Friday, September 17, 2010

Don't Be Stupid, Pilgrim

I subscribe to a wonderful magazine called American Cowboy. I read it cover to cover. That's beside the point. The point is that the recent issue has a great ad featuring John Wayne.

Here it is...
Naturally it got me thinking. Since I'm a writer I consequently thought of all the stupid things we do as writers. Here's what I came up with, btw some I am guilty of and some are merely hearsay to protect the stupid.

Stupid Things Writers Do:

  • Badmouth their editor, agent and/or publishing house on the internet.

  • Get a request for a full from an editor and/or agent and fail to send it.

  • Fail to follow editor/agent guidelines for submissions.

  • Get a a request for revisions and fail to revise and send the manuscript in.

  • Fail to meet contractual deadlines.

  • Procrastinate.

  • Become enamored of their work to the point of refusing critique.

  • Write mean things about other writers and/or their books (yes, including reviews) anywhere on the internet.

  • Make excuses.

  • Give up. (We in Seekerville believe in Plan B)

  • Believe they can't learn anything new about this business.

Can you add to the list? Do you dare?

Up for grabs is a copy of Ruth Logan Herne's Made To Order Family and Julie Lessman's A Hope Undaunted. Two winners.

Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

And if this post intrigues you, check out The Writer's Guide To Self Sabotage. I hope you don't see yourself there.


  1. Love that John Wayne ad! ;)'s a stupid thing as a writer that I've done recently:

    --Fail to set aside time to actually finish the first manuscript!

    It can be so easy to procrastinate, as you mentioned, or just put writing on the back burner when you're not yet published. But if I ever hope to be published, for now I need to just write...right? ;)

    *sigh* Can't they cut a wanna-be novelist some slack and get rid of homework?



    P.S. I have the wonderful privilege to have my current read be A Hope Undaunted (!!!), but I would love a chance to win Ruthy's book! :D

  2. Fall in love with the very first book you write and spend years trying to sell it instead of just sending it out and STARTING A NEW BOOK.
    You must start that new book.

    And when I say MUST, I suppose I mean c'mon, you can DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Well um...gee, looking at that list, I've done a few stupid things. Good thing I'm a work in progress. 8-)

    And aw rats! Mary already commented on the one I was going to add so...what she said! 8-)

    I'd also add, it is stupid to let the business side of writing kill your creative side. There must be a balance.

  4. One more...

    ...keep buying more and more books on writing with the never-die hope that that book on writing will make crafting a novel a magical, mystical and easy romp through a manuscript.

    Personally I like to delude myself with that one over and over again. It's an addiction. 8-)

  5. ok once again since I think the other disappeared!
    from a reader's point of view of stupid LOL!

    1) leave a series unfinished..sniff...dont' care if it's the publisher's fault I HAVE to know what happens to the other people

    2) change horses in midstream - example writing a really good contemporary series then suddenly around book 3 or 4 make the hero futuristic time travel or something far out in left field(yes this happened and no not to me 'cause luckily I hadn't started that series)

    3) sulk and pout and get into a huge argument on a forum with people whining and yes some were actually grieving.

    4) change style of writing and have no sympathy for the fans of the old style which was just perfect. and yes sadly one of my favorite authors of all-time did this. luckily I still like the new stuff but I just loved the old stuff.


  6. Oh my gosh, this is way more fun than mocking out the people who got to go to ACFW in Indy which is what I WANTED TO DO TODAY....

    But calmer and smarter heads prevailed.

    My list of stupid mistakes is so long that let's just say Guilty On All Counts.

    But you know what? We all make mistakes and you just take it on the chin, pull up your big girl panties and move on.

    Coffee's on. It's Friday. And that hotel in Indy has nothing on Ruthy-food so for today we have:

    Our famous Frittata, a pan fried mix of home fries, lightly crisp, scrambled egg, sausage and cheese with a hint of onion....

    Bagels from Einstein Bros. because Walt's hangin' at home too.

    Cream cheese, plain and flavored.

    Bacon, crisp, not burnt.

    A selection of Danish: cheese, apple, raspberry/cheese and pineapple, and if you've never had pineapple Danish, oh my stars, try one today.

    Croissants, flaky. Buttery. Warm.

    Dig in, guys, and I love sharing my stupid mistakes.

    All 419 of 'em. ;)

  7. Sigh. You had to ask.

    How about having all your work on a really old computer that is beginning to act fractious and even though you got an external hard drive saving thingy you've been too busy or too tired to haul out the computer and plug it in and actually back up and even though your computer didn't turn on sometimes you knew that if you just gave it a little rest it would turn on eventually...until one day it didn't.

    Heavy sigh.

    Lost: two picture books nearly done to my satisfaction, numerous outlines, hundreds and hundreds of pages of stories (seriously) my YA fantasy (all the good parts anyway or so it seems)and my wip.

    And compound stupidness. You now have a laptop and have started filling it up with fiction and you realize that you still haven't carted the external hard drive thingy up from the basement and backed anything up!!!!!!

    Hanging my head in shame.

  8. Let's see, I've already done most of the stupid things.

    I think I'll be unique here. How about actually registering for conference, making the travel arrangements, and then getting so tied up in knots about leaving the family, what to wear, emotional-eating weight gain and that dreaded/blessed agent or editor appointment that you seriously consider not going?
    There's always next year, right? Ugh!!

  9. Any kind of fretting over writing my nonfictions instead of praying. Ask, Seek, Knock and let God.....

  10. Not a writer....just a reader....and I would love to win Julie's her books. Thanks for entering me!

  11. Tina, Loved getting up this morning to John Wayne picture. oooooohhhhh Most of his movies were so corny but I loved them. Just like Hallmark movies today. smile

    Guess I love corny, syrupy, funny romance.

    I'm munching on all that yummy food Ruthy brought and trying to to think of any stupid thing I've done.
    Couldn't be any really?????

    Okay Ruthy, stop laughing.

    KAV your mistake is my worse nightmare. I have lost things too. It is so painful. Now I double backup.

    Oh here's one. While writing, insist I need breaks and play Mahjongg or Freecell until I've wasted half my writing time. sigh

    I guess that fits into what Amber said about procrastinating.

  12. Or the dreaded sending out the email with out the deliver notification option attached so you don't know if it got there and worry yourself silly!

    Can already vouch wonderful things about Ruthie's book so put me in the pot for Julie's book.

    Peace, Julie the other.

  13. These were funny and some too unbelievable. I can't believe people would not tend to requests for full manuscripts. Hello, you want to be published, yes?


  14. Ok, since I'm relatively new to all of this - my stupidity, to date, exists on a couple of levels:

    1) Not realizing how stinking hard this whole writing a novel thing is,

    2) How easily distracted I am, and

    3) What a hit my normally intact self-esteem would take.

    Historically, writing has come easy to me - writing papers in school, articles for work newsletters. But a novel? Jeez, Louise.

    I am not a quitter. I will not give up. I cannot be deterred…

    Oh, and please note the phrase “to date” as I am sure much more stupidity is to come.

    I would love to read something by Ruthie. Thanks for entering me.


  15. Julie, I want to know about that email notification feature. Can you explain? Obviously I've done this stupid mistake? LOL

    Holly, I've heard editors say this happens all the time. They get all excited about a pitch and then never receive the manuscript. I'm with you. How goofy is that?????

  16. Holly and others amazed at the idea of not subbing a requested manuscript---having committed this sin, I can speak to it. This can happen quite easily, especially when it's the writers first manuscript.

    And I can tell you 2 specific reasons I did not follow through:

    1. As it was my first manuscript, even though it had already been through several re-writes, I did not have a realistic grasp of how much longer it would take me to rewrite. The requestor said sub in 6 months was ok. But when I couldn't finish in 6 months, I just didn't send.

    2. And tied to #1 --- PERFECTION. Perfection, while a good thing to strive for, is the nemesis of a productive writer, and it's something I struggle with all the time.

    And yes, I've kicked myself for not following through on that opportunity, but it is what it is, as my niece likes to say.

    It has made me gun-shy of submitting again, though I did finally submit that manuscript.

  17. Should clarify that last post--finally submitted that manuscript--to someone else.

  18. Good morning, Seekerville!!!!!

    Once again, here we are...those left behind. Right now let's start shoving pennies in the piggy bank and saving vacation time so we can attend RWA or ACFW conference.

  19. BK, send it anyhow. Send it now. Send it.

    Just add a note where you ran into the editor/agent and send it out.


  20. BK,

    Ha, I'm addicted to craft books also.

    What have you bought lately? Anything I'm missing?

  21. John Wayne has always been my favorite actor. No, no, no, Sandra. John Wayne movies could never be corny. One of my husband's favorite quotes was when Kathryn Hepburn told him he was a credit to the male race. (Paraphrased)

    Kav, that is such a sad story. I have an old computer I used to write with, and it wouldn't let me save to a disk or one them port things. Luckily I could access the internet and could email my writing to myself. That way I could pull it from any computer. B

    Mary, I have the opposite problem. I did complete my first manuscript. But since then, I have several manuscripts started and before I finish one, I start another. Stupid, I know.


    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

  22. Tina, nothing recently, though JSB says there's a new Writer's Digest book coming out called The Nighttime Novelist (Joseph Bates, I think). That will probably be my next one.

  23. This could probably go under making excuses--but questioning whether or not God meant for you to write the book/question whether or why you are supposed to write at all. A lot of times I do that, especially when I am not motivated or have writer's block. I end up questioning the why am I doing this at all. :)

    Thanks for doing the giveaway. :)
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  24. Yeah, questioning God's call on my life is one my personal all time favorites.

    One of my favorite speakers/teachers/pastors is Keith Moore and he describes something called being rein trained. Like a horse. Ideally we should all be rein trained. The spirit nudges us and like a well trained horse we understand the direction we are nudged toward.

  25. I think a mistake many writer's make is comparing their work or career to someone elses, feeling they fall short and taking a hit to their self-esteem.

    Some competition is healthy but you have to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

  26. loved the john wayne poster :)

    thanks for the opportunity to read julies latest novel....i already read (and enjoyed) ruthy's masterpiece :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  27. Become sidetracked by any little thing that comes along. But that kinda fits into excuses wouldn't you say??


  28. Going along with Rose's comment, comparing what you are writing to what someone else has already written is also a mistake. I have a good friend who has been writing the same book for 20 years. Why, you ask? Because every time she reads a book in her genre, she panics and goes back to change hers.

    "I can't use this plot twist, so-and-so just used it and people will think I'm copying."

    "I can't give my hero this quirk, so-and-so did it and she's more famous so I'll get rejected because they'll think I stole the idea from her."

    "I can't write this scene this way, so-and-so did it so much better, I'll have to change it completely." And on and on.

    I've never been able to convince her that it's voice that makes the difference; not the elements you use in the story but how you use them. I also had to quit using her as a critique partner because she was infecting MY work with the "can't" bug -- "You can't do that, so-and-so did it first." "You can't write your love scene like that, write it like this person -- better yet, write it like THIS person." Thanks to her generous and helpful ministrations, I never finished any of the novels she critiqued. Since distancing myself from her six years ago, I now have five finished novels, one of which is being considered.

    Writers should never speak "can't".

  29. Oh, my EC. I was exhausted just reading your post. I had a double cappuccino and now feel better..but 20 years. Hmmm, I think we all see the error of her ways and pain for her.

    Congratulations to you on your msc under consideration.

  30. Great list.
    I fail to treat my writing like a business.
    If I want people to take this seriously, I've got to even more so than they...but not to the point of badmouthing or feeling above critique. That's one thing I'm afraid of.

    But after hearing someone say a seasoned, professional read her earlier books, and swore that she'd revise them.

    Even she knew she hadn't learned everything.

    I loved the Plan B post as well.
    Made me REALLY...I mean REALLY think about this stuff.

    I also learned that writing brings me joy. Not just happiness, but when God and I commune, it brings God joy, and that brings me joy.

    Writing is a part of me, but I want to love it for the rest of my life...not get tired of it.

    Lord, help me!

    Thanks again, and the pic at the top is fun, too. :D
    My hubby loves westerns.

  31. Karen called my work a MASTERPIECE.


    Me and Van Gogh. Dickens. Mozart.

    I'm a happy woman this night.

  32. Twenty years on one book....

    Obviously she didn't know Mary.

    And E.C., I know a couple of critique relationships that are that way. I'm so glad you saw the light and eased away.

    Writers should always, always, always, always, always, always, always....

    (getting the drift????)

    surround themselves with positive people, sayings, Biblical scripture, points of grace.


    Life is too short to allow anyone to suck you dry, even unintentionally.

    Good vibes. Good feelings Positive feedback.

    (positive feedback is NOT to be confused with a "Yes" man... Tina and Sandra can attest to that fact that I am not nor will I ever be a 'yes' man.... But that's why we work well together, because they're just as mean as I am only not everyone KNOWS it.

    Which only means they're sneakier.

    I don't think that's necessarily good. (Say that last line in a Junie B. Jones voice.)

  33. Moi? Mean?

    Hey Tina, we need to take the Ruthinator in hand here.

    We are like sweet angels when next to her. Ha ha ha

    And I have to say 20 years. Whew, what stamina.

    I can barely stand going over mine more than twice. Which Ruthinator has taken me to task on. Really I have to make SOME changes. So SHE says.

    Okay, Tina, I do have my pennies going in a piggy bank. Next year. RWA and ACFW. I'm going to start looking for cheap flights NOW.

  34. I find it difficult to believe that some writers get a partial request and then don't send it.

    As for stupid things writers do, we set a schedule for writing with the little precious time we have to write and then don't meet it. (Guilty.)

  35. Amen to what Mary said. Trying to fix that first book over and over. I made that mistake! :)

    Great post, Tina!