Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Honoring Each Other

The universe is at it, again. I think it's trying to send me a message.

I have to first nod to two great posts today that sparked my blog post today. Evidently, I can't seem to come up with anything of my own this week, LOLOL.

At Magical Musings, Michelle asked, How Real Do You Feel? And then Robert Gregory Browne posted about remembering that even though we're still striving, at one time we envied where we are today. Good point to always remember.

While I pondered those posts, I opened my Daily Lit dose of Emily Dickinson in my Inbox, and this was the poem of the day:

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.

If I thought two blog posts were the universe sending me a message, the poem confirmed it!

Anyhow, it all got me to thinking. Sometimes we don't respect each other enough in this business. It reminds me of martial arts. We are all beginners at one time, and as you advance you are responsible for helping the 'lower belts' as you were once helped. This doesn't just propagate a helpful and respectful environment; teaching something helps you learn it better.

Beginners are wonderful for their enthusiasm. Their naivete is a blessing, truly. Remember those days when you'd sit in front of the computer, toying with a paragraph, changing a word here and there? Delighting in the different shades of meaning in each word?

That enthusiasm is contagious, and we should allow that enthusiasm to infect ALL of us. We should be grateful for that enthusiasm!

What about writer's block? I, among others, often cry, "Just write already!" But really, how can you learn to overcome and work through writer's block without actually facing it and experiencing it? Maybe instead of yelling "just write" all the time, we should be a little more sympathetic. Who hasn't been there?

And then there's the professional amateur stage, where you're working your ass off, but you're not published yet. Dreams are still alive, but you face a TON of rejection. You're working DAILY in the face of NO ENCOURAGEMENT! No satisfaction of seeing anything you write in print, no satisfaction of a check in the mail. If there's any stage to admire most of all, this is it!

Then there's the kinda published stage. Since I'm in this stage, I have to say that I think this stage is a blast! You're writing regularly, producing, stretching yourself, getting checks, getting reader feedback ... it's awesome! About the only drawback is that you struggle with feeling like a "real" writer and wishing you could find your book in Borders. But sheesh, you'll get there if you keep working! I suppose the good things about us is that we're professional, but not jaded or whining too much, yet! (Except me, LOL ... I whine too much!)

After that comes, I suppose, the midlist stage. These folks have SO much to offer by way of experience and helpfulness. They seem to feel the pressure to get on the bestseller lists and keep their career alive, but boy, do they help out the authors in other stages. We should understand their pressures (and not say 'but you're published!' every time they vent), and be darned thankful at all they do for us! Their generosity is an example!

Finally, comes the bestseller stage. I don't know much about this stage, but I'll give it a shot. They seem to withdraw a little. They're looked up to, but they tend to run into lots of jealousy and pettiness. Even scary-reader stuff. They've paved the way for us. Although they tend not to teach so much, their writing usually teaches us a whole lot, if we care to study!

(Of course, there's the Nora/Grisham stage, but I know NOTHING about that, LOL.)

Sorry for the long rant. I just think we should appreciate each other a little more, at all stages of the game. I hear people look down on the different stages a lot, and I don't think that's kind or just. We were all there, and hopefully, we'll all experience each of the stages.

Respect and helpfulness; you see it all the time in the best of this business. I don't want to live in--or even look at--the other side of this business.

Happy writing! And yes, we're ALL real writers!

11 bonus scribbles:

Kate S 1/17/2007 10:27:00 PM  

...at one time we envied where we are today.

Wow, that IS a good point to remember. I struggle with feelings of not being good enough to be a "real" writer, but now that I think about it, I know that even less than a year ago I would have envied anyone who is where I am now, lol!

Thanks for a great post, Spy. :)

Bernita 1/18/2007 07:17:00 AM  

"..teaching something helps you learn it better"
That is SO true!

Rhonda 1/18/2007 07:55:00 AM  

what a GREAT post. you are so right - we always have something to learn from someone else. :D

Avery DeBow 1/18/2007 11:03:00 AM  

Your point about formerly envying my current position really hit home. Even though I'm grumpily sludging through my revisions and still un-agented, three years ago I'd have done almost anything to make what I'm now doing a reality. I was working long hours in a crappy job, despairing that I'd die a writer waiting to write -- that I was on the fast track to being a "could've-been."

Thanks for the perspective.

spyscribbler 1/18/2007 02:41:00 PM  

Kate and Avery, I love that quote, too. (Remember, Robert Gregory Browne wrote it, not me!)

LOL, and Avery, I get that feeling. I often have this niggling fear that I'm not going to get all that I'm supposed to get written before I die. Weird, I know.

Bernita and Rhonda, I so agree. When I teach, I often wonder who is actually learning more: the student or the teacher. :)

The Dark Scribe 1/18/2007 06:46:00 PM  

It IS amazing how so many mid-list authors make themselves accessible to those of us striving to get where they are. In a lot of ways, JA Konrath, Tess Gerritsen, Barry Eisler, Rebecca Drake, Marcus Sakey (and probably a million more) have lived by the philosophy that helping the rest of us is a two way street. Yes, it feels good to offer advice to a newbie writer, but guess what we're going to do for them? Buy their books, spread the word, and, someday, we may have the opportunity to reciprocate professionally.

Anyway, great post, as usual. Let's keep advocating for one another (even if one day we miraculously find ourselves in the Bestseller category)!

Zoe Winters 1/18/2007 11:44:00 PM  

I don't really envy (with the exception of the Eragon case, and that's cause he's just a kid and I hate it when someone didn't really seem to have to "work" for it.) I just know I'm going to get there eventually. I know there's no way to say that without sounding either adorably naive or insanely narcissistic, but there it is. I know if I keep writing and submitting I'll get there.

spyscribbler 1/19/2007 01:08:00 AM  

You bet, Dark Scribe! This is true. I try to promote their works as much as possible. But heck, they deserve it!

LOL, Zoe. It doesn't seem like he had to work for it, but that's a lot of words for such a young kid. He supposedly spent a year writing it, a year revising it, and a year editing it.

And determination is 99% of the battle. You'll get there, all right!

amy 1/19/2007 02:32:00 AM  

I had a hard time commenting above..neat list and I like your blog layout

Edie 1/20/2007 12:16:00 AM  

Great post, Spy! Usually I'm so focused on getting to the next stage I don't enjoy where I am. Thanks for the reminder.

spyscribbler 1/20/2007 09:26:00 PM  

I'm sorry about that, Amy. Sometimes google won't let me comment, either. And it's MY blog, LOL!!! I swear I type those ridiculous words correctly, but it insists I don't. Grr!

Thanks, Edie! Me too. I sometimes complain, when--if I stopped and looked around--I would be grateful.