writer's responsibility

The Great Responsibility of Being a Writer

I’m not a politician. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a teacher. I’m not important. I’m not famous. I’m not cool. I’m just a writer.

Writing never used to be about responsibility. Writing was always my quiet rebellion.

Precious secrets spilled onto the chocolate-stained, tear-smudged pages of my tattered journal. I unleashed my thoughts, yet they were still protected from the rest of the world. They were safe from ridicule and reason, a stream of consciousness nobody needed to interpret.

About nine years ago I finally realized the impact of words. I attempted to become an Arts & Entertainment journalist for an alternative publication in a small city. I had no experience. I nearly begged to write for them, and for whatever reason, they let me.

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say no and yes

Saying No Before Yes

I am not immune to the power of words. No matter how many times I’ve strung words together to create stories, even emails, I take pause. I respect their power, the way they stab you in the heart in the best possible way.

How could I better say no to the noise to better say yes to the adventures I craved?”

I came across this question last night and I was floored. Sometimes timing is just so spot-on when you read what someone else wrote. And it’s as if that person is speaking right through the page.

This question was one of several Tim Ferriss asked himself when he reached a fork in life’s unpredictable road. Perhaps it resonates with you or it doesn’t do anything for you at all. Right now, it neatly encapsulates my life.

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clothing optional spas

My First Clothing Optional Spa Adventure

I was on my way to the spa when I halted on the sunny sidewalk to grope around the inside of my canvas rucksack. I confirmed that my fear was warranted. I had forgotten my optional clothing.

Never before would I have called this buns-out little number a modest garment. However, when you’re wearing a bikini at a clothing optional spa, you’re pretty much wearing a nun’s habit.

Why partake in a clothing optional spa if you’re uncomfortable with being naked? Great question.

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manuscript rejections

The Regular Practice of Rejection

Rejection has become a regular practice for me. I’ve been learning how to breathe through it—inhale, exhale—then send another query email into the void. Rejection is something we all face and it is certainly not a life practice reserved for artists.

For writers, rejection happens constantly—externally and internally. I have sent 37 query emails into the void this past year:

  • Emails 1-3: Sent to 3 agents who liked my pitch at a writer’s conference. We did the whole “speed dating” pitch session. (Fun stuff…not!) They all passed.
  • Email 4: Sent to an indie publisher who I built up a relationship with over time. She was very supportive, but she passed.
  • Emails 5-6: Sent to 2 local publishers. Thought I had a fighting chance since my novel, Virasana, is an urban fantasy novel set in a dystopian Portland. Nope, cue crickets.
  • Emails 7-37: Sent cold emails to agents who represented books in my genre bucket. More crickets, peppered by a handful of automated rejection emails which you can enjoy throughout this post.

For shits and giggles, I committed to the rejection cliche of 100 query attempts. I dipped my toe in the rejection waters last August-October during and after my first writing conference. I was discouraged, so I let things rest. In March, I fired up the rejection engine again and started sending more emails.

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rose wine bottle

Abandoning My Flower Cynicism for Good

I used to think flowers were bullshit. And by “used to” I mean 15 years of my life were shrouded in flower cynicism.

During my early dating years, I instructed boyfriends to adhere to my flower rules. Don’t apologize with them and don’t express love with them. Got it?

Perhaps these flower rules seem harsh, but I had my reasons. If petals faded, wilted, then fell to the ground within 3-5 days…how was that tragic performance a symbol of eternal love? How did the cheapest bouquet from the chain grocery store serve as a relationship peace treaty?

One day I was forced to abandon my flower cynicism. Mr. H gave me an irresistible bunch of flowers for our 11-year anniversary.

He kissed me and said: “Don’t be a dick. Happy anniversary.” (Side note…we call each other dicks all the time in this house. It’s our time-out phrase.)

Mr. H and his floral-scented purple, yellow, and green accomplices tugged at my heart strings a little. Okay, a lot.

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