Smug as a Bug in a Rug (Back on the Chain Gang)

The Blog Chain has circled back to me again, so I’m postponing my usual “In Deep Smit” posting (unless y’all will buy the deeply-smitten-with-the-chain-gang thing two weeks in a row. 😉 )  This chain’s topic was selected by Kate Karyus Quinn.  If you didn’t already find your way here from Leah Clifford’s blog, be sure to check out her post.  And Mary Lindsey will be up next.

The topic this time:

How as a writer do you find the balance between having too much or too little confidence in your work?

So, I’ve titled this entry, “Smug as a Bug in a Rug.”  And by “in a Rug,” of course, I mean “wearing a toupee.”

Rubber Tree Plants aside, have I done what the topic question asks?  Well, I will answer that with a strong, confident “Maybe.”

If you’ve followed our chain since it started, you’ve seen that most of us don’t really have a “balance”– more like a teeter-totter of ups and downs.

I have to say, this blog topic is not the first time I personally have pondered about my confidence.

In April, I attended my first writing conference, The Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling. (Posts about that here, here, and here.)  I did NOT anticipate the nervousness I experienced there.

I’m a physician and the director for a hospitalist program.  I think we can safely agree that a 35-year-old woman does not get where I am without a healthy portion of professional self-confidence.  I am an experienced public speaker.  From Speech and Debate teams in high school to delivering medical lectures, I’ve never been uncomfortable talking to anybody.

So I was as surprised as anyone to find myself picking at my conference lunch, envisioning myself puking on the agent’s shoes during my pitch session.

I’m a powerhouse, I told myself.  Why am I terrified of a 7-minute conversation?

The answer to that, I think, comes from the blurring of “professional” and “personal” that comes with writing.

To write a great story, you need to pour yourself into the work, so professional detachment gets a bit harder.

There are some components of writing that I am quite confident about.

  1. Professionalism. Business letters come easily to me.  I interview well.  I’m comfortable with public speaking.  My work requires skill in starting and conducting much more difficult conversations than any I could have about my writing. I know many authors are less comfortable on the networking/business side and would prefer to stay comfortably behind the keyboard.  This is thankfully not a concern for me.
  2. Stories. I love the story of The Edge of Memory.  I may need to revise some of the nuts-and-bolts of how the story is told (and I am always willing to consider ways to tell it better) but the story itself is solid.  I think about my stories for a long time before writing them, so the web of connections is already well-defined before the first draft.  This helps me weave in the details that eventually come together more naturally into the narrative.
  3. Communication skills. I’m not talking here about my writing, but more about my comprehension.  It is a running joke among my family and co-workers that I translate English to English.  Quite frequently, I am called upon to explain when folks have “a failure to communicate”.  I’m fluent in Mother-in-Law to Son translation, as well as Resident-Physician to Nurse.  When I receive feedback on my writing, I believe I’m good at understanding and then acting on it to improve my story.  Beyond a good story foundation, that might be the most useful skill I have.

Every writer has crisis moments. I know I have. All of us have reached the point where we’ve announced we were ready to give up.  We didn’t.  That makes all the difference.

I once read a quote from Erma Bombeck.  It’s not really about confidence per se, but more about perserverance:

~

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me”.

~

I’m a writer.  I am going to have crises of self-doubt.  I’m going to think what I’ve written is the worst drivel ever to be strung together.  I’m going to believe my test readers are just being nice when they tell me they stayed up all night to finish my novel.  I’ll convince myself that I’ll never be good enough to make it in this industry.

And then I’ll get over it and write.

Advertisements

In Deep Smit– 10/17/08

It’s Friday again. And this week I have a secret love. I didn’t want to let this happen, but you can’t fight a tidal wave.

This week, I am deeply smitten with Facebook.

Since I began trying to publish my novel, I’ve done the recommended steps to make myself a desirable client. I’ve worked to build my blog readership and have dramatically improved my SEO results. If you search for H. L. Dyer, hldyer, or the name of my novel, The Edge of Memory, you can easily find me now.

But if you search for Heather Dyer, I won’t come up as quickly. This is because there happens to be a fabulous children’s author with the same name. Oh, for my college and med school days, when googling my name would bring up only hits about my poetry…

In hopes of boosting myself a smidge higher in google searches for my actual name, I finally caved and joined the social networking sites. I have been active in many online communities (both writing-related and not) for years, but I had avoided sites like Facebook for one simple reason…

I inspire weird crushes. I have no idea why this happens. Apparently, slightly nutty people are REALLY into plus-sized chicks with rosacea and buck-teeth. So I tend to avoid sites where matchmaking is among their stated purposes.

Hoping that my recent transition into the “women 35 and over” demographic might afford some protection, I swallowed my concerns and joined up. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Rallystorm

We were supposed to have purely a business relationship… Facebook and I. I did not expect to be in deep smit, but there it is.

Thanks to Facebook, I have found three old friends from grammar school that I would never have found otherwise. I’ve also reconnected with some high school friends. I’ve gotten to learn more about a few of my test readers. I’ve chatted with some of my crit partners. My blog traffic is increasing. It’s been a whirlwind romance so far.

Yes, deep smit.

Hmmm… Is Sarah Palin Watching My Book Trailer?

My book trailer is posted on youtube.  Along with a shorter version.

I’ve discovered you can view various stats on your videos when you post them.

For my original book trailer, I have viewers from about 20 states so far, but mostly it’s just one or two random views.  Most of my viewers, naturally, are in Illinois.

But today I peeked at my stats and was quite surprised to see that Alaska is coming in as a strong number two.  I have half as many viewers from Alaska as from Illinois, and that’s including myself in the Illinois group (I haven’t found a way to copy the code for my video without accidentally triggering a “visit”)

I don’t know ANYONE in Alaska.  I don’t even know OF anybody in Alaska, except for the Palin family.

So… what other explanation is there?

Two Minutes of Your Time–

I decided that the original mock-up trailer I made was a bit too long.  So, I’ve edited to just under the 2:30-minute mark. 

My Only Friend The End: Chain Gang Wrap-Up

We’ve added a new link to our blog chains: the wrap-up.  A official end to the chain with links to all the fabulous posts.

Well, what a wild and crazy ride that was!  I am consistently impressed by my chain gang buddies.

I absolutely loved reading all the responses on creating story worlds.

Here’s a quick recap:

I started our chain on story worlds discussing how my setting was unexpectedly chosen by Child Protective Services and the route of the California Zephyr.

Michelle McLean wowed us with her passion for history and research.

Kate Karyus Quinn shared her struggle to define her Urban Fantasy World.

Over on Archetype Writing, Carolyn discussed defining rules for a Sci Fi/Fantasy world.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan continued the Sci Fi discussion with how she bases her story world features on emerging technologies.

Kristal Shaff felt that research was a necessary evil to bring her fantasy world to life.

Mary Lindsay stole the show with a timely post discussing her research into the Great Storm in Galveston in 1900 and the recent Hurricane Ike.

Abi at bloggingexperiments contrasted the imagination involved in her fantasy world creation to the research needed for her cozy mystery.

Elana focused on the world-building aspects of her fantasy novel and the importance of making the setting part of the story.

Terri Rainer shared the amazing story of how she found the setting she’d imagined in Scotland.

And finally, Leah Clifford let her MC Eden guest blog about the world she lives in.

All in all, it was a rocking great chain, and I loved reading all my chain gang buddies’ thoughts.

Rock on!

The next chain is started by the always fabulous Mary Lindsay.

Opportunity Knocks: Chance to Improve Your Project and a Great Cause to Boot!

Moonrat from Editorial Ass is running a raffle to raise money for a friend who’s fighting cancer.

The amount needed is totally doable, so let’s get this thing done.

You can buy tickets for any of four raffles.

Prizes include:

An editorial review of your full manuscript

An editorial review of your partial manuscript

A review of your query and a revision

Books and love notes from moonrat

The fundraising site is here.

The Long Long Trailer– Fun with Mock-Up Novel Trailer for The Edge of Memory

So, everybody (and their brother) makes book trailers these days.  Or so it seems.

I’ve greatly enjoyed watching them, but had no plans of making one myself.  After all, I am seeking representation… not published yet.  And I wanted to use the song with the lyrics snippet that inspired me with the idea in the first place, but I don’t have rights to it.

Once I discovered Windows Movie Maker was already installed on my laptop, I decided to make a quick mock-up… just to test it out and I loaded it into youtube so I could show it to a few friends, but was hesitant to post it here.

As an aspiring novelist, I have deep respect for intellectual property rights.

But today, I noticed a little marker on my youtube file… the music I used (Half-Acre by Hem) has been claimed by its copyright holder and they do not object to it’s use on youtube.  Score!

So, here’s my mock-up trailer.  Eventually, if I’m marketing impending publication, I have some fabulous photographer friends I intend to hire to take some pictures for a new version.  The ones I’ve used for the mock-up are mostly public domain pics and a few of my own.