Lesson Learned: Just. Write.
I spent all day Friday with my true tribe - writer/bloggers - at the wonderful, first ever (hopefully becoming annual) BlogHer Writers conference. There was so much useful information and so many amazing conversations going on all day (and at the cocktail reception the evening before) that my brain feels about to explode.
And I am still digesting most of it. But if there is one message I took away from the conference? It was this:
JUST. (FUCKING.) WRITE.
And then? Re-write. And trash whatever is not wonderful (even if its 80%) and re-write again. Make it great. Make it sing.
And don't put ALL of it up on your blog. Because if you want to be published elsewhere, to SELL your words? It has to be new & fresh content. So you can't give it all away first.
Also? It helps to have an agent. As in, if you don't have one you are 99% of the time totally screwed. But also? If your writing is good? You will find an agent. When you are READY.
And being ready? Means that you have followed the above directives and have an actual COMPLETED book in your hands when you contact them.
For fiction & memoir that is (memoir being narrative and sold / bought like fiction). For non-fiction you "just" need three sample chapters and a kick-ass book proposal.
And, to get the attention of an agent? It helps to have credibility. A track record. Which means important people and sites linking to yours, guest posts, awards and recognition. (I was a BlogHer 11 Voice of the Year, hope that counts!)
Plus it realy helps to have articles sold to magazines or stories / essays published in literary journals. And you'll need to make those first placements yourself, be your own promoter.
Also? It's not easy to go it alone. Everyone needs help and support. Find a writing group, a writing partner, someone to look at your work with fresh not-in-love-with-every-word eyes. But do trust your gut, if something is integral to the soul of the piece, don't lose it. (Everything else, though is negotiable.)
Hmmm, a lot more hard work and commitment than just spewing out a post and slapping it up on the old blog, huh?
Yup! (And yeah, other than occasionally I don't usually just spew, I AM a change-the-word-ten-times-until-I've-got-the-one-that-is-just-right perfectionist writer. Guilty as charged.)
So I've got a lot to contemplate. Because the instant gratification of writing and posting, being my own publisher? Pretty intoxicating. Works for me so far.
But also? I have a book in me. A few books actually. And I'm thinking they want out....
Varda wries about Autism parenting, eldercare, grief, ADD, parenting in general, and tells stories from her wild and varied past on her blog, The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation. She also tweets as SquashedMom on Twitter.