Thursday, September 15, 2011

Laboring too Much

Hey Everyone, it's This-n-That Thursday. Annette here. I’m gearing up for a big writer’s conference this month, so I’m laboring. I don’t know about you, but writing fiction is my delight. I can sit indefatigable for hours and let words gush through tapping fingers. But position myself before the daunting task of proposal production, or one sheet creation, and I fatigue immediately. It’s a labor for me to condense my story into sound bites. It’s difficult to communicate my passion for the story in one short page. And proposals seem to come with built-in defensiveness. We writers get the wonderful privilege or proving why our books will be bestsellers. *cracking of the knuckles* Stand back, people. This is going to be good. *wink*

Or not.

And what about your first chapter? Just ask any of my McCritters (members of McCrit, my critique group) and they’ll tell you they’ve seen a zillion copies of my first chapters over the years. On second thought, maybe it’s best not to mention it. *wink* But I only wanted to make sure those pages were strong, make sure they were ready for another schlep to conference.

So, how can we know when our proposals/one sheets/first chapters are ready?

~ Objectivity wins. First of all, recognize you can work too long on one project. Sometimes you need a break so you can give the work a fresh perspective. Work on something else. Study craft. Read in your genre. But stop laboring. For now. At least until you can be objective again.

~ Get advice. Talk to your critique partners. They’re likely in the same boat with strikingly familiar copies of something labeled Chapter One clutched in their fists, too.

~ Sometimes good has to be good enough. Don’t hold back pitching just because it may not be perfect. One of two things might be happening: 1) You’re hiding. Just get out there and pitch already! And/or 2) you’re afraid. Don’t let fear keep you from a possible breakthrough. Mostly likely the editor or agent you greet, said first chapter in your hand, will have feedback if nothing more. And specific feedback from an agent or editor is pretty much the gold of our profession, am I right?

~ Pray. And why this one is nearly  last on the list, I don’t know. Probably since we sometimes leave this to last. We’re still living by the non Bible verse that God helps those who help themselves. We do everything we can and let Him do the rest. No. Pray first. Pray throughout, and pray afterward. Remember God has good plans for you!

~ Hang in there. We can all improve. The work will never be perfect. We’re all our own worst critics. You do have great story ideas, great book ideas. You’re improving your writing skills. You don’t have to spend every waking moment perfecting something that’s very strong already.

So, ask yourself why you obsess with that proposal or one sheet. Get to the root. Figure it out and address it. Chances are your work is better than you think and the agents or editors with whom you meet will think so too.

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