Encouragement

Writers Give to Others

My hope is that this headline is true. While the writing profession (or obsession as some describe it) is a solitary one, it is in giving to others where its impact can be felt.

Time

The gift of time is precious as we are given a finite amount in this life. To mentor another writer. To blog freely. To teach at a conference or in a school setting. All are examples of a beautiful way to both give and receive.

At many conferences, I watch writers joyfully train their replacements! Think about it. Teaching others the inside scoop on how to write well, and more, helps improve those who later become competition. And yet the acrimony of competition is missing entirely. It is a wonderful thing.

Talent

To use your talent to its fullest is a gift to others. To hone that talent so it crescendos into the heart of a reader should be the goal of every writer. This talent must be shared. To hoard it for oneself would be a travesty and tantamount to the deadly sin of greed.

As our agency believes, we are in the business of helping to change the world word by word.

Treasure

I am talking about the things we treasure, like our money. I particularly like the epigram from Ellie Kay who wrote, The sweetest dollar you ever make is the one you give away.” That is so true! Cynthia Ruchti wrote (in the CBA Marketplace) about a number of novelists who have tied the revenue of their work to various charities. One example from the article is novelist Loree Lough who consistently donates a portion of her proceeds to causes like autism research, Soldiers’ Angels, Wounded Warrior Project, the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, and others. There are a number of writers, editors, agents, and publishers who do the same or tie content in their books to specific charities or causes. Many do so in anonymity.

Time, talent, and treasure … three things that we can give in this season of giving.

Your Turn

How have you benefited from the gift of another writer?
How do you plan to give back to others?

 

[An earlier version of this post ran in December 2011.]

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Writers Expect Good News

Writers expect good news…any day now. Is it the curse of eternal optimism?There is this hope within each writer that it will be their manuscript that is chosen for publication. And the money will rain on them like a spring shower.

Despite the odds.

Despite the competition.

Despite the cynical, horrible, no-good, very-bad agents who review them.

Expectations

Are these expectations realistic? Of course they are. It is the essence of hope. For without hope there is no reason to continue the pursuit of the craft. You have to believe that you have what it takes.

Are these expectations practical? Of course not. Who said the writing profession was “practical?”

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Lessons Learned As a Literary Agent

Dan is leaving the agency at the end of this month to focus his attention on the work of Gilead Publishing, the company he started in 2016. Here are some parting thoughts. _____ I’ve been a literary agent for about 2,000 of the 13,000 total days spent working with and …

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Encouraging Writers

Anyone committed to building a career in writing should spend a good deal of time with others who have a similar desire. Physical proximity to one another is a good thing; but these days, communication and connection can happen using a myriad of tools. Knowing others experience the same things …

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Making Decisions for Others

Because book publishing is surrounded by semi-regular failure, no matter if you are an agent, author, or publisher, the ability to deal with adversity is a defining characteristic of anyone who is successful in it. It’s a lot like baseball, where a high level of failure and adversity are part …

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Søren Kierkegaard on Writing

Søren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and writer in the mid-1800s. His works have been highly influential for the past 170 years. He is not without his critics but a couple years ago Christianity Today ran an article titled, “Why We Still Need Kierkegaard.” My own journey has included wrestling …

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Four Ways to Apprentice as a Writer

One of the things that struck me as I read Stephen King’s On Writing (besides his reliance on the “S” word!) was his depiction of some of his first steps as a writer. Back then, a fiction writer could cut his teeth, so to speak, writing for pulp magazines (Weird …

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Unnecessary Worry

In the third and final installment of my “unnecessary” series of blog posts, today we will explore the issue of unnecessary worry. (Yes, I am going for the “w” theme with the posts, starting with words, then work. I am a sucker for intentionality and the obvious.) For followers of …

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A Writer’s Hope Springs Eternal

Writers can be quietly optimistic amidst their seasons of doubt. It is that hope of success that helps make the daily slog a little easier. I reflected on hope by finding a few inspirational quotes: Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. …

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The Curse of the Writer

Speaking from an agent’s perspective…
I have more conversations with clients about their feelings of anxiety, apprehension or insecurity than almost any other topic. Almost every writer I have ever worked with as an editor or an agent severely doubts themselves at some point in the process.

Doubts occur in the midst of creation.
Doubts occur when the disappointing royalty statement arrives.
Doubts occur … just because…

It is the curse of the writer. Writing is an introspective process done in a cave…alone. It is natural to have the demons of insecurity whisper their lies. And, in a cave, the whispers echo and build into a cacophony of irrepressible noise.

Once I had an author with dozens of titles in print and over three million books sold turn to me and say with a somber voice, “Do I have anything left to say? Does anyone care?” I didn’t quite know how to reply so tentatively said, “Well, I like it!” The author responded with a grump, “But you are paid to like it.” After we laughed, we agreed that this lack of confidence would pass and ultimately was very normal.

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