Thursday, November 26, 2015

Good intentions & gratitude: how much is enough?

On this day when Americans focus on giving thanks, I'm grateful for the bounty of food, family, friends and work I've had this year.

And I'm also grateful for me. Some may think that conceited. But I'm the one who gets up every morning, sits at my desk (usually by 7AM) and works to build a better life for myself despite the siren call of distractions from TV and books I want to read to errands that need running. Who picks herself up after rejection after rejection and setbacks and continues to believe she can earn a living as a full-time actor, author, writer and speaker.

Even so, negative thoughts sometimes stymie my good intentions to do more, work more, self-market more, write more, have a positive attitude. Putting positive energy into the world is preferable, as is being satisfied with what you have. But is what you've done enough?

An actor always needs more submissions, auditions and bookings. An author needs more sales and followers and accolades from contest wins to good reviews. A single person who wants a relationship needs to meet more people. A person on a diet may face a daily struggle to avoid their favorite fattening foods and to exercise more.

When things you truly want and things you've worked for elude you, sometimes life feels like an ongoing test. Have I done enough? How will you handle your reaction to lack of success? From the agent who says no to the jobs you didn't book to not finding someone you want to date who wants to date you? The discipline required to exercise if you don't enjoy it, to put in the hours to finish and then market that novel? Can you believe that persistence pays, winners never quit? Can you be grateful for all you do have?

Can you accept, just for today, that you've done enough and enjoy?   

Thursday, November 12, 2015

5 Tips for enjoying life while you're waiting for news

As an actor and an author, I want to have many irons in the fire. I have some control over how many I send, but none over when information about those irons (such results of submissions to literary agents, auditions, callbacks, even the shoot schedule when I have a booking) will arrive, which can wreak havoc on my schedule and, somehow, at times, my brain. At the moment, I'm waiting on many fronts, including a very exciting and hugely challenging writing opportunity.

I'm not the only one who finds waiting difficult. An actor friend who was on check avail for a commercial posted more than once on social media, calling the waiting nerve wracking. Why is that, when you're not actually doing anything? Maybe it's the lack of control, uncertainty, or lack of closure.

Here are my Top 5 Tips to help you endure the waiting process:

1) Keep going. If you've submitted to an agent (whether literary or acting), their websites often list response times. But if that's a month or 6 weeks, the urge to keep checking your email can be strong. And many say they only respond if interested, so you might not even get the closure of a rejection. Send out another submission. Finish other work. Staying busy and having more eggs in your basket gives you more opportunities and lessens the importance of each individual submission.

2) Accept that there's nothing you can do to make the news come faster. And that often, it comes later than you expect, meaning you have to wait longer. Recently I was "on ice" for a small role in an industrial, a corporate video. Talent was asked to set aside multiple days...and I didn't find out for several weeks that a) I was definitely booked b) when I'd shoot. I'm waiting for a shoot schedule for a commercial next weekend, which means other plans are on hold. It can be difficult not to get antsy, especially if things that can't be changed, like theatre tickets, are involved. Realize this is part of the chaos of a feelancer's life.    

3) Be grateful and enjoy what you've achieved so far. You can't win it if you're not in it. But the bigger the opportunity, the harder waiting can be. My dream agent is interested in my book! I'm up for a national TV commercial! When I called a friend to congratulate her on being a RITA finalist (RWA's version of the Oscar. The awards are presented at a black tie event with nearly 2,000 in attendance, including many industry professionals), the first thing she said was that she knew she wouldn't win. What a way to downplay a huge honor thousands of romance authors wish for.

4) Nip social media envy in the bud. Seeing that a friend got a check avail/booked a job, got the call or got nominated for a huge award, can sting. You can still be happy for your friend while wondering, "When is my turn?" Of course, posts can be exaggerated, too. There may be days when it's better to just stay off social media and focus on yourself. Everyone's path is different. Luck and timing can play as big roles as talent and skill. You may yet book/get the thing you're waiting for.

5)  Know that no news doesn't mean the world is ending or that door is closed. Having a slow couple of weeks as an actor and doesn't mean all the casting directors hate you. Worrying for a short time is one thing. Dwelling/obsessing/what iffing is another. Don't let waiting stymie you or allow you to carry the stress into other areas of your life.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

NaNo day by day...or how I'm writing my next book

NaNo is here! This is the first time I've participated in National Novel Writing Month. I joined my region, added some buddies, thought about what to work on....

Day 1 I sat down at my desk early in the morning, eager to get some words in before going to my mom's for lunch.

I love when I'm really in a character's head and s/he says something I hadn't thought of. Even if that changes the direction of the story.

More difficult than I thought Day 1 would be...I expected it to be a mind dump, where I'd spill all of my thoughts onto the page and get a lot of words right off the bat.

Day 2 Better. I want to write more than the 1,667 needed to meet the 50,000 word count goal and "win," to stay ahead in case there's a day I'm so busy I don't want to write.

Day 3 Like pulling teeth. It took much too long to get the words down, and they were only coming in dribs and drabs. I have other work I need to do.

Day 4 Better flow. I'm happy with some of the scenes I've come up with, and am trying not to worry about the execution right now.

I seem to be focusing on plot and the fantasy element. I can add more romance after November, but I think having both at the same time helps me come up with  ideas. When you have a multi-subgenre project like this one, it's hard to know what balance will interest readers more.

In other writing news, I really want to be a hybrid author. For decades I've dreamed of getting "the call" from a traditional publisher who loves my work and wants to work with me. To that end, and because a successful author friend thinks my sales numbers thus far might be of interest to an agent, I queried a few with my new series...and already got a request from someone I'd love to have. So, yay to that. But, she's read other projects over the years and passed, and I've heard this can be a tough subgenre, so less yay.

Day 5 Have a lot of other work to do, including an audition and some promo for my self-published books. Wrote a few words this morning. May have to finish word count tonight, which I'd rather not do....