselves and then chases that dream. My problem is when they don’t care enough about their “dream,” or their reader’s hard-earned dollar, to use spell-check.

But renowned indie-author, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, has shown me the “other” side of the self-pub world: the side that believes in QUALITY and will work hard to ensure nothing less. To prove this, Hutchins spent the summer holed-up in an RV with various members of her family, and embarked on a 60-Day/60-City book tour in support of her new e-book, Leaving Annalise

And today, I learned all about her unique adventure and the valuable lessons in e-publishing and e-marketing she learned on the road, courtesy of Houston Writer’s Guild, who organized the all-day workshop.

Out of respect to Hutchins, I won’t share her how-to’s on this blog, but I will tell you this: 

INDIE PUBLISHING = AUTHORPRENEURSHIP

If you are an Authorpreneur (and this includes you, Dreamers, who have sinister fantasies you secretly wish would earn you $95-million), then develop your “dreams” like you would any business — with research, funding, networking, and marketing — because publishing a successful e-book is a business. YOUR business. And hopefully, eventually, your career.

If you must, start with a business plan and a projected timeline. Don’t trust Mom to be honest (you could write, “Gobbledy-gook blop booger-eaters,” and she would love it). Instead, hire professional editors who will wrangle your manuscript into publishing shape. Also, locate a group of beta-readers who will find any last-minute spelling mistakes. 

Then, when you’re ready, there are several available options for getting your perfected, polished novel to the masses via Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.

But getting onto the shelves at Barnes & Noble… whew! That’s a whole other story.

Happy Writing!

Writing Over the Hurdle of Life

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A friend in my Copperfield Critique Group advised me to treat writing like a job. Meaning, go to my favorite spot for eight hours a day and write, write, write. Sounds like an awesome plan. Is this what best-selling authors do?

My only hurdle, however, is life.

For one, I am a voice-over talent. Two, I am also a Realtor. Both careers are flexible, but clients need me at various times of the day, and I am more than happy to help them. But it doesn’t end there. I must also attend weekly marketing meetings and send mail-outs boasting my services. Not to mention, I am also at the tail-end of planning a humongous wedding, before heading to Florence, Italy for two fabulous weeks.

All this, and A-D-D too.

So what’s an unpublished author to do? How do we balance both life and our craft?

My thought is… the best we can. No guilt. No regret. Just push yourself through the muck of the day, every day, until your book is done.

The Red Ink, Blues?

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DO BETTER. Those were the two words scrawled on the very first draft of my young adult novel, many years ago. I was new to the craft and had yet to experience the sometimes brutal, always remarkable insight of the critique world. Let’s just say I learned the hard way, military style, with zillions of Track Change bubbles and plenty of red ink screaming at me from every direction. One particular scribble challenged me to simply DO BETTER. Imagine my horror.

But my beloved editor friend was right, and when I read my manuscript again, I did so with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. Now, I am the one with the red ink writing DO BETTER on my own manuscripts.

In other news, I left the SCBWI-Austin conference feeling more hopeful than ever about my young adult manuscript. The agent who critiqued my first ten pages/synopsis LOVED it, and invited me to send the final draft when done.

My pleasure. 🙂

I credit my friend’s two wonderful words. Now, I am paying the challenge forward to you, my new writing friends. Never fear the red ink. Instead, force yourself to always DO BETTER.

The Write Path

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A tough part about being a writer is knowing if your manuscript is on its right path. In other words, is your work strong enough to outshine the millions of other manuscripts vying to compete in the big publishing arena?

This weekend, I attended a fabulous SCBWI conference in San Antonio and had the pleasure of hearing what Folio Literary Agent, Molly Jaffa, had to say about initially impressing an agent. In a nutshell, it boils down to the first ten pages. Sometimes, even the first sentence.

Later in the afternoon, I was expected to meet with Molly for a 15-minute critique session on–you guessed it–my first ten pages!! As you can imagine, I was a little stoked (and nervous!). So, I did a checklist of the following bits Molly said she enjoys and does not enjoy when reading our first ten pages:

GENERAL:

1. Establish the stakes. What does the protagonist stand to lose or gain?

2. NO PROLOGUES!!!

3. Create narrative tension in the novel’s beginning to where the reader cannot put novel down.

VOICE:

1. Make sure voice is not too generic. Specificity in voice makes reader relate more than a bland voice.

2. Extra level of detail makes a BIG impact!

3. Avoid too much slang, jargon, and throwback and classic voices.

DIALOGUE:

1. Do not have characters constantly address each other by name.

2. Tags should almost always be “said.”

3. Avoid meaningless conversations.

4. Do not recap what another character already knows.

5. Do not info dump.

6. Avoid starting story with a dream sequence. You can do better!

7. Avoid having too many characters, especially in YA.

In the end, the critique session with Molly was better than I could have hoped for. Of course, the rest of the novel must also impress. So perhaps I should stop blogging and start writing? After all, my YA novel is not going to complete itself. 🙂

Happy Writing!

Writing With Attention Deficit Disorder

I read today that the real-life Bella is cheating on the real-life Edward with the real-life director of SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN. Ouch for poor Cedric Diggory whose heart was mutilated more by Bella than it ever was by He Who Shall Not Be Named.

And this is what distracted me today while I sat in Barnes & Noble for a cool two hours trying to tap words into my iPad.

I am always impressed by those who can sit for hours and days on end, finishing their novel in a matter of months. My goal is to finish MOONSAULT by the end of 2012. I am only 11 chapters in. My trouble is not my drive nor my passion; I have both by the truckload. It is my battle with Attention Deficit Disorder and my attempt to handle it without medication.

Most days are a success. I sit wherever the vibe is right and I tap, tap, tap away, until my brain reaches a lethargic, fuzzy place. And since I edit as I type, I tend to squeak out only one chapter at a time, never moving from a sentence or a paragraph until the flow feels right.

But today, I struggled. From the love woes of Robert Pattison to the small audio vibrations of those around me (ie. pencils rubbing paper, fingers on keyboards, pages being turned, etc.), I simply could not find my stride. Even now, I have chosen to write this blog because I cannot focus enough on the manuscript I am so eager to complete.

I can best describe the struggle like this–I literally see a million butterflies fluttering around my head. I see them all clearly. But they are all fluttering so fast, I cannot catch any one of them, even though I have a large, tightly woven net and an extra long handle. It feels impossible.

But it’s just today. Experience has shown me that sometimes my mind will slow down enough to let me write. Until then, maybe I should consider the meds my awesome NYC therapist had put me on. I only stopped taking them because my brain started depending on them more and more, and I was uncomfortable with that. But perhaps its worth it?

Either way, Robert Pattison is so much better without her.

My Picture Book, My Problem

Like millions of others, I wrote a picture book. Also like millions of others, it was about Christmas. The difference is, my picture book about Christmas has caught the attention of a handful of agents and editors. My roadblock, however, is that I have never been published before and they always say–“We do not publish Christmas books by new authors.”

Grrrr….

So what’s a new author to do? The manuscript has been praised by notable Scholastic editors who have asked to see more of my work, but… I do not have another perfectly polished picture book manuscript to send them. I am so divided between jotting down new pb’s and completing my YA novel by the end of 2012, that I am spread fairly thin.

Furthermore, while I understand the logic behind not publishing holiday books by new authors (marketing dollars and all), I can’t help but wish more publishing houses would take a chance.

So what’s an unpublished author to do? Actually consider self-publishing? Or place the PB on the shelf until my YA novel is complete and published, then try the Christmas PB again?

Has anyone else hit this roadblock? And if so, were you able to find a satisfying resolution?

My blog is new and will go unread for a good long while, but still… maybe someday someone will stumble upon my dilemma and have some thoughts to share. Even better, I may stumble upon a satisfying resolution someday and share my thoughts with another writer who is going through the same dilemma.

Either way, big hugs to you all. And happy writing!