It’s the question posed to every growing child. However, once you enter college, the question morphs into two questions: “What are you majoring in?” and “What do you want to do with that?”
I majored in English, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I was told the degree was useless and a waste of time and money. But what I dreaded even more than hearing the word “useless” again, was the inevitable follow-up question.
“Oh, so you want to teach English?”
No, I would say in the kindest manner possible, I wanted to be a writer and editor.
Why I Really Do What I Do (and Why It Matters to You)
Let’s try a little experiment. What comes to mind when I say, “It’s time to edit your story”?
For many writers, the notion of editing conjures an unwelcome memory of brutal critique or derision—a time you offered your story to a peer or mentor only to be shot down.
Maybe for you, it was a stern English teacher in grade school who filled your papers with inky red hieroglyphics. Or perhaps that college critique group who ripped your idea to shreds and laughed about it—right in front of you. Maybe you’re visualizing the relative who scorned your dream of becoming a writer and told you to find “real” aspirations instead.
Or perhaps—if you’re lucky—you don’t have any specific negative memories of critique; there’s just a general tightening in your midsection at the thought of sending your story child off to a total stranger who probably collects red pens and blogs about comma abuse.
Whatever the source of your apprehension, I get it. Writing stories—even fictional ones—is a deeply personal endeavor, and there’s something terrifying about revealing your creation to another human being, especially when that human’s job (and possibly joy in life) seems to be identifying all of your flaws and weaknesses.
It’s the evening after #PitMad and as usually goes, rejection haunts me.
You’d think I would be used to it by now. The trademark of being a writer is rejection. While there are always the lucky few who make their break early and fast, the majority of us writers slog through a plethora of rejections before finally getting that coveted book deal, agent, or movie deal.
And yet, it still hurts to refine your pitches, touch up your query letter and apply for yet another program or pitch your manuscript on Twitter—all for nothing. That empty inbox, that polite rejection email, the lack of likes on your PitMad tweets, staring back at you like an empty bag of chocolate.
In literature, the Reclusive Hero is someone who tends to work in the shadows. They know what needs to be done and have a clear idea in their mind of what they need to do, but they prefer to keep their abilities hidden or—at bare minimum—avoid the spotlight. Once their work is completed, they’ll often slip back into the shadows until forced to emerge once again.
Two of my favorite Reclusive Heroes are Sherlock Holmes (who became a legend only because of the masterful storytelling of Watson) and James Scott Bell’s Mike Romeo. Both characters are well-read in matters that interest them, adept at problem solving, and quite comfortable spending the bulk of their time lost in their own thoughts. Unfortunately both have a low tolerance for spending any amount of time around groups of people, as they often find social activities to be rather draining on the nerves.
In literature, the Romantic Hero is an eternal optimist. They somehow know how to turn even the most desperate of situations into an opportunity and—to the outsider at least—may appear to rebound quickly from setbacks. In truth they keenly feel every bump and bruise. They just stubbornly choose to believe that the heartache is worthwhile, that each obstacle and roadblock is temporary, and that their eventual victory will be all the sweeter for all the tears.
Cress and Winter from The Lunar Chronicles are two of my favorite examples of romantic heroes. I love the way that Marissa Meyers took two fairy tales about damsels in distress and transformed them into examples of women of substance. Despite the cruel abuses they suffered at the hands of a wicked Queen, they still held onto their hope of seeing a better world for their people. They didn’t just work within the system they lived, they found ways around it—not to benefit themselves in the short-term, but to benefit others in the long-run.
“[The queen’s] words carried too much weight, but Winter didn’t try to decipher them. She was busy nudging at the girl with her toe, gesturing for her to get into the crate.“
It’s what we’ve all be waiting for, Nova McBee’s debut novel is released into the wild!!!! *Cue champaign popping and frantic celebration!* CONGRATS Nova! Spinning Pen founder, fierce supporter of new writers, Pitch Wars 2020 mentor, and an expert champion and bridge builder between existing authors, it is now Nova’s turn to be supported and loved on by our community!
The world of writing can appear elusive. When you see a great author’s work, it’s a rare sight to see the author themselves. They can exist in a somewhat hidden manner and appear to be a group of untouchables that many of us are unsure how to approach. It’s one of the many factors that can make the decision of becoming a writer seem grand, exotic, or simply unrealistic.
Explaining NaNoWriMo and showing you how to succeed.
Only a Fool
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month — an event where writers all over the world attempt to do what professionals generally take months, years, and even decades to accomplish: write a novel.
The official goal is to write 50,000 words in November. 1,667 words a day, 30 days in a row.
If you ask me, it’s borderline foolish. Especially if you don’t prepare.
But it can be worth it.
Should You Participate?
NaNo can significantly boost productivity if done correctly. Here’s a simple flow chart to help you decide if this event is right for you.
If you have even 30 minutes a day, I’d recommend joining the party. Lower your goal to something more reasonable for your current circumstances and stick to it! You’d be amazed at what 30 minutes of writing for 30 days in a row can yield.
How to Succeed
Succeeding in NaNoWriMo requires simple prep-work, a system for making time to write, and a whole lot of perseverance.
The Prep Work
If you’re a Plotter, you likely have your own system for planning a novel. Make sure it’s completed before November 1. Pansters, here’s what I recommend for prep:
Find a character that intrigues you and drop them into a premise that excites you.
I also recommend daydreaming throughout the day and thinking of possible routes you want to take with the story. Just having that rough skeleton will help when you sit down to knock out those first 1,667 words at the start of this coming month. Continue reading →