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What Could Be More Important Than Being Published?

“…on days when I look at my publishing career and acknowledge that I am still not a NYT Bestseller and that I’m still trying to make it as an author, there are many things that have come from being a published author that are worth more than money and fame.”

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Look What I Found When Looking Through Old Picture Files:

That time when my parents and I had dinner with the publicists (Wynn-Wynn Media) who worked on my very first novel, Ruby Among Us.

From the pictures I found, it might look like our families became friends after I was published, born out of a friendship between an author and a publicist, but the truth is, we connected because of an existing friendship between our dads that my publisher didn’t even know about when they connected us together. In fact, my publicist Jeane and I didn’t know about it either.

Real quick, let me explain something to you about the industry. Most readers don’t know how traditional publishers and outside publicists work together, but it is important to note for this story that publicists and authors don’t get to pick each other. At least not when the publisher is the one hiring the publicist, which was the case with my first novel. What happens is that the publisher assigns who they want and while it is not unheard of for an author to have heard of a publicist on a professional level, this was my first novel, so I barely knew what publicists did, let alone who any of them were.

It turns out that my publicist, Jeane Wynn, and I were always meant to be friends. We just hadn’t had a chance to meet each other before. Little did I know when I nervously waited for my first phone call from Jeane, I would immediately feel like we’d met before. She just reminded me so much of people from back home, which was the last thing I expected from a phone call with a publicist.

Long story short, I liked Jeane from day one, which came as a surprise to no one who knew her. Who could not love Jeane? She’s just that kind of person. What did come as a surprise is learning that our families already had a history together, and that it started before I was even born, decades earlier in a tiny little Oklahoma town.

At first, when Jeane mentioned that she lived in Oklahoma, it made perfect sense. I remember thinking, no wonder we seem to have a lot in common. She has that friendly way about her that people have in my hometown. It made sense that she might seem familiar to me. However, when Jeane mentioned that her family had actually once lived in Colcord, Oklahoma, the small town I grew up in, I was shocked. How in the world could my publicist have even heard of my town, let alone lived there?

Well, there is no way someone could have ever lived in Colcord and gone unnoticed. Everyone knew everyone else, so the first thing I did was call my parents. Our families had to have known each other, and it turns out that they did. In fact, not only did they know each other, but our dads knew each other quite well since before we were either one born.

That’s when my dad told me that Jeane’s dad had been his best friend.

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When I told Jeane, we started comparing stories. We figured out that a long time before Jeane was assigned by my publisher to work on my book’s campaign, her dad was my dad’s beloved Boy Scout leader, as well as his teacher. That’s how my dad, as a young boy, started looking up to Jeane’s dad and considered him his best friend. Isn’t that cute? Further, we learned that our dads have been fishing buddies ever since.

It turns out that even after my dad was grown and Jeane’s dad had already moved away to another small Oklahoma town, they would still run into each other at favorite fishing holes. As my dad shared his stories of Jeane’s dad, it didn’t take me long to realize that I’d been hearing about Jeane’s dad for years. Her dad was THAT guy, my dad’s favorite fishing buddy, and his kindness, faith, and wisdom had an impact on my dad’s life a long time before Jeane and I came along.

Jeane and I are pretty sure we never met before our publisher and publicist put us together, at least that we know of. Since our dads mostly kept in touch over the years through fishing, our families didn’t have joint dinners or hang out together, but now that Jeane and I have met, we share a common bond.

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I guess that to some people, this might not seem like such a big deal, even though I think the chances of an author and publicist being put together and learning, unbeknownst to them, that their dads were already the best of friends, is pretty serendipitous. To me, to Jeane, and certainly to our dads, it is special, kind of like a great big hug from God.

I am grateful for the friendship of our dads and our families, and I am so grateful for my friendship with Jeane. I love that God brought us together in such a special way, and on days when I look at my publishing career and acknowledge that I am still not a NYT Bestseller and that I’m still trying to make it as an author, there are many things that have come from being a published author that are worth more than money and fame. Friendship is one of them.

Tina

Blog · Inspiration · publishing · writing

Should You Write Every Day?

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I recently read a discussion loop on the topic of writing every day, and I was surprised at how many writers felt it would be impossible to find so much extra time in their lives.  I have to admit that I laughed out loud for just a few seconds. Do they think that writers who write every day have extra time? Imagine sitting around with nothing to do, until we authors finally say to ourselves, “Oh, I know what I can do with all this extra time I have. I could write a book!”

On a serious note, I do understand the struggle of finding time. I too have gone through phases of non-writing. Normally, those stretches of time were the result of life changes I had no control over, but to be frank, a few of those phases had everything to do with my being depressed about what a horrible writer I was and how everything in my writing life was going horribly wrong. And then I woke up. I realized that the latter reason was ridiculous, and I went back to writing every day. And it worked.

I’ve never been able to write a novel without buckling down and writing every single day of the week. That means Sunday, too. If writing is a hobby for you, or if you simply like to journal a few days a week, then of course you don’t need to write every day. However, if your goal is to be a professional writer, don’t you want to be serious about it?

When a writer doesn’t write, the creative well threatens to dry up. Think of it as a water pump at a campground. It doesn’t just gush water as soon as you turn it on. You have to pump the handle until the water makes its way once again through the pipes to rush out and fill your cup. That’s how writing is. The more you write, the less time it will take for inspiration to fill your cup.

The good news is that you don’t have to sit down and write dozens of pages on a novel or book every single day. There are other ways you can exercise your creativity than just straight writing, because let’s face it, life happens:

1) Journal – When you can’t get the juices flowing, write about your story in a  journal or notebook. Write about a problem the character is having, about the setting of the story,  or about your character’s childhood. Set the timer for 10 minutes and write. You could even write about why you’re having a hard time writing every day. It doesn’t matter. Every word you put down counts as writing. By doing this, you are sticking to your writing routine and possibly solving some problems in your story while you’re at it.

2) Edit Your Previous Pages – If you aren’t feeling the story, then edit it. If you are a strict plotter (someone who outlines everything and sticks to it) then this method of editing early in your novel might drive you crazy, but go back to page one and just read it and edit as you go. Make the sentences better, choose better words, and flesh out your descriptions. You can turn on your track changes in case you change your mind later, but you probably won’t. By the time you catch up to the last words you wrote, you might have a better view of your story.

3) Blog – Okay, so blogging might not be the same as working on your story, but if you absolutely can’t fall into your manuscript, then write about something else. If you have a blog, write about your kids, a favorite recipe, or post a book review of someone else’s novel. At least you will still be in the practice of writing.

4) Write a Letter – Writing a letter seems so old-fashioned, but so is the very act of writing. You can always write a letter to a loved one. Your mom or dad would probably love to hear from you, but you could also write a letter to your main character about how she got herself in the mess she is in (He or she is in some kind of mess, right?). Write a letter (that you will never mail) to all the people who told you couldn’t be a writer. Whatever works. Just write something. The act of putting pen to paper might free the words you have trapped inside.

5) 1,000 Words a Day – So this one is so basic that some of you writers out there might roll your eyes, but it’s good advice for everyone. If you always write 1,000 words a day, those words add up and eventually you will have written a novel. The point of the 1,000 words a day rule is really that you set a daily goal and you reach it. I’ve heard of some writers lowering their word goal to 500, 750, or even raising it to 2,500. Whatever works for you. You could even set your timer for thirty minutes and write until it goes off. It’s the writing goal that you want to focus on. When I wrote my first novel, I wrote 30 to 45 minutes every morning before anyone else was out of bed. Then I dropped kids off at school and went to work. It took me 9 months to finish writing the book.

So should writers write every day? Yes. In my opinion, it’s the best way. If you start today and stick to it, then in three months you will look back and be glad. I wonder what you will write? Maybe you’ll finally finish that novel.

-Tina

Blog · Faith · Inspiration · Life · publishing · writing

Possibility

cropped-baseball-049.jpgby Tina Ann Forkner

Tina Ann Forkner is a freelance writer, blogger, owner of It Is What It Is and the author of the novels Ruby Among Us and Rose House. Learn more about her at www.tinaannforkner.com

“I dwell in possibility,” wrote Emily Dickinson. I don’t know exactly what she meant by those words, but as a fellow writer and lover of gardens (sometimes I don’t dare call myself a real gardener), I have a few ideas.

For me, the words “I dwell in possibility” encompass a host of dreams, ideas, and that very special place where I used to be poised to write a story. I still go back to that place when I’m ready to write a new story, but now that I’m published, married, and have kids it takes more effort to clear my mind and, to be frank, my schedule in order to go back to dwelling in possibility. I like to tell aspiring writers not to rush ahead in pursuit of publication, lest they lose the magic of dwelling.

Sometimes, the words “I dwell in possibility” define other parts of my life, as well, not just writing or gardening. When I look at my children, I see that they constantly dwell in possibility and it enlivens me to think of the wide open road before them. So much possibility.

Then there are older people who make me see that I’m dwelling in possibility right now. Just when I think my marriage has reached its sweetest point (or sometimes most difficult), I see an older couple holding hands or dressed in twin shirts at Wal-Mart, their history together lined across their faces, and I realize that my marriage dwells in possibility. So much of our story hasn’t even been written yet.

I don’t know if I would enjoy the strict solitude that Emily Dickinson chose in her life, but I do think she discovered something that the rest of us take for granted. As we relentlessly pursue goals, make ourselves heard on Facebook, and try to keep up with our peers, we find we are finally where we wanted to be only to find it feels empty.I suppose that winning the prize doesn’t mean much if we (I) forget the passion that first spurred us (me) to pursue it. Whether we are talking about art, writing, career, or even finding our identity, it can be good to dwell in possibility for just a little while, and sometimes, even longer if that’s what it takes.

In so many ways I’m glad God hasn’t shown me my story’s ending. I’m glad for the free will to dwell in possibility. In life and on paper, so much is unknown and I get almost as excited thinking about the story I’m about to write as the one I’m about to live.

Image: Tina Ann Forkner (That’s my dad’s typewriter and Lucy’s tea cup!)