I put my baby out into the world and she’s already learning that she needs to step up her game.
I write well, or so I’ve been told. I knew there would be a lot of changes once others saw my work. I just didn’t realize the magnitude. So now, I step back, take a deep breath and do my best to do right by her.
A lot of what I’m hearing sounds a great deal like the copywriting course I started and have yet to finish. Show, don’t tell. Grab the reader’s attention right away. Know your audience. Sadly, I didn’t get this kind of information in the creative writing courses I took. Yet, as it is presented to me, I understand the value in all of these suggestions. Those who’ve already made the Best Seller list can be a little sloppier. But those of us who are just trying to get noticed, and sell a few hundred books have to follow the rules. It’s no different than any other undertaking. You have to prove your value before you get to make a few rules of your own.
Every learning experience has value and builds on those which came before.
The first thing I’m learning is that the birth of a first novel is a long process which is often frustrating and tedious, but it is also a huge series of life lessons. I am being called upon to not only take my writing to a whole new level, but to learn new skills and be extremely cautious about accepting information without running it past several other sources first. I’ve gotten conflicting information on everything from word count to small house publishers to writing style to selection of genre. A year ago, it would never even have occurred to me to know my audience before I even started writing. Now, I’m learning that it’s just as important as it is when writing ad copy or sales letters. Either way, you’re trying to sell something, and to do that, you have to tailor it to the people who would be likely to buy it. It doesn’t mean that your target audience will be the only ones you ultimately entertain, it just means that you have to start somewhere. It makes total sense now. But then, my hindsight was always perfect!
Thinking about how my daughter keeps telling me how much she loves it, could it be that my target audience is really people like her? If so, I’m going to have a devil of a time defining that target audience as my daughter is not typical of anyone or anything. I don’t think I could fit her into a particular group if I had to, unless it was the nonconforming, marching to her own drummer, late bloomer kind of place. Her tastes are eclectic to say the least. As well as I know her, she still surprises me often. She loves Harry Potter and hates Twilight (both of which my initial pages were compared to, and not in a good way!). She’s a Whovian and loves animated movies. She reads Michener and Poe, Rowling and McCaffery and everything in, around and in between. She’s studying Culinary Arts and Marine Biology and makes friends with people from eight to eighty. How in the hell do you quantify that???
What I’m taking out of my initial feedback, though, is this: I need to identify my target audience so I can tailor my writing to their tastes. I need to show, not tell. In other words, what I deem descriptive is not even in the same galaxy as where I need to be. “The house was painted a sunny yellow with white trim and boasted a wrap-around porch.” is clearly a real yawner. Instead, I need something like “Standing on the corner like a cornflower abandoned in a fallow field, the brightly painted walls were framed by posts as straight as soldiers in snowy uniforms which marched all the way around the structure, creating both a cozy place to wile away an afternoon and a look of refined elegance.” Is this my excuse to use 100 words when 10 would do? I don’t know, but I will be learning!!
At any rate, I have to give my brain a rest before tackling this again in the morning. All I can say right now is that I have a lot to learn, and my book won’t be hitting the stands any time soon! But I will persevere.
I forgot to mention that I’ve created an Author page on Facebook. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor . Feel free to drop by, like it and leave a comment. If you have a page, let me know where to find it so I can return the favor.
My Gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for guidance, even when it means I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did.
2. I am grateful for a good night’s sleep to put things back into perspective.
3. I am grateful for a thick skin which I’m going to be needing more and more if I want to succeed with my writing.
4. I am grateful for patience. Also a valuable commodity with a career which is creative.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, guidance, patience, harmony, peace, creativity, flexibility, prosperity and persistence.