When thinking about one’s career, certain preconceived notions act as warning signs. One such notion is that once you’ve started down the road toward a career in a particular field, you must never deviate from it in order to be successful.
Most of us know that the notion is nonsense, but it persists nonetheless. Part of it may come from the mindset held by our parents or early teachers, who pushed us to decide early what we wanted to do with our lives and stick with it. Security in career was encompassed one’s entire future during the 60’s, 70’s, and beyond.
A funny thing happened on the way to the future. It shifted direction with technology. Few people now continue in the same jobs/careers from high school and college all the way to retirement. Ours has become a society of workers who, through economic demands or personal preference, have stayed with a specific career until something else came along to capture our interest/passion.
There’s nothing wrong in that. In fact, the desire or need to change is a natural one. When we expand our horizons, we are mimicking the Universe. It, too, continues to expand each day. With expansion comes a stretching of the mind and one’s knowledge of self and the world. With knowledge is the potential for understanding. These are good things.
Today, you could say that just because you’ve taken your career down a specific road, that doesn’t mean you have to build a house at the end of it. If you start out as a writer/poet/painter of one specialty area, you can always move to another area of endeavor or another aspect of your first chosen area. The latter is also in keeping with expansion.
The other benefit to expansion of thought, activity, etc. is a freshening of life. The world begins to take on new colors. Attitudes shift with changes made, as well. New friends become compatriots.
I ask you, now that’s it’s been brought to your attention, why would you build a house at the end of the road you’re walking now?
If you come up with an answer to this question, please comment and let me know what it is. I love questions with answers. They spark debate and that’s a good thing.
Until later, a bientot,
In the publishing world there are many houses in which to hang your hat. A house is simply one aspect of the business: i.e. writer, editor, agent, publicist, marketing rep, publisher, copywriter, etc.
People choose an aspect of the business on which they wish to concentrate their efforts and take up that role.
The question comes up for all of us in this business. “What will you concentrate your energies on?”
For some, writing for publication is the only goal. The dedicated writer cannot envision any other use for time and energy than to dictate stories, articles, books, or poems. The occasional diversion into marketing happens because the writer needs to sell something written.
Acting as an editor only comes during the need to critique another writer’s work who happens to belong to the writer’s critique group. The purpose of that exercise also helps to sharpen the writer’s own skills for self-editing. Today’s dedicated writer invariably belongs to a minimum of one writer’s critique group, and sometimes belongs to as many as one or two online groups and one face-to-face group. The latter scenario is common.
Many dedicated writers choose not to have an agent. Some don’t want to pay someone else to do what they feel can be done by the writer. Other’s don’t want to go through what they see as the hassle and time it takes to peddle themselves to an agent. Some do well for themselves with book contracts and periodical work and, therefore, don’t require an agent. By the same token, the average copywriter doesn’t need one, either.
Writers who work in several genres, might have as many as two or three agents. One agent for suspense thrillers, one for children’s books, and one for non-fiction books. A separate agent for screenplays or stage plays, too, tends to be indispensable. This is possible because agents each tend to deal only with certain markets. This, too, is common.
Marketing reps usually work for the publishing house and work with the author after a book deal has been signed. It’s their job to find successful retail outlets for the project as well as get pre-release reviews lined up, live interviews with the author, etc. The job takes finesse, savvy, and lots of hard work.
Many self-published authors hire a publicist to do press releases, set up interviews, etc. so that they don’t have to learn the ins and outs of that job, too. They want and need the publicity, but they don’t want the headaches of the work nor lose the writing time to it. Today’s publicist does a good deal of online work, getting the author’s name on as many cyber lips as possible. Being part of the Buzz can help the writer with sales.
Of course, there are those who recognize talent when they read it and want to create their own small press. With the current internet atmosphere, such presses are springing up every day. With a small grant to cover initial start-up costs and to carry the publisher for the first year, this enterprise can work very well, according to the business plan being used. Regardless of the business sense behind the press, however, without the ability to recognize excellent writers who can carry a reading audience, the press risks folding in short order. This goes for start-up magazines, too, on or off-line.
These are the major pre-release players in the publishing game. The versatile writer might use all of them before a career in publishing becomes life-long. These are the players with whom every writer needs to get acquainted.
Not every writer will make it to stardom. Not every writer will make book deals or enjoy editors calling them to dispense assignments for hefty sums. And not every writer is suited to work in that pressure cooker called the book market.
Every decent writer has a desire to share a personal view of the world. A writer also has several talents. Such talents are:
1. A good imagination and ability to see concepts.
2. An ability to know when they’re reading something good.
3. An ability to recognize when something is off in what they read.
4. A sixth sense about when a story device will work and when it won’t.
5. An ability to recognize a catchy slogan or pitch when it’s heard.
6. An ability to accurately critique, at least to some degree, others’ work.
Did you notice all those A’s on the writer’s report card? Some are natural and some are learned. All exist for the writer and used at will.
Many writers come to a conclusion early on that they don’t really have what it takes to make it as a novelist. That’s simply not how their head works. They think in short stories, some complex, some simplistic. They might also be clever with turns of phrase and do better with copywriting where the writer’s talent can concentrate on individual client’s needs for personalized work.
Still other writers begin to understand that their true talent is expressed with a blue pencil from behind the editor’s desk. They see better what someone else’s story needs than they ever did on their own.
Perhaps, the writer has a knack for finding good markets for work that isn’t their own. Figuring out the best way to get the word out about someone’s new book comes naturally to some people, and the knowledge must be shared with the other writer.
Many writers begin as editors, or take the reverse position. They might also do both. Others are more comfortable finding talent and publishers who can use that talent. It takes all the pieces of the puzzle to make a complete picture.
A position waits for each writer. The city newspaper needs a food columnist. The local PTA requires someone to create a newsletter for members. A small press in the next town needs regular tourist information pieces written for publication for the Chamber of Commerce. The local historical society needs several plays written for summer production during the town’s Centennial. The local American Legion chapter wants a book written about its early founders.
Not everyone is a novelist. Not everyone can find markets for written work. Not everyone can broker book deals.
With uncounted words written every day by thousands of writers, both well-known and those as-yet-undiscovered, writers have an open field of flowers from which to pluck. It is up to the individual writer to choose a role that will keep them happy and productive. Sooner or later all writers must choose which side of the house is right for them.
Good morning, everyone. I’ve invited Krysten Lindsay Hager here today to share some of her life and experiences with us. Please welcome her with your usual warmth.
Krysten: I started writing early on and won my first writing contest in the first grade. It was a school wide contest (1st-8th grade) so I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My reward? A certificate and a clown doll. Luckily it was a cute clown doll, not the nightmare inducing kind. Over the years I’ve written middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, essays, news/journalism, and magazine articles. I really enjoy humor essays.
Claudsy: You didn’t waste any time, did you? Good for you. Would you tell us where you live now and why are you there?
Krysten: I currently live on Terceira Island in the Azores, which are a group of Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been here nearly three years but will be returning to the U.S. in the winter. We moved here because my husband’s job brought us here.
Claudsy: I’ve always been fascinated by the Azores and wanted to go there. But, how do you function living there? What amenities do you not get there that you would here and what do you really miss?
Krysten: Everything is flown in or brought in by boat pretty much, which means magazines and newspapers can be held up at customs, so sometimes we’re a month or more behind. I miss current magazines and American newspapers.
The volcano in Iceland kept planes from flying in (bad weather does as well), so sometimes it’s a struggle to get food. Fresh fruits and veggies aren’t easy to get either. You can buy a few things locally from one of the farms, but most of the farms here are for raising cattle more than produce.
Claudsy: That’s a far cry from here, it’s true. Krysten, has anything changed for you since living in the islands, regarding how you look at writing?
Krysten: I found myself focused on more internet based projects and wrote for a few websites and web magazines since sending things through the mail was a big dodgy. However, when I first got here the library was closed and there was no English bookstore, so I went to a small chapel library to see what I could find to read and met this woman there.
The first thing she started telling me was about how newcomers always come in with a list of projects and goals they want to complete while they’re there, but they miss out on the fact the island is a great place to stop, listen, and reflect. She said for most people it’s the first time they can have time to just read and spend time in silence, listening instead of talking.
I admit I was super jet-lagged while having that conversation (I was dealing with a six-hour time difference), but later I thought about that and started to notice how often we aren’t alone with our thoughts or take time to reflect. So now, I try to be more observant of what’s going on around me and I find I take in much more, which can only help my writing
Claudsy: The entire change in environment must have had a major impact on you. What’s your next project going to be?
Krysten: There’s a new book blog that’s just started, where I’m going to be doing author interviews and reviews on there soon, called “Authors and Appetizers.” I’m very excited about that. I also have an essay on family traditions and a recipe coming out this fall in: Country Comfort: Holidays Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Warm the Heart & Soul. http://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Cookbook-Country-Comfort-Recipes/dp/1578263808/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1
Claudsy: I’m glad you could continue to write there. What have you learned about yourself since taking up residence there? Does that affect how you feel about writing?
Krysten: Being in Portugal has made me more aware of the different backgrounds people have, and I hope that helps me to expand as a writer, taking into consideration that not everyone has the same upbringing or grows up having the same experiences. I’ve met people from Egypt, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Spain, etc. It makes you realize there is more than one way to see a situation and seeing all these culturally diverse viewpoints makes me realize how sheltered I was in the U.S.
Just seeing the difference in a British news magazine as opposed to an American one can tell you a lot. I notice the different types of humor used and what they focus on as opposed to what you see in an American magazine. For one, European magazines don’t focus primarily on just young people and teens. Also, there is more of a focus on royalty which shows they care more about tradition than the flash in the pan entertainers.
Claudsy: We do tend to exclude much of the rest of the world here, even with CNN. Are you going to continue to concentrate on children’s literature now? Or, are you, perhaps, going to branch out even more?
Krysten: I’ve been very interested in humor essays the last few years and although I wouldn’t write a memoir (I never get how people under 80 can even consider they’ve lived a full enough life for anything like that!), but I’d like to write about my experiences here. I also have a project I’m working on from the viewpoint of a middle school girl.
Claudsy: I’d think all sorts of people would be interested in your Azores experiences. It’s not everyone that lives in the middle of an ocean with all the diverse problems that entails–at least not those who write about it. Would you be willing to live in another country again for the adventure value as well as the writing opportunities?
Krysten: It depends on the country—ha ha! I would be interested to live in the U.K. There’s so much amazing literary talent that’s come out of England, Scotland, and Ireland that I bet you could become prolific just by drinking the water! I have found, when traveling in the U.S. that often different states have their own unique culture and it can be just as diverse traveling from Michigan to South Dakota as it is coming from the U.S. and going to Portugal.
Claudsy: I know what you mean about that observation. Could you tell everyone what your new perspective on writing is?
Krysten: I think I have a much bigger respect for the truth now. Honesty in writing is very important and thanks to Facebook statuses and personal blogs, we find people often try to showcase their lives in the best possible light, which takes away from the full human experience.
Sure it’s nice to have a positive attitude, but all the statuses where you pat yourself on the back or talk about your amazing life, aren’t a hundred percent accurate, and you don’t really learn anything about the person from that. Writers who are honest, raw, and gritty really get to the core of the human experience and that includes suffering.
No kid wants to read a book about a teen or young person with a charmed life. How could they relate? So, honesty in writing is something that I have a huge respect for—even more now than before.
Claudsy: So, tell me, if you could do anything now in your writing career, what would it be and why?
Krysten: I am going to write about my experiences overseas, but I also am looking forward to writing about my experiences with culture shock when I get back. I have not set foot in the United States for almost 3 years, and I can only imagine my reaction when I get back.
Claudsy: I think you may be even more shocked than you think. Good luck and let us know what you’re doing from time to time once you’re back. I, for one, would be terribly interested.
I want to thank you so much for joining us today, Krysten. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you and discovering what your new plans are. Is there anything else that you’d like to say to those out there in the dark?
Krysten: Yes, if you want to write, then you must read, read, read. Many times I meet writers and they talk about their projects and how they want to get published, but when you ask what authors they enjoy or what they’re reading now, they stare at you blankly. It’s repeated at every single writing conference, but if you want to write, you must read what genre you want to write.
Claudsy: There you have it, folks. If you want to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Krysten again for talking with us.
Short Personal Biography
Krsyten Lindsay Hager resides for now in the Azores with her husband. This full-time writer received her undergraduate and MLS from University of Michigan-Flint.
Her writing credits include: Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God anthology, Patchwork Path: Grandma’s Choice anthology, Patchwork Path: Friendship Star anthology, Country Comfort: Holidays Cookbook, WOW! Women on Writing magazine, Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend magazine, The Academy magazine, The Qua Literary magazine, Working Writer, Absolute Write!, Mike’s Writing Newsletter, SCBWI newsletters in Michigan, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, Natural Awakenings. Former staff writer and columnist for the Michigan Times newspaper. Former contributing writer for: The Grand Blanc View newspaper, Davison Index newspaper, Lapeer View newspaper, Popsyndicate.com.
Writing Awards: Deadwood Art’s Council “People’s Choice Award” for best short story
Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition Honorary Mention
Be sure and visit her blog/website at: www.krystenlindsay.blogspot.com
I’ll have another something on Thursday before I trundle off to the Pacific for a scenic photo shoot and research gathering two weeks. I’ll pop in once in a while to leave tidbits for any who come to see what’s happening around here.
Enjoy yourselves while I’m gallivanting down rain forest trails and along mountain slopes. A bientot.
Over the past two weeks, my writing has shifted somewhat toward journalism. I can’t define the why or when of the shift in emphasis. I can merely observe it and see where it takes me.
One of those destinations was Associated Content. I began writing for them, an article here, one there, finding my way by instinct and inclination. I’ve enjoyed it and look forward to doing many more each month. If you’d like to check out what I’ve been up to on that front, you can check out two of my articles at:
I hope you enjoy them or can use something within them.
I’ve also arrived at a point where I miss doing my writer/editor/illustrator interviews each week. I can say that now that my life is somewhat more settled than it has been in a long while.
So that feature is going to come back. I’ve decided to begin with one interview each week, and work my way back up to more frequent segments as work allows. I look forward to talking with so many people in the publishing business, whether behind the desk or on the submission’s end. Hopefully, I will be able to begin those interviews within a couple of weeks.
For those interested in what I’m actually spending my time on other than the occasional article for online reading, I am working on three books at the moment. One children’s easy reader chapter book, one book of poetry for adults, and another book of specially designed poetry for readers 13 to just this side of the beyond.
Queries will be going out to agents on the chapter book within the week. I have my own deadline for the special poetry book placed at Aug. 31, and the other one should come together and be ready for query duty by the end of the month as well.
Besides those projects I have two YA fantasy novels, one urban and the other high fantasy, that I’m working on at this time. I waffle between manuscripts to keep things interesting.
The odd blog and short story also get thrown into the mix each week and I write poetry for FB’s Micro Poetry and WD’s Poetic Asides.
So, you can see that I’m keeping busy. When I’m not at the keyboard, I’m usually out with my sister on photo shoots. She just became a professional fine art photographer. And a fine job she does, too. While I’m out with her, I get lots of material for poetry and storylines. Amazing how that works.
And there you have it. My normal week. I socialize online and off. Have the occasional meal. [There are those who say I never skip one.] I do my household chores when necessary. And try, above all else, to enjoy life while I have one.
I hope everyone has a marvelous week. I have to take a few days away on a wee trip. So while I’m gone, enjoy yourselves. I’ll be back on the weekend with something new. Who knows what, but something.
Take care, all, and God bless.
Every day writers everywhere are yearning for the Muse to open her arms and bestow brilliance upon their verse or story or article. That’s to be expected. But have you ever wondered exactly where Muse might live?
I ask this simple question because I hadn’t seriously thought about it before a few days ago. When I’d rather be doing anything else but writing, I play games on my computer to give my mind a rest. Others, I’m sure, do word games and the like to open the doors of creativity.
I’m not talking about writer’s block, really; just those times when boredom with existing material has trumped the desire to work it.
I found that when I play Mahjong on the computer something odd happens. At least for me. The tileset that I use is a standard one–all Chinese characters. For those who play the game in it’s varied forms it can become as enticing as chess and as addictive as solitaire.
I allow my mind free rein while playing, a kind of mini-mental vacation. But the other day, I heard myself relating verbally to each tile as I clicked on it. That startled me, as well you can imagine. I was actually creating a small fantasy adventure, laden with mystery. Each tile represented a piece of the puzzle. Four scrolls were taken east along with eight bars of gold. The treasure came to… and so on.
Players of traditional style Mahjong will know that those scrolls are a character with the numeric designation–four, east is its own tile referring to wind, and the gold is a tile that has a numeric designation of 8 with a red bar below. In ranch brand lingo it would say Eight Bar Ranch.
By the end of the game, whether I’ve won it or not, I have come away with a new creative surge in my heart and mind. It hums in the background giving me tiny bits of itself in quiet song as I go back to work. The game has allowed my mind to step back a moment to regroup. I now can see the story plot I’m working on in a new light, a more lively light, that can take on new proportions and complexity. Even articles can look different because I have seen a new angle, a new question to be answered.
Psychologists would probably say that the very act of play resets our perceptions and attitudes, which allow the individual a chance to look with fresh eyes at whatever comes next. That’s a good enough theory for me at this time. I don’t have to analyze it so long as it continues to give me something usable.
Speaking of which, I really need to finish one of the projects.
Take care and play with you Muse when she’s not being cooperative. Everyone/thing can use playtime to advantage. Ask any puppy or kitten.