1. YOU'RE ONLY SPECIAL TO YOUR MOMMA.
You are special. But so is everybody else. Some agent/editor is not just going to walk up to you and say, "Gee, you look like one of those specialtastic people out there who should get a book contract without actually having to edit the crap out of it. Heck, why don't you even send it to me unwritten. I'm sold on the idea alone!"
Yep. I've learned I have to pay my dues, write a gazillion bad words, and learn the hard way how to be a good writer. Sure, there are some people that have gotten a lucky break and didn't have to write the gazillion words. But I want to be the best I can be, so I'm prepared to work hard now so that I'll be ready when my lucky break comes.
2. YOU CAN GET CAUGHT UP IN THE LEARNING CURVE.
There is a huge learning curve in the publishing business. But I've discovered the hard way that I can't let it cut into my writing time, into my own creativity.
3. JUST BECAUSE YOU'VE CAUGHT THEIR EYE, DOESN'T MEAN THEY'LL SLIP YOU A CONTRACT.
I've had a few close calls this year, but I think agents have to be absolutely certain they love your work. If it was hard to get an agent before the economy took a bad turn, I'd say it's even harder now. So requests should be taken as such--requests with no commitment and only a slim chance of a contract.
4. YOU DON'T NEED THE COFFEE HOUSE OR THE ORNATELY CARVED DESK TO WRITE.
What?! And I had this dream of sipping herbal tea at a cafe/bookstore or writing masterpieces at a mammoth hardwood desk. Really I get more done if I can write where my kids are, lounging in the living room recliner or the giant bean bag chairs in their bedrooms. That's because I take advantage of those small, numerous moments when they're occupied rather than waiting for a giant block of time. Besides, that Thomas the Tank Engine is truly inspiring. I mean how many different times can YOU say, "he was cross" or "bust my buffers" in conversation and get away with it?
5. THERE'S NEVER AN IDEAL MOMENT FOR WRITING.
People ask how I could write when I was pregnant. The same way I wrote when I was working full time, had a kid, and taught one night a week at the community college. You've gotta want it more than sleep, more than eat, almost more than air. Health may fail, you might be tired, but you wouldn't be the first to work through those moments. Look at Stephen Hawking! He can't even type his books but he manages. If you want it enough, there is no excuse.
6. NO MATTER HOW MUCH SOMEONE LOVES YOU, THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY'LL LOVE YOUR BOOK. AND THAT'S OKAY.
It IS okay. Out of all my family, my sister is the only one that has read a full manuscript. And I have a big family and they are all big readers! Everyone has only so much time. Besides, tastes differ so much in entertainment options. And that's okay. (To be fair, my husband has finally, FINALLY picked up Courtesy and Patience this week. What I write is just not his cup of tea. I still love him anyway.)
7. YOU CAN GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS.
I've met so many good writing friends! Some of you may read this so I want to say THANK YOU! It's awesome to know people who know what it means to be obsessed with a hobby and yearn for it to be more than a hobby.
8. THERE ARE A THOUSAND REASONS TO KEEP YOU FROM WRITING, AND ONLY ONE REASON TO WRITE.
At any given time I have about five things in my head that I think I should be doing. I have to constantly remind myself that to be happy today, I have to make some time for me to create new words. It's a matter of mental health and I've slowly learned that. I physically can't stop myself from writing.
9. CONTRADICTORY ADVICE CAN HAVE A COMMONALITY.
With the requests I've gotten this year I've noticed that even though the advice is contradictory (I love the characters but the plot pulls me out of the story! I love the plot but the characters pull me out of the story!) I can still see the underlying problem. Sometimes it's pacing, sometimes dialogue, sometimes it's something mechanical. But once I've looked at the minutiae, I can see that it's disconnecting the reader from the whole. Hopefully I'm learning to fix this as well as spot it more often in revisions.
Perhaps these are things I should have learned earlier, perhaps they're common sense. But 2010 is here and I can't help but wonder, "What will I learn this year? How close will I be to being published this year?"
And then I think: The number 10 is my favorite number, something great HAS to happen!
Here's to a year that I hope brings great things to you too!