Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dimmers and Glimmers

“Don’t bring me down, I beg you

Don’t bring me down, I won’t let you

Don’t bring me down”

- Furler, Sia; Macklchan, Blair. Song “Don’t Bring Me Down” Sia

The life of an unpublished writer is fraught with uncertainty, self-doubt, and if done right, a lot of dedication. Some of my fellow aspiring writers have entered a dim period. It must be the winter blues, especially since most of these writers have witnessed an onslaught of snow, even in places where snow rarely falls.

I follow several types of blogs.

Agents and editors who dole out advice:

Published writers, some giving advice, some not:

Aspiring writers, who either talk about the trials and tribulations they face and/or offer advice:

Aspiring writers who mention writing, but often it’s more about life:

I guess my own blog would fit in that last category.

I have a problem with the term “aspiring” writer. It makes it sound like we’re aspiring to write, but rather, our aspiration is to be published, or to write well enough to be published. Laurie Halse Anderson says writers shouldn’t call themselves unpublished, but pre-published, as if there’s inevitability. Sigh.

Much of my time is spent writing. The only thing that keeps me from getting demoralized to the point of giving up is that without it, I’d be lost.

Yesterday, the first 200 words of my manuscript appeared on the “Secret Agent” Contest list. Until I saw the comments, I was happy with what I’d written. Then I wasn’t. I was down because although there were some encouraging comments, I dwelled on the parts that weren’t as positive. But they were right. In my quest to make it clear that the preface speaker was different from the protagonist starting in chapter one, I had made the language too complicated. And how many times did I use “was”? Too many times.

Then I groaned over where I’ve sent the manuscript to other places in its inadequate state. My goal is to bring the query, synopsis, and nine-pages to the conference, so it needs to be polished. That’s why I entered this contest in the first place. If I don’t hear what’s wrong with it now, the chance of an agent or agent being impressed with it at the conference are slim.

A few hours later, I got an encouraging e-mail. An editor whose blog I comment on from time to time, asked me if I’d be interested in writing a piece for his blog after I attend the conference. Would I?! Whether it was just from my one comment about the conference or several comments or because he thought I could write from viewing my blog or the contest I entered on his site, I have no idea. All I know is that I’ve been asked to write something from someone who works with writers and agents for a living. That’s something.

A glimmer of hope.

To my fellow writers, thanks for your inspiration and support. I’m glad I found you. This award is for you. We can do it!


  1. Hey that's great news for you. I admit I am in a doubt period about my YA novel, but I know I should just get out of the dumps and get back to the hard work. :)


  2. Don't worry about published or pre-published, aspiring or just author. Your a writer if you write one or a million words.

    Being a writer is hard all by its self. Kudos to you for putting your work out there to be critted. That's one of the hardest things to do. Being able to pull out the good advice is even harder. Hard critiques are often very painful.

    Great news about the agent asking you to write a piece. That is wonderful! I'll bet that helps bring you out of the winter blues.

  3. How exciting!! Good luck! :)

    I love writing on the prompts from Writer's Digest Promptly Blog. It's a good writing exercise!

  4. Congrats on that encouraging email! He must see that you write well! :)

  5. Margo, I hope you get out of the dumps soon.

    Quixotic, thanks for the comment. I keep telling myself that if I don't put myself out there, I'll never get published. But sometimes I feel like Rocky at the end of the first movie, without winning the match.

    Tiffany, thanks for the information.

  6. Ugh, I know, I hate the term "aspiring writers." For one thing, it always makes me think we are a sweaty bunch about to croak. And for another, WTF does that even mean? We write, right?

    I feel you on the ups and downs, Woman. Congrats on being asked to write a post. You are putting yourself out there and the more you do it the more things will come back to you.

  7. Congratulations on that email! And thanks for the links to the blogs you follow -- I'm going to check them out.

  8. Rebecca, now every time I see the word "aspiring", I'm going to think of "perspiring".

    Thanks, Empty Refrigerator. I hope you enjoy the blogs.

  9. That is so awesome that the agent asked you to write something. You are doing a great job of getting your writing out there. I'm really impressed!

  10. That's awesome news about the piece you were asked to write! It's little encouragements like that that let us know we're on the right track. I'll be looking for that link when it comes out.

    I totally agree with what you said about the only thing that keeps you from giving up is that you'd be lost without it. I went through a low point about a month or so ago when a manuscript that had been requested by an editor, revised per the editor's suggestions, and then been under consideration for many months was finally rejected. But then I realized, why am I wondering if I should be doing this or not, when I know I can't live without it?

    I always do a search on the words "was" and "were" when I revise a chapter and change them when I can. I have a tendency to use those words way too much.

    And thanks for mentioning my blog! :)

  11. Susan, I'm glad you've gotten up from your low point.

    Thanks for the tip about "was" and "were". I didn't even know I could do that. Sad.

    No problem about mentioning your blog. I'm enjoying it. I'll probably make another list of some other favorites soon.

  12. Theresa Milstein (pronounced Mil-steen!)


    I'm doing a little jig around my computer - I am so, so, so happy for you. When may we read your article??? When???? You must tell me well in advance - and you've not linked anything to this site...!!!

    Oh well done, well done!!



    This has made my day, it really has.

    Oh thanks for mentioning my silly blog - but who cares about that - I want to see your article asap.!!!!!!

    Take care


  13. I was thinking why I enjoy and look forward to reading your blog. It is because it is honest and sincere and makes me feel that I am taking this journey with you. Isn't that what happens when you read a good book. You become involved with the characters and are anxious to see what happens. The glimmer will turn into a ray of sunshine.

  14. Old Kitty and Sheila, you've brought tears to my eyes. I'm at a loss for words, and this is from someone who has written 123 blogs in five months.

    The conference isn't until May, so not for a while. As soon as I write something, and if he thinks it's good enough to post, I'll link the article. HIs blog is already on my roll.

  15. I really really don't like the term aspiring writer either! Who else calls themselves 'aspiring'? Teachers? Politicians? Hairdressers?

    But then again, whenever I refer to myself as a writer, I always feel the need to qualify it. ('I'm a writer. Well, a student writer. Well, I work at blah and I try to write a bit.' etc.!)

    Great post!

  16. Theresa,

    So happy for your glimmer of hope!! May many more glimmers come your way until it's all full blown and not just glimmers!!

    A writer writes. You write so you're a writer!! So there! And thanks for linking my blog here!



  17. SF, since I don't have anything published, I feel like I need to clarify that too. It's like being a sub, I'm not a "real" teacher either. Back in high school, I'd be called a poser. I'm a poser writer!

    Karen, thank you. I've been enjoying your blog. I hope I can read your newest post from the classroom I'm teaching in today. Right now I'm in the lobby of the school so I could quickly check my e-mail.

  18. I love what Shiela wrote and agree 100%! Congratulations on your great news :)

  19. Thanks, Kathleen. It's just a glimmer, but I appreciate everyone's exuberance.

  20. That's awesome, Theresa! I, on the other hand am just a blogger who enjoys how you write on the blogosphere. I still have that new blogger smell but I can appreciate great writing and I really love to read. I really hope it all works have talent.

  21. Thank you for the compliments, Barbra. I've checked out your blog - it's great.