for writers

I’ve fallen out of love with writing over the last few months. It could be that I’ve been looking at the same story for so long I can’t find the story for the words or the words for the story. I’m near the end now. Again. Another reason is I don’t write enough. I’ve been busy and it’s a good and legitimate excuse, but the longer I’m away from it the harder it is to ‘get back on the horse’ or something like that. It could be that as I’m learning more about the publishing industry writing has become a cartoon devil perched on my shoulder poking me with its sharpened pencil whispering, “This sucksss.” A devil would definitely hiss at the end of that, right? “Just go make another coffee and watch an episode of Parenthood on the PVRrrr.” It must be a German devil. Writing equals pressure and who wants to sit at their computer completely stressed out each time they hit a key? Trust your instincts unless they’re wrong!

I attended the Surrey International Writers Conference this past weekend. It was my second writers’ conference this year, so I came to it prepared this time. I was a newbie at the previous conference and it showed. This time my pitch was polished. Armed with notes and comparables and calm I knew why I was here. To learn, pitch my story and be surrounded with a whack of writers.

From agents to editors to social media experts and authors I heard different versions of how one gets their book/their writing out there. Published authors tell you writing is paramount. Write what you love, write what you know, just write. Agents and editors want a Hollywood hook, sharp writing and a platform.  It’s about the numbers, the marketability of your book – how many followers does your blog have? How many people love you on Twitter and Facebook? And then it got tricky… Generally people didn’t love Facebook. Twitter is where it’s at. Blogs might be on their way out. Your blog doesn’t count unless you’re posting something every 3 days. (This means I’m screwed.) The landscape of traditional publishing is changing fast and self-publishing is the new black or whatever. It’s the best time to be a writer/It’s the worst time to be a writer. This isn’t new. I’ve been reading and hearing these messages since I decided to foray into this world.

There is a wealth of information and opinion out there and it’s a lot to take in and sift through. Not enough to give up, just enough to add pressure, to resurrect that devil on my shoulder.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun and inspiring weekend. I had an appointment with an agent who, and I’m paraphrasing here, said, “Platform Shmatform.” What a breath of fresh air. I went to a great and well-organized (nothing tugs at my heartstrings more than organization) workshop on dialogue run by Author Susanna Kearsley and sat in on Robert Dugoni’s workshop on editing which was both entertaining and helpful. I could have listened to Author Anne Perry speak all day. She was the keynote on Saturday morning and immediately afterward I got on my phone and tweeted because, apparently, I have to tweet more, “I felt like her speech was aimed right at me.” Seriously, my heart ached with the richness and beauty of her words.

During one workshop I had an idea for my next book. It’s one I had been toying with a few years ago before I started writing this story. I’ll save that for another post. I had lunches and dinners with fellow writers and heard their ideas, their stories. Oh, and just because the universe has a sense of humor and likes to keep me humble humiliated I spat on an author accidentally while telling him how much I enjoyed his speaking. Let me tell you, it was hella awkward.

Amidst all the words both inspirational and conflicting there was one message that persisted loud and clear from everyone; keep writing. So, for all writers out there on blogs big and small, novels self-published or manuscripts submitted and waiting for that YES we want your book, write. Write.

12 thoughts on “for writers

  1. Elizabeth

    Wasn’t it inspiring! I was in the same place. Exhausted from having just finished a hard book, and just a bit downtrodden on the whole process. But this weekend reawakened the spark. See you next year!

  2. Joanna Roddy

    Oh, Heidi, this is so lovely.

    I think I felt similarly after PNWA, but I hope that you feel armed with a renewed sense of purpose and, since you were pitching, possibility. You must write. You were made for it.

    Oh, and as for the German devil, remember what Anne Lamott says: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” Or, as Elizabeth Gilbert says to her muse (who I’d imagine is sitting on the other shoulder with a halo), “I’ll take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality.”

    1. heidi Post author

      You are so lovely! Love, love those quotes. I must write that down and glue it to my computer. Thank you for this. I needed it.

  3. Fran

    Thanks for sharing the inspiration. This such a journey on a long, winding road. There’s no need to travel alone. I appreciate your willingness to invite us along.

  4. Shari Green

    I love the Surrey conference! SO wish I’d been able to attend again this year — next year for sure! I’m glad you found some inspiration and some great workshops. Happy writing! 🙂

  5. IntenseGuy

    I would imagine any activity as “intense” as soul-searching writing would take a lot of energy and live one in need of some fresh air and a break before long! The actual selling of the writing must feel – well – a little unseemly – at best – and nearly like prostitution at worse (not that know what that is like —-)

    Keep the chin up and keep on keeping on!


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