Sunday, June 12, 2011
The Writer's Life: Guest Blog by Tracy Krauss
Today I am handing over the blog to a guest blogger and author, Tracy Krauss. Her topic for the day is "What writers have in common with Cirque du Soleil." I think you will find it most interesting. I know I did.
Writing can be a circus act and writers need to become world class jugglers and fearless trapeze artists. The juggling act for most writers is obvious. Most of the writers I know also hold down other jobs. Unless you are one of the famous few, you probably have to supplement your writing income with some other employment.
These are the things that make the writer's task even more challenging, because writing in itself is its own juggling act. Of course, at its base level, there is the 'writing' - the creative act of turning an idea into a full fledged story. This takes time, planning, rewriting, editing, critiquing, and more rewriting, until the finished product emerges and you are ready to share it with someone. But consider all the other tasks a writer must do beyond the creative act itself.
Sending out queries and pitching your work to agents, publishers, and periodicals is another whole category fraught with its own set of rules to master. If you are fortunate enough to find an agent or publisher, this does not guarantee they will take on subsequent work. Each manuscript, play or poem is subject to this same process unless you sign a multi book deal or become famous along the way.
Also, if you do sign a contract with a publisher, the work of editing, re-editing and editing yet again is another task that demands your time and attention - often on a strict timeline. Add to that other concerns like approving cover art, cover copy etc. etc. etc. and another 'baton' (plate, knife, flaming torch ...) has been added to your growing menagerie.
Then there is the whole marketing and promotional thing. Think of it as a large living organism thrown into the mix - perhaps a puppy, (or even a small whale!) This aspect of the 'performance' is a living thing. It is constantly changing, growing, adapting - and you better be too! No matter how much you want to, there is no avoiding it and you better be on your toes or it could send everything else crashing down. It can be fun, but if you let it, it can also take over the other, equally important things (like the writing itself ...)
Sometimes we get burned (we drop the flaming torch) such as when we spend money on a promotional 'opportunity' that turns out to be a dud. Or we get cut by one of the 'knives' (negative criticism, a bad review or a rejection letter ...) We miss opportunities, fumble, recover, drop a baton or two ... maybe even that cute beluga falls right on top of us and we get buried.
And I haven't even started on the trapeze analogy yet! I think you get the picture, though. Writing isn't easy. I inwardly chuckle when people say, "Maybe I should write a book!" as if it is some simple task. Yeah, I'll just skip home, glibly knock off several hundred pages in a week or so and then sell it for a tidy six digit figure to the highest bidder. They don't understand that writing is not something I do because it is easy. Far from it. Writing can be agonizing at times. Beyond the plain hard work, you've got to be willing to bare your soul to the world and keep smiling when it gets kicked around a bit.
Writing is, indeed, a circus act, but like any 'performance art' (and make no mistake, many aspects are 'performance' oriented...) there is often no greater thrill. Nothing beats the sense of satisfaction you get from hammering out that last chapter, receiving a positive review, or holding that newly published book in your hands for the first time. And, like anything else, the more you practice, the better you get.
What are your thoughts on this balancing act we called 'the writing life'?
If you would like to read more of Tracy's thoughts or buy her books, go to http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com