Professionalism

prof

Some people do not understand the basic rules of professionalism. Speaking to, writing, or responding to an editor or publisher should be undertaken with care. These people are our colleagues in the best sense of the word.

I’ve worked with a few literary journals and have talked to editors at others. The things authors say and do completely surprised me.

I’ve only had a single editor be so completely unprofessional I became embarrassed for her (and forwarded her email to her boss). On the other hand, I’ve dealt with a number of writers who have taken pride in their unprofessional behaviors.

One writer posted a snarky response (he supposedly emailed) to an editor. Whether he actually wrote that to an editor is one thing, it’s quite another message to post it on social media for all to see. He may have felt he had won the battle, so to speak, but what he actually did was show how unprofessional he behaved with a colleague, and what a risk other editors or publishers might find him to work with.

We can disagree with editors, publishers, other writers, but there’s no reason to verbally attack or otherwise be rude to anyone in the industry. Taking your private issues with public companies to social media is a mistake on any number of levels. Just like employers look at social media sites, so do publishers.

I had one publisher ask me for all my Promote-Your-Brand-On-Social-Media.jpgsocial media links. While some writers told me not to hand it over, I felt it was part of my job to have these available to people in the industry. I maintain social media sites for this reason. Publishers don’t want to just know if writers have a following, but how they’re interacting with readers, writers, and others on those social media sites.

Being rude in an email, speaking arrogantly on a call, and posting disagreements publicly will not further a career.

I do understand it’s quite popular in our society of late to act like an arse and expect to be treated like a king/queen; however, it gives a poor impression and people will not want to work with a person who acts like a spoiled child.

Is Writing Still Fun?

children_writingWe started writing because writing was fun. We have the power to create worlds out of words. We create people and have them fall in love, face their fears, win, lose, and try again. We live many lives!

How can we do that better? Edit.

Oh, no, there she goes again, talking about work.

Writing is the fun part. Editing is the work and will take more time than creation.

One top complaint from editors is a lack of basic editing. How many times have you sent a text message or email containing some sort of mistake only spotted after? We are forgiven because we all make mistakes; however, editors expect near perfection.

I submitted a story (Bowie and the Basket Case, to be published by ID Press this month); It was accepted on the condition that I listen to suggestions from the editor.

I’d read the story easily 100 times. My friend read it. Another friend critiqued it. 02_bowiec2a9g_evans.jpg – all before I submitted it!

I said yes, the whole time wondering what might be questioned.

The editor responded something akin to, “Page 10, paragraph 3: I think you meant than, yet it reads that.”

There were a few other things; however, I was shocked at this tiny error!

Spell check and grammar check never found it, of course. My friends, my editor, and myself didn’t catch it. Mistakes are easy to make, harder to see. (as in life, right?!)

Have fun writing.

Then get to work: Edit. Edit. Edit.

Say Yes to the ReDress

Editor Definition in English Dictionary.In some writers’ groups, when I’ve mentioned that I’d been contacted by an editor who requested changes, there came about a rise of instantaneous resistance.

  • You didn’t say yes, did you?
  • Why are you letting them change your work?
  • You’re not going to let them change your words, are you?
  • Sounds like you’re selling out!

So far, whenever an editor has contacted me about changes, the changes were minor: a comma here, a synonym there, once a nick-name which they ended up leaving in.

One of the these editors worked for The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal ($1.00 Stories). I believe him to be more experienced editoand credentialed in the requirements of publishable writing.

I willingly listened.

So before your writer hackles rise – listen, consider, then decide. Be polite and professional.

Writer Services – Required or Rip-off?

ripoffMany companies (and writers) offer services to writers. Having someone edit your story is a good idea. Having an agent or company help you with setting up a strong structure might be helpful.

However, what is there to protect writers from poor service, someone setting up shop without valid prior experience? I’ve heard many, many stories of poor editors, promised services left undelivered, etc.

I don’t think writers should have to pay for interviews or reviews – yet some writers have found themselves suckered into these “services” with the promise of sales.

The writer needs to do some background research, ask for credentials and satisfied (perhaps even unsatisfied) customers to chat with before purchasing services. Don’t go by the reviews the company or person promotes on their own website, unless you can reach out to those people personally. Too bad there’s not a yelp for writer’s service.

Recently, I did my own research on a few companies. I googled the “authors” they’d used as their positive reviews. The first author/service reviewer I couldn’t find at all – not on amazon, no website. It well could be she uses a pseudonym, but why would she not use a name people could find? Another reviewer claimed to have gone from no sales to 100,000 sales in a month’s time span. When I googled this author, they had one ebook available for purchase. It did not rank very high according to the sales figures I have access too; I found the claim to be overstated. While he may have doubled or tripled his sales, I don’t see any evidence that he has become a best seller on any available websites or lists. Consider the reason authors might make these claims: to be featured on the website in order to garner more readers and sales.

Do your research, writers. If a writer or service, company, or agent won’t or can’t supply you with references or a tax id # or a business license #, what’s your evidence they can do the promised job?

How much time should it take?

Don’t focus on the time, the weeks, or the future. Focus on the now.

Meaning: Don’t focus on the end of your story or the concerns about editing, about rewriting, publishing, stay with the here and now. Work on your story one page at a time, one day at a time, and go at your own pace.

The tortoise actually wins the race, kids!

Feed Your Creativity

According to science, exercise can feed creativity. Before you turn away, click the blog.gifunfollow button or run off screaming – oh no, she’s telling us to exercise, I knew it! – they say just getting out of the chair, walking for twenty minutes, or even (gasp) cleaning, just moving our bodies can get some juices flowing and give us a fresh outlook to come back to our writing.

So, no, you don’t have to go to the gym, learn kickboxing, or twist yourself into a pretzel, just take a deep breath and walk around in a circle for a few moments.  Who knows, dizziness of the circling might give you some great ideas!

Infused Writing

365day5Hobbies can reinforce our writing. I like hiking, being out in the natural world absorbing scents and sounds as well as images. I use hiking and nature to recharge my soul and in my writing by way of description.

Everyone needs something to recharge their soul. And adding authenticity to writing is always a benefit.

365day5aSome writers have hobbies, such as fencing, they use in their story. The descriptions of actual movements, aches, pains, body benefits, makes the story feel authentic.

Do you have any hobbies which feeds your creativity?

Food for Flow

5-Foods-That-Will-Make-Your-Hair-Healthier-020717

Scientists have discovered some foods are better for creativity than others. Some of those foods, Avocados, Coconuts, and Almonds have a high fat content but with what is often referred to “healthy fats”, which creates feelings of happiness and the desire to act.

I do notice that my flow is much better when I keep a healthier diet, and I do eat these types of foods pretty regularly.

Do you notice any difference in your creative juices depending on what you eat? If you never paid attention before, try it. Let me know if you sense a difference.

Writing is easy?

One of my favorite quotes:

newyear

Because, sometimes, it feels like that!

What’s your favorite quote?

A Statement of Poetics

newyearA few months ago, I found some things I wrote years ago. Among the stories and poetry hid my statement of poetics. As a requirement for one class, we needed to construct a formal (maybe semi-formal, we were all creative writers) statement of our values as integrated into our writing. That’s the simple definition. A statement needs to include your desire for your writing, your intention.

I resisted this assignment. It’s rather challenging to label yourself, pin your writing down. However, I knew I had to do it for myself – to discover what it was I believed of my creative abilities.

One of the things from that statement stuck with me, even when I thought I’d lost it.

“If left to my own devices, I would hermatize.

I would be the strange lady in the old shanty down the street

who wanders her Munster-looking yard by moonight kicking at sticks,

overturning last fall’s leaves in search of new ideas or an old peace of mine.”

Of course, it was not my intention to hermatize; it’s a part of my personality to want to be left alone to write.

What it reminds me of is Virginia Woolf’s proclamation in A Room of One’s Own in which she surmises, we need a room of our own in which to think, write, create.

That was written 90 years ago, but the statement is truer than ever.

Given social media, television, cell phones, kids, work, responsibility and life, we are newyearmore distracted than ever! Many of us writers need to actively seek out a quiet space where we will not be hunted down and found out.

And we need to learn to pry ourselves away from those other things which are so important to us – kids, family, work – to form a little space for ourselves.

My intention for 2019 is to seek out that space and to carve out some time for myself to write.

Happy New Year, writers.

What is your intention for 2019?