Tag Archives: sins

Seven Writing Sins: Wrath

Feel my rash.

My DH’s brother cracks me up with his idosyncracies of the oral language.  We are all guilty of mixing up our words and saying something we never intended to say.

The written word is even more difficult to decipher accurately due to the lack of body language and inflection.  Yet writers continue to engage in written warfare on the web.

Wrath is expressed in haughty emails after a rejection by an agent.  It can be found in dissenting comments on blog posts.  Forums are rife with wrathful expressions by frustrated or angry writers.

Whenever we open our mouths, in real time or metaphorically, we run the risk of offending someone important.  A particularly nasty comment about African, Jewish book writers ten years ago can, and does, crop up in an agent’s google search.  Too bad for us that Dream Agent hails from Nigeria and has Jewish grandparents.   

WRATH=REJECTION

The whole purpose of  being a writer is to sell material.  To agents.  To editors.  To the reading public.  We cannot do so if we continue to engage in verbal warfare.  There is a way to express opinions appropriately.  Slandering others on the internet is not the way to do so.  It will alienate readers and garner instant rejection by those in the know.

  • Write with care.  What you say can potentially affect people you like, trust and respect.  The feelings will not remain mutual if you can’t keep your slander to yourself.
  • Write with respect.  Don’t diss people, even if you disagree with them.  Rather, disagree with the comment, the method or the point of view. 
  • Do not engage in heated debates in public places.  These biting words will come back to haunt you–and your potential book.
  • If you can’t say something nice…

Well, you get the picture.  Play nice in the publishing sandbox and others will play nice with you.

How do you combat the urge to shoot off a surley message?  What are some ways to control your temper while still fighting the good fight? 

Seven Writing Sins: Lust

I want.  I love.  I need.

Lust, at its most basic, is an overwhelming need or desire.  It is unhealthy in its excess.

I want to be a writer.  I don’t hide that fact.  Goals and dreams are healthy components of a positive life style. 

I love writing.  Writing fills something within me and I have never been able to not write.  Even when pen and paper aren’t handy, I write in my head.  I love the way words fit together to create something magical.

I NEED=LUST

I need to get published…

I hear this often and my silent response is: or what?

What will happen if Writer A never gets published?  Because if we are talking odds, they are not in any writer’s favor.  What will happen to the quality and focus of the writing for those who lust after publication with a passion so deep they can’t fathom a healthy life beyond a byline?

Over the past year, I’ve read about this debate on many blogs and forums.  It kind of goes hand in hand with the greed question.  Why do we write?  What do we wish to gain?  But more than that, lust impacts what we will sacrifice to get there?

Already, I spend a lot of time on my writing.  I create new stories, edit them repeatedly, submit, hone, learn, write, edit, blog, etc.  My free time is filled with writing tasks.  Yet I have a family and another job.  I have a husband and a dog.  Parents, friends, church and volunteer committments. 

I simply do not have the time or energy to lust after publication.  I want it.  I would love a byline.  But, in the end, my self-worth is not tied up in publication.  This allows me to keep my focus centered on quality, rather than on the burning desire to find my name on the front cover of a book.

In your opinion, what is the difference between lusting after publication and pursuing the healthy goal of seeing your book on the shelf?  How do you manage your time so that you keep your momentum but don’t cross the line into need?

Seven Writing Sins: Greed

The other day, a nice young man knocked on my door.  He was, of course, a door to door salesman.  Young and energetic with his whole life in front of him and a stuffed messenger bag by his side.

Books, he said.  Do you want to buy some awesome books?

He was a good salesman and a better talker.  Before long we were chatting about my kids, his future dreams and my life as a writer.  Interested in the fact that he was selling a product that I have only dreamed about selling, he asked why I wrote.

Financial gain was absent among my reasons.  I know enough about the industry to know that I’m not going to get rich off my words.  This knowledge didn’t taint my answer, but I’m fully aware that riches are a big reason why some people pursue publication.

They see JK and The King.  They picture their bank accounts with similar figures in the columns as McCormick and Ms.Roberts.  They write to be rich and famous.  They write so people will swoon at the very mention of their names.  They write for other reasons than I do.

Greed is a tough writing sin to tackle, because it is so subjective.  There are many reasons to write and no answer is better or worse than the other.  Even though I am a bit biased and potentially altruistic in my reasons.  This still doesn’t make the rich reason wrong.

I don’t even know if “greed” will produce a poorer quality of work.  But for snobbish reasons, I will argue that it does.

Greed diminishes quality.

This is not to say that making money off a novel is greedy.  Rather I point to the philosophy of putting a pen to paper for the sole purpose of buying a mansion–regardless of the kind of writing that gets published and the impact it has on society.

In the long run, this greed will dimish one’s ability to succeed.  If there is no inherent value in a book, nobody will continue to buy it after the initial hype has worn thin.  Therefore, I argue that there must be some reason beyond financial gain for throwing a book into the arena. 

Sheer entertainment works for me, as does teaching a message.  Inspiration is admirable, IMO.  How-to’s are necessary.  Devotion, motivation, education.  The reasons are limitless.  As long as there is a purpose beyond the almighty dollar.

I write because ultimately I want to make a difference in literacy.  If I can touch just one life through my words and provide a better, stronger future for just one child, then I will have succeeded.  That is enough for me.  To touch a generation is a dream I hardly dare to dream.

How about you?  Why do you write?  What do you hope to gain from penning your stories?  What is your purpose?

Seven Writing Sins: Sloth

When I was a kid, we lived close enough to the San Diego Zoo to visit it frequently with our family and our schools.  One of my favorite monkeys was the baby marmoset monkeys.  It might have been because we got to hold these tiny, big eyed creatures.  Or maybe it was because they were so small that my seven year old hands provided shelter for them.

Then we moved.  Minnesota has two zoos.  None boasts exotic animals in quite the same way that San Diego did.  My new zoo love turned toward the sloth.

These slow moving creatures remained virtually motionless in their pens.  They didn’t amble so much as they inched.  Their only momentum seemed to be a result of gravity rather than a personal attempt on their behalf.  But I loved them none-the-less.  Not quite as much as marmosets, but a close second.

Marmosets are quick and agile.  Sloths are the exact opposite.

I’m sure it goes without saying that the slothful writer will get nothing done.  Slow and sluggish wannabes.  Muse writers.  One-day authors. 

Slothfulness is more than a sin, it’s a negative writing habit.

Note to self:

  • Books do not write themselves.  Authors must do the dirty work.
  • Muses do not write books.  Authors do.
  • Dreams do not write books.  Authors type them.
  • Hope does not write books.  Nor does faith or desire.

The only thing that can actually get words onto paper in a cohesive format is an author.  Writers must write, even when the muse is absent.  They must push through when rejections crush their dreams.  They must hone, not hope. 

They simply cannot wait for someone else to write the book they feel inside.  They must do this themselves.  It is a long and hard process and one better suited to a marmoset than a sloth.

What tactics work to keep you motivated with your writing?  Do you write every day or only when you feel like it?  What happens when your inner sloth rears its head?

Seven Writing Sins: Pride

I’ve backed up more miles than you’ve driven forward.

This is one of my DH’s favorite phrases.  Admittedly, he’s put in his time behind the wheel.  However, the other day he did something while driving that almost made me wet myself. 

We were driving by my house (business, not separate residence) to see how the new floor was coming along.  The flooring guys were on the front porch cutting a piece of subfloor.  DH rubbernecked to the point that he ran into the curb. 

Note to self: driving tons of miles doth not mean perfection behind the wheel.

THE SIN: PRIDE

Riding in the passenger seat with envy is pride.  Often, we justify our lack of perfection in one area by boasting about our abilities in another.  Even if we keep our boasts to ourselves, they can be just as damaging when it comes to writing.

  1. Do not read a book and say, “If Author Moron Badwriter got published so can I.”  Obviously AMB has worked hard at doing something right, and the only way we can follow in his footsteps is to also do something right.  Like write a good book.
  2. Do not read a book and say, “Author Moron Badwriter’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Book sold through, therefore my novel will need a double print run.”  The market is fickle.  What appeals to some will not appeal to others.  The more we brag, the harder it will be when we don’t succeed.
  3. Do not read a book and proclaim your writing better.  While you may be right, this does not automatically induct you into the published crowd.  There is sooooo much that goes into the publication of a book that “better writing” may not always win out. 
  4. Don’t forget that publishing is full of variables.  Writing, market, reader tastes, movie trends, moral shifts, moons aligning, rubbernecking…. 

When we get sidetracked from our goal by checking out the scenery (comparing our work to others and deeming it superior), we are in serious danger of hitting the curb.

Note to writers: agents and editors hate writers who are full of themselves.  Confident, yes.  Prideful, no.  At least that’s what I’ve been hearing around town.

What kinds of things make you feel prideful in your work?  What kinds of things humble you?  Have you ever hit the curb?  If so, how did you get back on track?

Seven Writing Sins: Envy

Okay, this one doesn’t defy logic or knowledge.  We are all human and all humans judge themselves by other people’s success.  Or maybe that’s just me?

But the truth is, we turn a bit green when we hear that other people have done something to garner attention.  Especially if it is in an area where we, too, would like to succeed.

Who do we envy and why?

  1. The co-worker who lost 27 pounds and now looks HOT.  Because we are not comfortable with our own bodies. 
  2. The sister-in-law who just popped out her fourth baby and popped back into her maternity clothes.  Because we still can’t see our stretchmarks through the unlost baby weight from our first child–five years ago.
  3. The author who pumps out a runaway debut with “bad writing” and a “poor storyline.”  Because we fear we will never be good enough to do the same.
  4. The banker who takes off early from work every Wednesday to golf.  Because we do not have enough time for our hobbies, so why should anyone else?
  5. The Lake Home Owner.  Naturally Curly-Headed Girl.  SAHM with a Housekeeper.  The list is endless and limited only by our ability to feel inferior to others. 

Writers beware: Envy will kill our ability to write well.  It stifles our creativity and paralyzes our desires.  Our words will become bitter and our purpose will falter.  If we spend our time comparing ourselves to other writers, we will get nothing done. 

ENVY=BAD

How do you deal with yourself when the green-eyed monster bats its long lashes?   What kinds of things kickstart your jealousy in the literary world?

Seven Deadly Sins Writers Make

Tomorrow I leave for the National Youth Gathering down in New Orleans.  Some 40,000 plus kids will sing songs, pray and perform community service work.  They will also examine their faith.  One thing we will not do, however, is focus on the Seven Deadly Sins.

So, I’ll do that for you.  Because, really, writers have a set of cardinal rules they should follow if they want to succeed in the biz.  And since I’m a writer, I’ve committed all of the Seven Sins at least once. 

As I’m not Catholic, I don’t know if the sins have a particular order that must be followed when discussing them.  I’ll simply post them in whatever order strikes my fancy. 

  • Gluttony on Friday (because I already wrote it)
  • Envy on Saturday (because I have an idea ready to write)
  • Pride on Monday
  • Sloth on Tuesday
  • Greed on Wednesday
  • Lust on Thursday (not looking forward to that one)
  • Wrath on Friday

Notice Sunday is missing.  I did this on purpose because I am just slothful enough to not want to come up with another topic while I’m gone.  Also because Sunday is a day of rest for faith based individuals, and since I’ll be gone for a Christian gathering, it made sense.

By Friday I shall be dead tired and have bus sores on my rear end from the looooong journey.  My ears may bleed as well from the excited screams of so many kids doing the teen thing.  I wonder if duct taping children is a sin in New Orleans?

Yet I’m looking forward to this adventure on many levels. 

Even though I can’t answer while on the road, please continue to comment so others can hear what you have to say.  I’ll answer you all when I get back.  New commenters, don’t fret if your comment doesn’t show through right away.  I look forward to meeting you upon my return.

~hugs