Monday, September 26, 2011

Recognizing Milestones

One week ago Sunday I celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary. Sometimes I find it incredible that I have a wife and four children. I was single for so long much of my life it can seem like a fairy tale, having relocated from a solo journey to one joined by a complementary partner filling in the white space of my life. Relationships color our lives and help make us the people we can or should be.
Anniversaries, births, graduations, job changes. These are all milestones we experience in our lives. As writers, just as in our regular lives, we need to make a point to celebrate milestones. These can vary from what we see as mundane to the thrilling. For me, the mundane would qualify as keeping a writing log of words written each day. This led to me ultimately completing my first novel, and nearly a second, and permanently forming the habit of writing daily. The thrilling might be landing an agent or selling your first book. I’m still waiting for that type of excitement but that’s what goals are for, right?
The point is writers should not underestimate how vital recognizing milestones is to their life. No matter how small you think they are, you deserve to take the time to celebrate and make a big deal of it. Writing is solitary enough without bypassing a small celebration. It can be a long road to publication and a writing career is no different from other parts of your life which require practice, determination and perseverance. Take the time to mark the small and great successes along the way.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Similarities of Interviewing and Writing

You just don't consider how alike some things are until you're fully engaged in them. For example, until my current venture into the job market, albeit unwillingly, I never once believed interviewing and writing shared any common traits. Oh, how wrong I was. I'd like to share what I've learned on this recent journey. The list is by no means exhaustive and I'm sure many of you could conjure up other similarities I've overlooked.

1. Selling yourself
This may seem obvious to some. When you send out your query or when you walk into an interview, you must possess the frame of mind to present yourself as the best option for that agency or company. There's no sense dancing around things. Take control and let your personality (and talent) shine.

2. Making a good first impression
This could easily be #1 and is very closely related. Come out strong, as someone who knows what they're talking about but without appearing boastful or arrogant. The key is to get the interviewer or editor/agent to like you. Building rapport helps them take you more seriously.

3. Tell your story
We all have a story. In a job interview, it's how you can ease the employer's pain points with your experience and know-how. In writing, it's letting words flow from your mind through the keyboard and ultimately to the reader, whoever that may be.

4. Leave them wanting more (or "closing the deal")
Have you ever felt like there was something you could have done better with your query letter? Your story? Do you replay the questions and your answers from an interview, performing some type of self-torture, over analyzing each one as if it was a deal breaker? We can always improve, no argument there. But if you can close the deal the right way, having presented your best case as the ideal candidate or author, you can move along with confidence and not second guess yourself, no matter the outcome.

Have you observed other similarities between interviewing and writing? Or perhaps you've noticed similarities between other seemingly dissimilar things?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The End of My Long Silence

It's true. I've returned to the blogosphere! I'm sure some of you may have been wondering if I'd ever return. Well, if there are any of you still following the blog, anyway. Seriously, I hope to begin anew in conjunction with the school year which begins tomorrow for my three oldest children. It's difficult to fathom my once tiny ones will now be entering kindergarten, second & fourth grade. Where has the time gone?

As with my employment, there is a time to each season, and I'm compelled to look upon this next season with anticipation, for my children, for a new career and for my writing. Since I last wrote, my focus has almost entirely been on my job search, to the great neglect of my writing.

A couple of weeks ago I was encouraged, on several fronts by a few friends, to re-engage my writing. Two specifically suggested I use it as an means to vent any frustration I might be feeling in seeking a new job. I've not yet been able to embrace the advice but with the incredible summer weather certain to fade away soon, the opportunity seems ripe.

I'm pulled in several directions right now. There are several non-fiction ideas --- essays and even a book --- percolating in my brain. There are the two complete 1st drafted novels plus a pile of ideas staring me in the face. The options before me seem endless but they all demand I pick up a pencil (or a keyboard) and begin to write. And write I will. I must.