Behind the Mirror

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see the person you are or the person you were – younger, more hair, thinner? Do you see your regrets or your future? Do you see a writer? Writing is easy. Writing well is not. It is a challenge fraught with pitfalls, disappointments and moments of indecision, like life in general. Like most people, I paid just enough attention in English class to pass (with an A). I knew how to write but I didn’t know how to WRITE. I’ve had to forget the rules I picked up as a child and my Southern upbringing and learn the correct pronuncation and proper use of words, punctuation and sentence structure. I didn’t know a dangling participle from a prepositional phrase. I had to mature from a storyteller to being able to convey those stories onto paper – a writer. It was not an easy journey.

Dealing with rejection. I’m not sure how many rejection letters and e-mails I received before I truly learned the difference between Show and Tell. It seems such a moot point, but makes the difference between telling the story and allowing the reader to experience it, the mark of a good novel. My friend, Jonathan Maberry, went to great lengths to set me straight during a 3-day writers retreat. I sold two short stories the next week. That’s the great thing about being a writer – friends help friends. Let’s see two car salesman do that.

Dealing with friends. Friends are the same the world over. They will love your writing whether it deserves their praise or not. They will love having a friend who is an ‘author’. Your mother will think you’re the best writer since Hemingway. She’s your mother. Don’t listen to them! False pride can kill you. I don’t know how many times I’ve read about writers arguing with publishers or agents after receiving a rejection letter, trying to prove their point. Forget it! Even if they’re wrong, they’re right. Arguing gains you nothing. Listen to what they say. learn from them. It’s their business.

Dealing with success. You sold your novel and are admiring it in your hands. It’s pretty and shiny, your Precious. Drop it. It’s time to promote yourself. Actually, it’s past time. Start promoting yourself, not your novel, before the novel’s finished and published. Social media is great for this. Make friends. Don’t inundate them with requests to ‘Buy my Book’. Get to work on your next novel.

Look in the mirror. Feel better? Better, yet, take a glance behind the mirror. With a little imagination, what you see on the other side is you with a Bram Stoker Award or Pulitzer Prize. Good luck.

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