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Old 06-29-2011, 06:43 AM   #1
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Default The Writer: What it Takes to Become Noteworthy

Source: http://www.writerscafe.org/groups/Pr...77/forum/2577/

By: Nannette LaRee Hernandez (2005)

Near the beginning of my writing career, senior editor Judith Regan of Simon and Schuster Publishing sent me a personally penned rejection letter in response to my presented book proposal. Of the 276 rejection letters I received from various US publishing companies, hers was the most callous. Where other publishers simply sent me a standard rejection slip, Judith Regan made it her duty to make clear to me that I would never sell my book; that, in fact, I would never make it as a writer. In 1993, Judith Regan was at the height of her publishing career: she had successfully edited crass radio personality Howard Sterns, as well as Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaughs tell-all books, proving she could easily gravitate to the Left as well as to the Right, and keep an even and amicable balance. Judith Regan was an expert at writing. And she came unprofessionally close to calling me a Nothing.

Not nearly enough has been written about the real benefits of Nothing. Because under any circumstance, Nothing is often the significant fuel needed to propel one forward. And Nothing, was all I had to lose. So I paid $16.00 for the business name Brilliant Creations and printed 500 hundred spiral bound books at Kinkos Copies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and sent my book to every radio station, talk show, magazine and newspaper company in the United States.

Two weeks to the day that Id received Judith Regans letter, the phone started ringing for me from California to New York. It didnt matter to the interested parties that my book wasnt perfectly published or represented by a big publishing house. What mattered, was that I had taken the subject sex, which is extensively written about, and said it like it really is, and not how some publisher had decided that the female public wanted to read it or needed to hear it. From that point forward, I sold over 300,000 copies of my self-published book worldwide. I have been a guest on just about every television talk show, on several hundred radio shows, in most newspapers and featured in almost every magazine. In late 2006, I negotiated a contract with a big publishing house on my terms: that my book stays True to its creative form from it original publication. It took fourteen years, but I did it. For this writer, Nothing is the most eloquent word in the dictionary.

When a person writes, whether it be an essay assignment, Thesis, article or book, he or she is offering to the world not only who they are, but how they see things, how they want things to change, how they hope for the future or would attempt to modify the past. There never has been nor will there ever be, a bad writer. Writing is a talent endowed upon the masses, and too often, when something written is presented as bad, it is only because the writer has allowed their work to become structured and submissive through the opinions of a Critic.

A Critic, is anyone: a parent, a good friend, the guy at the carwash, an editor. A Critic is anyone who doesnt get either the writer or what the writer is saying, and must therefore incorporate the writers work to best suit their own outside interest and perspective. Therefore, what makes a writer truly great; what makes a writer outstanding and significant, and, at last, successful, is the writers own Clarity, Uncompromising Stance of their own Truth, and the final formation of their own Trust.

Not every word written, either past or present, is penned for every reader. Some like poetry, many Science Fiction, others documentaries. The writer then, must first learn Clarity. The writer must see, feel and understand his or her literary goals, and not deter from it. With Clarity, comes the Uncompromising Stance to stay true to who he or she is as a writer, willing to make use of suggestion and comment, while unwilling to allow outside influences to break his or her foundation. With Uncompromising Stance, comes Truth; that ability to always stay True to his or her inner voice and gut instinct. And with Truth, comes the Trust that someone who reads their written work will ultimately want it, and be delighted to share it with the multitude. There is no need to become structured and submissive. Not when the writer becomes skilled at Clarity, Uncompromising Stance, Truth, and Trust.

When the writer recognizes that there is no need to become structured and submissive, rejection becomes a surety, and therefore the most difficult of all responsibilities to endure. Once given to the writer, rejection becomes a responsibility because rejection is an action that requires balanced management if the writer is to become successful. Therefore, when rejected, which will often happen on a daily basis, the writer has only two options: 1) to use the rejection as a trampoline, which will eventually give-to flight, or 2) to use the rejection as a pit-fall, which will inevitably become an abyss. Rejection, like Nothing, is an eloquent word. And managed with balance, the worst rejection often leads to the right acceptance elsewhere. And the right acceptance is guaranteed, if the writer never quits.

Writing is one of the few genuine methods of self-rejuvenation and Universal transformation.

Writing is where ideas are made, problems are solved, thoughts are exposed and communication gaps are bridged.

It is the writers distinct Creation that is the blueprint which formulates what humanity feels, thinks, sees, and hears.

Without the writers individual perspective, dreams, ideas, opinions, emotions and options would die.

The writer is the pulse, heartbeat, conscience, brain and breath-of-fresh air, that makes Life meaningful.
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Old 08-02-2011, 04:24 AM   #2
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This was a really good article to read. Thanks for sharing this!
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:27 AM   #3
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I can see why she would get rejected a lot.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:42 AM   #4
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There are two reasons why I posted this. Very recently a friend I know who is writing a novel has been bugging me with lots of statements in this format: "People won't like what I like if I do it [X] way". I keep telling him that if he removes the parts that he doesn't think other people will like even though he does, what he is effectively doing is erasing his writing style from the story. Thus, it really does become "just another novel". It upsets me that he would think this way, because what he wants is to surrender all of the distinct reasons for reading the book. All of it set by the author-- the only person who can truly communicate what it is that the story is trying to tell.

Keep in mind I, nor the article to be read, are referring to writing for an institution, company, business, or any organization of ANY sort. This topic specifically retains to writing that only knows the bounds given by its individual author and nothing more. To arise such an argument against the kind of essay that Miss Hernandez has written is stupid. The scope of her argument is very specific; purposely going beyond the scope shows nothing but an ignoramus reader.

I also brought this up is because I know a guy who is currently producing a web comic. I originally loved the web comic because it was aimed towards anyone who is aged six and up. However, over the course of time, he encountered a very small group of people who told him that the characters were too Mary Sue-like. I don't like it when my characters are called Mary Sues either, however because of how lighthearted the characters made in the comic are and knowing how everything in the comic got started, I thought that this was entirely the point. It is because of these few comments that he started adding lots and lots fighting and blood. Blood that looks more like paint (makes me laugh, actually), but when you start a medium where blood is never an issue (despite the comically severe injuries), and then move to doing it regularly, it loses the original flavor. The comic hasn't come far enough to say this will produce any character development. I could revel in each strip, love it, and assure myself that I couldn't wait for the next one. Now, it's skippable.

My first reason for showing it has to deal with age-general genres. When an author is writing a novel or comic aimed at an age-general audience, the BEST of their kind have a common goal: To gear the comedy and drama for adults-- BUT, if children want to read or watch it too, don't exclude them. When it comes to the comedy, the jokes played are funny to children because it is out-right silly, but it is also funny to adults because we understand the literal, metaphorical, and/or cultural context. The drama played in such stories is effective for children because it employs teaching basic life lessons, morals, and values. It works for adults because it is not made to be convoluted-- unlike the way it can be with our real lives-- and we can empathize with well-made characters presented to us.

I showed the article to both acquaintances. The man I spoke of sooner than the latter took it seriously. The latter didn't look too happy or interested. Probably because it was a writer and not someone who had written a comic book.

The other reason why I brought this is because the article sums up my feelings whenever I am asked for advice. The only thing that I can do for others is to ask them questions that I hope will lead to the best possible answer. I can suggest a lead for the story, but when people ask me, "What should [Insert Character] do when [X] event happens?" I say to them, "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you that." I've even gotten, "What should this guy's or girl's name be?" I can't tell them that, either. If I do, all of the reasons sum up as: it's not their story anymore. I feel I don't have a rite to tell any author how to express their story, what plot should come next, how to name them, etc. etc. Why? Because I don't know the story better than the original author does.

Miss Hernandez ushered many feelings that I couldn't really put into words before I read it last month and had three weeks to think about it.
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Old 08-03-2011, 08:20 AM   #5
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I agree.

But where do you draw the line between keeping it real to yourself, and ignoring people's comments if you're just plain bad?
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Old 08-03-2011, 08:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rao Dao Zao
But where do you draw the line between keeping it real to yourself, and ignoring people's comments if you're just plain bad?
You don't, that's the point. You write as terribly as being yourself allows you to.
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:18 PM   #7
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Everything starts with a choice. If you're that bad, make an effort to get better. How? Very simple; read what other people write. Read as many genres as possible. A person who won't read specific genres, but wants to write themselves are not doing themselves a favor. Different genres require a story to be strong at different points with many common strengths in all of them. Knowing what works in what situations is the best skill you can give yourself.

Rao Dao Zao, you make it somewhat difficult to answer that question. Saying that someone is just plain bad is vague. I can get a pretty good idea of what you're talking about since I've spent a good few years or so reading and trying to roleplay with really bad people. One line per post wants to me to commit suicide. And if they tried to extend it, it got worse. I have also spent more years reading amateur stories (a lot worse than others) and even more time critiquing, editing, and helping others revise short stories, essays, research projects, and assignments.

Really, though. What do you mean by plain bad? Weak plot? Shallow characters? Nonsensical setting? No reason for the characters being together? Nothing keeping the characters from staying together? No apparent conflict? All of those? Sometimes it's a plot or conflict where the decisions made by the character make absolutely no difference in what happens. Sometimes it's the reader, because they hold bias about what they like to read. The problem could be anywhere. Or everything.

If this is about a person's story coming with terrible spelling, grammar, etc. ... I'd expect a level of literacy and English usage before anyone even starts. How is a person going to write a story when they can't get half passed the write part?

Here's a good example. I reviewed a six page short story about a teenager that lives near the beach. His high school graduation was coming soon, but the main character is really fed up with his Dad. The author did a good job writing about how the character felt about whether or not he wanted to go to college. He didn't want to go because the main character wanted to travel, instead. He brings this up with his father and at the end of the story, the main character doesn't care about anything his father says decides to go to China in a few weeks.

The ending is a horrible red herring; the author had to have been making an excuse to end the story quickly. It has no place in the rest of the story. Even then, the main character may not have a job, so how would he get the money to get there? And apparently he can't speak a lick of Chinese. How would he be able to get a job in China if you can't talk to more than half of the people that live there? What about his Mom? Or his friends? He just told off his Dad and said he didn't care about anything his Dad did or said, so what makes the main character think that he would help him with anything? The author didn't write down the Dad's reaction, so the story implies that the Dad did nothing. It was so dumb and this was one of those times where I genuinely got mad the person who wrote it.

If you want to be a critic when you have to be, tell them different ways of how they can make it better, but don't lead the story for them. No story is bad; its how the writer conveys the story and the information in the story that can make it bad. You can be a critic to everything that an author already has down and you can tell them in what ways they can further explore what they've made. But don't tell them, "This is how I would write the next part." Give them examples of how they can make it work, but don't tell them they need to do it a certain way.

I've come across a few people who won't take another person's opinion of what they think about their writing when their writing is bad. Not taking someone's word for it even when they are really trying to help them for the better is a hindrance to themselves. There are too many reasons why a person doesn't take criticism very well. Maybe they're just really arrogant. Maybe they've only received negative criticism for the majority of their life and expect it from everyone else. These are all personal problems. Critiques aren't therapy. Don't treat them like so or expect them to be.
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"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
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and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

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Last edited by Ignitedstar : 09-27-2011 at 05:33 AM.
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