Archive for February, 2006
February 28, 2006 | Writing
Wow! I haven’t blogged in a while. I apologize. I’ll be back on schedule this week. I’ve been busy cleaning my house from top to bottom. Scrubbing the toilets til they shine, ironing, cleaning the ceiling fans, cleaning grout, cooking four course meals every evening for my husband and son. NOT!!! That was a wicked nightmare. I can see dust balls from my desk, probably write a scene in dust accumulated on my bookcases, and as for cooking, well let’s just say we have a wide variety of takeout menus. Market Day is my best friend. I did go to lunch with a friend of mine, and I ordered ribs to go for my son. That was his Friday night dinner, so it was all good. JMan, my son, and I have been playing a lot of tennis lately. Now, it’s boys tennis season, and all tournaments cease until May.
What I have discovered is, writing is a career. Well, gee Yamine, you might say, didn’t you know that when you started writing? Hell no! I didn’t! When I say writing is a career, I mean a full time job. When I first started writing seriously, and if I reread some of my writing from years ago, I just might cry, laugh, or take a used care salesperson job. I thought all I had to do was write the best story I could, find an agent, and just keep writing more books. How naive, how simple, how absolutely beautiful. Reality is, any pursuit takes much more than just the initial, “I want to write a book.” Maybe, once a upon a time, writing worked like that, but not now.
Writers are independent contractors. We are responsible for everything, from the first word on paper, to author signings, and beyond. We have to know copyright laws, in addition to point of view. We have to know about goals, motivation, and conflict as well as pitch to an agent, and how to stay away from agents who don’t know what they’re doing. We are in business for ourselves. We are the boss, employee, accountant, therapist, public relations expert, and editor all rolled into one. And if one of us is having a bad day, all of us is having a bad day. We could complain about the boss, but hey, that means looking in the mirror and trying not to get that look on your face a real employer would have. “Here she comes again. Whining about how her characters are out of control, not listening to her. She needs more time to edit her book, she’s stuck on the middle section, and can’t seem to get a minor character to stop hogging the page. Gee, she thinks I’m going to help her, I’ve got my own problems. I’ll just smile, and tell her to stick with it. She’s doing a great job, and she’ll come up with solutions, and I’ll remind her about her deadlines.”
We have to manage our time, and give up playing solitaire on the computer. It does not count as research, or relaxation. We set goals, reset them, and then reset them again. At the end of the year, we perform our own job evaluation. Now, this is when real fictional writing comes in.
It’s not that I’m totally daunted by this realization. It means I better understand that writing is the career I’ve chosen. In order to be successful, I have to hunker down and act like it’s my job. I once went to work for a national youth advocacy group. My first assignment was a conference. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was so confused, upset, and scared. Were they going to discover I was a fake, a flake, a fish out of water? I called a friend, and he told me I didn’t get the job because I was stupid. I got the job because I was the best candidate, smart and I’d learn the lingo. He gave me confidence. I returned to the conference, took notes, got to know people, kept my mouth shut, and listened. I learned, and in a couple of months, I was performing my job. Writing has taken longer, it’s a learning experience every day. It’s my career.
What steps have you taken to make writing your career?
Me go first. I have an office. Actually, it’s our living room, but I don’t want living room furniture. Who sits in it? Everyone’s in our family room or basement. It is my writing space. I have a three panel screen blocking the front entrance. I have writing hours, and behave just like I did when I worked at the bank. I have a lunch break. I have a Starbucks run, and yes I take care of personal business while at work – just like everyone else.
February 14, 2006 | Writing
NEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM DYANNE DAVIS NOW POSTED ON MY WRITING PAGE. www.yasminephoenix.com/writing.html
Seems like I’ve been gone for days. Okay, I have been absent for a few days. That’s what happens sometimes. JMan was in another tennis tournament last weekend, and my team had a match Sunday. JMan was nervous Friday night. Edgy, mostly. His Dad came to watch, which made him nervous. Of course, I’m always nervous, but try not to show it. This time, I was well prepared. I brought my ipod, my ebook, and a chair. JMan won, again his effort, focus, and determination were all there. He told me before the match, that he might be off the court quickly. I asked him to explain. Was he going to win quickly, or lose quickly? Nerves, but once he got on the court, instinct and training took over, and he was in it to win. Of course, the next round he draws the number two seed, who just happened to lose to one of JMan’s high school team mates last weekend. When I saw the draw, I said, “We’re f***ked.” The kid is pretty good. I debated whether to tell son who he was playing, so I did tell him. He was fired up! He went in with a game plan, and was up five games to two, on the NUMBER TWO SEED, the first set. Then nerves, reality set in, and he lost the first set seven games to five. The second set, he tried, but he couldn’t get pass his own head. His Dad came, and said he could ride with me home. JMan is known to very moody after a loss. So is his Mom when she loses. He came off the court, looked at me, and smiled. “Well, what happened?” I asked. “Mental,” was his reply, with a smile. I returned his smile and nodded. “Yep, sure was.” But he wasn’t real moody. He knew he could take a seeded player to the brink, and next time, he could maybe win.
Now, the writing parallel. You knew it was coming, didn’t you? JMan did his best, he was committed to a game plan, and forced his opponent to play better. As writers, we must have a game plan, celebrate our successes, learn from our rejections, and get right back up and try again. JMan knew his problem became mental. How close was he to his first big second round win? Very, very, very close. Being close to our goal can scare us into not finishing our work.
How close are we to completing a manuscript? How close are we to sending out the first three chapters of our book? How close are we to being published? How many more doors do we have to knock on, classes to take, rewrites to do? How many? Until we get it done, that’s how many.
Now, how did I do Sunday in my match? I lost. I went in knowing I had a 5% chance of winning, but I played first singles very well. AND, on my opponent serving the first game, I broke her serve and won the first game. HA! I made mental notes that I went over with the pro I work with. Now, we’re getting a tennis game plan together for me to use when playing. Yep, writing game plan, and now a tennis game plan. This year is looking better.
February 8, 2006 | Writing
I forgot to mention that Dyanne Davis, a published author of African American and paranormal romance, is answering questions on my website at the Writing – Humps, Lumps and Dumps page. Stop by and read her comments about writing! I’ll be posting some of her answers here, and if you have questions you’d like to ask her, email me at YasminePhoenix@aol.com
February 8, 2006 | Family & Life
A couple of days ago I blogged about my son, JMan and how well he played in a tennis tournament. He was awesome, focused, committed, and made me very proud. APPARENTLY, Blogger saw fit to first post my blog, and then take it away, along with a previous blog I had written. According to a Maya, a writer friend of mine, there have been some technical problems. UGH. I had told a couple of tennis pros about the blog, and thankfully they got to read it. I’m hoping this blog gets published! Although JMan, made it to the second round of the tournament and lost to the second seeded player, he was still happy about how well he did. A couple of years ago, he’d lose in the first round, and spend the next few days talking about how he was a first round loser. Now, he’s got the first round under his belt, and the goal is to go further into a tournament. My son is a shy fifteen year-old, who is deaf in his right ear. His left ear is called a ‘Golden Ear’, because he can hear 100% out of it. He doesn’t like having a handicap. Football and basketball were eliminated because they’re contact sports, and he might damage the left ear. Plus, there is a lot of noise in both sports, so it’s difficult for him to tell where sounds come from sometimes. The school system has been great helping him learn how to cope with the disability. Tennis is a sport he can play, either singles or doubles. It’s competitive, and he maybe able to play in college. Are we proud of him, yes. He plays again this weekend. Oh Joy! Mom will be there, nervous, excited, and ready to support him whatever the outcome.