I think the heavy use of make up and photo editing sets an unrealistic standard of beauty that negatively impacts women’s conceptions of self esteem and worth. These images are everywhere (we are flooded with them), and they aren’t real. What’s wrong with the human body for how it is? Women are beautiful and natural beauty should be celebrated. I want to love someone for their true face (which always has beauty!) instead of a face put on for the world. I think there should be more modeling where no make up or touching up is used…let’s all appreciate how wonderful a real, natural person is. Check out the link.
There’s a delicate balance to be found when pursuing a career in writing novels. We write because we are passionate, because we have a story to tell, and ideas to express. We write to inspire, to create wonder, to spread happiness. In a lot of ways, we write for us. We write to be expressed, to share, and to find a purpose, and those can all be beautiful things. I think many writers feel that surge of emotions and hope when they begin a project, those excited jitters, those feelings powered by the thoughts of what this novel can become.
But we also have to keep reality in mind.
And the reality is, if you’re really serious about it, writing is a job.
They say when you’re working doing something you love you’re never actually working a day in your life. There is some merit to this but I don’t think it’s completely true. Authors who make a living from writing LOVE what they do, but I think it’s a stretch to say they love every moment of it. I think it’s a stretch to say that sometimes sitting down and editing paragraph after paragraph isn’t tedious and draining. The author doesn’t do this because they love editing (well, maybe some weirdos do) but because they realize they have to make their work the best thing it can possibly be before it’s shipped out.
There’s commitment involved in this. A regimented process. It is hard work.
Now, some writers have writing schedules. They block out time of when to write so they sit down and work on their projects regularly. It is very much a work schedule. I am not this way, but I do make sure to constantly be thinking about my projects and finding time often to do work on my books. If the inspiration isn’t there maybe I’ll just edit what I have done instead of write, but the point is I’m making sure to go back and do SOMETHING with the work as often as I can. I don’t want to make writing a complete chore (as Palahniuk says, you don’t go sitting on the toilet if you don’t have to take a shit) but I also realize that if I am not disciplined and somewhat structured, the project may never get done or may never be as good as it could be. Every writer has their own method and balance, and it is key to find yours.
So is writing work or play?
Ideally the answer is both. We should be happy and inspired when making our works. The prospect of getting farther should excite us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sometimes force ourselves to sit down and look at the work when the mood isn’t ideal. That doesn’t mean if the spark isn’t there for three weeks we don’t look at the work in progress at all. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You have to be involved, and in a world filled with deadlines and demands, it’s incredibly valuable building skills now. Get used to sitting your butt down and just writing. Get used to drawing creativity out of you when it doesn’t strike on your own. It’s possible. I’ve sat down thinking the last thing I wanted to do on that day was write and then pure brilliance came out.
There’s value to spontaneity, but there’s also value to structure.
Think about your projects. What you are writing and why, what you intend to do and why, and try to find your best balance. We have to work hard to produce truly magnificent works, and that is a beautiful thing. We will always be growing as a writer, and in that vein I think we should challenge ourselves to improve our craft and habits at every opportunity. I love writing, and I love how much I’ve evolved as an author, and I’m so overjoyed just thinking about how much better I can become and how much further I can go.
Love what you do, just make sure you actually go out and do it.
A short thought, one that may not make sense to everyone, but for those it does I think it will resonate deeply. My life experience of romance has been like this:
It’s like going to a free throw basketball competition and making the most free throws and then being told you came in last. When you ask why you’re told “just because” and finally, when you keep asking questions you learn you were never allowed in the competition in the first place.
Keep it real, peeps
“A friend called me crying one day because her boyfriend had left her for another woman. I couldn’t understand why she was devastated. “You want to be with a guy who loves you as much as you love him, right? Someone who would never do this to you, correct? And this guy obviously doesn’t fit those criteria, so why are you sad?”
It was clear, right there, and then, that my view on emotions is very different from other people’s. I view emotions as the potholes on an otherwise smooth path towards euphoria while my friends celebrate (yet complain about) the ups and downs of their emotional roller coasters. I’m not a mean, cold-hearted or unsympathetic individual; I simply trace the origin of the pain we feel and, if it’s self-inflicted – which it almost always is – I say, “If it hurts when you pinch yourself, stop pinching yourself!” – Timber Hawkeye
“You are not stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic. We blame society, but we ARE society.” – Buddhist Boot Camp
Makes less sense out of context, but here’s a blurb from an old project, Gentleman’s Game. My agent thinks it might be a good follow up after Murderers Anonymous. Still going through editing, so apologies for how raw the writing is.
Aiden stood before her, hand resting on the door frame, looking he’d come out of a war zone. His mouth was a busted mess, blood dripping down his chin and staining his shirt. Bruises and scratches littered his face, while his eyes were tired, drained and listless.
“I’m sorry,” he said. When he opened his mouth Sarah saw the state of his teeth, chipped and broken. His gums were a sickly dark purple.
“We have to get you to-” Sarah began, stepping forward, when Aiden intercepted her.
“Shh,” he said, stepping forward, putting his arms around her, and kissing her for the first time. He tilted his head and moved in quickly, his busted lips meeting her own. His body trembled from the pain of the motion and contact but he kissed Sarah with a passion, and despite the feel and taste of blood, for a split second, Sarah kissed him back.
Aiden broke the kiss, pulling away from her. Sarah stood, stunned, Aiden’s blood now smeared on her face. He wiped a drop of it away with his thumb before tapping it to her cheek, leaving a print. His eyes were more full of sorrow than when she’d met him on her swing set all those years ago.
“You were always too beautiful to be burdened by my love,” Aiden said before turning and walking back to his car.
Sarah tried to speak but no words came out. She tried to follow but her legs were frozen in place. Sarah had felt a chill run through her when he kissed her, not a chill of stimulation or excitement, but a chill to the bone, no, the soul. Part of her knew she wasn’t ready to handle the truth of whatever Aiden had gone through.
So she let him go. Sarah let Aiden walk back to his car and drive off without protest, standing at her doorstep, dumbfounded, for another ten minutes until the police arrived.
Even after you conquer the query process and land an agent there’s still the challenge of getting an editor to give your work a shot. The rejections in the query process prepare you for the ones you get at the next level. It’s impossible to write a book that every agent/editor likes, so take what you can from rejections, learn what works, what does not, and let them motivate you to keep working your hardest. Here’s the first response my agent and I received on novel Murderers Anonymous, from Ballantine Bantam-Dell. I’m grateful for the editors thoughts and realize this is all just part of the business.
With regret, I won’t be making an offer on Allen Rivers’ MURDERERS ANONYMOUS, which doesn’t seem right for the Ballantine Bantam Dell list at this time.It’s easy to understand your enthusiasm for this novel: the premise is instantly enticing and the cast of character is strong. But ultimately I found myself craving more surprises in the narrative as it unspooled from that promising opening. Without a great sense of urgency, it would be tough for us to position this aggressively in a woefully glutted suspense marketplace.Many thanks for the opportunity to consider MURDERERS ANONYMOUS. I wish Mr. Rivers and you great success in finding the perfect publishing home for it.