A Writing Update

Hi writing folks!

This week has been terrible for me as I have a horrible cold and I am going through training classes with my puppy! We only lasted three classes and then we were kicked out. German Shepherds are known to bark, and my boy has a deep and super loud bark. Too much for the trainers there to handle. Nothing stops him from barking, so here I go finding another place who can help. So with that being said, to calm myself, I have been writing. I am pretty steady at 1,000 words a day, which they recommend 1,600 a day to stay on top. So, some days I go over, and some I am under. Right now I am at 14,000 words.

I have been working on this novel. I started with the idea from a short story in college, a story that most of my classmates thought was a part of novel when it wasn’t back then…not yet. But the writing idea I had was to imagine if one day you woke up with your grandmother by your side telling you to take over the family business…the business of being a grim reaper. I actually got ripped apart for that story in class, so I came back with a different version of how to become a grim reaper. I am nineteen chapters in and I am so ready for the novel to be written and over.

My tip (and struggle) is to keep writing, you can always edit later. Only stop to fix corrections of words from typing fast—because those pesky red lines are so distracting—but keep going. Just get it on paper. Get it done. You can do it.

And here’s a photo of Thunder because having him close helps too! He is as black as Grim.

So now a bit from Addey on how she has been making out (spoiler from Addey–it’s nowhere near as good as Nicole has been doing!)

Nicole challenged me to also try to write this month.  I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with lots of random other things on my to do list, so writing has fallen to the wayside a bit, but the idea of so many others around the world using November as their excuse to write like crazy has inspired me to at least try to write more for this month—even if it’s not 1,000 words a day.

I have also been working on an idea for a novel that I have written and re-written again and again.  It’s an idea that came from a German movie I watched in a class in college.  It’s a source of pretty random inspiration, but so far everyone I have talked to about the plot line and story idea think it’s a great idea, and something unique.  That’s part of the battle in and of itself when it comes to writing—getting the idea just perfect—so I am rolling with it.

My issue was that when I have had the first several chapters critiqued I have been told time and time again that the beginning just wasn’t grabbing the reader.  I didn’t have a good beginning.  So I think I was putting off working on the idea anymore because I didn’t know where to start.  But I decided to tackle a new beginning—to start of a chapter or two into what I had before.  It meant cutting out a lot of already written work, but the book will be better because of it.  I think I’ve come up with a killer first line, too, if I do say so myself.

So that’s where I’m at.  Only a few chapters into my new version of the same idea, but better off than I was in October.

Are you taking on NaNoWriMo to the full extent like Nicole, or using it as inspiration to set aside more time for writing without an end goal in mind like Addey?  Let us know by commenting below!

Jump On Board for NaNoWriMo!

As most writers know, November is a special month because of NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. We here at borrowed solace do not accept novels, but have in the past accepted excerpts that were not used in novels, but came from one.

So what is this challenge? Basically, you have to write 50,000 words towards a novel (or complete a novel) or large writing project within 30 days. But why can’t this be a collection of short stories, novellas, and poems that make up 50,000 words like our very own journal?! It’s up to you!

So our challenge to you, as some of us editors will participate in this challenge as well, is to write 50,000 words–whether it actually ends up as a novel you have always wanted to write, a memoir, a journal, a chapbook, or a collection of short fictional or nonfiction stories is up to you. Writing is hard when you have a full-time job, school, life, pets, family, friends, clubs, groups, and so much more, so here are a few tips from us editors on what we do for this challenge:

Tip #1: Get organized.

First, know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and when you are going to do it. The where and why really don’t matter right now. Some people can write anywhere and some people have a designated writing spot and most writers just like to write. So, are you going to write a brand new novel, finish a novel left hanging in your literary closet of unfinished ideas, or a collection of stories or poems? Once you decide on what, then you can address the how–meaning, how are you going to piece it together? Are you going to write in order of the chapters, write a bunch and then piece together how the stories or poem should follow each other? You need to figure out where to start off from if you are completing a novel. Make an outline, or an agenda day by day if you are a planner like me. I think the biggest challenge for me is finding the time to sit down and actually write!

Tip #2: Set goals you can achieve every day.

The purpose of the challenge is to write—not edit. To put words down on paper to total 50,000. It may seem like a lot, especially to achieve in 30 days, but managing what you can do in a day can really help. Maybe take a few days to plan and devise an attack, then write and keep track of how many words you can write in a day. Some people are fast writers and some are really slow…like me. I write slow, it takes a full day to write two chapters for me.

Tip #3: Get it done!

No excuses, no distractions—except for research or world developing–and no hesitation. For some writers we hesitate to write because we may not have inspiration. Not having any inspiration is not a good excuse, procrastination is not an excuse (though very real), and not being good enough is definitely not an excuse (we’ve all been there, full of doubt). Wing it or plan out a strategy, but know that you can write 50,000 words in a month…in 30 days, and it can be awesome!

Tip #4: Don’t stop.

When you are tired, unfocused, and unsure where to go, just step back, look at what you already completed, and keep going. Most writers won’t challenge themselves with this opportunity, but a lot do. Be the one who doesn’t stop and can complete an amazing project that not a lot of writers can actually complete.

Tip #5: Don’t hesitate to step out into the community.

During this month, awareness of writing spreads, so a lot of people are writing! Don’t be afraid to reach out, talk, and interact with people doing this challenge, especially us here at borrowed solace. You can comment on this blog if you ever need a hand in this challenge, because we editors are struggling too.

We are writers, storm and tide makers, playing the dramatist on stage, the quirky fashion designer tailoring our words, and we are the humans willing to jump into the sea to see what kind hurricane we can create. So don’t be afraid—jump with us!

All About Submissions for Issue 3.1

If you’re thinking “Wow, they’re open for submissions already?  The fall issue just came out!” Then you would be right.  We’re thinking the same thing. But such is the life of a journal, and we can’t wait to start reading submissions for issue 3.1, which is un-themed and will come out in spring 2020.  That’s right—2020!

To get your creative juices flowing and give you at least a little bit of insight into what we are looking for, each of the editors has shared a quick summary below of what they hope to read in submissions for issue 3.1!

Fiction:

I’m looking for creative and gripping tales that will haunt the confines of my thoughts. 

Art: 

We are trying something different for art! For this next issue, there will not be an art section, but instead you can submit your art to be featured on our front and back cover! Any type of art can be submitted, though truly unique pieces that play with colors and shock us with how beautiful this world can be, and what people can create, is what will get you accepted.

Nonfiction:

True stories work when two things happen: they keep you wondering how the story is going to end and they make you think or feel (or both.) I want to read stories that have both of these things and that keep my attention to the end, spark my sense of wondering if the tale is real, and strike a place of sympathy—let me know how much the story wants me to care. Bring on the truth! 

Poetry:

With any un-themed issue, I’m never quite sure what I’m looking for.  With un-themed editions there really are no rules, which is what makes them exciting.  As always, I’m looking for work that is exciting to read.  Work that twists and turns as I read each word, and work that plays with the absurdity that language can be.  Give me your crazy poems, your somber poems, your sappy love poems, but make sure that there’s something unexpected contained within the lines on the page.

We hope this helps get you started—we can’t wait to read what you submit.  Happy writing!

All About Conferences

If you’ve followed us for any period of time you’ll probably know what we think about writing conferences—we love them over here!  For some writers, though, the idea of attending a conference with a bunch of writers is scary. 

Well, I think that things seem much scarier when you’re uninformed, so this week on the blog I thought I’d go over some conference dos and don’ts!

Do…

…research the conference beforehand.  All writing conferences are unique in their own special way (I sound like a Barney song here, but it’s true) and not every conference will have what you want.  Because of this, it’s super important to figure out which conferences create the type of environment you need.  If you’re new to the writing world, this might mean looking for conferences that focus on the craft of writing rather than the business of writing—you might not be ready to, say, sell your book.  And that’s fine!  There are conferences for you.  If you are at a stage where getting some face time with an agent is your goal, be sure to go to a conference that offers query one-on-ones or pitch meetings.  If you go to a conference that doesn’t offer these types of meetings and still insist on pitching your book, you’ll look out of touch and won’t have as great of a chance of actually hearing a “yes” from an agent.

…attend a genre-specific conference if you write genre fiction.  This is something I’ve recently been looking into a bit more.  I grew up reading Christian/Inspirational fiction and have decided that I want to try my hand at writing it, but I learned at the last Pike’s Peak Writing Conference (PPWC) I attended that not all agents/editors specialize in that category.  So if I wanted to pitch a Christian Historical Fiction novel at PPWC this past year, I would have been out of luck.  Admittedly, that genre is a bit more niche than say, science fiction, but it’s something to consider.  There are conferences for Christian/Inspirational writers (some that I am researching to attend in the future, see my first “do” above) and there are conferences for almost every genre you can think of!  If you want to learn the skills of your particular trade when it comes to the genre you write, try attending a conference with other genre-junkies just like you!

…create a mini-pitch about whatever your current project is.  Or, if you are in between projects at the moment, come up with a few concise words to describe what you write.  This is hands down the most common question you will be asked by everyone you encounter—from agents, to editors, to other authors, to keynotes, to the staff at the hotel front desk.  When people hear you are going to a writing conference—even if they aren’t writers themselves—their first instinct is to ask what you write.  Figure that out, and practice it a few times!  The best elevator pitches, as they’re commonly called, rely on few syllables but very descriptive words to paint a vivid picture of what it is you do.

…make some business cards (and use them!)  Every time I’ve gone to a conference I bring at least 20 business cards.  Sometimes I only give out two, sometimes I give out fifteen (I’ve yet to run out, but I’m also not the best at remembering to offer them up!)  I think 20 is a good number because you can easily even print out your own since you aren’t going to need 500+.  I usually do order a big pack from Vistaprint or Kinkos, but if that’s not in your budget, printing some off is so helpful.  You never know when someone really important is going to ask for your card!  My best example is when I was explaining the concept of the book I was working on to one of the keynote speakers at a conference a few years ago, who also happens to be the founder of one of the biggest literary agencies in NYC, and he was interested enough to give me his card.  I’m so glad that I had my own to give in return!

…interact with fellow writers.  It can often seem like everyone is at a conference to only make connections with the professionals who are in attendance, i.e., the faculty and keynote speakers, but be sure to interact with other writers!  You can make some new writing buddies by chatting with others in your sessions and at late night hangouts at the hotel bar.  You’re not guaranteed to come out of a conference with a book deal (in fact, you probably won’t), but if you interact with the other conference attendees you could come out of it with a new critique group or beta reader.  And hey, you never know, that writing friend you exchange emails with a few times a year could end up on the New York Times best seller list one day (or you could!)

Don’t…

…go in with big expectations.  Attending a conference is a fantastic way to network and make some new connections, but the chances of selling your debut novel or becoming BFFs with a bestselling author is slim.  That’s just the reality of being a writer—the odds are not exactly in our favor.  That doesn’t mean, though, that there isn’t value in attending a conference!  The value comes from the way you frame attending a conference.  If you go into it expecting to learn, and grow, and come away refreshed, then you’re on the right track.  Go in with the mindset to have some fun and recharge your writer batteries.  If you by chance happened to come away with the card of an agent who said “send me your first chapter,” then take that as an unexpected blessing.  Don’t go into it with that expectation, though, or you could come out disappointed.

…pitch to editors and agents outside of designated pitch windows.  Take just a minute to imagine that you are a successful editor or literary agent.  It might be your dream job, or you might prefer to stay on the writer’s side of things, but imagine it anyway.  Now, imagine going to a conference where, for a long weekend (sometimes even a whole week at bigger conferences), you are constantly bombarded by people pitching their book to you.  At every turn you’re running into hopeful writers with big smiles and puppy dog eyes who might as well be down on their knees begging you to take a look at their book.  A dream job or a nice work trip could suddenly turn into something that more closely resembles a horror movie—instead of the creepy guy in a mask wielding a saw around every corner, it’s overly eager writers you can’t escape.  Okay, so that might be a little dramatic, but there’s a reason that most conferences have rules when it comes to pitching.  At PPWC, for example, you can sign up for a meeting with an agent or editor where you get their undivided attention and can pitch to your heart’s content.  Outside of that meeting, though, pitches are off limits.  Follow those rules if the conference you are at has them—don’t become known as the rule breaker (and not in the misunderstood-bad-guy/girl-trope kind of way).

…bail on the optional activities.  When I’ve attended conferences in the past, writing or otherwise, it can be tempting to go back to my room or head home after a long day and skip the afternoon or evening activities.  Despite the temptation to go change into pajamas and read whatever novel I’m currently making my way through before getting some shut-eye, I try to attend at least a couple after hours activities.  I make it a bit of a challenge to myself—pick a few activities that sound like the most fun and make a friend or two I can hang out with during the festivities.  Make said friend beforehand, or during, the event, and then use the time at the event to tag team it—work up the courage together to go chat with that author you’ve been dying to meet or the editor from that major publishing house whose job you’d kill for.  If you start off with the expectation that you are going to x amount of events, you’ll know ahead of time when you can plan to go get into your PJs, and you might even find that the festivities are more fun than sleeping, anyway.

…be afraid to put yourself out there!  Going to writing conferences is about selling yourself to a certain extent.  While that might seem intimidating, think of it this way: who knows your product (i.e, YOU) better than you?  You’ve got this—you’ve literally been researching your whole life for this moment.

I hope this gives you a bit of the inside scoop when it comes to writing conferences.  If you’ve never attended, I’d encourage you to try at least once.  You might find that you’re a repeat offender and go back again and again.

What other dos or don’ts would you add to the list?  Let us know by commenting below!

The Online Writer

Do you have an online presence as a writer?  This is something that seems to come up a lot, whether at writing conferences, chatting with your writing group, or googling online tips on how to get yourself out there and get published.  I guess maybe the more apt questions is: should you have an online presence as a writer?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as borrowed solace expands and I myself am now entering into a new realm of the internet that I have never ventured into before—that of podcasting.  My answer to both of the questions asked in the last paragraph is a resounding “yes!”

Perhaps I am biased as an editor of an online literature journal, but in my experience, much of the writing world is moving to being primarily online.  Most people have probably even googled someone to find out the scoop on them even if they are not famous, or a writer, so imagine how many people might read a blurb about you somewhere and want to learn more about you!  I believe that you should try to make sure you come across in the best light that you can when sharing your writing and, in essence, yourself with others, and the reality of this is that having a presence online is a big part of presenting yourself well.

For most writers, having some sort of website or blog serves as a great home base for anyone who wants to learn more about you.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy!  When I went to my first writing conference almost five years ago, I didn’t have a website.  I did, though, have my Odyssey landing page which had all of the online writing I had done up to that point in one place.  When I realized that I needed to get some business cards, just in case I needed them (and I did!) and scrambled to put something together the week before the conference, my Odyssey page is what I listed next to my phone number and other prudent information on the cards.  It wasn’t the most professional thing, per se, since the web address wasn’t a nice clean “name.com,” but it worked! (and I updated to just regular old AddeyVaters.com later)

If you are hesitant to start a website or are technologically challenged, you can create something very similar to what I had at Odyssey with a free blog hosting site such as WordPress or Wix (both platforms that I and the other editors have used at different times).  Your website address will end up being something like “name.wordpress.com” if you go the free route, but that is a perfectly serviceable place to start if you would like to build up your web presence!  Starting with something is better than nothing, and it’s always smart to set the groundwork for marketing yourself in the future.

If you decide to create a website, it can be very helpful to dip your toes into the social media pool by having at least one platform that you use in a more professional capacity, too.  I would recommend starting out with Twitter.  Twitter has a lively writing community with lots of hashtags that are easy to use, and that get yourself out there. I even think it’s fun to get involved in the conversation!  By creating at least one professional writer profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, you can ping back and forth with your website, linking to your website on Twitter and vice versa.  Many journals will publicize the writers that they publish on social media, and you can in turn link to any relevant publications you have on social media and on your website.

I always find that it’s helpful to start putting yourself out there and developing your own presence online from scratch.  It’s something that will only help down the road as you establish your writing and get more tools in your toolkit that you can use to promote yourself.  All it takes is a first step—for me it was creating my own website after that first writing conference which morphed into what is now borrowed solace and the work that goes into getting not only my writing, but the writing of all of our wonderful contributors, out there.

Are you in favor of developing a web presence as a writer?  What tools of the trade do you use to get yourself out there and promote your writing?

On Tropes

So the editors and I, while in a design meeting for the upcoming fall journal, got to talking about Hunger Games. I have read only two of the three books because, to me, they were a dry and slow read. Except for when the author would speed up during the beginning and ending, the prose was slow, and used a lot of tropes. Our talk about books didn’t stop there, as the Twilight series, the Mortal Instruments series, the Throne of Glass series, and so many more rely on the “love triangle” trope. I didn’t really care for the love triangle in Hunger Games, but when I went to finally watch the movies just few a weeks ago, I watched the trope play out on screen. I’m still struggling to figure out if I like the book or the movie better, but that is for another discussion. Addey, Amber, and I agree that some tropes right now are overdone in both books and movies/television.

Tropes, as we writers and readers know, are common underlying subplots to a story–building blocks to the main thread that help develop characters. If you look up writing tropes that are over done, “love triangle” is usually always the first one listed. Why? What makes people like reading about love triangles, and why do writers feel they have to write tropes?

I went to a workshop about putting clever twists on common tropes and here is what I learned: tropes are proven concepts that readers will read, but nevertheless they are common and overused. It really is a shortcut a writer can use to describe the subplot. But, tropes can also be a sort of useful tool. Tropes are a way to express an idea to an audience, and every genre can have tropes that fit just within that particular genre.

What tropes really do as building blocks is set up internal conflict and tie the theme to the story. It can help the log line, pitch, hook, and blurb because these tropes can be used as phrases or keywords for easier searches for readers which might sell more books.

Now here is the kicker–the twisted part to make a common trope yours. Play with “what if;” what aspects can be changed. I think this is why Hunger Games did so well–because the idea, the story, the conflict, was so original and different, it intrigued other readers and writers. And now, like Addey said in our conversation, the idea of Hunger Games is no longer original as other writers have used the idea for inspiration.

So, what about the setting can be unique to your world, the occupation of the hero, the time period the action takes place in, give the readers an unusual focus, or use all of these things. Try to take a trope in the genre you usually write, and then twist it with “what if” and see what you come up with. Try mixing tropes together, torture the hero or heroine with the trope, interplay with an archetype, look at tropes while watching TV or watching a movie, and see what you would do differently with the tropes used.

For some more information and a bunch of links for other help on tropes, visit the following sites:

Really Useful Links for Writers: Tropes and Clichés

14 Popular Fantasy Tropes — And How to Make Them Feel New Again

Romance Tropes

Genre Tropes

Happy troping!

Riding the Creative Wave

Like most things in my life, I find that creativity comes in waves.  Perhaps it is the human part of me, or just part of my personality in general, but I find that I go through spurts where I am into crocheting, or waves of interest in scrapbooking (I now have more hard copies of pictures than I care to count), or weeks where I workout every single day (those are too far and between for my liking, if I’m being honest).  Creativity certainly works that way for me, too.  I would like to say that I have a fabulously in depth reason for why this is the case, but, alas, I do not.  I’m not always sure where inspiration to be creative even comes from–sometimes I feel like creating something—anything—is crucial to having a good day or week, and other times I can’t bring myself to even open my lap top and edit an old piece of writing.

I’m starting to learn, though, that this is perfectly normal and perfectly okay.  We can’t all be turned on all the time.  Both literally (we need sleep) and when it comes to creativity.  I like to think of my creative side as a faucet—some days that faucet is turned on full force, and other times it is turned off.  If it were turned on all the time, that would be a big waste of water and a drain on resources.   See, that’s the thing—there’s always only so much of a resource to go around.  I think that even includes creative power!

As I’m learning about these waves and coming to accept the ebbs and flows of creativity, I’m learning how to ride the creativity wave.  When I’m feeling creative, I go for it!  Sometimes that means writing a dozen poems in a week (you’ll hear more about that in an upcoming episode of the podcast) and sometimes that means scrap booking every free evening I have for a week or two.  There’s no one way that the creativity wave comes, but when it arrives I grab by surfboard and head to the beach.

I think that many of us, as writers and creatives, expect our brains to be turned on to creativity all the time.  That’s simply not plausible!  If you’re anything like me, you have a lot going on in life that isn’t particularly creative.  There’s work, said (nonexistent) workout routine, pets, kids, family, taxes, laundry, and lots of other things that take time away from creative pursuits.  Sometimes that means that you don’t get to be creative everyday—and that’s okay.  I’ve slowly comes to terms with the fact that the waves sometimes come crashing in when I’m unprepared, and when I would like to be in a more creative mindset, the waters are calm.  Because of this, I’ve slowly started to just accept that fact and move with the water.  It’s much easier that way—trust me!

So whether you are riding the crest of a massive wave of inspiration or currently just getting through the day to day, roll with it!  It may not be what you were planning on, but that’s okay.  Learning to float in the shallows is just as important as cresting a massive swell, so get ready.

Are you currently riding high on a creativity wave or biding your time on your pool floatie until inspiration strikes?

What If I Told You That the Only Way to Be Accepted Is to Be Rejected?

I think that if there is something in my life that has rung true over the years it is exactly that.  The way to acceptance is through rejection.  It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it?  But I have found this to be the case time and time again.

You can look at it from many different angles.  Unfortunately for us all, in life, there are many forms of rejection.  There are job rejections, love rejections, school rejections, friendship rejections, apartment application rejections, driver’s permit rejections, you name it.  As writers and creatives, we are uniquely suited to being rejected even more than the average human.  It’s an encouraging thing, right?

You might be thinking that the answer to that is “wrong,” but I beg to differ.  Rejections are hard.  They are so, so hard, and when rejections keep stomping on you one after another, after another, it’s easy to let each stomp push you down further and further, but I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I can re-frame how I view rejection when it inevitably comes around.  It’s still painful being rejected, and that re-framing process is painstaking and brings up all sorts of old buried thoughts and emotions, but it’s worth it.

Each rejection – each blaring no that seems to outweigh even the most resounding of yeses, is a turn in your path that will ultimately lead you to the person you are meant to become.  With writing in particular, each no from a literary journal means that your piece is one step closer to finding the yes that the writing deserves.  You don’t want your piece to show up in a journal that won’t tout it to the ends of the Earth because it wasn’t quite the right fit, but it got a yes to meet a page count.  Similarly, you do yourself a disservice by publishing a piece that still needs work – the fine tuning and re-assessing that happens during the final stages of the writing process are where words on the page really start to come to life.

I have experienced an exorbitant amount of rejection in my own life (you can read more about that here) involving everything from grad school applications, to jobs, to freelance work, to a story that is still one of my absolute favorites that I’ve ever written but has been rejected by close to thirty literary magazines at this point.  Rejection is part of life, and to take a leap of faith by clicking “submit” or showing up for that interview means that you could hear a yes or you could hear a no, but either way you are hearing something great (trust me, I don’t even believe it half the time) because whatever the answer, it helps illuminate your next step.

One of the hardest rejections I ever got was for my current job (yes, I, and all of the other borrowed solace editors all have day jobs – this journal doesn’t pay the bills but it feeds our collective creative spirits).  I didn’t get my job the first time around.  I had two rounds of in person interviews (which are incredibly nerve-wracking for even the most seasoned interviewer) plus a phone interview and then got a call where all I got to hear was a big fat no.  I was devastated having already played out a scenario in my mind of future me in my fancy new job, but that initial no gave me some time to evaluate what it was that I really wanted.  So when that yes finally came through – out of the blue, and more than a month after that first no – I knew that this was where I was supposed to be.

So maybe you are getting a lot of no’s right now – putting yourself out there only to be rejected time and time again – but don’t give up.  It takes a lot of no’s to get to that one yes that really matters, and it’s only after learning who we really are through the process of being rejected that we are actually ready for the yes.  And when it comes, it will be a big, resounding yes – even if it seemingly drops right out of the bright blue sky.

A Writing Prompt

This week I have a writing prompt for you. It’s nothing too outlandish and should, hopefully, be a fun challenge.

Write a short story—or flash fiction piece—that has seamlessly integrated the first ten titles of your current song playlist or watch list.

Remember that you shouldn’t be afraid of wherever your writing takes you!

I hope you all have a good week, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some results of this prompt in our spring journal submissions!

All About the Writing Conference

This past weekend, our executive and poetry editors attended the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference (PPWC).  This was the third conference that we have had borrowed solace representatives at in some capacity, and it never ceases to provide a tantalizing learning and networking experience for whoever is in attendance.  This week on the blog, we thought we would recap what we learned — or, at least, recap what was the most instrumental thing each of us learned — during PPWC 2019, It Takes a Tribe.

From Addey:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.”                      – Ecclesiastes 3:1

If there is one thing that I took away from PPWC this year it is that things take time.  I think we’ve all probably been told something similar, or used it as an excuse when we’re feeling blue, but it was so refreshing to hear all sorts of industry professionals and New York Times best selling authors expound on that fact.

Hard work and dedication pay off — at least, I’m hoping they do.

Writing, or editing, or agenting (is that a thing?) or literary journal-ing (that’s definitely not actually a thing) all seem to take a lot of turns around the sun to finally become anything fruitful.  I heard from some amazingly successful authors this past weekend on how they didn’t even quit their day job until (insert shockingly high number here) of books were published. There was even one New York Times best selling author who still was working her day job.  I listened as agents expounded on how remarkably naive they were when they first started in their career and now 10, 15, (insert shockingly high number here) years later they finally get what those well seasoned gurus at some of the first conferences they spoke at were talking about.

Sure, this thought could be seen as a bit distressing, but I have chosen to see it as a positive sentiment.  For me, this idea harkens back to the Bible in Ecclesiastes —“to every thing there is a season.” For any bright eyed new writer hoping to one day be a New York Times best selling author giving the keynote, rather than listening intently to it from the audience, I think this is encouraging.  Right now, you (and me) may be going through a season of sowing. We are working day in and day out, planting the seeds of our writing endeavors but not yet seeing the end result. One day, if we keep at it, and water those seeds with a lot of effort and even more persistence, I think we will come into a season of blossoming.  

For everything there is a season — for some, they are in that season where writing takes the back burner.  For others, they are in the season where hard work is starting to pay off, and for others, they are already in the season where they are starting to be invited to speak at conferences (those lucky few!)  What PPWC taught me is that everyone can go through each and every one of those seasons, but to get to that season of blossoming and prosperity, the harder seasons might just have to come first.

So I am going to keep plowing the fields of my writing and planting those seeds for as long as I need to, because I have faith that a greater season is coming — one where I can look back on today and see the serendipitous moments that led me to success.

From Nicole:

Learning even more about characters!

I know already that society has become more self indulgent, but now know that we writers, too, tend to become character indulged. People no longer want to read large paragraphs of scenery or world-building. Most editors and authors at the conference who were presenting or critiquing went straight for the connection to the main character. They wanted to know their name on the first line, then their description, in five words or less — who they are.

I am a YA fantasy writer and spend a lot of time building my cultures; different races and classes; the weather and atmosphere; the wars that scared the land; and how the world differs, or is similar to, Earth. But now, I’ve learned that instead of showing the readers this up front, those things must be woven later in the story. This truly amazed me. The story you are supposed to tell (write) is a series of events your characters comes to and overcomes to reach the final destination — this is what we all know. But even developing a scene is now centered on how primary and secondary characters should react, feel, internalize, voice their opinion, and act towards others in the story — this gives the reader more insight to connect with your story. It tells who the readers are supposed to love, hate, cry with, rant with, join the emotional train ride of when they fail or triumph, celebrate with when they win the guy or girl at the end, or seethe with anger when it all gets lost even though they were supposed to be the hero standing in glory.

What I really mean to say is that I learned how characters now come before anything else. They must be fully developed and evoke the reader to reader more.  They must set your character on a train track and let their engines be fueled with emotion….and they always come first.