Friday, December 4, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #4-- Because It's Worth It, and Mad Libs Words Day

Sorry, I don't have a cute animal pic today :( Not even of my kittens!

Oh, wait, I might:

Here you go! This is my bunny, when she was but a mere 8 weeks old, at my office, with a box on her ears. Yeah, weird, I know. It was cute. So I took a picture. Then promptly removed the box. Sorry it's all fuzzy-- cell phone cameras not so good at capturing adorable memories. Bah.

Her name is HopScotch. Her predecessor, my dearly departed bunny, was named Barley Hops. I have a thing for pun names. At least when it comes to bunnies.

Well, now that I've scared all of you away, let me get back to my message for the day:

Have patience with your writing because it's worth it. It really is, no matter the outcome. You'll better yourself as a person just having tried, whether you make the bestseller list and become the Next Big Thing, or if everything you write stays a secret from the world, a little personal treasure box you can open any time but don't want to share. Learning to write, to craft words above and beyond college papers, is a noble aspiration, and one that will stay with you always. It is, like learning a musical instrument, or a new language, or eating hazelnuts (unless you're allergic), or figure-skating (unless you're me), something that will enrich your life for the rest of your days to come. So take a little pressure off yourself and write, no matter how the stars will align for you. Because you are strong enough to withstand critique and rejection. Because you love it. Because you want it. And because it's worth it.

Also, hey, look at that, it's Friday!! Why don't we celebrate with some Mad Libs?

To play along this week you'll need the following:

Plural Noun
Plural Noun
Verb ending in -ing

It's noun-heavy, so make sure you catch them all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #3-- Because You Want It

THIS is a wallaby. Wallaby, wallaby, wallaby.


As a former zoo keeper, I am insane about most exotic animals. Going to visit a zoo is like pet shopping for me sometimes. That's particularly true about wallabies. And especially particularly true about this one. I just want to take it home and love it and cherish it and (maybe) name it George.

But alas, wallabies require, er, special facilities, and special care. I just don't have the capacity to have a wallaby right now, even though I really REALLY want one. Even more so every time I look at this picture WB and I took at the zoo a few months ago.

So what's a wallaby-wanting girl to do? Wait. Someday, I may have a wallaby. Or not. I can't really say for certain either way (mostly because the reality of keeping an animal like a wallaby far outweighs the fantasy) and so I choose to keep on doing what I'm doing, and hoping that someday I'll get the opportunity to find out if a wallaby is for me or not.

Again, what does this have to do with writing? Well, see, what we all want, what we all strive for-- it's a dream till it happens. This is not me being discouraging. I think each and every single one of us has the capacity to follow that dream, mostly because we all care enough to be here, learning and growing as writers (and artists). But while we work towards that dream, we have to have the patience to keep going with the things we do have in our lives, the tangible things we can grab onto and hold and snuggle till--

Ahem. Excuse me. There are two kittens asleep on my legs right now, their cuteness must be influencing me.

Anyway, my point today is: keep the dream. Keep it real, keep it with you, and when you look at its equivalent of a picture-- your manuscript, or similar-- let the warm fuzzies course through you, taking you away to that special place. But then come back to here, now, and have the patience to build towards the dream.

What tangibles will you hold onto until (and after) the dream comes true?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #2-- Because You Love It

This is my Tally. I have one of those writer-things to do with her and patience week today-- you know, that thing where you compare two things that aren't alike?

Anyway, Tally tests my patience. I've had her for almost three years, and when I got her she was (prepare yourself for some jargon, here) pretty green (= untrained), spooky (=untrained), and barn sour (=untrained, and didn't like anything beyond the stall she had hardly been out of in five years). But I'd secretly been in love with her for that same five years, and when she came up for sale, I could hardly contain myself to buy her. In the year that followed, she grew before my eyes and patient hands into a calm, sweet, brave horse that I got quite a few compliments on.

Until we moved ranches. Moving Tally out of her only recently-expanded comfort zone was a death sentence to the progress we'd made. It's been over a year and a half, and I'm still struggling to get her back where she was. We just recently started riding again, and even now, last Saturday, I was all by myself out at the ranch with her, and had the bright idea to try and ride. No go. She wouldn't let me on. I've been struggling with this for months, and I feel, at times, like giving up because I don't know what else to do, and I don't feel like it's fair to either of us to be so frustrated.

But I keep trying, and I will keep trying, as long as it takes. With Tally, I have infinite long-term patience, even though my short-term fuse is tempted to blow almost weekly. Why? Because I love her. For those of you who aren't close to animals, or are indifferent, I hope this analogy still makes sense. Tally is like a child to me. You don't give up on your human kids, I'm not giving up on my four-hoofed one. (Besides, I use the term "ho" as my stopping command-- easier to say than "whoa." And it's a lot of fun to say, "Tally, ho!" A hahaha.)

Tally is also the last piece I have of Gypsy (the horse I lost at the beginning of September, for those of you who weren't here for that). She's Gypsy's foal (though not a foal anymore by a long shot-- she's almost nine). Every time I look at her I see a spark of her mother, even down to the little fits of attitude she throws. To me, Tally is worth it because she's family. I don't have any big plans of winning national championships with her, just spending time with her when I can, and keeping us both fit, healthy, and entertained. I'm content just being with her, and riding is the icing on the cake. I have all the time in the world to get her back to where she was, but I'm not going to give either of us a coronary pushing us to get there.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, it has everything to do with writing. If you love it, don't give it up, whether the manuscript will let you on for the ride or not. Keep going, keep spending time with it, even when it feels impossible to continue-- because if it really means enough to you, it's worth it, whether you're taking home ribbons or just spending your nights grooming your words, bonding with your characters and feeding your mind. (Did I just go too far? I may have. Sorry.)

I know this is probably a silly question to ask all of you, but it begs a response, even if you don't share:

Do you have long-term patience with your writing?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #1

But it's certainly a stinky one.

I know some (okay, okay, a lot of) people have written about this before, but I wanted to touch on and then expand what's already been said. For the next four days, I'll be blogging patience.

This may come as a shock to you, but you need patience if you want to be a writer.

*Gasp*, you say. No, it can't be so!

But it is, my friend, it is. I think we're all aware that publishing is a turtle business in today's very-much-bionic-rabbit world (because even real bunnies, as cute as they are, aren't faster than my internet). So I won't go into that again. You need time, and patience, to pursue publication.

Today's topic is: the patience to deal with critiques. This is important because if you are pursuing publication, whether you like it or not, people are going to critique your work. Even if you never show it to anyone but prospective agents (a very bad idea), they will critique your work, too. A rejection is a critique. This is probably the hardest part for me, to be honest. But it's not even that hard, it's just something that varies day to day depending on my mood. I tend to go a little Misunderstood Artist and be all angsty when I get a critique that misses something completely, something I've been careful to include. But this is rare, and it serves a valuable lesson-- obviously, if I thought it was, er, well, obvious, but that person missed it, perhaps it wasn't obvious enough. So even though my reaction might be to set flames to my MS at first, once I step back and let my patience take over, I generally realize something very valuable came out of the encounter. It's valuable whether I use it or not, in fact, because when I'm writing what I'm working on next, I will keep those tiny (or huge) flaws of mine in mind.

Critique is invaluable to your success as a writer, both how you deal with it and how you use it. But you have to open your eyes to it and LET it help you, otherwise it's useless. My first instinct is debate. Those of you who have been in class with me know this. I am able to see most points, but if I don't, I want to argue, and have to restrain myself from defending my work and let the person say what they are going to say. I am working on this patience in myself. I want to be the best writer that I can, so I drink in every critique, every counter-point that comes my way. I may not like the way it tastes, but boy is it good for my health.

This may be easy or difficult to answer, but how do critiques of your work help (or hinder) you?