Are you an MS abuser?

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We never really know when discouragement is going to come or what will bring it on. I’ve received plenty of rejections and most days I can just twitch my shoulders and chalk it up to subjectivity. But other days a rejection can feel like someone just tossed me a bag of concrete I wasn’t ready for.  I’ve been catching concrete this week.

Why all of the sudden, you ask, are rejections so hard to take? I entered a contest recently and got some wonderful feedback on my latest MS. Good criticism equals lots of work and sometimes it’s hard to pull up your sleeves and dive back into a manuscript you thought was finished…but then again, what am I if I don’t? I’ve been so tempted just to move on and start another novel with hopes this one will be the one that won’t draw a single rejection, though I only started sending out queries for this MS in May and have had more request for it than any other I’ve written. But what is my writing if I don’t make it better when I know it can be?

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Walking away from a manuscript when you’re weary is like neglecting a child when she’s being more trying than usual.

When we feel like abandoning our latest novel in a bassinet on the front steps of the closest orphanage for unloved manuscripts we need to find a way to get excited about approaching our work from a different angle. View it as a new project all together and if you are lucky enough to have some good criticism to get you started then break it down piece by piece and get the most out of it. This is an opportunity to make your story whatever you want it to be all over again without having to spend months drumming up another 80K words. The bulk of your story is there; just squish it between your fingers and mold it into the new, shiny, better MS I know you can write.

Here are some ways you can renew your excitement for writing.

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1. Read! Pick up a new book. Get excited about it and think about how you can bring some of that excitement to your own writing.

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2. Change things up. Sometimes trying the same query with the same manuscript that keeps pulling in rejections over and over is a bit like beating your head against the wall. Rework your query from a different angle. Or maybe work on the story itself. Write a few new exciting scenes for your novel or rework old ones. Run them by your editor and see if they might improve the story. Think of your main character from a different perspective. Maybe even change their name. 

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3. Read success stories of authors who’ve been rejected tens of hundreds of times like this one for encouragement. See what they did and didn’t do to get their work out there.

What do you think? If you have fears that maybe there’s just not a market for your novel or you think you’ve got an idea for a better story do you move on or do you make perfection out of it before you walk away and if no one picks it up, at least you knew it was your best work?

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A list of firsts for me.

I’ve entered the LV13 pitch contest and the contestants are participating in a blog hop. Feel free to get involved by clicking on the link at the end! Here are a few first memories for me!

  1. How do you remember your first kiss?
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It was a tragedy with a happy ending. My first REAL kiss was under a fur tree with this really cute guy. My only other experience was with this real winner who wanted to play tonsil hockey and so I thought that was how all guys kissed. As he leaned in, I opened my mouth wide and….well, I bit him in the face. I was so embarrassed and wined about how he’d never call me back. He just pulled me closer and said so sweetly, “I’ll teach you how.” I couldn’t help it. I had to marry him!

  1. What was your first favorite love song?mariah-carey-boyz-2-men-450ms092309

Mariah Carey and Boys to Men Sweet Day.

  1. What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?
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Make sure there is food and iced coffee within arms reach.

  1. Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Don’t laugh. Don’t judge. Stephanie Meyer.

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  1. Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

Oh, heck no!

  1. For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

Oh, wow that was a while back. I’m pretty sure it was setting first though because I remember wanting to write this one scene and the next thing I knew I’d written a book. I’m not even sure I intended to do that. It just happened and that experience lead to what I do today.

  1. What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

More!

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Holding my bowels, sketch pencils and recognizing Gateway Talents

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As I meet new artist I find we have one thing in common and if we don’t it’s only because they don’t know we have it in common yet. I hate generalizations as much as the next person but it is becoming exceedingly apparent to me that artists are artistic in general.  I had a pencil and a sketch pad in my hand from the moment I could voluntarily hold my bowels. I’ve always had an artist’s heart however I distinctly remember people complimenting  my work as a child and thinking, well, all I can really do is sketch. Just a few short years into MY THIRTIES brought me the courage I needed to try other things like painting, photography, playing the guitar and finally writing. They say nicotine is the gateway drug to the hard stuff. For me, a charcoal sketch pencil was my gateway to writing. I’m not saying I’m done with all the other “hobbies” (Oooo I hate that word. They are so much more than hobbies! Especially when they become lucrative.) I still do all of them regularly and they are a huge part of my life but I would have never found one without the other.

Perhaps you are an artist with a single talent, one thing you’re really good at, but you’ve somehow conned yourself into believing that is the only thing you can do.

Could I please oh, please give you some advice you didn’t ask for? Here are some things you can do to recognize where your Gateway Talents are taking you. But we’re going to have to start from the very beginning and what better way to preface this than with some adorable photos of a newborn I just snapped on a photo shoot a few weeks ago?

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NUMORO UNO:  You need to be comfortable in the saddle.

You are never ever, I mean never as in the discovery of the Fountain of Youth never or VHS tapes making a comeback never or gas being 99 cents a gallon ever again never, going to move out of your artistic comfort zone until you are comfortable calling yourself an artist. No matter your craft, albeit wood sculpting, poetry, mosaic or oil painting, if you can’t admit you’re an artist you will never move forward in that respect or any other.

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Number Two…What’s that? You need a second to take in the grossly adorable gaucho on the painted pony. I KNOW!  He is so cute. This picture was both fun and terrifying to take. Don’t worry. Mom is crouched behind the horse supporting him.

Okay, Number Two: Brace yourself for the ride.

Once you can admit you’re an artist don’t assume you will suddenly be endowed with skin as thick as armadillo’s hide and the confidence of a honey badger. (Wildly audacious beasts by the way. You must read up on them.) In the beginning, your heart will be crushed by rejection and equally bruised when people don’t get your work but there will be that moment where you’re like, “Oh my Mayonnaise! I don’t do this for them. I do it for me. I do it for the ones who DO get it.”  And that moment, my friend, will be like the relief you feel after having a baby. Don’t know what that feels like? Well, it’s a little like having an 18 wheeler removed off of your lungs and bladder. For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, you can take a deep breath but now you have this new creation in your hands. That’s what that moment feels like.

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Then there’s graduation. Granted it’s only from Kindergarten because as an artist you’re never going to arrive. There’s a reason for that. We won’t let ourselves. There will always be something more amazing we can create and we can’t rest until we try it.

What about you? Are you at Numoro Uno? Can you admit that you are an artist yet? Or perhaps you are moving on to the next Gateway Talent. What is it? Pray tell. Can’t wait to hear from you.