Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Dear Frustrated Newbie...a letter of encouragement.

Dear Frustrated Newbie,

Rest assured, every writer has doubts and set-backs when they first start out. The reason is that we are bombarded with rules that most were not aware existed! They are a test of our dedication to the craft and a meter for our degree of passion.

If you are passionate about learning how to create stories that will flood a child's memory and instill in them a life-long thirst for well written literature, then you will survive the rough beginning.

Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be a "published" professional...lord knows, everyone with a computer has tried it. Just ask the editors who are buried underneath mountains of slush!

In my opinion, it's the exceptional people who become successful writers. Those who are ever mindful of the impact of their words, because they feel it themselves. They have a different level of dedication, driven by a longing to be heard above the noise of a deafening world.

Like anything else, you must learn to be a good writer. Only a handful of people in history of man were born with the talent to sit down and scrawl out perfection. The rest of us have to study hard, and keep studying! You are among friends who understand your frustration. We all deal with it.

As an easy comparison, think of writing in the same way as raising a child. Almost any woman can be a mother, but she must learn how to be a good one. I'm sure that in honing your mothering skills, there were ups and downs, failures and triumphs.
I'm sure there were days when, BECAUSE you loved your child so dearly, you thought maybe someone else could do a better job. I'm sure there were many times that you were ready to turn tail and run, but love and the knowledge of your responsibility to your commitment made you stay and stick it out! You knew that the rewards would greatly exceed the complications and loses. Writing is exactly like that!

A writer must have that same level of dedication and passion, because in many ways,

our stories are our children.
In the same way that you raised your child, and reluctantly pushed her from nest to find her own life, we writers nurture our written thoughts. We hone them and love them, until they are strong enough to make it on their own. Then, we reluctantly set them free. Just like children, they often return home, needing more from us! But eventually, with tender care and coaxing, they shine.

Often, when a manuscript is kicking my butt (as trying teenagers can do) I will lock it in the closet until it's ready to behave. I know you've silently wished you could do that to your kid now and then, ha! The truth is, we are often too close to our own writing to see it objectively. By locking it away for a while, and moving on to something new, we can come back later with a fresh perspective. I have found that when I do this, I usually return armed with new writing skills that I didn't have when I first sat down to write. When I pull out the old manuscript, the problem I didn't see before, is now staring me in the face!

"Ah-ha!" I yell, "There you are!!!!"
Nine times out of ten, my newest manuscript taught me just what I needed to know to fix the old one.

Well, I hope that helps to lift your spirits. I remember all too well how it feels to be where you are. I have been struggling to write a winning Picture Book for years! It isn't something you learn over-night. We live in an instant-gratification world, where we have grown to expect instant results. Writing teaches humility and patience above all else.

Best of luck! Lisa


DameDog said...

Wonderful post, Lisa! Lots of wisdom there.

sam said...

You are such a blessing my friend! This is a wonderfully encouraging post. Hope you are having a wonderfully creative day!

Ginger*:) said...

How true! Thank you for the insight. I agree that locking one's writing away for a while helps with the new view. Linda Sue Park, said the very same thing about her writing. Since she has the GOLD STICKER on her book, I value that piece of advice.

All the best with your writing!