Wednesday, November 3, 2010

43 WOW Wednesday: Myra McEntire and Why You Gotta Believe


TO GET PUBLISHED, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE


If you want to become a published author, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE.

1. You Gotta Believe in YOU. When you're in the trenches of that first or fifth book, when it's just you and the blank page, when it's two o'clock in the morning and everyone you know is sleeping and you follow people on Twitter who live in the UK just so someone you know will be awake at that hour, when you hit a wall in your manuscript, when you don't KNOW any other writers to talk to about your plot problems (and if you did could you trust them with your BABY?), when you’re trying to figure out if you should join SCBWI or RWA or SFFWA or AW … you gotta believe that what you’re striving for – publication - is a possibility. If you don’t believe in you, no one else will.

2. You Gotta Believe in YOUR INSTINCTS. If you’re a writer, I certainly hope you’re a reader. Read in your genre and outside your genre. Read objectively. Reading changes when you become a writer. You’ll start to deeply value authors who can transport you from noticing the overuse of adverbs into the heart of their stories. You need to know what first person/third person present tense/past tense sounds like. You need to be able to recognize excellent world building versus poor world building. You need solid examples of how setting can breathe life into a story, and how dialogue can elevate a written conversation to something that sounds REAL. If you aren’t knowledgeable about how other people do it, you won’t know how to do it yourself. If your instincts tell you something is off about a story, ask yourself why. If something is right, ask yourself why. And then apply those lessons learned to your own work.

3. You Gotta Believe in the Power of REVISION. No one does it right the first time. No one does it right the second or third time, either. HOURGLASS went through at least eight MAJOR revisions before it sold. One of them was for my agent before I went on submission – I rewrote the whole second half. Guess what? AFTER I sold I rewrote the whole second half again. Someone very wise, and in the publishing biz, said this: “The writers who are willing to revise are the ones who have the longest careers.” I’m in for the long haul. And I believe that every time I touch a manuscript, I learn something.

4. You Gotta Believe the GOOD ADVICE INDUSTRY PROS GIVE YOU. This blog is an excellent place to start. You should also check out the blogs of Janet Reid, Nathan Bransford, Kristen Nelson, Rachelle Gardner and Michael Hyatt. Read author blogs like Maggie Stiefvater’s or Kiersten White’s. Read a book on craft. I suggest PLOT AND STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell, or BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. Lurk on the Absolute Write forums. Check out the #kidlit and #yalitchat hash tags on Twitter. These suggestions are starting points, and they apply if you’re a newbie, done with your first manuscript, ready to query agents, on submission with publishers, or slated for publication. Be a sponge. Be open. Be positive, and be ready to learn. You can ALWAYS learn something.

5. You Gotta Believe in the POWER OF THE WRITTEN WORD. It’s super easy to get caught up in what other people are doing. Who got a six-figure deal, who sold at auction, who got a fancy agent, who made The Bestseller List, who has the most buzz, who has the most blog/Twitter followers, who’s getting the biggest push from their publisher, who’s cover is the sweetest. LISTEN. Are you listening? None of this is important. My Awesome Agent, Holly Root, has a spectacular saying. “Keep your eyes on your own test paper.” No one else’s journey is your journey. You cannot control ANYTHING other than THE WORDS YOU PUT ON THE PAGE.

If you don’t put the words on the page, nothing will happen for you at all. Focus on your job, which is being a WRITER and WRITING.

I hope if you’ve chosen to be a writer, it’s because you can’t NOT tell stories. I hope you’re driven, that there’s a passion behind your storytelling. I hope you let all the hot water in the shower run out or drive ten miles in the wrong direction because you are so caught up in thinking about your own creation. (Just don’t run stop signs. Trust me.)

Believe in yourself. Believe in hard work. Believe, and HOPE. And may your wildest dreams come true.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Today's WOW Wednesday guest post is from Myra McEntire, who has had her nose in a book since she could hold one. She was once caught reading in the shower (true story) and only stopped when her father disconnected the hot-water heater. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and two boys. Her young adult novel, HOURGLASS, will debut on May 24, 2011, with Egmont USA. Visit her online at http://www.myramcentire.com/ or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MyraMcEntire.

43 comments:

  1. This is one of the best posts from an agented/soon to be published writer that I've read. And it's so true! Thanks!

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  2. Fantastic advice. She's right. If we don't believe in ourselves, why would anyone else?

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  3. I think I'm going to stencil the last sentence around my office (bedroom), just below the ceiling. Whenever I have doubts, I just have look up and be inspired. :D

    Great post!

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  4. Awesome post. I think I'm going to make sure I keep my eyes on my own test paper from now on. :)

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  5. This is fabulous, and as a young writer I hope belief is at least the one thing I can keep going.

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  6. I can totally relate to getting lost in my writing, especially while driving!!

    Great post and great advice, Myra!!!

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  7. Brilliant as always, my dear. You continue to amaze me, and I can't wait to read the final version of HOURGLASS! xoxo

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  8. Golden post! "You cannot control ANYTHING other than THE WORDS YOU PUT ON THE PAGE."--Great quote :-)

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  9. printed and posted on the wall! Excellent advice

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  10. Awesome post! Totally agree. You gotta believe!

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  11. LOVE THIS POST. I want to print it and put it on my office wall above my desk.

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  12. Oh Myra!!! What an inspirational talk -- thank you. I have printed it off as well.

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  13. This was one of the best motivational posts I've read. Believe, believe, believe.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  14. Good inspiration, and I was struck by how many MAJOR revisions you had to do. I think it'd be difficult to let go of your "baby" and change it like that...I will have to contemplate that possibility for whenever I get to that point. Thanks!

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  15. Great advice, Myra. Honest, helpful, timely tips. If we don't believe in ourselves and our work, how can anyone else? If we compare ourselves to another's journey, how will it be ours? If we don't read widely and immerse ourselves in the writing community, how will we grow?
    Thanks for the thought provoking post

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  16. This is such wonderful advice to write by- thank you so much for sharing. I agree that it is really hard to tell someone else about your baby, and that there are few you can really trust : ) best wishes with HOURGLASS

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  17. YOU GUUUUYYYYYS! I go to the dentist and come back to all these amazing comments! I'm so glad you feel encouraged - it uplifts me!

    Sometimes it's hard to focus on my own advice, so I have notes up on my computer, too. And I have Awesome Agent Holly and good friends who remind me when I stray. THANK YOU for encouraging me back!

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  18. I actually got a little teary. Thank YOU for helping me believe, Myra. Because, dammit, I TOTALLY BELIEVE!!!!!!

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  19. awesome post! Myra, you're an inspiration. There's little more powerful than our own belief in ourselves.

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  20. LOVE this post Myra! (Like I love everything you write) But I think my favorite point is the 'eyes on your own test paper" It's not healthy to compete or compare. It's your journey. Such wisdom there.

    Thanks for this. You = awesome. :)

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  21. This post is such an inspiration. Thanks to Myra for reminding us to BELIEVE.

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  22. Thanks, again, y'all! *feels all gooey and stuff*

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  23. What wonderful advice... and oh, so true. I think I just might print this off and stick it to the back of my laptop, to read every time I feel a bit down about my writing career or lack of an agent!
    Thank you for putting it into such beautiful words.

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  24. Great advice! I especially like #3, considering I'm at that stage right now. Thanks!

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  25. Great, great stuff here. I am horrible at the self-confidence thing. You gotta believe - we should put it on t-shirts!

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  26. For me, it's all about believing in MY WORDS. They are what they are. They aren't fancy, they aren't perfect and that's why they're just like me. They cannot be yours or anyone else's and I love them with everything my heart and my soul can give. I don't know if they're worth to anyone else but they're a lot of value to me. And that what counts.

    Great post and amazing drive in this author!

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  27. This is one of the most inspirational posts I've ever read, seriously. Also, I LOVE the keeping your eyes on your own test paper advice...

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  28. P.S. I love you, Myra.

    You have been and always will be an inspiration to me. Martina and Marissa rock, but their level of awesome seems elevated after having you guest post.

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  29. Oh Myra! That was beautiful. And so perfectly true! Thank you so much for saying all of that. I think this is one of the best guest blogs I've seen.

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  30. "Keep your eyes on your own test paper." Brilliant! This was so inspirational, THANK YOU!

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  31. This is brilliant. So well said Myra!

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  32. Thanks so much for this post, Myra! I've been out of the blogosphere loop for a while and can't tell you how inspiring & uplifting it was to read this as I ease my way back in to blogging (while continuing to revise my MG w-i-p). :)

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  33. WOW--this post is so inspiring. Thank you!

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  34. Can't believe it took my five days to stumble across this post. I'm going to print it off and tape it up everywhere.

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  35. Thank you so much for the comments, and I'm SO glad so many people are connecting with the post. Sometimes all it takes is someone to tell you that YOU CAN - that's all it took for me. (((hugs)))

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  36. Love this, Myra! Thank YOU. :)

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