Take Off Your +3 Cloak of Isolation

It should come as no surprise to anyone that we writers are a relatively solitary bunch. Regardless of how outgoing we are in our everyday lives, we have to shut away the world to write.

And we like it.

Writers get high from a brilliant plot twist or off the buzz of a perfectly crafted sentence in the same way normal people do from partying with their friends. Ok, writers do that too, but we just do it less often, and even when we are with friends, our minds aren’t all that far away from our story, or the possibility of story laying nascent in the gestures of the woman across the aisle, or in the way the light shines through the window and onto the bar.

We writers know that constant churn of creativity is gold. It can only come from within our minds and only we can spit it out onto paper. We have to do it, and we have to do it alone. No one can do it for us.

And that’s where we get into trouble.

Consider all those indie publishers out there. Some of them find success but a lot of them don’t. Now take a look at all those “real” authors out there. They may have the vindication of being published, but we all know that’s no guarantee of financial success. Regardless of our path, the problem all us writers face is the same: How do I become successful?

Yes, we all know the road to success is long and winding, and while we all face the challenges of editing and marketing, we indie authors have one defining challenge that will separate those who fall flat on their face and those who go on to find success: knowing when you are ready.

Now I can’t speak for all writers, but after accomplishing as much as I have, I’m pretty impressed with myself. I kinda think I’m the shit, you know? And I am. I’m pretty damn good. But I’m not ready for the Big Show. Not yet. Not quite.

My writing group (Scribblerati Agents unite!) didn’t tell me that. Nor did I wake up knowing that. My editor told me. She didn’t come out and say, “Shawn, you handsome, egotistical bastard, you’ve got something here but you aren’t ready to publish.” What she did was point out all the things I need to work on, which in turn saved me from joining the ranks of those indie publishers who publish too early.

So allow me to pass along a little advice. If you, like me, are one of those lonely indie writers who are preparing to knock on publishing’s front door, then start talking to other people in the industry. Make connections beyond the immediate focus of your peer groups. Stretch yourself. Challenge your certainty and make certain that you really are the shit. Find those people who can help with the next stage of your evolution.

The Big Show is waiting. Take off your +3 Cloak of Isolation, get the help you need, and make your entrance with style.

Go Get an Editor Right Now

It’s been silent here on Writing and Whatnot. You might think nothing has been happening, that I took the month of December off to drown myself in beer, football, and holiday cheer. And that would be a good guess, because I’ve done all that. I’ve also been doing A LOT of editing.

All of you fans (ha!) will recall me posting about hiring an editor to review my novel, To Kill the Goddess. I knew that TKtG needed more work, but I didn’t know what I needed to do next. How close was I to publication? Did I still have a little work to do? More than a little?

So I found Brett, my editor, and sent her my book. Then a few weeks later I received her editorial report and the marked up manuscript.

Holy crap.

Brett commented at the end of her thirty some page report that I probably felt as if I had just been disemboweled, but that every writer felt that way and that I should take time to absorb her comments.

Personally, I wouldn’t use the word disemboweled. For me it was as if my every flaw and blemish had been laid bare. Kind of like that dream where you realize you are standing naked in front of your high school gym class and all the cool guys and pretty girls are laughing their asses off.

But then a day or two went by, and I started to see that instead of displaying my insides for everyone to see, Brett had presented me with a MRI. What I had was not a thirty page outline of my failures, but an extensive diagnosis of my weaknesses, as well as a blueprint that would enable me to elevate my writing to the next level.

*lightbulb*

I began to study Brett’s report, and to really think about what she was saying. Then I picked up Witness It, my recently completed novella, and started making changes.

And let me tell you, it’s been awesome. I’m excited. Stoked, to borrow a word that might have been used in my gym class. My writing still isn’t perfect, but thank God (and the Goddess) that I finally took this step because the results are kind of astonishing. My novella’s plot is exactly the same, but my technique and word choice has improved so much that Witness It is a significantly better story for it. And I haven’t even had it edited yet.

So if you are one of those writers who has been debating as to whether or not you should get an editor, then end that debate right now. Get one. Also get a good beer or scotch to help you through the naked gym class phase. Then sit down and really read that report. Accept the diagnosis, study the blueprint, and begin to focus on realizing your dream.

I have, and I’m now one day closer to making that dream happen.