Friday, January 28, 2011

See No Writing Evil, Hear No Writing Evil, Speak No Writing Evil

This is my writing take on the Asian maxim of the three wise monkeys. These principles apply to the writing world and are lessons I have learned with time and personal experience.

See no writing evil.

At some point in your writing career, you are going to receive a rejection letter. Part of the writing business is learning to take a few knocks on the chin gracefully. Editors are not evil. It's simply their job to find the best writing for their readers. Rejection letters and criticism are not a personal attack against your character, so please don't take them that way. If the editor offers you some criticism, embrace the opportunity to strengthen your piece before you resubmit somewhere else. Editors are very busy and often do not have time to offer comments and suggestions with a rejection; consider yourself lucky if you receive a personal rejection letter. It's a gift from the writing gods!

Hear no writing evil.

Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself and trudge on, even though the acceptance pile is slim and the rejection pile is overflowing. There's plenty of opportunity out there and the trick is to find the right market to submit your work. Maybe, you won't be taking home Stephen King's salary next year, but you can take pride in knowing that you sold a few stories for some cash and are working towards your dream.

Having a dream in working progress is more than a lot of people accomplish. Be proud of yourself! Don't let yourself get overwhelmed with those horrible phrases, "I can't" and "I'll never". You can't and won't, if you never try. There will always be people you encounter in life who tell you that your dream of writing professionally is a slim chance and that you're "not good enough to make it". Don't listen to the people who aren't cheering you on. Surround yourself with your own personal cheerleaders and write. Now granted, not everyone is going to be the next great Clive Barker or Kelly Link, but that doesn't mean you should surrender your keyboard in shame. A lot of the writing journey is simply that -- the journey of getting to where you want to be.

Speak no writing evil.

Social sites, forums, and blogs are wonderful tools for marketing your writing career, but remember, you never know who is out there reading what you write. Be professional. If you get a rejection letter from an editor that you think is horrible and are really mad about, don't post about it on your blog or Facebook page. If you get a critique from someone on a writing forum and you disagree and think the person is a *bleeping* idiot, don't post about it. Negative publicity and a bad attitude are things that will get you nowhere in the writing industry with editors, agents, possible writing contributors, etc. Be a professional and people will treat you like one.

Those are my three writing rules to live by. Respect editors and learn from their decisions, believe in your writing and tune out the naysayers, and don't speak ill in public of anyone because you never know who might be listening/reading.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!


KYL said...

Excellent advice, Nora. I especially agree with the bit about "speak no evil." Being discreet is a sign of character.

Nora B. Peevy said...

Ugh! Typos late at night. Removed my own post. What I meant to say was this:

Thank you, KYL. I don't put anything in writing that I wouldn't want people to see.