Monday, April 02, 2012

Staying Busy the Write Way

I sit at my computer, fingers poised above the keyboard waiting for a bright idea to filter through my brain and transpose into words:  namely my weekly blog.  I wait for inspiration.  Without inspiration, poets could not philosophize, novelists could not fictionalize, and columnists could not publicize.  And bloggers...well, bloggers could not blog!

It’s curious what goes through a person’s mind when it's open to inspiration.  In my mind now is a question I am often asked.  Not exactly a flash of inspiration but niggling enough to address in this week’s blog.  How do you keep busy in your retirement?  What do you do all day, they want to know. 

I am never sure if my answer is adequate.  I write, I tell them.  They nod and wait for more.  Well, writing takes up quite a bit of time, I explain.  It is not always the story writing that takes the time.  It is what I do with the stories. 

I am currently promoting a short story collection about my experiences in the retail lingerie trade.  Stories dealing with stalking, death threats, renegade squirrels, and menopausal women during a full moon.  Almost twenty years of memories. The stories are mostly humorous with a few sombre notes.  If you were a patron of my business, don’t panic.  All the names are changed to protect the guilty.

Last week I forwarded queries to publishers and agents concerning this project.  You see, a query letter is a pitch to sell your work.  First and foremost, the storyline must be described in such a way that the book is immediately perceived as a best seller.  You must convince them by your credentials and personal depiction that you can single-handedly sell each copy by way of tours, book signings, interviews, book club visits, web sites, blogs, etc.  Oh, and that should be achieved in about three paragraphs.  It is a one shot deal. 

I feel certain that I will gain interest in this book by year’s end.  In the meantime, I will dodge rejection letters and re-work the query until I get it right.

Further taking advantage of last week’s confident mood, I put together submissions of miscellaneous stories to three literary journals, and I mailed sample chapters of my novel−along with an optimistically irresistible query letter−to unsuspecting acquisitions editors. 

Writers spend a vast amount of time marketing their work.  I noticed an online comment from a novelist lamenting just that.  He wondered what it would be like to forget about marketing and stay immersed in the world of fiction.  It would be delightful. 

I remember spending hours...days...weeks...months at the computer, caught up in the characters and the storyline of my first writing endeavour.  There was never a thought to the afterlife of the story.  It was the ultimate experience. 

Did I say ultimate experience?  It was exciting but the ultimate experience for writers is seeing their work published.  If there are any writers who disagree, feel free to challenge that statement.

Some authors prefer to self-publish.  That eliminates the time−years in some cases−that it takes to find a publisher or agent.  It requires diligence, a sound business sense, and an unrelenting quest to explore every promotional path.

So far, I am trying to have my books published the old-fashioned, traditional way.  Every published author who has succeeded through perseverance inspires me.  That inspiration keeps me busy in my retirement.  Any more questions?


  1. Another good one and yes I read everyone of them. JR

    1. Thanks! There's nothing better than a loyal follower. I appreciate your comment. I see from the reactions checked off above that at least one reader found this blog post interesting. That's encouraging.

  2. Hi Phyllis,
    Writer Dave here.
    I just wanted to mention that I am going the ebook route with my first novel.
    I will try to market it on my Blog, Twitter acct., and my Facebook page.
    Wish me luck.
    Dave Wise aka Writer Dave

    1. Hey Writer Dave, thanks for dropping by. Good luck to you with your first novel. I am very interested in your progress. Keep me posted.
      PS Can't wait to read it!

  3. I wish I had your energy for promoting. I self publish, order 50 books for myself, give them away to friends and family who think I am awesome (they better think that after a free book),then on to something else. I want people to see my face when they look up "Starving Artist" in the dictionary ;-)

  4. That's too funny! Humour helps us get through it all. Energy? No, I am just too stubborn to give up. But, hey, stop giving those books away. I am sure you would have no trouble selling them.

  5. I love your blog Phyllis... would love to read your short stories on the retail lingerie industry!!! -Tara

    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog. Let's hope that one day Hazards of the Trade will make it to print.

  6. Hi Phyllis,
    I'd like to get in contact with "hokeydina143"
    I want to look at one of those books they keep giving away!
    Do they have a Facebook page?
    Writer Dave