Monday, April 11, 2011

Contest, and quandries

At the conference this weekend I won honorable mention for a personal essay. The prompt was, What does it take to make you happy? My title, Happiness is All in My Mouth, made judges take note. Which is a reminder that the title is as important as content.

I also learned that agents are hungry for Young Adult with a boy as the main character. I don't write Y/A, but if you do, now you have the scoop.

I called home to ask hubby if I had received any mail, and he said, "Just junk."
That junk turned out to be an acceptance on a short piece that I had submitted along with a photo a couple months ago to Ideals, a division of Guide Posts. It was a timely piece about spring, and time was ticking. The editor asked for a rewrite without photo. I sent it off and it came back stamped, Address Unknown. So I tried again, wrote an apology. The grains of sand were rapidly trickling through the hour glass and I was afraid it was too late as spring had already sprung.

The manuscript was returned with a stamp of approval across it, ACCEPTED. It will be considered on a monthly basis now until it fits an issue, which means nearly a year from now, but I am happy and patient.

At the MO Writer's Guild Conference workshops the presenters spoke on the topic of social media, electronic connections to build your platform, get your name out there. There were a couple of instant success stories. For example, Amanda Hocking, twenty-six year old young woman from MN whose writing was far from polished but after so many rejections she got HERSELF out there, made her first million and now has been signed by an independent publisher and is making BIG bucks with her trylle series.

Justin, a teenager, signed onto twitter and tweeted, Sh*t My dad Says. It went viral,I think on You Tube too. An agent read/heard his stuff, signed this kid and now his blog has morphed into a TV series.

Okay, so I don't write vampire, try to keep it clean, but am not afraid of strong words or expressing opinions, and I'm not as computer savvy as I should be.

My question, should writers get on the bandwagon, compromise their principles and go with the flow of what is selling in our current youth-oriented, narcissistic culture? Is instant success fleeting like some of those million dollar lottery winners who whizz and burn? Is it a trend? Is there a place for personal essay, prose and poetry that will bring those writers success remotely comparable to that of these young people? Is it time to move over?

I have more questions than answers.


Bookie said...

What a great weekend you had! A winning time all around. So interesting about acceptance to Ideals...I did not know(but wondered) if they took submissions.

As for your questions, I have the same ones!

BECKY said...

You gotta stay with what you know...who you are...stick with your own voice. At least that's what I believe...but I'm going to contradict myself too! Some writers may be so talented they can switch back and forth in genres and all of it be superb writing. I don't think so!!!

Peggy Frezon said...

Congratulations on your award and the Ideals story! My opinion on your questions are: never compromise your values. And, if you don't need to write to make a living, go ahead and write what you love. But if you want to earn a living, study the market, find a place where you fit, and write what sells. Of course, none of this is particularly swift and easy!

Unknown said...

That's right, stay with what you know and never compromise your beliefs.

Karen Lange said...

Ah, more questions than answers. Me too! :)
I will not compromise on my core values. Occasionally something will arise that I have to think through and get past the gray area to determine where I stand. Good food for thought!

Congrats on the honorable mention!

Have a great week,

Kim said...

Congrats on the honorable mention and the 'Accepted'!

I think I'd probably be willing to give the YA thing a stab, if only to stretch myself. But I think I'd have to do tons of research first to find out what kind of stories would be interesting to ME...because if I'm not into it, there's no way I'd be able to write with any level of competence or conviction.

One of the most powerful YA books (with a male protagonist) I've ever read is The Giver, by Lois Lowry. You might want to check that out.

I am not in the situation of 'publish or perish', thank God.

Susan said...

Hi Linda...So glad you got to go to the conference. It sounded great. To answer one of your questions---sort of. Would I write in a category just because it's a popular one that needs material? My answer? No, no, no, no, no. I only write what I'm familiar with---feelings, opinions, observations, etc.

If I wrote solely for markets I knew are popular, it would be like going to a smorgasbord and eating only eel,because more eel than anything else is being eaten by the other guests! Yuk!

Anyway, interesting questions. Susan

Tammy said...

Congratulations and congratulations! Let me know when you find out the answers to your questions, because I've wondered the same things.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I think there will always be a place for personal essay, as long as there are still people...It's a genre we can all relate to.

Now I'm off to work on my YA novel about a young male vampire...(ha)

Debora said...

Congrats on your acceptance. Your are such an inspiration to me! Now to answer that question (says me who has never been published)...I've never written anything worth a darn that didn't mean something personal to me; and I'd be humiliated to have something like 'SH*T my dad says' make me an overnight 'success'. I mean; I'm already embarassed about some of the stuff I've come up with when I was trying to stay true to myself.Heaven help us if we lose our inner compass! It's like that saying, "Don't confuse fame with success; Helen Keller is one...Madonna is the other." Follow your heart. There's my sage advice for the week!

PS: re: your note on my blog...where and how?

Susan Fobes said...

Congratulations! Now I was always told to write about what you know and love, so I'm thinking that to do otherwise would be to compromise yourself...

Linda, I would be glad to talk to you more through e-mail. I can be reached at: (Sorry such a downer the other day!)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

I've heard over and over, "don't follow the money or the trend," because by the time you're ready to submit the market may be on to something else. Follow your heart...maybe yours will be the next trendsetter!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

What exciting news for you! Congratulations.

I pray about what I write and have some strong boundaries. Occult material is a major no-no.

Susan :)

Vicki Rocho said...

Congrats on the award!

I don't think you should go chasing trends or do anything that is not authentic for you. It won't work in the long run. There will always be stories about someone who did XYZ and made it big. It happens with writers, musicians, actors, everyone. But it's far from a common experience. Keep stretching yourself, but don't try to mimic anyone else's success. Just my two cents.

Linda O'Connell said...

again, I can"t thank you all enough for keeping me on track and confirming what I know. Your advice is on target and is helpful.

Janet, said...

congratulations on your honorable mention. I say write what comes from your heart and don't compromise.

Claudia Moser said...

Congratulation! And my personal belief is that you should reman faithful to your ideals, to your dreams. In the end what brings you if your bend your principles? Plus I am sure that you will succeed, no doubt about it :)