Writing is About. . .

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I watched the movie LOCAL COLOR about a teenage boy who wanted to paint and how he hooks up with an elder Russian painter. (The movie is based on the true life story Written by George Gallo.) My mom is an artist and I watched the movie to see if she might enjoy it.

The more I watched, I began to wonder. If painting is about seeing, what is writing about? As I quieted my mind the words came to me: painting is about seeing as writing is about being.

I wrote down those words and my mind flipped on me. What the heck does that mean?

I’m betting there are as many responses to this question as there will be readers who read this.  For myself, being is who I am. My true self. Not what I do, not the roles I play in life. Being is all about ME. The me that yeans to get out and exist in the world I live. Now effectively can I write if I don’t let me be me? My guess: not very well.

So I need to let the inner me, the real me, exist in order to become the best writer that I can become.

So if I can see as a painter and be as a writer, my world becomes a place that is full of life, adventure, characters, plots, and creations. I hope that each day I can write from this place of being.

Question for today: Ask yourself the question. Writing is about. . .?

Best Wishes,

June

There Be Monsters Under Foot

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Miles removed, Johnny puts the finishing touches on his painting and Sally writes the final sentence to her new story. Moms tell them to go to bed. Lights go out, and in the darkness both Johnny and Sally shiver. Something is about to happen. They both know it. Out of the quiet, a creak comes from under the bed. Or maybe it’s in the closet. In a flash, blankets and sheets fly over each child’s head…

Yes, no kidding. There are monsters. They lurk everywhere. They attack. They sometimes win.

What are these monsters? They are our doubts, our negativity, our thoughtlessness. They feed off our fears like vampires. They live inside of and all around us.

The good news? We can win!

The monsters I’m talking about are many: the self-doubts and fears, negative people, not caring about the little and important things in life, and so much more.

Maybe it feels like a losing battle. NO! Writers never declare defeat!

What can you do? What so many wonderful, enlightened people of the past and present have said to us: be positive, be kind, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Cherish each day you wake up, each word you write, each smile you receive, each interchange with another person.

Your fingers, pencils, pens, keyboard are the lights that fight some of these monsters. Writing brings you joy—it’s your passion. Letting yourself experience joy spreads to others like the endless waves of the oceans, a never ending current.

Let yourself do the things that bring you joy. Defeat the monsters by thinking positive, by doing some kindness for another be it friend or stranger.

You can’t control what others do or are, but you can control your reactions to the world around you.

What do you choose?

To defeat the monsters or let them live and multiply?

Question for today: What can you do, TODAY, to defeat the monsters?

Best Wishes,

June

Monster Hunter

Reasons I’ve Rejected or Accepted Manuscripts

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Working for two publishers, one of my toughest jobs is to evaluate manuscripts. While I love discovering talented new writers, one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do is to send out rejection letters. I KNOW how that feels. I KNOW the impact this might have. I’ve been there.

Here’s my list of reasons why I’ve rejected or accepted manuscripts over the last year.

On the rejected side:

– The main characters are under developed.

–  The plot has too many holes or it was unbelievable.

 – Weak storytelling. (And one of the major issues I’ve seen are POV issues, especially head-hopping.)

 – The story started off slow or not in a good spot.

– The writing needs too much editing.

– The manuscript read like a draft.

On the accepted side:

– Well developed, interesting main characters.

– Strong plot, subplots, and resolution.

– Excellent storytelling skills.

– The beginning of the story snagged my imagination and I had to read more.

– The writing needed little editing.

– I couldn’t put the book down.

Some hints before you submit:

It’s fine to have friends and relatives read your work, but most of the time you are NOT going to get helpful feedback. If you have not done so, join a critique group and revise based on feedback you receive. Join two or three critique groups. Do what you have to do to get quality feedback. Finding the right critique group is critical to your writing growth.

Read the publisher’s submission guidelines. Follow them. No exceptions!

If a query letter is required for submission, make it professional. Your email or letter is as important as your polished manuscript. Why would I read your manuscript or excerpt if your query has typos, run-on sentences, grammar issues, or other problems?

Consider using a revision checklist before sending off your manuscript.

Understand the business of publishing and marketing your book.

NOTE: Many more publishers want you to include a marketing plan as part of your submission package.

Question for today: How ready are you to submit your writing?

Best Wishes,

June