Friday, May 30, 2014

The GBU of a Writing Career by Diane Burton



Many of my fellow Roses have written about their Good, Bad, and Uglies. I read them when they came out but have deliberately not gone back and reread them. I hope my take on a writing career isn’t a rehash of what has gone before. Since I prefer to end on a positive note, I’m changing the order.

BAD  Writing is a solitary occupation. We sit in our caves surrounded by characters who talk to us. No, wait, they yell. Some are demanding that we start their story when we’re in the middle of someone else’s. Or they want the current story to go in a different direction. Our family doesn’t understand how we can sit for hours at the computer. Even the most supportive spouse or child can feel neglected and they let us know about it. Some writers aren’t blessed with a supportive spouse, one who sabotages the writer’s time and efforts.

UGLY  We send our “baby” out into the world and someone says she’s ugly—an editor, an agent, a critique partner, a contest judge, a reviewer. Everyone in the writing community tells us to develop a thick skin. Easy to say, hard to do. We want, no, need a critique partner who will tell us the truth. If we want only praise, we should send our work to our mothers. Rejections are part of the writing process. Sure they hurt. If we’re lucky, the rejection is accompanied by reasons that we can learn from. We’re told don’t read reviews. How unrealistic is that! And, of course, we’re more bothered by one bad review instead of celebrating the eight 5-star ones.

So why do we do it? Why put ourselves through all the heartache?

GOOD  Despite all the BAD and UGLY parts of a writing career, writing is fun. Or it should be. Our imagination takes us to a different place and time. We can go back in time and meet historical characters. We can write about places we’ve been or long to visit. We can go on adventures with our characters who become real people to us. I will never go into space. I accept that, but my characters can. And I can enjoy that adventure with them. I’ll never be young again (don’t I wish I could have that do-over), but I remember the thrill of finding my soul mate. I can experience that exhilaration again and again in each of my stories. Writing gives me the freedom to be my own boss, to do what I want to do. What could be better than that?

In my newest science fiction romance, THE CHAMELEON, my heroine has a dual personality. She’s a ditz who doesn’t seem to have a brain in her head. She’s a tough, driven woman who wants to run the family business. I love the fabulous cover (by Rebel Ink Designs) that shows both sides of her. This story presented a challenge. While I have no trouble writing strong women, writing a ditz is a lot harder. But even challenges can be fun. Since our theme this month is movies, the tagline for this book fits right in: Legally Blonde Meets Mata Hari.

 I blog here on the 8th and 30th of each month and Mondays on my own site http://dianeburton.blogspot.com

14 comments:

Leah St. James said...

Interesting, Diane. I don't think I can write ditzy either. It comes off as sounding just stupid. Love your cover!

Diane Burton said...

Thank, Leah. For my character, stupid is about right. At least, that's what she wants others to think.

Jannine Gallant said...

I think writing a ditz would be a blast. You've inspired me. Maybe the heroine's best friend in my next book... Yep, there are some bad and ugly parts to this business, but writing is FUN!

Diane Burton said...

Glad I inspired you, Jannine. If writing isn't fun, why would we put ourselves through so much grief?

Kristen Brockmeyer said...

Great post, Diane - I love that you focus on the good last. That's the impression you want to leave, because despite the bad and the ugly, writing is good. :)

Maris said...

Diane, you are so right about the UGLY. It's so difficult to hear others don't love our characters or the story as much as we do. Sometimes (especially with critique partners) it's good to hear when something isn't working, but it really hurts when an agent, editor, or reviewer simply doesn't "get" or "like" that particular story idea or character.

Maris said...

Diane, you are so right about the UGLY. It's so difficult to hear others don't love our characters or the story as much as we do. Sometimes (especially with critique partners) it's good to hear when something isn't working, but it really hurts when an agent, editor, or reviewer simply doesn't "get" or "like" that particular story idea or character.

Margo Hoornstra said...

That is one fabulous cover! I also liked hearing your take on the good of writing last. If you think about it, the good is well, good enough, to counteract both the bad and the ugly combined. Not bad. Laughed out-in a good way-at your troubles in writing a ditz! Best of luck!

Diane Burton said...

Kristen & Margo, I'm glad you both agree with how I put the good last. I did have it first and thought I didn't want the Ugly to be the last thought on writing.

Maris, yes to when an editor doesn't "get" the story or character. My 1st thought is I did something wrong instead of thinking that was the wrong editor or agent. I like hearing what doesn't work. I can fix that.

Margo, I'm so glad you like the cover. Florence did such a great job.

Nancy Gideon said...

Diane, you got the GB&U down pat! But in the end Good always triumphs. Can wait to fire your new one up on my Kindle!

Melissa Keir said...

I loved the ideas for the Good, Bad and Ugly... although I would add to the Ugly- my behind after sitting in a chair writing and eating chocolate! It is also a part of the bad, I don't get out enough. I'm lucky that I have a day job (right... I did say that) because I get to play for a bit with other people, even if they are only 5 years old.

I love the heroine in Chameleon. I feel like she's a lot like me and wow... I can't wait to read the book!

Patricia Kiyono said...

I read your post earlier today, but since I had little people here I didn't get a chance to comment. I think you're spot on with all three categories. And I'm glad you saved the good for last because that's why we keep doing it, despite the bad and the ugly. I love to travel, and by placing some of my stories in my favorite places I'm able to re-live some of the fabulous highlights of my life. That's enough to make me forget about the other stuff. Well done!

Jackie Braun said...

Despite the bad and the ugly you mention (and I totally agree with you, by the way), the good keeps me coming back for more. Great post, Diane.

Alicia Dean said...

Love this post, although I will have to say, for me, your bad is my good. I love being alone, love solitude. I also love being around family and friends, but the weekends when I can hybernate are fantastic! (I live alone, so that's easier to do for me than some). Yes, the Ugly is very ugly, but you are right, it's not just a cliche, we do have to have thick skin. Whether it's from a rejection or a reviewer, not everyone is going to love your work. If you dwell on the ugly reviews and rejections, you'll never enjoy the good ones. Best of luck on your latest, Diane. Love the concept and the cover!