Wow, only writing this title was an amazing experience. All writers must work, there’s no doubt about that (unless you land a big publishing contract that could only come after decades of experience 🙂 ) But wouldn’t it be great to make your writing journey while you have one of the best jobs ever? I’m still so thrilled that I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull off this post or not.
It was really hard. It was Not one of those jobs where you apply, you get an interview and voilá you got the job. It was hard work and nothing else, and this makes this experience so rewarding because you know you fought for it; the results are only about perseverance and never giving up. It’s about being stronger than you believe. It’s about knowing you really did your best. That’s why this is the best job ever. A job where you get to help people, a job where you get to learn every single day, a job where you get to prove yourself every single day, a job where you can contribute, a job where you can grow endlessly, what else could you want?
Writing is one of my passions! And I will continue writing because it’s in my nature, and I cannot imagine myself living without writing, but when you have a job that makes your day happy every single day, then writing time is definitely going to be the best!
And for all those wondering, what job is this? I’ll get you the details in a next post 🙂
Loved this talk! For all of you who still hadn’t found out your passion or know what is your passion but are too afraid to pursuit, then this is the talk for you!
Actually, this is the talk for all the people who want to have a goal in life and achieve it!
Professor Larry Smiths presents, in quite a peculiar way, a talk that changes lives and inspires. He is a professor of economics at University of Waterloo. A well-known storyteller and advocate for youth leadership, he has also mentored many of his students on start-up business management and career development. The most notable start-up he advised in its infancy is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry.
Invest 15 minutes in this talk and it will be an investment for life!
When I started working on my first book, I had the following plan:
I would finish the draft in four of five months at most
I would make a thorough review of the first manuscript and in one single edition round I would correct everything that is wrong.
My beta readers will read it in a couple of weeks and I would rejoice in his/her wonderful comments
I would find a great Literary agent in a blink of an eye
I would have the book published in that same year
I would live from my writing and would travel the world.
I was naïve. REALLY naive.
This is the second year I’m investing in my first book. I’m still editing it. So far I’ve come to understand the following:
Doing the first draft is by far the easiest and quickest part of the process
When I finished the first draft, I was so thrilled. I felt I have conquered the world and I could be called a writer. I was so proud of myself. I thought that finally I was making something good with my life, that I was looking towards the future, towards my goals, you get the point…The truth is that writing the first draft is the easiest part. You can even achieve it in one month (If you want to test the efficiency of NaNoWriMo). But rest assured the first draft will not be readable yet. Chances are it will still have lots of plot holes and huge amounts of rewrite to be done.
2. Planning one round of revision is not realistic at all
There will be many rounds of revision. It’s hard to rewrite scenes, plot holes, and work on character development while editing your grammar and punctuation at the same time. You’ll probably need another round, and perhaps a third one, etc. Additionally, after your beta readers come to you with feedback, chances are you’ll probably need to change and rewrite many sections of your book which will lead you to another round of sentence structure/grammar review, etc., again.
3. Leaving your first manuscript to rest for a couple of weeks and even a month is not a bad idea
I knew about this tip way before I finished my first manuscript. Nonetheless, I was in such a hurry of having everything done that as soon as I finished my first manuscript, I started to edit it on the very next day. I didn’t leave it to rest and breath. My head didn’t have time to clear enough to target my manuscript with a fresh point of view. The result was several pointless rounds of revision until I decided to finally give myself a break and leave the manuscript for a month. During this time, I wrote other short stories, I read more, etc. When I finally returned to my old good manuscript, my mind was fresh and I could detect more issues than in all those previous three rounds. I identified huge gaps where I could improve. If only I’ve done that before my first round of revision… I would’ve probably faced my manuscript with much better criteria from the first edition round.
4. Your beta readers won’t give you feedback in a couple of weeks
I had three good beta readers, but it took time to receive their feedback. You have to take into account that not all of them are available to read your manuscript as soon as you deliver it. Unless you’re paying for a beta reading service, most of these people will be doing you a favor. You’ll probably need to wait until they have time. Not all of them can read books in a couple of days; they might need more time. Not all of them have only your book to read; they might need to put it in their queue of “still to read books”.
5. Good Beta Readers will say the truth and cause many changes in your book
Let’s face it. This is your first book ever. You can’t expect to nail a best seller that soon. You’ll need a lot of time,experience, and good listening skills. You need to pay attention to your beta reader’s feedback. And I’m talking about good beta readers, not your mom, your husband, etc., but people who will be able to judge the manuscript and say what is in their minds without any fear of hurting your feelings. You have to acknowledge that as the author of your book, you know how the plot works, you know how characters look in your mind, but sometimes you fail to translate this knowledge into the written world. Chances are you’ll still need to change and rewrite after your beta reader’s feedback.
6. Character development is not achieved at once
If this is your first book, then you’ll probably struggle with nailing “character development”. Even if you outline characters before you start the book, they’ll probably develop and change as your plot changes. Their behaviors will change depending on how the direction of your books goes or how scenes are improved. Providing a three-dimensional character is harder than you think. It wasn’t until many revisions and feedback that I had enough tools to develop my characters as they should.
7. Developing your voice doesn’t come so fast
It doesn’t matter how many books about writing you read and how many writing courses you attend. Developing your voice only comes with practice. Sometimes, you want to obey all writing rules and make your sentences’ structure perfect, but then you find yourself with a boring flat manuscript. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to know the rules. To break the rules, you need to know them first. But you can’t expect to find your writing voice in the first round of writing. Perhaps you won’t even find it in your first book.
8. Don’t hire any editing service until you’ve received plenty feedback
I made the mistake of hiring an editing service (which was very good) before I got all the feedback. My third beta reader was able to send me his feedback after my manuscript was already edited by a professional editor. This feedback was very helpful and had lots of good advice plot-wise, which meant I had to do significant changes and rewrite many scenes and even chapters. The result, the professionally edited text was gone. It would’ve been certainly helpful to hire this service after all revisions and feedback.
9. Consider your first book may not be publishable
In my plans above, I clearly talk about getting a literary agent, publishing it, and having enough earnings to live from my writing. The reality is different. And the truth is your first book could not be published yet or could not be published at all. You need to accept this fact from the beginning. It’s a learning curve. My mind already has tons of topics to write other books; they even sound more interesting than the manuscript I’m working with right now. Perhaps book two or three will be published. Perhaps my first book will be revisited in a couple of years and later published. At this point, I only care about improving my writing.
10. This is only your first experience
Writing a first book is about gaining experience. It doesn’t matter how perfect your book idea is, how charming your characters are, or how beautifully you construct prose, the process is still tricky with the first book. You still need to learn how to handle feedback, how to detect plot holes, how to find your voice, how to make useful rounds of edition, etc. If you take this point of view, I guarantee you’ll find the experience more rewarding than the publishing result. You’ll be more excited about your next projects and you won’t suffer so much if the path of delivering your first book looks too hard. Best of all, you’ll encounter the true meaning of being a writer.
The best moments when I read a book is when I find myself laughing due to the author’s wit and good sense of humor. As I hear my laugh echoing through the room where I read, without any apparent reason, I feel lucky to be enjoying something “secret” or “hidden” that people around me in public spaces won’t probably never get to know. I get to enjoy characters only to myself which (in a selfish manner) I don’t get to share with those around me. Those are the times when I mostly appreciate good humour in Literature, either intended or not.
After enjoying these moments, I find myself wanting to write as these authors. I want people to enjoy my stories as I do when I read others. But then I ask myself, could I ever write a comedy? It’s hard enough to come up with one witty remark, never mind the entire length of a comedy-based novel. I’m pretty sure those who achieve writing in the “comedy” genre can be named genius. Maybe some writers are born to write in this genre. Maybe only people like comedians are the ones who should answer this call.
No more than a week ago, I started my first “comedy genre” book. For those curious about the title, I’m reading Timur Vermes “Look who’s back” which had a book cover that promised to deliver “a comedy of all sorts”,”clever, funny,” book and so on. Please, don’t go into questioning my book selection. I know the book has become controversial, so I won’t go into discussing why I’m reading this book. Just let me tell you, that I’m reading it with an open mind and in the effort to understand more about this literature genre . But as far as I gotten into the book (one-third of its lenght ), I haven’t laughed much. Is it because I don’t understand the book’s sense of humour? Maybe the fun style has been lost in translation (the book has been translated from German) But if this is not the case, and if different people react different to diverse styles of comedy, then how can you write a fun, clever book that appeals to a vast majority? Is there a secret, hidden recipe somewhere to tackle all funny bones in the whole population?
If it weren’t possible , the comedy genre wouldn’t prevail. I don’t believe there’s a successful formula. But I might have detected one possible self-barrier. Whenever I come up with a funny remark while writing, I usually erase it almost immediately, afraid it will sound stupid or even insulting to some people. Without noticing, an internal judging voice makes me consider any funny statement. And I bet most writers face this challenge. Writing comedy is for the brave, for the ones that laugh at life, at oneself, and don’t care much about criticism . They don’t care if people don’t laugh; they are aware not all of them will do. But they still go out there.
By not laughing at Vermes’ book, does it make me a different person to please? Does that make me a writer with more difficulties to write comedy?
Lastly, I would like to leave you with Chris O’Dowd’s quote:
And you, how do you go about writing funny remarks or comedy?
Oh men, If I thought I would had a weekend like the previous one, years ago, I would have laughed really hard. I´ve always envisioned myself writing a novel in the late years of my life. I would say “SOMEDAY I will write a book, when I´m retired, and have time, and blah blah…”, but then one day I just decided to say that is BS! I will accomplish this dream “RIGHT NOW RIGHT HERE”, not in the near future, or someday when I´m in a retirement house, but NOW, when I have a day job and almost no time. I made the right decision…
For the past months, I´ve been trying to write my first novel. I started writing short stories first but when I got what I thought an interesting idea for a novel, I decided to give it a go. I decided I was going to put ‘writing´ as number one in my priorities list. No more “extra activities” that would drive me away from it. I would write everyday, if possible, until I actually made a habit of it.
Then, to not bore you anymore with the process to achieve this goal, I started to research about the process of writing books, how to build up characters, plots, etc. So much material about it, you wouldn´t believe me.
Finally, I decided to enroll myself in the Writer´s Digest bootcamp: Agent One-on-One: First ten pages, which basically focused in the first ten pages of a novel. We got a video tutorial from Ms. Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary Agency, who was brilliant, the cleverest person I´ve ever listened to. She gave excellent advice of what Agents were looking for and what she expected to find in the first pages of a novel. She also talked about all clichés, and all the times she got to reject queries from writers. I was “Oh my, I´ve never going to make it!” I did some research about her clients, looked in the web for their books, and believe me , those were quality material, beautiful books, written so amazingly that I was “I don’t stand a chance, English is not even my native language! I´ve never going to be at that level” But I was already registered in the course, with 200 $us invested, which here in my country is a LOT of money.
So to shorten things, Paula Munier was assigned as the agent who would review my pages (out of five agents in the bootcamp). I was thrilled, maybe she was the toughest one, but the one I´ve imagined myself working with. I sent my pages, expecting to receive a critique that would say “this is not good, you really have to improve, you should consider changing careers, or are you sure you want to be a writer?” I was already mentally preparing myself for that, telling me that I would try not to take it so bad, that I would improve, that this was just a course, and that I was there to learn and to improve.
What I got was: “Nice work, Easy and Fun to read, Engaging premise, Likable hero, Colorful cast of characters, Unique great style” and I was … My god I was stunned.
Of course she also described the parts where I could improve, like improving the flow of the scenes, avoiding overwriting, American grammar and punctuation (the British influence of course), and some issues with my second scene. But nonetheless, I was thrilled.
And true, there is still a lot to improve, but it is all about the HARD WORK, and nothing else. If you want to write, you have to do it all the time. You have to read millions of books, if you want to improve your craft. It´s hard work and nothing else. Revision after revision and craziness along the way of course! I usually find myself about to go nuts when I get into one of those hard “revision” sessions, like I would dream with characters and get traumatized with grammar rules. But it is worth it.
In the end, we don´t get a second life, we only have this one, we´d better make the best of it. That means we only have NOW and THIS LIFE to make our dreams come true. We’d better devote ourselves and work our asses off to achieve our dreams, or else when are we going to do it? There is no other way around.
Believe in your dreams and just work the hell out of yourself to make them come true!