Friday, June 10, 2016

Best of the Archives: "Please Take the Summer Off So I Can Get More Contracts" by Ruth Logan Herne

I love this post. First because it lets me own my inner snark, and then because it's such a great bunch of truisms... all that fun reflective stuff that helps us to see what we CAN do... and then we have to make up our minds to do it!When I saw Eli and Zee Zee at the chicken farm, and how differently they reacted to a new situation.... and then realized how important it is to do that in books, I decided the photos were a perfect analogy! So here you go, a fun look back in time. Of course I'm still a snark, but I am having more fun than I ever thought possible, so it's nice to know that even snarks can find their way in this business!!!

FROM RUTHY, August 9, 2012:

I promised myself I would berate... regale... scold... I do believe I even used the word "insult" to shake people off their lawn chairs and back to the computer keyboard, and then I realized:

What Am I Doing?????? Why am I looking for more competition in a competitive market????  Why don't I just be quiet??????


So if you're comfy-cozy in your hammock, rest easy my friend. Take some time off. Chill-lax... Breathe in, breathe out.  Because contracts come in a finite number and I'm always willing to take my fair share...

And then some!  

 "Portrait of Tentative"

Hey, if Renaissance artists can title their work, so can I. Ruthy here, as promised, ready to walk you through an analogical series of shots on why you need to work to succeed. I promised I would berate, regale, insult and possibly humiliate you to show you the error of your ways. And the pressure on me clearly INCREASED when Connealy was nice to the lot o' youse this week. (Current Ruthy note: MARY WAS NICE IN AUGUST OF 2012. Just to show me up. Kind of rude, right????)

I mean, 'sup wi' dat? Is that fair? Is that what a friend does, lets moi take it on the chin for the good of mankind and writers at large????

Apparently!!! So in this scenario, she's the good cop, I'm the bad cop, like that's a SURPRISE TO ANYONE.


Please draw your attention to the above photo. Study it. Analyze the mood. The lighting. The slightly triangular and possibly alien-esque shape of the little boy's head. (I can say that because I'm his grandmother and every alien movie uses triangle-shaped heads. Clearly there's a connection.)  Note the BIG PEN OF TURKEYS in the background... 'Lijah is clearly uncertain of his role in this "let's go to see the farm" excursion.

We went to buy more chickens, long story, let's just call them fox food for the sake of argument and be done with that side of this lesson. I have never been called a 'quick study'  in my life.

This is you, the writer, unsure, uncertain, spreading your wings, cautiously making your way through the jungle of writers' groups, newsletters, conferences, How-to-Write books, meetings, online classes, critiques... It's scary at first. Or you're amazingly sure of yourself and jump in both feet, only to then discover it's scary, at first.

It may or may not STAY scary, I'm not going there today, first you have to move beyond TENTATIVE and end up on Nike's square... "Just Do It".

"Looking For Reassurance"

Also known as the "glance back" or "pat on the back", this shot shows the slightly alienesque but adorable boy wishing he had the nerve to move forward. Wondering what it would be like to go in that pen and visit those HUGE BIRDS WITH LONG, HANGING WADDLES!
We all get to this stage fairly early if we're doing anything at all, which, by the way is the point of this post: Work. Work. Work. Write. Write. Write.  I like simple lessons. They work best for me.

No one hands you anything in this business, and I've come to discover that if writers get handed too much, too soon, they tend to fall apart because they go into publication thinking "Wow. That wasn't so bad!!!!"  


Sorry. Had to get that out of the way. Because writing is work, it is self-discipline, it is forging ahead, it is embracing change (editors change, lines change, publishers get swallowed up left and right, then management changes, and the new management may have a whole new vision and if you're not actively working and selling, Oopsies! You may not be part of that vision.) That takes us back to self-discipline. Pushing yourself. Think Olympiad. Think Gold. think scoring a goal in the 123rd minute of a soccer match to put your team into the gold medal round... because you NEVER GAVE UP BELIEVING YOU COULD DO IT.

Sigh. What a game!!!!! (If you don't understand this reference, the American Women's soccer team with my hometown grown girl Abby Wambach edged out a very well organized athletic Canadian team by scoring a last-30 second goal to win, 4-3 on Monday. Hats off to those Canadian girls, I've never seen a better soccer game in my life. I hated to see either team lose.)


Do not linger at this stage. Lingering here is a useless enterprise and puts you in the 98% of people who start a book and never finish it. Longing is good for musing and mental plot development and chocolate gazing, but it is NOT GOOD FOR AUTHORS.  (repeat that 3 X please and thank you.)

The Thrust Forward!!!!


Check the expression. The body language. The hinted smile and the more take charge stance! This is all augmented by little brother's tongue sticking out, which clearly means he thinks big brother may or may not be a WUSS and has decided he'll go in and visit the chickens if big brother tarries too much longer.....

This is us as we watch others succeed... and wish it was us. As we watch others face the dragons of agent and editor appointments, entering contests, letting people critique our work... Why on Earth would you let others gain the edge by taking summers off? Taking extended holidays? Sitting back,  chillin'... Relaxin'....  

"I'm In!!!"

Spurred by his brother's slightly mocking stance and face (either that or the baby's teething, your pick!!!) the cute kid has gone into the pen. He surveys the chickens... What's he thinking? What's he planning? Does he know that chickens poop and he may be walking in it???  HE DOESN'T CARE, HE'S GOING FOR THE GOLD!!!! 

And that's our best lesson, that after the tip-toes, the wade-in's, the practice shots, the only thing that matters is what happens IN THE GAME!!!!

This is my current Ruthy advice to you: Yes, be true to yourself. But never assume that your time off doesn't have real effects on your body of work and production. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. An airplane uses most of its thrust getting off the ground.... Starting up on a bike is much more energy consuming than just riding one.... Think before you take days/weeks/months off, because not writing can become a habit.... Just like writing 1K/day can!

Enjoy this day off from comments, and remember, "Back in the Saddle" is still $1.99 for any e-device!!!! Kindle, Nook, Sony! 92 Reviews, 4.4 star rating! Thank you, reviewers!!!!

Comments have been turned off for the day so we can all settle in and focus on what we need to do... Drink coffee, eat chocolate and write great books!