After hanging out at the Cliffs of Insanity, I’m doing a bit of rumor control today before negativity infiltrates the Water Cooler crowd. The report is this: “We’ll never survive.”
Survive what, you ask? The journey–wherever it takes us–along the writing road.
Many writers survive–even thrive. Sure, at times the Brute Squad hammers our egos, but consider a pounding an occupational hazard. Westley and Buttercup conquered the flame spurt, the lightning sand and Rodents of Unusual Size (R.O.U.S.’s). Like our hero and heroine, writers must overcome terrors specific to the writing world.
- Expect the expected. Flame spurts were predictable. Listen for the popping noise, move, and you won’t get burned. Hang around the writing world long enough and you’ll recognize probable pitfalls. Listen for oft-repeated refrains like:
- Show don’t tell. (Unless you’re Erin Healy, who’s teaching a class at ACFW titled “Sometimes It’s Better to Tell than Show.” I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued.)
- Know the rules before breaking the rules. (See bullet #1.)
- Writers need a platform. (Or a brand. Or, at the very least, an engaging plot.)
- Don’t travel alone. You don’t survive a solo encounter with lightning sand. Buttercup would have suffered a tragic death but for Westley’s daring dive into the sand to rescue her. And despite writer Jessamyn West’s oft-quoted assertion that “Writing is a solitary occupation,” I’m thankful for my writing comrades. They’ve saved me from death by over-writing. Death by over-editing. Death by over-thinking why I decided ever to set foot on the writing road to begin with.
- Realize the reports may be true. I’ll disappoint some of you by not drawing an anology between R.O.U.S.’s and editors. Or agents. Sorry, not going there. (I’m an editor too, after all.) Remember Westley’s response when Buttercup asked about R.O.U.S.’s? He said: “I don’t think they exist.” And right after that–OOOF! An R.O.U.S. took him down. We’d like to think we’re exempt from the tough times writers face: Bad reviews. Low sales. Dissatisfaction with critique groups. Let me be frank: Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to R.O.U.S.’s in the Fire Swamp or very real problems along the writing road. Saying “It ain’t going to happen to me” only accomplishes one thing: You’re unprepared when low sales take you out at the knees.Or when your crit group pummels your work-in-progress (WIP). Or when your elevator pitch plummets to the basement.
What about you? Any survival techniques you’d care to share with the rest of the group gathered ’round the Water Cooler today?
Post Author: Beth K. Vogt
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.