Poetry

Firefly

You’ve got lights glowing by your feet.

They’re trying to help you find the path,

so stop avoiding them.

They don’t appreciate being hopped over.

Or stepped on.

In fact, they don’t like being by your feet at all.

They’d rather be at the same level as you,

but your ego is a barrier

they can’t get past.

 

One of them is starting to fade.

Will you let it extinguish?

Poetry

Feathered Things

In the woods on a blue moon night sits an owl, who given the correct password, leads to a tired old raven, wise in many things and many ways. I ask it why the silence is always so painful, why the white waiting room that goes on forever is still never vast enough to contain that feeling. It replies; because if it were not so, we would never appreciate when the silence ends.

 

Uncategorized

Inspiration: the struggle behind the success

It’s very easy to assume that successful writers (both traditionally published and self-published) have always been successful, that they’ve never had to work hard to pitch their work to a publisher or to an audience because their work is so sparkly and amazing it will always get a good response.

I’ve been guilty of thinking this too, and the inevitable question of ‘why can’t that just happen to me?’ looms in my mind along with a particularly large case of self-doubt.

But that’s the thing, it never does ‘just happen’.

Okay, there are one or two cases of ‘right place, right time’ but they are very few. Most successful authors have had to work hard at their craft, to keep going even when it seemed like they never had a hope of getting their work seen.

There are well known authors who have had their share of uncertainty about the quality of their work and whether writing really was something that they should pursue. Yet they stepped up to their fears, and went ahead to put their work out their anyway. They had the courage to take feedback, whether positive or negative, and though they may have ‘failed’ many times before they found a method or a style that really worked for them and their readers, they learnt from those mistakes and used them as stepping stones for their next creative endeavour.

I take great inspiration from those who have really struggled but persisted through and never gave up (and in this, I’m not just referring to other authors, but creative people in general such as game designers, graphic artists, film makers etc). Their struggle proves the passion that they feel for their art, and I’ve come to the conclusion that if you are truly passionate about your art, then you should do it.

Do it because it makes you happy, because you can’t function properly without it, because no one has done it before or because everyone has done it but not your way.

Create the stories that you want to read, and keep going, even if the idea is so outrageous that you’re sure no-one will like it. You may just be surprised.

Uncategorized

Querying, yay!

Now by ‘querying’, I don’t mean to raise a series of questions, I’m talking about the other type of querying. The one that means sending out your precious manuscript (or a least a synopsis and the first three chapters) to a literary agent in the hopes that they’ll love your book so much that they’ll drop whatever they’re doing and shout from the rooftops about just how good it is, and then offer to take you on there and then.

At least, that’s what most people querying an agent hope will happen.

Sadly, as many, many writers will tell you, it isn’t that easy. Firstly, most reputable agencies have a well established client base already, so they’re reluctant to take on anyone else so that they can focus on building the careers of the authors they’ve already got.

Secondly, they always watch for trends in the market and keep in mind what books their authors are already working on. This means that if an agent rejects you, it’s probably not because they don’t like your work, but because there’s no call for that type of book at the moment or your idea is similar to one they’re working with already.

As an example, I had an agent send a rejection email the other day saying that although she was impressed by my work, two of her clients had books in the same genre, and she didn’t want to create competition by adding another. Being rejected (yet again) was disheartening, but it was nice to hear her reasons. (Also, if you get a more personal response rather than a form rejection, take it as a good thing. It doesn’t happen very often- agents receive hundreds of queries a week, it’s almost impossible to respond in detail to them all.)

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, is that even if an agent takes you on, they can’t simply wave a magic wand and get you a super publishing contract. They have to fight for your book, to champion it to editors, and if they don’t fully believe in it, then that makes things very difficult. What most authors overlook is that agents get their pitches rejected from publishers just like authors get manuscripts rejected.

So, how can anyone beat all those odds?

The answer is, quite simply, to query as many agents (or publishers; small presses often have periods when they welcome unsolicited manuscripts) as you can and remember that if you really want to be published traditionally, then you have to have the drive to never give up no matter how many rejection letters you get.

A good thing to think is that there are lots of writers going through the same despair of being rejected by an agent or publisher (or, perhaps worse, not hearing back at all or going through long periods of silence where you check your inbox every ten minutes hoping for any news at all, even bad!), so even if you find yourself being overwhelmed by it all, there are always people you can reach out to who are going through a similar experience. Like me, for example.

So talk to other authors. Laugh, moan or cry with them. And, if one or all of you are successful, share it so that people can still see that it is  possible. Fight on!