Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Slipping You the Secret Handshake

I am not new to writing, but I am new to having my writing published. ~rim shot~

I have just finished my second novel, and I am already working on the third...nothing like an optimist!But here's the question: How exactly does the secret handshake go? Left hand upside down first? Thumb up? Down? I know if I just knew this damned handshake I'd be all inside with the easy street crowd and not on the outside, in the sunshine, with my pale skin starting to pink in the sun.

LOL! Seriously, you made me giggle! Hee!

Well, just as I was sworn to secrecy over my sorority's secret handshake, so too am I over the published author's handshake. :)

Naw, look, I'll tell you what I know: unfortunately, as you've surmised, it's not as easy as an arched index finger that scratches the other person's palm while interweaving thumbs. Too bad, eh? But I think you have the right idea - you're still writing. Every time you start/finish/draft a book, you arguably should become a better writer. If, I should add, you don't simply regurgitate the same outline/prose/concepts in each book.

Have objective readers take a look at your previous work and tell you where you can make it stronger, then apply this advice to your next one. If you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, then you're just treading water. But if improve each time, then you're well on your way to publication. I can't tell you how many writers I've heard about who have 5 or 6 unpubbed novels in their desk drawers, only to hit success on the next one. (Jon Clinch, who wrote the best-seller Finn, comes to mind, if I'm not mistaken.)

And even published writers can learn from the past. I've written the first half of my second book, and I've been told by several people that it's better than TDLF. Why? Because I worked out a few kinks and think I'm a better writer now.

So keep writing...I think that's a better tip than giving you a fancy finger-hold anyway. :)

Readers - what's your advice that's the equivalent to a secret handshake?


Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I belong to a writers' group whom I trust to tell me when something works, and more important, when it doesn't. They've been invaluable to the process, as have reading good books and taking classes with writers capable of teaching well.

Allison, I'm off to my bookstore today to buy TDLF, can't wait. Let us know when you come to Boston!


Patti said...

Whoa...my burning question made the blog!

I do belong to an online writer's group and it has been a help. And I keep on moving forward with new work.

I have just recently found this network of newly published writers (this blog and many you subscribe to) and it has boosted my resolve, and is a great encouragement.

Thanks to all of you who offer your words to those of us still struggling to see our words in print.

Trish Ryan said...

I think Allison's right - the combination of keep on keepin on, with trustworthy feedback (lest we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.) We all have some recurring writing mistakes we make or bad habits we don't recognize b/c we're so used to our own writing style. The solution is to generate more pages and have good people point them out to us. It's painful, but it gets the job done!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Three things:




And I credit Cindy Proctor-King for getting that mantra stuck into my head.

Holly Kennedy said...

I agree with Manic Mom :)

Those 3 things and BUTT GLUE so you spend more time writing than working on secret handshakes. (This said as I check out a few blogs when I SHOULD be pounding away on my keyboard, racing to get my 3rd novel delivered to my editor on time).

Unknown said...

I think it takes gumption.

Gumption to write, and gumption to believe you will do what you are meant to do!

Good luck!

Sylvia C.