You've heard them deep down in your hidden self:
Those words you fear to say aloud ...
There is no hope.
Sometimes it feels as if there isn't any hope, doesn't it?
Lara Schiffbauer today has written a fascinating, thought-provoking post:
Wendy Tyler Ryan once had an intriguing post http://waitingforpublication.blogspot.com/2010/11/i-dont-think-they-know.html
Donna Hole had another one some time back (and no, not just because she mentioned me ... well, maybe a little.)http://donnahole.blogspot.com/2010/11/nano-day-2-browsing-blog-roll.html
There is no hope ... if you would succeed. There is only doing. And we must do to the best of our ability, refusing to give up when all seems lost.
Still, it does seem as if the publishing industry doesn't have any room for readers or writers interested in what the over-thirty's dream, yearn, or struggle for.
Take Edward the sparkly 200 year old vampire. What does he see in a shallow, angst-filled, self-absorbed teenager? Isn't he really just a young looking pedophile?
Maxwell Perkins, editor of Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, would have tossed Stephanie Meyers' work in the reject pile with a disgusted sigh.
But it is a different market:
A youth-oriented, visual, me-generation market.
Everyone get up, look up at the night with its fading moon, and say it:
All right, now that we have it out of our systems, what can we do?
And no, there are no sure keys to success. If there were, I would have no time to write this blog, being too busy writing best-sellers! :-)
Of course there is a sure path to failure: give up.
Yet, there are several approaches that may work:
1.) We use both a young protagonist and a mature mentor.
Think AUNTIE MAME, THE SWORD IN THE STONE, the first STAR WARS.
I chose this route with my THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH.
2.) Focus on an older protagonist with a youngster needing protection.
Think THE ROAD, the new movie THE WARRIOR'S WAY, LONE WOLF AND CUB, and the Tom Hanks' movie, THE ROAD TO PERDITION.
3.) Use an intelligent adult for your protagonist and place him/her in a situation that chills the blood or staggers the imagination.
As in these two set-ups :
A) Your MC goes into a confessional, only to hear the priest babble about becoming Other, then the priest shoots himself.
Your MC throws the door of the confessional open only to see the priest is half-circuitry, melded into the very metal of the small room. One by one, all those your MC knows become Other in some strange way or other.
B) You wake up one morning, go to work, only to find your co-workers have faded like a photo left out too long in the sun. Day by day they fade more and more until they are all black and white, leaving you in a world full of color.
Worse, they become more and more dead-faced and robot-like until you catch them whispering ominously behind your back in a strange buzzing not unlike worker bees.
There is hope, fellow strugglers. THE LORD OF THE RINGS caught the hearts and minds of high schoolers and college-aged with hobbits, old wizards, dwarfs, elves, and a long-lived human named Aragon.
Yet, LOTR would have never been ...
had not the young son of the publisher liked the submitted manuscript of THE HOBBIT his publisher father gave him to read.
How many publishers or agents do that today with their children do you think? Lightning needs to strike. All we can do is present our best, while holding up a lightning rod.
How can you bring hope to your novel?
Make the magic real. Even if your protagonist is older, keep a child-like sense of wonder and curiosity to his/her world.
And now, a little practical nuts-n-bolts advice that was sparked by Donna's post :
If you find yourself feeling hopeless with the words dammed up inside your wheel-spinning mind, it is probably caused by one of five things :
1) Overwork -
Stop writing for a few days. When you're ready to start singing tales into the night once more, you will know when the keyboard stops being forboding and starts to become a delightful toy again.
2) Boredom -
Put your novel down no matter how close you are to the finish line. Start that new idea that has been buzzing around in the back of your mind. Trust me. If your novel has begun to bore you, it will certainly bore the agent to whom you submit.
3) Self-Doubt -
Starting something new will work here as well. The joy of the new idea will spark your love of writing which led you into this profession in the first place. Then, read the first few new pages and see if you can find echoes of your old work in them.
After a few days of your new project, go back to where you were in your old novel. Read the five pages prior to your stop-point. Then, write on the novel again. It will be reborn. Trust me.
4) Financial Worries -
Tough one. No easy remedy here. You must solve them or lighten them somehow.
If it means stopping the writing to take a second job, then that is what you must do. Family comes first. Dreams second. Those months spent apart from your keyboard will sow your unconscious mind with new ideas.
5) Emotional Problems -
If charged relationships are shortcircuiting your muse, you must find a safe, neutral way to sit down with your loved one and talk through what is eating away at you.
It will clear the air between the two of you or bring a much-needed lance to a painful boil. Have a rear-exit stragedy already in place just in case things should go south. No relationship or person is or can be perfect. Look at areas where you can grow.
In the end, the only person you can change is yourself. Sometimes retreat is better than painful staying in an unhealthy situation or relationship.
There is hope ... for your writing ... for your life -- if only you do not give up on yourself and your own worth.
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