It's my birthday!!!
And in honor of my birthday, thought we'd lighten things up around here just a bit. Because, really, all this feedback is all well and good if you're meant to be a writer.
But what if you're not?
Why waste your time with it, then?
And, anyway, how do you even know?
So, courtesy of my good pal, often critique partner, and amazing writer, Amy Fellner Dominy, we thought we'd give you a little quiz. See if you're really cut out to be sharing your words.
Because, if you're not, well. . .
Amy has been here on Friday Feedback with me since the beginning of TW, I think, so many of you know her already, and love her like I do.
But in case you don't, she is the author of several award winning books including A MATTER OF HEART (an ALA Top 10 Sports Book for 2015) and DIE FOR YOU, a dark romance, coming November 8, 2016 from Delacorte Press.
From DIE FOR YOU:
It sounds amazing, doesn't it? I have read a bunch of it, and cannot wait to read the rest! If you're interested, please pre-order. Nothing helps a book (and author!) more than preorders!
Okay, so now, let's get to it. Do you have what it takes? Take a deep breath and find out? (Amy will share her excerpt, too, down below):
Do You Have What it Takes to be a Writer?
10 Questions to Consider
by Amy Fellner Dominy
So, you’re three weeks into Teacher’s Write. You’ve learned so much in such a short time. You’ve begun to experiment with ideas, develop characters, discover voice and setting. Maybe you’ve even felt the tingly rush of inspiration, the goose bumps of an “ah ha” moment. This writing thing is, well, it’s hard work, sure…but it’s also fun.
But are you really cut out to be a writer? Should you retire to a smoking jacket, an old comfy chair and a keyboard? The answer to that just might lie in the answer to these 10 questions. So take the quiz and find out: Do you have what it takes to be a writer?
1. Can you write absolute crap?
If so, congratulations! You’re on your way. Most first drafts are truly terrible. The trick is—can you open your heart, pour out what you think is awful and still continue? That’s what a writer must do. It’s only through revision that the work begins to shine. So if you’re a perfectionist or you’re too embarrassed to reveal that very bad beginning, you won’t make it far.
2. Do you crack yourself up and creep yourself out?
As a writer, you have to write first for yourself. If you’re worried about what everyone else thinks, or what the market is looking for, or what the next big trend is, you’re in trouble. But if you can sit down each day and write what’s in your heart, this could be your dream job.
3. Do you have extremely strong abdominal muscles?
Have you ever seen those guys on TV who tighten up their stomachs and then dare someone to punch them as hard as they can? Well, that’s what it can feel like to share your excerpt online. (Maybe you’ve already felt this for yourself?) It’s exactly how it feels to send your book out. You’re basically giving a stranger the opportunity to punch holes in your story. Which is like punching a hole in yourself. A writer knows how to tighten those core muscles and absorb the blow. Yeah, it hurts. Yeah, it leaves you bruised. But then a writer stands back up and readies those abs again.
4. Are you willing to stand naked on a stage and yell, “Look at me!”
In other words, let’s discuss book marketing and promotion.
There’s a joke by Stephen Wright: “It’s a small world. But I’d hate to paint it.” I always think of that when it comes time to promote a book because the world begins to feel like an extremely big place. And it seems to be full of books. If you want people to know about yours, you can’t be shy. You have to open your arms to the world and cry, “Me Me Me!” (Clothing optional.)
5. Check out this dancing baby on YouTube!
This was actually a test. Did you click over (did you think about clicking over?) Because what you’ve just experienced is a DISTRACTION. There are a million of them every day and a writer has to fight them off, stay focused and resist temptation. If you want to be a writer, you must turn off social media, tell your children not to bother you unless there’s fire or blood, and you must forego the joy of browsing a well-stocked pantry. Can you do it? Then you just might have what it takes.
6. Is writing so hard it makes you want to cry?
Yes? Excellent! You’re doing it right. Creating a full-length novel with a unique voice, characters who leap off the page, and a plot that compels the reader to keep turning pages is a monumental task. So if you’re pretty sure you can knock out a novel this weekend, you may have unrealistic expectations. (But if you manage to do it, please let me know HOW!)
7. Do you love chocolate?
Okay, so this really doesn’t have anything to do with anything. I only mention it here because I’ve noticed a lot of writers seem to have addictions to chocolate—could this be the key to success? (Could the fact that I prefer an apple fritter to a truffle be holding back my career?)
8. Do you have a muse you can rely on?
If you answered yes, I’m jealous. I’ve spent years hoping mine would show up and I’ve come to the opinion that muses are like Unicorns and a Post Office with no lines. Inspiration is magical but you don’t need it. Perspiration (which is unpleasant and sticky) is completely necessary.
9. Do you hear a voice in your head, and it’s not kind?
I keep a sign by my desk that reads: “My Inner Voice Hates Me.” Every day, there is my voice, whispering in my head: “You have no talent. Your idea is crap. You should give up and see what’s in the pantry.” My inner voice is mean, and she seems to be part of a worldwide organization of inner voices which plague authors. (Or maybe they plague everyone?) To succeed as a writer, you have to invest in mental duct tape—and use it!
10. Did you write today?
This is the only question that really matters. Did you write today?
Will you write today?
Bad or good, inspired or tired—writer’s write.
Which means that this summer, you’re all writers. J
I hope I’ve given you all something to smile about.
Now back to work.
And to the hard part: Sharing. Since it's Gae's birthday, think we'll keep it fun and light where possible. Share whatever you want, but if you have a humorous section of your manuscript to highlight, all the more power to you! If you don't, post whatever. Really, it's okay. And don't forget to follow the RULES (what works? what doesn't, if anything, and are you compelled to keep reading. And despite my longer excerpt, limit to 3 - 5 paragraphs, please).
I guess l go first.
This is from a middle grade novel I've been working on in between other projects, called BAD KAT about a girl named Katie who wants to change her image so she can win the part of the villain in the school play. This is a conversation between Katie and her younger sister, Alison:
“I need to figure out how to get sent to detention.”
Alison unglues her eyes from the TV to look at me. “What? You?”
She bursts out laughing, which I find highly offensive. Why does no one believe I can be bad? “Just give me some ideas,” I say.
She glances at Mom, then back at me. I can almost see the wheels of her mind turning. They’re tiny wheels to fit inside her pea brain. “If I help you, you have to take out the trash for a month.”
“You want to be bad or not?”
My eyes narrow and for a moment I bask in a vision of me throttling my little sister. “Fine,” I agree. “A month. Now tell me how you got detention.”
She glances around me to make sure Mom isn’t listening and then whispers, “I got caught cheating on Michael Alston’s vocab test.”
“Michael Alston?” I picture the skater boy from down the block. “He can spell?”
“No. But he sits next to me.”
“And that’s your only criteria for cheating?”
“I was fake cheating.”
I shouldn’t ask. I know I shouldn’t but… “Okay, I’ll ask. Why were you fake cheating?”
“To get sent to detention because Bentley Howard is there.”
“And Bentley Howard is?”
“Hot.” Alison manages to turn it into a two-syllable word.
“I should have known it had to do with a boy.”
“He’s not a boy. He’s on the cusp on guyness. And for all you know, Bentley might be The One.”
“You’re twelve, Alison.”
“Nearly thirteen. And I’m not going to end up like you, alone at fifteen. I mean, you had your shot.”
Now it's your turn. Share anything you want, funny and light if you've got it. And happy birthday, Gae!
Thanks for having me!
Amy (and Gae)