This week author Christina Katz http://christinakatz.com/ asks us to blog about Vision.
Do you have a vision for your life?
I do. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a writer. A lofty goal, perhaps, for a child.
Lofty, too, for an adult who is well aware of how hard it is to break ground in the publishing world. I’ve been writing for over 20 years now, but in the last four years I have really immersed myself in my writing. And on those days I can pull myself out of my thoughts long enough to address the question Who am I, I can honestly answer I am a writer.
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2006 and I became his caregiver I suddenly found myself with more time for writing. Time in waiting rooms, in hospitals, and in chemotherapy treatment rooms. I became my husband’s companion, best friend, and advocate and I remain all three today. He wasn’t up to much conversation during those periods of waiting and treatment so I did what I have always done: I picked up a pen and wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more, until I had an entire book written, chronicling our journey through cancer. That entire book might never see the light of day in the publishing world, but parts of it will: this July Women Reinvented (LaChance Publishing) and Love is a Flame (Bethany House) are being released and include essays that I took from the book.
Now my vision for my writing future encompasses another book I am working on, and one I believe in more and more as I delve into research on the topic.
How does a writer bring their vision to fruition?
Never give up on your vision. If you believe in your writing, don’t let one agent or one editor decide your fate. Keep submitting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The only way a writer can avoid rejection is to not submit at all. So be prepared for rejection, but don’t let it define you, or your writing. Keep trying. Be stubborn. I have a couple of essays that have been floating around for over a year. I know they are good. I believe in those pieces. I just haven’t found the right market for them. I once had an essay in my file folder for 18 months after I’d submitted it to several places and been rejected by all of them. Then I saw a call for submissions that fit that essay perfectly. I submitted it, got accepted, and had a check for $250 in my hand within two months of submission.
Keep polishing. Each time you are rejected, take a look at what you are sending, whether it is a query letter, a proposal, or a completed article. Ask yourself if you can improve it before submitting it elsewhere. Read it aloud. Then revise it and send it out again.
Keep learning. This goes hand in hand with the polishing. As a homeschooling mother I have often told my children that I am still learning and that learning is a part of life. Isn’t that true for writers? We can subscribe to writer’s magazines (my personal favorite is The Writer). We can go to conferences, take workshops, join a writer’s group, and of course, read. If you write fiction, read fiction from your favorite authors. If you write non-fiction, read non-fiction that appeals to you. Right now I am reading a lot of books that I am comparing mine to in my book proposal. In my first draft of the proposal I compared my book to one I thought was similar. Turns out, after I read it I realized our books had nothing in common. I deleted it from my proposal.
Learn from your mistakes. And we all make them. I once sent out a query with a glaring error that I didn’t catch until I’d sent it to two editors. No wonder I never heard from either one of them. I won’t make that mistake again. In my other life, my life outside of writing, I make mistakes too. For example, when pricing jeans at my sister’s consignment store I didn’t recognize a brand and put the price at $4.99. Luckily, she caught it before it went out on the racks and informed me the price should have been closer to $24.99! I won’t make that mistake again for that particular brand but the mistake also taught me to brush up on brand names before I priced again. I spent some time at a local mall perusing racks and racks of jeans and noting their brand names in anticipation of the next box of jeans that came my way. I do the same with my writing. There are books that can be purchased specifying how to write a book proposal or a query letter but looking at sample query letters or proposals is even more helpful. Spend some time reading agent blogs and blogs like Chuck Sambuchino’s “Guide to Literary Agents.” http://tinyurl.com/358h2xy Read some actual query letters that captured the attention of an agent and learn from them. Is your letter too long, too short? Does it fail to hook the reader in the opening paragraph? Is it just plain boring? Then change it. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
Sometimes you need to adjust your vision. Occasionally, we might need to adjust our vision. We must never forget that publishing is a business. If our vision doesn’t mesh with the vision of an editor or publisher we might need to rethink and revise our vision to fit. It took me awhile to accept the fact that I might never get my cancer memoir published but I am having no problem getting parts of it published in anthologies. What I envision for the book I am working on now might change if an editor wants something different. So, never give up on your vision or your dream, but do be willing to adjust your vision accordingly.
We all have visions for ourselves, our children, our future. Sometimes, writing those visions down helps to make them happen.
What is your vision?