Sunday, January 31, 2010

I know everyone

A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for writers I'd met at the Willamette Writers Conference on Facebook. One fellow's name didn't come up, but Facebook provides "alternative possible spellings" of names. There, first, was the name of a fellow blogger who often commented on a blog I follow.

I know everybody.

At that same conference, most of the agents discussed the now invaluable tool of writers establishing their own platforms. Gone are the days when publishers promoted a new author or even an established midlist one. For more info on this subject and how to self-promote, I'd suggest J.A. Konrath's excellent blog A Newbie's Guide to publishing which ranges far and wide on the world of publishing as it exists today.

Since I'm now in process of finding an agent, I've been working hard on platform. But I also want to work different as well. In that vein, I'm mentioning (and listing to the left) different blogs and webpages that have contests or markets or agent and publishing news. My first listing is for a contest. The deadline has passed for this contest, BUT the agent will do more.

What do you think, dear readers? Useful? Something else might be more useful? Or something additional? After all, I know everyone.

An added PS: after your first few comments, I've decided to have a Sunday post with useful blogs, contests, etc. Thanks and keep those great comments coming.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Starts--Don't Stop!

Okay, the book or project is finished. Okay, it's submitted, hanging in a gallery, delivered to a client. Now what? If you're like me, the strong tendency is to slump in your computer chair and take a nap. Or read a book. Or watch a movie. Or whatever activity or non-activity I've neglected and yearned for since I began now-finished project. Which I believe is healthy and wise.

Unless. Unless it becomes a new lifestyle. When taking a break becomes a full stop. Yes, it's intimidating to start again and anew, but it's far worse to get stuck. And then go into full waiting mode--for the rejections to come in the mail.

What helps me? Goals, deadlines and working with friends on same. While working on one project, I'm thinking of the future and what's next. Deadlines, whether outside world real or self-imposed, help keep the idea that time is limited, time to get onto the next project. And most important, friends such as Kathy of Well Placed Words, encourage and support that all important, "get doing it"!

Dear reader, do you find yourself stuck after a big push? What was a small break has turned into a chasm? If so, what do you do to get started again? Blog? Clean and organize? Look up markets? Or?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Going and Going On

This is an addendum, or a going on of the last post, focusing on the process of keeping going, in this sense finishing and sending out. This can be difficult for any creative person, whether beginner or pro. The belief is that it gets easier after a few successful sales. In my experience, it becomes more difficult.

A story in point:
Once I attended a two-hour fused glass jewelry workshop. The only requirement to attend was having attended the basic workshop in how to make fused glass (which is easy with some safety precautions, and the teacher provided the kiln). The class was full with mostly us beginners, mostly for fun. One attendee was a professional jewelry designer who had her own shop with her designs. While the rest of us happily prepped piece after piece of jewelry to be fired (no limit on number of pieces), this poor woman attempted to "design" one single piece.

Now glass doesn't act the same as metal--while being fused, glass melts. Metal in lost wax casting can be very exact, glass can't. With all her knowledge and experience with jewelry design, the poor woman didn't grasp that main fact. She also mentioned several times her ability to design, so she was worried about her reputation.

While the rest of the class played, relaxed and having fun, she struggled to design one piece. Despite the encouragement of the teacher and the rest of us insisting she relax, we weren't judging her, she couldn't. She ended up with that one piece, which she almost didn't let be fired and finished. She hated the end result. Meanwhile, I made 11 pieces, 6 of which were beautiful and all of which were suitable for gifts. One gal made 34 pieces! Again, all lovely.

Hence, my post about "going on." A pro can never let anything, including professionalism, stop the work. Yes, it's difficult when you have published some, to face rejection, to send out more while questioning your own judgment and the critiques or compliments of others.

At some point, if a pro, finish and go on. Take a chance, and then another. Finish another and send it out. Submit. Go on to the next.

Does this resonate with you, dear readers? Do you find it difficult sometimes to go on to the next? Or to finish? What do you do then?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pro or no?

All the diverse responses from my posting about pay for creative people sparked a fire in my mind regarding the question of professional versus amateur. Many of the professional groups I belong to have a two-tier system where you have to have sold X amount to belong to the "pro" level. Yet every group has differing criterion and calls the levels different things. From "Pre-published" to "Associate" (sold a bit but not enough) to "Affiliate" to "Full" (Pro) member, the list goes on and on. And of course they need some criterion for membership. But still...

So: What does it mean to be an amateur? Or a professional? Can you be both at the same time? (I believe you can.)

After long thought I've decided what comprises a pro for me is more what they do. What a pro does:
Realizes, accepts and embraces that anything creative is also hard work.
Is willing to continue to learn and question and challenge the work.
Understands that criticism can be the best tool.
Understands that all judgment is subjective.
Understands that rejection is part of the process.
And most important, the sign of a professional in the creative world: Keeps going.

The last means no matter what. No matter the setbacks, the rejections, the lack of recognition or pay, the difficulty of getting up and creating each day. Keeps going.

So, dear reader, what do you think of my list? Do you agree with my criterion? Does something need to be removed? Added?