This has been a long week, and, frankly, I’m exhausted. I had dreams all last night that I was dropped into a Death Match, so now it seems pretty clear what my subconscious thinks of the whole writing thing. We authors can appreciate what it feels like to be dropped into unfamiliar terrain armed with a KFC spork, no plan, and a ticking clock….but everyone is out to get you. And they have helicopters.
Or is that just me? Could be fatigue talking.
It has been a hard week, but also a great week, because lots of work means forward momentum. For the past ten days or so, I have been editing my new book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. I have to say, my team has been my lifeline, helping me with feedback and blurbs and line edits. I couldn’t have done this on my own.
Which actually brings me back to my Death Match Dream…
In this dream I was lured in with the promise of a nice vacation getaway, then was promptly thrown into a trunk, driven to an obscure location, kicked out of the trunk, tossed a gun…then lots of people started shooting at me. This has had me thinking all morning. Is this how my subconscious mind sees my craft? So permit me to have a little fun, and maybe some of you can even empathize.
Celebrity Death Match (Author Edition)
When I started writing, I thought it was all going to be rainbows and unicorns. This is how we get lured in, because we would never show up if they told us the truth.
For writers, it starts with a glitzy invitation. Ah, to get to be creative…ALL THE TIME! How was that not bliss? I would get to sit at my laptop, churning out brilliance and everyone would love me and throw wads of cash my direction.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I first queried, I only queried one agent, because I didn’t want to have to deal with the awkward drama when they all started fighting over me. I mean, what if I ran into these agents at a party held in honor of my awesomeness? Then I would have to leave before my fan club unveiled the cake that looked like my best-selling book. I’d be forced to ask one of my bodyguards help me to the limo before these agents made a scene.
….and then I was promptly tossed in the trunk and punched in the face a few times so it would be easier for the gloved hands to wrap my head in duct tape.
So I bumped around in the trunk, hyperventilating and clutching the spare tire for I don’t even know how many miles. I tried to keep track of how far we had gone by counting the seconds (query letters). I eventually lost count, and, just about the time I gave up, the trunk opened. Light. Air. Hope. This was all over. (An agent asked for pages).
Hands yanked me from the trunk. Was this all a joke? Finally I would be on my way to publishing success?
Duct tape is ripped off my mouth taking skin and eyebrows (first critique), and someone unties my hands. They toss me a gun and then helicopters circle and start shooting at me (Form letters come pouring in the mail. “Thank you for submitting, but at this time we cannot accept.”)
I have a choice. Stand there and die or run for the small wood frame house. I run as fast as I can and dive in right before another spray of bullets makes me a red mist. I look in the shadows and realize I am not alone (Subconscious book plug?). The house is full of other contestants.
There are five contestants. One guy is crouched in the corner in total denial. He won’t even take a weapon (writing class). Yeah, he’ll be one of the first to die. Then there is the guy who goes all John Wayne. He just loses it and runs out after the helicopters with only a pistol even though it is suicide (self-published author w/no prepared platform). The other three contestants and I watch in horror from the window as this guy is mowed down as he shoots his pathetic pistol in the air, hitting nothing.
Hey, he went out trying.
Finally, the other three writers…um contestants and I wait. We watch. We make a plan. We are forced to leave the guy who’s huddled in the fetal position in the corner. Once it’s dark, we slip out into the night and start reconnoitering the area. What are the boundaries (publishing options)? How strong are the bad guys (critics)? Did we have any assets (talent)?
Above all, in my dream, we started working as a team, and slowly our understanding of the landscape/odds/opposition became clearer. Also, over time, we started fighting smarter, not harder. Slowly, with strategic strikes and persistence, we began to shift the odds in our favor….by working together as one cohesive force.
I would love to tell you how my dream ended, but suddenly I was in an ice cream shop with the other three contestants and we were buying candy before they closed the giant Slip and Slide. I have no good dream translation for this.
Suffice this to say that I have been working on a book about social media for writers all week; reading and rereading my own lessons. And I have to say that I think my subconscious came up with a pretty accurate translation of the writer’s journey. We begin with our guard down thinking we are gonna win a million bucks and a life on easy street.
Reality punches us in the face, wraps us in duct tape, and takes us for a ride. We are often dumped into a scenario we don’t know and don’t understand (the reality of the publishing world). We have choices.
Freeze up, thus get left behind and die.
There are writers who shop the same novel year after year no matter how much it is rejected. They don’t take craft classes, and many are totally opposed to social media. Sadly, as much as we plead with them to come with us, these writers are dead before they know it.
Act too soon and attack while totally unprepared…and get creamed.
There are a lot of writers who, when faced with the truth of publishing, believe self-publishing is going to give them the dream. All they need is a published book, and success will fall in their laps.
No. That is just more delusion. Self-publishing is not a panacea. Fail to go into it prepared, and you’ll get mowed down.
Rally, Recon, and Raise Hell
But then there are the writers who take time to learn, grow and slowly tip the odds in their favor….by working together.
I feel that, in the past, writers didn’t have this third option. It was harder for them to team up and join efforts to tip the scales in their favor. Now? Unless we are an established brand like Stephen King, we are in a whole new scenario. Working together is the only we we are going to survive…and come out winners.
So what do you guys think? Do you agree? Disagree? Have anything to add? Can you relate to this Celebrity Death Match Author Edition?
Until next time…
In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.
Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.
This goes back to the lack of training for writers. While there is a lot of emphasis on teaching writers about writing, there’s not much about teaching writers how to be authors. I spend at least half my time on the business side of my business. Writing is only part of it if you want to be successful.
Amen! Which is why I am so grateful you started Warrior Writer instead of shifting totally to corporate training. I remember saying how agents and editors had a lot of snarky comments about how unprofessional new writers were, but no one was really teaching us what to do. I am so happy you rose to the challenge to fill that vacuum.
Brilliant post! Everything you put in here is so true–I’ve been through each of these stages, and survived the fear in each too.
Loved the add-in about the subconscious plug–I laughed out loud.
Thanks for bringing the weekend in on a high note, and good luck with the new book!
I feel the need to make one of those citizen check calls to make sure you’re not twitching on the floor inches away from a phone you never got to. Kristen, stay with me!!! Great post though. I appreciate how you bring us all back to reality, but you do so with humor and helpful advice that will make the challenges seem doable if we are prepared and at least in some sort of grasp of an author platform. I know this post motivated me to be in it for the long haul, I hope while writing it you too became re-energized.
LOL…I am twitching, but I think a good night’s sleep will help that. Thanks for caring :D. I am happy you enjoyed the post.
:clutches sides: I’m still laughing. That was awesome.
“Self-publishing is not a panacea. Fail to go into it prepared, and you’ll get mowed down.”
I love that you don’t dismiss it out of hand as an option. A lot of people still do, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. And you’re absolutely right. If you jump into that river (and it is a river, one with varying levels of rapids depending on your level of preparation) without a platform (aka a raft and a pole or paddle), you’re going to drown.
I say the ice cream and the slip n slide were rewards for a job well done. Where’s my spork…I want a bite.
Thank you! You are a blessing. I’ve been reading your posts and really taking your advice seriously. I love to write, can write..but unsure. I want to publish..still unsure of what’s out there. I’m taking a grammar class and fiction writing class. Finally!! It took a while to realize this and to really get going, always using my being a stay-at-home excuse with so much responsibilities, etc.
I am seeking to improve my writing skills, to hone in on a talent I didn’t know I had.
Thank you, Kristen!
Pure awesome! This is so true. And funny. Now how are we going to get together our writer army? Maybe if we promise everybody some of that ice cream?
Kristen: “Finally, the other three writers…um contestants and I wait. We watch. We make a plan. We are forced to leave the guy who’s huddled in the fetal position in the corner. Once it’s dark, we slip out into the night and start reconnoitering the area.”
The guys in helicopters now have night vision goggles. Still not safe.
I love the sustained metaphor, Kristen. We really are a community, and can really help each other. I used to think that writing was a completely solitary activity. Now I’m experiencing the resources and support that make me a better writer, and it’s even cooler to pay it forward. Although my biggest thrill ever was to get an agent after eight months of trying, a close second was when I could refer a fellow workshop writer to my agent, just as he was starting the query process. She’s reading his novel now!
In case I haven’t said so already, you’re the one who got me started on this social media journey, and I’m so grateful!
You’re funny, really funny! Do you know you could be a writer?
Great post! Made my day. And I have no delusions: everyone else is smarter, faster, funnier; I suck; there is no hope. But still I plug away on my little blog.
Funny, like the battling together ideal and hope the ice cream shop and candy isn’t about empty rewards or distracting from disappointments with sweets.
Made me look up panacea – I guess writing could be a disease ?
Still glad there is the self-publishing option, even if I don’t know what I’m doing.
like the mash up of dream and leaned opinion about writing as interpretations of it
the publishing industry lately does seem like interesting times like a Chinese curse
Another amazing post from Kristen Lamb, once more proving why smart people listen to her. What a great analogy. Kristen, you rock!
You know what crazy? I had the exact same dream last night! Kidding, kidding…
I can honestly say that never in my life as blog reader have I ever felt compelled to write hero poetry about someone who writes a blog. Sonnets appear across the front of my mind after a read like this. You’re like Beowulf with a cell phone.
Many writers hate to hear how difficult the journey is, but if you’ve still got to take that medicine this piece is like Mary Poppins, only instead of flying with an umbrella you could kill a vampire (literary rejection) with nothing more than a spoonful of sugar (the awesomeness of Kristen Lamb).
Great post! I know you’re talking about how hard the path is for writers but I found myself entertained by your dream. It’s a great plot.
Reading this too early to keep up but I get it, esp the part about self-pubbed author minus platform. I’m also starting to get that this social media thing is beyond huge, but doable under the right set of circumstances. Thanks for helping me get there.
LOL, Kristen, were we dream-fasted? You always seem to talk about what’s in my head and then make sense of it.
I think what I love most about this post is that it is so true about life in general while being crucial to being an author (of any kind) in specific.
OK you nailed me…John Wayne with rubber bullets stuck in “Ground Hog Day”
Yep! I can relate totally. I loved your analogy. And here I was expecting — based on the title — that this was going to be about the celebrities that crank out books and get them published because of who they are. How wrong I was.