Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Anniversary

So what do those words bring to your mind? Romantic candlelit dinners with the most incredible person in your life? Cake and ice cream surrounded by balloons? Trips to exotic ports? Buying yourself the perfect outfit which, of course, makes you look fabulous? Going off for a weekend cabin getaway?

The great thing is that any of these (and so many more) is wonderful ways to celebrate an anniversary.

But may I suggest another – reflection extraordinaire.

I was sitting here tonight thinking about Wild Rose approaching our fifth anniversary. What an incredible mile marker. But it got me wondering how each of us looks upon our own lives.

As you develop your writing career and need some encouragement, may I make a suggestion? Pick a date as your “start” date. For many writers, they don’t remember a time in their life when they didn’t write. I don’t doubt that is absolutely true. But given that, pick a date that makes you happy. Use that date as your anniversary each year. Put it on the calendar and circle it in red.

Then each year on that date, plan some time for yourself. Take the time to look at the path you’ve chosen. Do you have half-written manuscripts lying around? Pull them out. Read them through thoroughly. If they strike a chord, maybe it is time to take them out of mothballs and use those creative juices. If not, why? Be honest with yourself. Why? Some (sorry to say) are just bad and should be put to rest. Others just aren’t quite ready for this time and place but can be put away properly for that event. Then there’s the idea that gets your creative juices flowing and the words seem to jump right on the page.

So, you’ve looked at the written word. Now what? Take some time to evaluate your skill package. Make a list (yes, I am the queen of lists). First, list the attributes. Given that you are the only person who will see this list, it is really important to be honest with yourself. Once you have gone through that, now list those areas where you feel weak. Review them carefully and brain storm about how you can overcome or prop up those areas. For example, if you struggle with staying in the proper point of view, maybe a critique partner is the way to go. Check out our website and get hooked up with that person. Or maybe there is a book on setting up dialogue that you can read. Of course, there are blogs everywhere that you could join, as well as the various loops that TWRP hosts.

Next, spend some time reflecting on the overall events that have helped you get where you are. It is important to keep track of contests won, books published, letters of appreciation or good reviews that you’ve received, and so on. Yes, we have all received rejections and the information gleaned from them is important. No, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything contained within the rejection. Sad to say, editors are human and we do have personal opinions. So, something that I reject might be accepted by another editor. However, if you take the time to really review the rejection, you are sure to find something you can use to improve your skill package.

That being said, though, reflect on the positive things. Pat yourself on the back for wherever you are in your career.

Finally, take a look at where you want to be in five years. Feeling adventuresome, where do you want to be in ten years? As you look at all of the work you have already done, what will it take to get you where you want to be in that timeline? One very critical part of this last step…well, every step actually, is to write it all down. After all, that is your chosen career path, right? If you can muse for the characters playing in your mind, why can’t you put that same muse to work for you?

So Happy Anniversary Wild Rose Press. It has been quite the ride and one that I am glad to be a part of. And beyond that…Happy Anniversary, Dear Author. Celebrate where you are and where you are going.

Once your homework is over, let’s revisit that first paragraph. How will you celebrate your next anniversary?

Senior Editor, Crimson Rose


LaVerne Clark said...

Hi Lori - I agree, its been quite the ride : ) But I'm so glad I took it!

Where would I like to be in 5 years? Hmmm....I'd like for readers to know who I am. They'll pick up one of my books before reading the blurb and go - "I can't wait to see where she is going to take me next". That is my goal, and one I think is realistic with the help of the publisher I'm with.

Now for my part of the deal - I'd better sign off and keep writing! : )

Jannine Gallant said...

Good advice here, Lori, and I do adore making lists! In five years my oldest will be in college - yikes! I'd love to be paying for it with my writing. Unrealistic, maybe, but we have to keep hoping our passion for our craft will pay off in the end.