Don’t read agent blogs–just say no, then go and tell!

Gah and gah! I _know_ better, but what did I just go and do? Read an agent’s blog, that’s what. Oh, I know the argument for doing so–to get a line on the industry, to keep up with what’s selling by whom, to whom, for what, yada, yada, yada. Not enough is said about WHY ALL ASPIRING NOVELISTS SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM AGENT BLOGS. They can only make you feel bad. They can only tell you that whatever you’re currently writing is not what’s selling. Or that it might sell, if only you were a gender other than what you are. They can only explain in intelligent, well-articulated ways all the reasons you are a lunatic for even daydreaming about publishing fiction.

My most recent brush with death started out with an agent sharing wisdom her dad had given her when she was a teen. Well, my mom gave me a bit too, including: a leopard can’t change its spots. Whether that was a good quality or a bad one depended on the anecdote it was attached to, but nonetheless, I am convicted of its truth. And I have no desire to even try to change my spots. I–for whatever horrible, unchangeable, unfathomable reason–need to write. BUT I DON’T NEED TO READ AGENT BLOGS.

Maybe one day I’ll be the novelist some agent blogs about saying, “despite everything everyone knew to not work, to not sell, and to not be a valid expenditure of time, energy and breath, Ev Bishop blah, blah, blah…” Or perhaps not. But in any event, I’ll take a lot more pleasure in my WIP and waste a lot less time trying to dance to a tune that constantly changes.

On that note, I leave you with a quote from a writing forum I frequent: “My final thought is that you need to write what you believe makes your story stronger not to please some imagined editor.”

Hear, hear!

Severely traumatized, but drinking coffee, typing and feeling reasonably sure of a complete recovery,
Ev

p.s. I suppose there is value in reading an agent’s blog before you pitch to him/her–or so say all the agent blogs anyway!

Goals for a new year….

Happy New Year! (Okay, so my wish is a bit late—sorry about that!)

It seems that making New Year’s resolutions has gone out of vogue for some people (maybe for lots of people?), but even if I don’t always accomplish my goals, I feel there’s a real benefit in thinking through the year past and contemplating the year ahead.

2009 is already looking exciting, full of “big” events and changes. My daughter, who’s currently working toward her pilot’s license, will turn sixteen and will definitely be driving a car. My son will enter his teens, and my husband and I will be separated for longer than we ever have been before (almost two months), as he works out of town this summer.

Some things won’t change though. I will still be writing, still striving to better my craft, still trying to express the worlds that live in my head.

I’m hoping to land an agent and/or publishing contract for a novel or two this year, but it’s a hard thing to set as a goal—so many factors in making it happen are out of my control. That said however, some of the most important steps along the path to publication are fully within my control—are fully in the control of any writer.

We are in charge of whether we write regularly. We determine our word counts. We focus (hopefully) on ever improving our craft and storytelling. We decide on how many agents or markets we submit work to. We are responsible for not giving up.

I’ve made goals that I will meet in 2009, knowing that little by little they will help me reach my goal of having a novel “out there” are:

~ Edit current WIP and submit it to 100 agents (unless I get one before that point—hope, hope!).

~ Start a new novel, and strive to have at least the first draft complete by the end of October.

~ Write (or edit/polish) six short stories and submit them about.

~ Attend SiWC 2009

I hope you’ve set goals this year too—if you haven’t, do so now. It’ll get you fired up.

Cheers to us in 2009: Great word counts, much growth!

~ Ev

Write here. Write now.

I meet and work with a lot of aspiring writers, and I have heard every imaginable excuse as to why they want to write, but can’t—everything from where they live (like only people in London, New York, or Istanbul can pick up a pen or sit down at a computer?), to having too many demands at home or at work, to not having enough other things to do to “feed” their muse. Sometimes I find myself making up reasons for why I couldn’t, why I didn’t, why I shouldn’t write today….

I have also met countless writers who achieve mind-boggling word counts in spite of brutal schedules and complex life situations. I aspire to be like them (in terms of output, not suffering!). I want to write 30+ novels. I want to craft essays, articles, and short stories too numerous to mention…. I want to reach out into the void with my words and have even just one person respond with, that’s how I feel.

I love Barbara Kingsolver’s line, “There is no perfect time to write…. There is only now.” The three forces—writers’ excuses, writers’ examples, and BK’s wisdom—forge my own writing motto: Write here. Write now.

May this blog be an encouragement and a motivation to those of us who write, not soon, not later, not when we’re moved to, not when it’s easier to do so, but now.