Wednesday, March 2, 2011

18 WOW Wednesday: Cambria Dillon on Loving Your Writer's Butt


This WOW Wednesday is from our very own Cam--YAY!--who just landed an agent and finished the first round of revisions on her fabulous manuscript. She is represented by represented by Vickie Motter at Andrea Hurst Literary Management. In addition to finding her here, you can catch her on her own blog. And yeah, she really is this humble, sweet, and gracious. How lucky are we to have her here with us?

Loving Your Writer's Butt

by Cambria Dillon


Shortly after I signed with my agent, Martina invited me to write a WOW Wednesday post. My first thought was – DUDE! I’m a nobody! What kind of wisdom or inspiration do you think I have to give?!? I can’t even bake brownies without destroying them! And then I promptly read every WOW Wednesday post on the blog and spent about fifteen minutes shaking my head because there were legitimate authors like Melissa de la Cruz and E. Lockhart who actually had wisdom to impart. Like, real wisdom.

I was fully prepared to tell her she had the wrong girl. That my path to getting an agent wasn't anything special and who wants to read about my path anyway? But then I recalled something from R.L. Stine’s keynote speech at SCBWI NY this past January. He said (and I'm summarizing here) that when he first started out, he made sure to say yes to everything. At the time, he was writing for a humor magazine and his editor had asked him to try writing something scary. Even though he wasn’t sure if he could pull it off, he said yes. Why? Because he loved writing and instead of focusing on the huge challenge in front of him, he focused on the fact that he loved writing in all its many shapes and sizes.

And now look at him.

So yeah, I told Martina – ABSOLUTELY! SIGN ME UP!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized something…

Yes, I have an agent, but…nothing has changed. I don't feel like a different person. I don't drink champagne for breakfast or have a gold-foiled keyboard or anything silly like that. I’m still a “nobody” and still can’t bake to save my life. The only thing I have now is a new nugget of experience I can refer to and an updated Twitter bio. Sure, I just turned in my first round of revisions to my agent and am currently waiting to see if she likes the changes or is going to print them out for her cat to use as kitty litter. But really…

NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

I was writing, revising, and making sure cats didn't pee on my work prior to getting an agent. And I suspect I'll always be doing those things because when you’re a writer, you don’t do it to become an overnight success story. You don’t do it to make butt-loads of money. You don’t do it for the cool factor of having a business card that says AUTHOR on it. And you certainly don’t do it thinking your husband will automatically empty the dishwasher.

You write because you love the art of stringing words together and making them mean something. To me, there’s nothing more breath catching than a beautifully written passage that I feel and think about for days.

If you don’t love those kinds of feelings, then maybe you should find something else to do because writing is HARD. It makes you CRAZY. It gives you carpal tunnel and eyestrain and Flat Butt-in-Chair Syndrome. It forces you to question yourself and your capabilities over and over and over. And a lot of times, it can break you.

But if you do love it…?

Then welcome to my world, baby! I happen to adore eye strain and tight wrists and jittery reflexes and saggy butts. *wink* I adore those unglamorous side effects because when I finish a WIP, a revision, a paragraph, or a kick-ass sentence – I’m truly HAPPY and that kind of excitement makes me feel successful. It’s a feeling I can never fully explain to my husband because he’s not a writer and doesn’t love it to the extent I do.

I guess what I’m saying is: Writing is HARD. Yeah, I already said that but it bears repeating because it’s true! Writing is demanding and time-consuming and sometimes I wonder why anyone would willingly choose this because it requires so much focus and independent supervision. But we don’t choose writing. Writing chooses us. And so we grit our teeth and keep pushing because life is so much sweeter with it, than without.

So focus on that.

Don’t focus on the singular steps of signing with an agent or signing a publishing contract or signing hundreds of books for fans one day. They're great goals to have, but none of those steps are guaranteed. The only guaranteed thing you can control in this business is your love and dedication to your craft.

My advice? Focus on what you love about writing and why you love it and work hard to always improve it, and you’ll have the kind of long-term success you need, instead of the kind you think you want.

That's where I am right now and I tell ya – me and my flat butt couldn't be happier!


Here's to LOVIN' IT!
Cam


18 comments:

  1. Great post. Thanks for reminding us of the realty once we get an agent if we're so lucky. We're still the same. Good luck with your book.

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  2. "Writing chooses us. And so we grit our teeth and keep pushing because life is so much sweeter with it, than without."

    So true - great post!

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  3. Great post! It's so easy to forget why you're writing once you start to chase after the publishing dream. But once you forget, it's so easy to lose the magic.

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  4. Love this post! This is fantastic kick in the writer's booty. Good luck with your novel's round of revisions!

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  5. For the record, Cambria has the furthest thing away from a saggy butt!

    That said, I loved this post!

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  6. Most definitely--write because you love to. Very important! It's certainly not for the $$. And here's to revising your novel into something truly outstanding, with your agent's guidance. Good luck!

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  7. Great post, Cambria! I can totally relate!

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  8. Cam you're awesome! I LOVED this post. :) Though I am sad that landing an agent does not automatically mean husbands will empty dishwashers. I swear I heard that somewhere.

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  9. Awesome post! I saw R.L. Stine's speech at SCBWI and loved what he said about saying yes to everything.

    I definitely feel like writing chose me and I have to do it, regardless of whether I have an agent or book deal. Congrats on getting an agent and good luck with your revisions!

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  10. I'm loving this post as well. I write because I love it first and foremost. Everything else is gravy!

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  11. My beautiful Cambria! I've said it a million times already but I'll say it again--CONGRATULATIONS on finding an agent!

    What an inspirational post. There's so many good lines here I can't pick my favorite.

    And it sounds like our husbands would totally get along. :0)

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  12. Great post Cam! You summed it up perfectly--as writers the only thing that should matter is sitting down and telling our stories.

    Yep, definitely hard to do, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! P.S. I love R.L. Stine, he was one of my favorite authors as a teen.

    Congrats and best wishes!!!

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  13. I LOVE this, and I agreed with every bit. Well maybe not the kitty litter part. I've never consciously tried to avoid that, but now that you brought it up, I'm going to be asking my agent if he owns a cat... :D

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  14. Great post! I had just been thinking how my butt was feeling a bit flat ;) And you do have wisdom to share: I love the part about 'the writing chooses us' as I can't seem to escape mine. I found that encouraging. Thank you!

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  15. Couldn't agree more -- and beautifully said! :-)

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  16. Terrific post! I didn't know that about Stine - thanks for sharing :)

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  17. It is all about the business cards...and the writing. Always the writing. Cheers.

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  18. Thank you all so much for your kind words! Who knew me referencing "butt" (or some variation of the word) FOUR TIMES would be inspirational to some? ;)

    I'm humbled and glad to pass along the reminder that it really IS about the spark behind the flame. (And now I'll stop my Hallmark Card speech!)

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