Browsing all posts in: Advice

May-December Psychosis

December 20

I recently told a colleague that it’s been a bad month for me. She assumed I meant that things were bad/something was wrong – you get the idea. But that’s not it at all. My problem is that it’s December. I could just as easily say it’s May.

Any writer with kids, or even just a big family, knows what I’m talking about. How do you write when you have choir concerts, orchestra concerts, band concerts, holiday pageants, charitable obligations, holiday parties, travel, company – and that’s on top of holiday cards, shopping, cleaning, decorating, cooking and baking? (If it’s May, substitute end of school year/beginning of summer for holiday) I’m exhausted just writing the list. So back to the question, how do you write when you’re going out of your mind?

I’m a big Nike fan on this topic. I say, “just do it.” I believe that in order to be a writer I must write. Now by write I also mean non-prose work related to my WIP. So it may be plotting, or blogging, or character development, or editing. But I’m determined to spend a minimum of twenty minutes a day doing work related to my writing, even on the most hectic of days. And twenty minutes a day is enough, for two reasons. First off, I can take comfort in the fact that I did indeed get something done. And as any writer knows, that comfort can help sustain us through a lot of self-loathing. Second, and more important, that twenty minutes may get me on a roll that carries me until I look at the clock on the corner of the screen, swear loudly, and leap up to prepare for the next thing, whatever it is. Either way, I’ve accomplished something.

So take your twenty minutes every day, even if all you can muster is a blank stare at the pages of your WIP. Do it while the dough is rising, or before you go to bed, or while your supportive family is doing the dinner dishes. Just do it.

Aiding & Abeting

December 28

(originally posted July 12, 2009)

I recently spoke with a woman I know.  She’s older, in her seventies, and likely as right-brained as I.  For the time I’ve know her she’s been writing a book. It’s a thriller but it’s loosely based on her experiences during the war. She tells me she’s nearly done.

“It’s about 400 pages,” she says.

“Good length,” I reply.

“Yes,” says she, “it’s 190,000 words.”

Imagine my horror! 190,000 words is more than double what the publishing industry wants to see.  But as I’m trying to decide what to say next it dawns on me that the math isn’t right.  And then I ask the question I regret as soon as the words escape my lips, “that isn’t single-spaced, is it?”

The next twenty minutes are a debate.  On my end we’re discussing what the industry is looking for – font, spacing, word count – and how she can get her manuscript where it needs to be.  From her perspective the only topic is her desire to add her name to a laundry list of writers who have put out very long books,  J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and of course, Stephen King.  She is oblivious to the notion that these cash-cows could write a phone book and their publishers wouldn’t bat an eye.

I have mentored a number of novice writers over the years.  It can be pain or pleasure, depending on their attitude going in.  But with this particular writer, who I adore, I wound up telling her that the rules are only true until they aren’t, i.e. that if she’s determined to try she could, possibly, succeed.

Now, the reality is that I know she probably won’t.  But she didn’t want to hear how to fix things.  She wanted me to tell her that she’s the exception, which I won’t do.  I don’t think there’s nobility in telling someone what they want to hear if you believe it to be untrue.  But I also don’t find grace in forcing my advice on to someone who clearly doesn’t want it.  The situation leaves me stuck between the proverbial rock and it’s cousin, the hard place.

What is my point, you may ask?  Well, airing frustration comes to mind.  But more importantly I suppose, is a caution to the novice writer:  you are not Stephen King.  You may well have great talent coupled with high hopes and aspirations but in 2009, publishing is all about big business.  You need to follow the rules, at least most of them, to achieve success.  We all do it.  We decide where we won’t compromise and then we compromise everywhere else.

As for Stephen King, I met him once — at Harvard.  Nice guy.  I’m sure he doesn’t remember me.  But once upon a time he paid his dues, just as we’re paying ours.  Just as those we mentor will pay theirs.  And you know, I kind of like it that way.

Audrey Wyatt, right-brained to a fault, has worked in various arts – most notably acting, teaching and creating children’s theater curricula. Now a fiction writer, she bases her novels, short stories and even a television sitcom on her experiences and culture. Her stories often feature strong-willed, quirky women. Audrey’s novel, Poles Apart, has been honored with five awards and her essays and short fiction have been published in various forums, both print and online.  For a full list of Audrey’s credits as well as links to her work, check out her Bibliography.

Always one to foster aspiring artists, Audrey founded Southeast Valley Fiction Writers near Phoenix, Arizona, and Bay State Writers in Southeast Massachusetts. She is a founding partner in LitSisters and LitSisters Publishing. She also created and teaches workshops on Creative Writing and Memoir Writing.

Audrey has enjoyed living all over the country, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  She currently makes her home in Los Angeles with her incredible husband, their two terrific daughters, and their beagle-basset mix, the Artful Dodger.

To contact Audrey RL Wyatt, please email audrey@audreyrlwyatt.com

Awards, Accomplishments & Publications

Novel, Poles Apart, Third Place in Alabama Writer’s Conclave Annual Competition, 2009

Novel, Poles Apart, Honorable Mention in Frontiers in Writing Annual Contest, 2009

Humor, My Big Fat Hillbilly Wedding, published on You Tube by Folded Word Press in Shape of a Heart, 2009

Founder, Southeast Valley Fiction Writers, 2008

Essay, Inevitability of Time, published in Motherwords, Issue 3, 2008

Essay, Ticket to Ride, published by Survivor’s Review Volume XI, 2008

Fiction, The Box, published in Conceit Magazine, 2008

Novel, Poles Apart, Honorable Mention in the Ft. Bend Writer’s Guild 25th Annual Novel Contest, 2008

Essay, The Inevitability of Time, published in Conceit Magazine, 2008

Essay, Ticket to Ride, Honorable Mention in Write Helper, 2008

Essay, Inevitability of Time, can be seen in the anthology, Silver Boomers, published by Silver Boomer Books, 2008

Novel, Poles ApartSecond Place in The Sandy, Crested Butte Writers Conference Annual Contest, 2007

Essay, Dear Mothers, can be seen in the anthology, Letters To My Mother published by Adams Media, 2007

Fiction, The Box, published by Long Story Short, 2007

Humor, My Big Fat Hillbilly Wedding, published by Long Story Short, 2007

Novel, Poles Apart, Semi-Finalist in the international Summer Literary Seminars annual fiction contest, 2006

Founder, Bay State Writers, 2005

Cami Butler Memorial Writing Scholarship, Pikes Peak Writers Conference, 2004

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