Changes of Direction for 2016

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It has been almost a year since I posted to this blog. At that time, I was participating in Quest 2015 hosted by Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder. Quest 2015 was a month-long period of contemplation and visioning for 2015.

Participating in the Quest was an important part of the life shifts that I have been working through this year, life shifts that have led to me wondering what to do with this blog.

I have very much enjoyed the conversations that have come out of my writing in this form and cherish the people I have met, but I have struggled to figure out what the purpose of this blog was and how to use it.

In particular, this year has led to me changing my name. My husband and I are divorcing and I have gone back to using my birth name, Kate Arms. I have not wanted to write under my married name anymore.

So, I am moving where I will be writing to several different locations.

The reflections of how to live an engaged, playful, and healthy life now appear in Firestarters, the newsletter I write for Signal Fire Coaching. If you want to read more about creativity, InterPlay, living authentically, and playing with the hard stuff, you can subscribe here.

My writings about writing will be found at Cracks in the World. That will be the place to read both announcements about my work and reflections about the writing process. Although the site is not fully live there yet, you can sign up to be notified as soon as it is.

This blog will stay live and I will be using it for the challenges I like to participate in. This month, for instance, I will be participating in Quest 2106 and will be posting my reflections from that process here. The Quest is a community of people digging into their visions for the following year through three prompts a week. If you are looking for a way to step into the new year with enthusiasm, creative energy, and vision, check it out. It might be just what you are looking for.

I want to thank you for reading this blog in the past and hope you will join me in the other venues that meet your interests.

Kate

 

5 Last Minute Prep Tips for NaNoWriMo

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In just under 2 days, NaNoWriMo begins. If you haven’t done much prep work, here are a few things you can do today to give you a leg up when you start writing on Friday. You will change things as you go. But, doing even this much prep work can give you inspiration and ideas to get you primed to start writing.

An “I Could Write About” List

Take 10-20 minutes – set a timer to keep you focused. Write a list of as many things as you can think of that you could write about. Just one phrase or sentence about each idea.

Don’t bother writing about anything, these are just notes of things you could write about. This list will be useful in November when you get stuck.

Don’t worry if things on your list don’t seem to fit together, or even with the big idea you may have for you novel. Let your subconscious mind get involved. Sometimes the best ideas are a combination of unrelated ideas.

If you are finding yourself over-thinking, draw a mind map of what you could write instead of making a list.

A Plot Sketch

A traditional plot of an action driven story has three disasters and an ending.

The first disaster can happen to the main character. The next two are best when the main character is trying to fix things that went wrong but makes things worse. And the difference between a comedy and a tragedy is whether the ending involves the main character fixing things or failing. If you have a plot idea, turn it into an outline by coming up with your three disasters and decide how fixed things are at the end.

Cast Your Novel

If you have an idea for a character, choose a celebrity who might play the character in a movie. Collect pictures of the actors in one place. If you think you need more characters but don’t have specific ideas, choose 5 of your favourite actors and cast them.

Give your characters names. If you don’t have ideas, use a random name generator. I like the one at Behind the Name.

Draw a Map

Fantasy novels are often accompanied by maps of the world, but any novel can benefit from a map. If you plan to use a real world setting, you could start from a map you find on the web. If you haven’t given your novel much thought at all, you can draw the map first and let it give you ideas.

Take a piece of paper and draw some lines, circles, dots and shapes on it. In multiple colours if you feel so moved.

Lines can be rivers or roads.

Dots can become cities, towns, or local buildings (churches, shops, schools, etc.).

Let other shapes inspire you with what they might be.

Colours can inform you about what sorts of things might happen there. If you aren’t inspired, be obvious when you interpret the colours: a death where red shows up, water at blue, natural areas in brown and green, etc.

Assume everything you draw is a location you can use.

Write a One-Sentence Summary

One sentence can keep you focused on getting your story from beginning to end. You’ll take detours as you write, but a focal sentence can help keep you on track. Your sentence should include the following elements:
A description of your main character. A useful format is to focus on two adjectives and a role in life. For example: taciturn, retired firefighter.
A description of your antagonist (the main character’s opponent). For example: charming, ambitious arsonist.
The conflict between them. For example: the firefighter must stop the arsonist.
The setting. For example: art museums.
What makes your story unique. For the purpose of planning, focusing on what gets you excited about the idea is enough.
Putting my example together, I could end up with: A taciturn, retired firefighter must stop a charming, ambitious arsonist who could be his daughter from destroying all of Van Gogh’s paintings.

Have fun with this. Any one of these ideas will give you material that you can develop during November.

Coming Up: I will be posting a daily writing prompt for the month of November.

Wisdom for Writers from the World of Improv

Blasts from the Past: While I am busy finishing the current revision of The Red Oak, I am running a few of the most popular posts from this blog that were published at the old WordPress.com site. Enjoy.

Improv: an approach to improvisational theatre derived from the work of Viola Spolin and Keith Johnstone

Improvisation is at the heart of creativity. That initial moment when nothing becomes something is at the core of artistic endeavour and of invention, and it is by definition improvisational.

Craft takes that inital something and forms it into an object d’art: a painting, a sculpture, a machine, a tool, a book, or a rehearsed performance.

Writers need craft. We need grammar and vocabulary, paragraphs and structure, tone and style. But we must not lose our connection with that creative moment, that initial spark, our muse. If we are in danger of losing that initial impulse, we can find guidance in the art forms that celebrate the creative moment as a complete thing in itself, improvisational forms.

To set the scene

I discovered Viola Spolin’s work during my theatrical training. Her book, Improvisation for the Theater was a primary text in my directing class and had an enduring impact on the way I work as an actor and as a director. Later, I trained with BATS Improv, where I learned about long form improvisation and the work of Keith Johnstone. I attended a master class with Johnstone that was instrumental in changing my understanding of character relationships in life and in stories.

When I returned to writing fiction a few years ago, the practices and principles of Improv were tools I brought with me.

Wisdom from the World of Improv

Show Up and Commit: For improvisational performers, the moment of stepping on to the stage and doing something, anything, is an oppurtunity that fear can kill. To make a performance engaging, the actor must step boldly onto the stage and perform as though there is nothing else that she could be doing at that moment. So, too, for writers. The moment we show up at the page can be fraught with fear. But, if we write boldly, with commitment to moving forward, we are creating. We can edit later, but for that first creation, we must simply show up and start writing – something, anything.

Start Anywhere: There is no correct place to begin. A performer can start with a setting, a gesture, a line of dialogue, an idea. So, too, can a writer. Start with the first thing that comes to mind and commit to that and it will lead the next word.

Be Obvious: Here, I will simply quote from Keith Johnstone’s book Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre. The parallel to writing should be clear.

“The improviser has to realize that the more obvious he is, the more original he appears….Ordinary people asked to improvise will search for some ‘original’ idea because they want to be thought clever…. No two people are exactly alike, and the more obvious an improviser is, the more himself he appears. An artist who is inspired is being obvious. He’s not making any decisions; he’s not weighing one idea against another. He’s accepting his first thoughts….Striving after originality takes you far away from your true self, and makes your work mediocre.”

Accept What is Offered: The Improv mantra is “Yes, and….” This is shorthand for accepting what your scene partners give you and incorporating it into your work rather than rejecting it because it didn’t match your ideas of where the scene can go. This principle of “yes, and…” is what writers use when the muse hits them with an idea that pushes them to revise the outline they were following. Orson Scott Card used to tell his writing students that “the best stories often come from the juxtoposition of completely unrelated ideas.” Take those ideas and run with them. Don’t squash them. See where they lead. It might be magical.

Make Mistakes: If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t risking enough. If you try something different, you’ll probably mess it up a few times. Keep trying. Making mistakes is how we learn. Haven’t tried improvising a song before; you’ll sing a few horrible ones before you find a chorus that works. Haven’t written a sonnet; you’ll probably write some stinkers before you write one you don’t hate. If you aren’t willing to risk mistakes, you won’t grow.

In improvised performance, mistakes invite the audience into the journey more deeply as they worry whether the actors will find their way out of that challenge. Thriller writer Barry Eisler posts errors readers find in his novels on his web site; I am sure that has endeared him to some readers and sent others back to his books looking for mistakes just so they could make meaningful contact with him.

Status Matters: This is actually a key to characterization. People care about how they look and feel in relationship to one another. Every single interaction between two characters can be played or written as a move in a status game. The basic possible moves are: A tries to increase own status; A tries to decrease B’s status; A tries to increase B’s status – notice that having the power to do that immediately conveys status on A as well; A tries to block B as B tries to increase own status. For melodramatic purposes and for exercises, these can be huge moves. For realism, they must be as small as possible, but they must be there for characters to be believable. Friends agree to play status games with each other and accept defeat graciously; enemies play to win; everybody plays.

Use Your Craft: Skilled long form performers work as a team to tell a complete story, sometimes hours long. To do this, they draw on their knowledge of story structure, their experience of how to get in and out of scenes, their ability to remember what props and characters were mentioned earlier. The best performances occur when the craft is there but the audience can’t see it, when the craft is buried so deeply in the actors’ performances that it just happens. As writers, we can use this wisdom. Study craft, become consciously aware of all your available tools, practice so often that you can use them without thinking, then tell your story.

For a look at how improv can provide more general advice for life, I suggest Improv Wisdom by Patricia Ryan Madson.

If you have other ideas of how improv can be useful to writers, please share them in the comments.

Growing a Young Writer: Inspiration by Observation

Magnetic poetry is great for kids just learning to write.

Magnetic poetry is great for kids just learning to write.

I have been watching my eldest son’s development as a writer closely. He has a natural gift for story-telling and I want to support him without pushing him too hard.

As a young child, he acted out television shows and video-games, but not as rote repetition of what he had seen. No. He was taking the characters and the patterns of narrative structure and writing new stories within the given world – fan fiction.

Once he learned to read and write, he started writing and drawing comic books, with Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books as his primary inspiration. If George and Harold could make their own comic books, then so could he.

As he has grown older, his willingness to write longer pieces of prose has grown, as has his frustration with the quality of his art work. He has started thinking about how a comic book is often written by one person and drawn and inked by another. He isn’t ready to collaborate on his creations, but he has started thinking about the possibilities.

Like many smart kids, he is used to getting things right the first time, and the idea of revision hurts him deeply.

Over the past year, I have started sharing some of my writing with him in unpolished form. I make sure that my marked-up manuscripts are lying around to be observed and I talk about how I need to fix my novel. My goal is to show him a process of improvement. He sees me as beyond him in the way I see my favourite authors as beyond my skills. Modeling the process by which I improve my writing – taking classes, asking friends for advice, rewriting and more rewriting – I am sharing tools I hope will help him stick with his own work through the times where he looks at what he produces and thinks it sucks.

Recently, he has started writing a prose story during his free time at school. Today, I learned from his teacher that he is being given extra time on the computer in order to work on the story after he finishes his class work. The teacher is impressed by his focus and persistence when he is working on this project.

When I asked my son about this new development, he said, “What I write on the computer is different than what I start writing on paper. I make changes as I type it in, to make it better and longer.” When I heard that, I wanted to jump up and down and shout, “He’s editing. He’s revising.” I held myself in and simply said, “Makes sense.”

This is a sensitive kid I am dealing with: a kid with a love of story I recognize and want to support, but also a kid with a profound need to do things his way. The chances are he will have a teacher along the way who says the wrong thing. Both my husband and I gave up creative writing in response to teachers who bruised us emotionally. I came back to it; my husband never did. I am hoping I can give my son a strong enough foundation to get him through whatever he encounters.

And after struggling to teach him explicitly during the year he was home-schooling, it appears my strongest teaching tool is simply to let him see me working.

I have a new post, Never Throw Away a Cardboard Box, up at An Intense Life. Please stop by and take a look.

Improving Your Writing Will Change the Way You Read

The desire to write should come with a warning – preferably tattooed on one’s forehead in mirror-image reversal so one reads it in every reflective surface.

 WARNING: You May Never Escape Into a Book Again

The “may” is crucial. Some writers can fall into a book and lose themselves in the experience provided by the author, but many can’t or at least find far fewer books that can trigger that surrender into an author’s world.

For a reader who discovers within themselves a drive to write, it can be disconcerting to discover that they will never read the same way again. And for most writers, they do not realize that their experience of reading will change until it is too late.

The thing about learning a craft is you start to see the craftsmanship in other people’s work. And, once you have learned a little, you cannot unlearn it.

It doesn’t matter what the art form is, as soon as you go from treating it as a spontaneous form of enjoyment or self-expression to a discipline with techniques for creating effects, your relationship with the medium changes.

At first, you may not notice, but eventually, you will find yourself including technical analysis as part of how you experience a work. And a book that you once enjoyed may lose its power to sway you.

And, if you study any form of narrative structure, it isn’t just books you analyze. You start seeing the underlying structure in plays, movies, and tv shows.

There are books writers love to hate, the popular fiction that falls apart under literary analysis but engages readers. Recent examples include The Da Vinci Code, Twilight, and 50 Shades of Grey. To be fair, there is a certain amount of “sour grapes” involved when a technically poor writer sells an outrageous number of books, but it is also true that books with such substantial weaknesses are hard to stomach when those weaknesses scream at you from every sentence.

I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, so I have nothing to say about it. I did read the other two examples I mentioned. In both cases, I saw both the mass appeal and the distaste.

Twilight was lightly written with a miniscule amount of plot and heavy reliance on repetition of phrases and images. I tore through it, skimming and gleaning because there was no substance to hold on to. Nothing about the book stuck with me. Honestly, I had forgotten it by the time I closed the cover.

The Da Vinci Code was different. Once again, I read it incredibly fast. There was no character development and the language was pedestrian, so I didn’t have any reason to savour the book. On the other hand, the short, action-driven chapters, each with its own cliff-hanger, kept me moving forward. I found myself fascinated by the structure of the book. So, I read all of Dan Brown’s books, in reverse order of composition, watching how he had learned to structure a page turner. I enjoyed reading Deception Point and Digital Fortress with an analytical eye, noticing how he was trying to write the same kind of story, but hadn’t quite mastered the structure he needed to make it work; he just about had it for Angels and Demons. And, I read The Lost Symbol, too, knowing going into it exactly what to expect. Sure enough, the structure was exactly the same, and having come to understand the structure, I saw in stark detail how little the book had to offer other than the structure, and I was bored.

There are writers who can still consistently sweep me into their stories: Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, and Jeannette Winterson. But there are many more I used to love that I can no longer read with pure pleasure and abandonment.

And don’t get me started on how studying theatre has changed how I experience watching a play. I have almost entirely given up going to see professional theatre, I am so consistently disappointed.

This post was inspired by a discussion that has been occurring on- and off-line through RAW (Reading as Writers), the book discussion forum run by the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. Last weekend, the conversation was offline at Books and Bevvies Night. You might want to check out what another writer who was there had to say about The Da Vinci Code, and trust me, it makes me look like I loved it.

When Summer Is the Hardest Time to Write

For several summers in a row, I have had difficulty putting words together. July and August have been writing dead zones. Each year, I have inadvertently taken a complete writing hiatus in July and come back slowly in August – writing blog posts, but not making progress on my novel.

When the weather cools, the days shorten, and the kids go back to school, I get more writing done.

But I don’t like the break. There is always a little voice in the back of my head telling me I should be writing more. And the further I get into the summer, the louder that voice gets.

Next year, I think I will actively take a break from blogging in July – line up a few posts in advance and relax about the blog. I might even take a vacation from trying to produce new work as well. I could treat it as a mini-sabbatical, a prolonged period of feeding my muse rather than asking her to produce.

In the meantime, I am trying to turn August into a productive writing month. I started well with a post over at An Intense Life about getting ready for new schools for all my kids in September. And, I have devised a little project for myself.

I am a Camp NaNoWriMo Rebel. If you haven’t heard, the people who bring you NaNoWriMo in November started a pared-down version that happens in June and August last summer. I thought about participating last year, but I didn’t want to start a new project and my work-in-progress was in a stage of revision that didn’t fit with the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. So, I skipped it.

This summer, however, I have a lot of first draft writing I want to do. In my class this winter, I did a lot of work sketching out more plot elements and discovering weaknesses in my characterization. I pruned heavily after that class, leaving gaping holes that need filling with new text.

And, NaNo is a great motivator for me to write a lot of new text. So, I am a NaNo Rebel, a NaNo participant who is not following the rules in some crucial way. Some NaNo Rebels write something other than a novel, some work on a work in progress, some work on several pieces; all break the rules but shoot for the 50,000 word count.

I believe in using writing challenges to serve your project. If the challenge doesn’t quite fit, modify it. So I am using the word count challenge as a challenge to generate material to fill the holes in my manuscript. At the end of July, I wrote a list of 31 things to write that will enrich my novel and I will work through those prompts as August continues.

So far, I have followed these prompts:

  • A detailed physical description of the antagonist and the prison from which he escapes (character development)
  • The story of the initial capture of the antagonist (backstory)
  • A phone call between the protagonist and her mother after the first scene of the novel (character development)
  • The first manifestation of the protagonist’s magical powers (backstory)
  • Diary entries in which the protagonist writes about the five kids at school who most impact her life (backstory and character development)

I am not sure how these bits of writing will fit into the next draft of the novel, but it is clear they are going to enrich it. The phone call between the protagonist and her mother is going to go right where the prompt says it should – but the way it turned out means that I will need to add another scene later about how the protagonist and her grandmother respond to the call.

It’s exciting. The novel is moving. My muse is shouting at me; I’m having trouble keeping up.

This is the kick in the pants I needed to get me back to the computer on these beautiful summer days.

Find Your Zest, Your Gusto: A Tribute To Ray Bradbury

Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears those words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.

~ Ray Bradbury (1920 – 2012)

Like many readers and writers of science fiction and fantasy, I reacted to the news of Ray Bradbury’s death on Tuesday by finding his books on my shelves and starting to reread them. But, I did not first turn to Farenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, or any of his other wonderful stories. No, I went straight to one of my favourite books about the craft of writing: Zen in the Art of Writing.

Zen in the Art of Writing is a collection of essays on writing that Bradbury wrote over a span of decades. The quote about zest and gusto at the top of this post is the opening of the essay entitled “The Joy of Writing.”

I come back to this essay more than any other single piece of writing about writing. It reconnects me with the reasons that I write.

[I]f you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-guard coterie, that you are not being youself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is — excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it would be better for his health.

~ Ray Bradbury, The Joy of Writing

That paragraph hit me hard when I reread it this week. I have had a hard time getting back to writing my novel since my class had me working feverishly on exploring how to pitch it. I was stuck, but I couldn’t figure out why.

Intellectually, I had a plan. I had generated a timeline and a synopsis of a story worth telling. I had noticed themes of the novel reflecting deep themes in my life. I knew what scenes I had to write to make the piece hang together.

But, my muse was bored. She refused to show up. I think she figured I didn’t need her since I had it all mapped out. She was wrong.

To get out of my rut, I started listening to the materials associated with Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways course. One of the things I love about Lisle’s teaching materials is that she demonstrates how she gets her inspirational muse and her craft-based thinking mind to work together on a project.

I found myself leaning on one idea: One of your jobs as a writer is to write bigger than your first impression.

In order to prepare the pitch for my class, I had to pretend the novel was closer to finished than it is. In essence, I pitched something close to my first impression. And, I boiled out some fo the complexity to build the pitch. But it is too early in the process for that. I needed to give myself permission to grow the story beyond the pitch as I prepared it.

By focusing on the scenes that work and being willing to ditch the rest if need be, and by giving myself explicit instruction to think bigger than the pitch I had prepared, I convinced my muse to come back and play.

I am making progress again. With gusto and with zest.

In tribute to Ray Bradbury, I offer these links:

When an artist who has touched you dies, how do you respond?

In his speech to the graduating class at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Neil Gaiman argued that one should greet life’s trials with one response: make good art. I add now, from Ray Bradbury: with gusto.

So please, find your zest and your gusto and make good art.

Say it Loud: I am a Writer

Jeff Goins is leading a 15-day challenge he calls “15 Habits of Great Writers.”

15 days is not long enough to form one habit, let alone 15, but I am curious to see what he thinks, so I have signed up to get the daily challenge e-mails.

Today is Day 1.

Today’s challenge: Declare Yourself a Writer.

His point: If you write, say you are a writer. Say it loud; say it big; say it often. If you say it big enough, you will believe it.

His challenge to his readers for today:

Declare you’re a writer.

Not just to your wall or computer or notebook, but to an actual person or institution. Someone or something you’re scared of — this could be a person who might reject or judge you, a family member who may misunderstand you, or a publisher who could discredit you. But tell them and tell them now.

I grew up believing I could neither draw nor be taught how to draw. I am learning I am teachable.

So, I figure that makes today as good a day as any to tell you about my new Facebook page. I have

been on Facebook as a private individual hanging out with my friends for years. Last week, a little latte mug with a link to Facebook appeared on this page. That link, my friends is to my public page; the page where I present to you Kate Arms-Roberts, Writer.

On that page, I expect to post about the things that make me the writer I am.

  • Books I read
  • Books I want to read
  • Things that inspire me
  • Creativity
  • The genres I write in: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Middle Grade
  • Things that make me think
  • Information about the craft and business of writing

Please come on over and Like my page.

Set the Right Expectations With Back Cover Blurbs, Please

When was the last time you read the copy on the back of a book?

Did the blurb create expectations about the book?

What happens when a book doesn’t meet those expectations?

These two books didn’t match their blurbs. The blurbs were interesting, the books were good. They should have been telling the same stories.

Over the last week, I read two books where the back cover blurb set up inappropriate expectations. I could not enjoy the books as I was reading them because my brain was constantly telling me I had been lied to.

The two books were Buried Fire and The Leap, both by Jonathan Stroud, published by Hyperion. Both are good YA fantasy books, well written with engaging characters, interesting plots, and enjoyable plot twists. Unfortunately, both were marketed as straight-forward hero’s journeys, and neither was. Because I was reading them to understand how other writers are handling YA urban fantasy, I finished the books. But, I am going to question every book from Hyperion in the future.

According to the cover, The Leap is about a girl who follows a dead friend into a parallel universe through her dreams. But, the story as written is not just her story. The chapters alternate between her point of view and her brother’s. The end of the book reveals the value of that structure with a lovely plot twist, but I could not enjoy the journey of reading to the end because I was confused by the expectations created by the cover blurb.

The cover copy for Buried Fire said Michael would wake with dragon powers and would have to choose between freeing the dragon and solidifying his powers or fighting the dragon and saving the people he loved. That was sort of true. In one moment in the climax, he made such a choice, but it was a minor moment. The most important moment involved action by his sister. There is no single protagonist in Buried Fire. The story is told from multiple perspectives and is actually the story of how an entire village reacts to the awakening of the dragon. Michael is a central character, but not the central character.

In retrospect, the books were actually better than the blurbs implied. There was more subtlety in the storytelling: more nuance to the narrative and more complexity in the character development. They should have been more enjoyable to read.

The disconnect between the expectations set-up by the cover and the actual text ruined the reading experience for me.

Is there a book you have read that ended up being very different from what you expected? How did you feel reading it? Let me know in the comments.

When Your Work is in Other People’s Hands

Waiting.

I pitched my novel on Wednesday night. It went well. I got some feedback about some possible improvements to my pitch, but I was one of three people who came across as knowing what they were talking about.

And now we are waiting, waiting to hear which two are being considered for submission to an editor who rarely looks at unagented work.

I hate waiting, so I am doing other things: spring planting, house cleaning, LEGO organizing, and having friends over for dinner.

I am not expecting to be selected to move all the way through the process: one of the novels has a hook that is too juicy to pass up. The marketing potential is huge, and the writing is good – it needs polishing, but it is well on its way. Although that novel will not be the only one to be considered for passing on to the editor, I am sure it will be in the mix, and I think the package is good enough that the marketing hook will get it selected.

But, I do not know. And so, I wait.

Waiting for rejection is part of the writer’s life. We must find ways to handle it, to not pause our life and writing while our babies are out in the world to be judged.

I am drawing on my experience as an actor after auditions, reminding myself that I have done my best and letting go of whatever outcomes may be.

My attitude to auditioning changed completely when I directed Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night<
in college. For that show, the lead female and a secondary male must be mistaken for each other. Two women auditioned who could have played the lead. No man auditioned who could be mistaken for one of the women, so I cast the other. And the woman who could have played the lead wasn’t right for any of the other female roles, so I couldn’t cast her. I used weaker actresses who fit the characters better to make the play as a whole work. For this actress, it was the lead or nothing and my choice depended on who else auditioned.

After that, I knew I would’ve never understand all the thoughts any director goes through when casting. All I can do is show up, do my best, and see what happens.

Yes, the waiting sucks.

But, there is no point in wallowing in it.

I have editing, writing, and living to get on with.