In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, I asked some established authors--folks I'd featured early on--the following question:
Over the past decade, what are the most important lessons you've learned about your craft, the writing/artistic life, and/or publishing, and why?
Here's the latest reply, this one from Lindsey Lane:
Try very, very, very hard not to take the rejection personally. And keep putting yourself out there. Those darn publishers still don't make house calls.
About the writing and artistic life
More and more, with the whole world is streamed into your office and on to your lap, writing can be a no-contact pajama sport so that you never have to go out of your house. Don't let it happen.
Drag yourself into the shower, put on some clothes and go out. Hear other authors read. Go to the library or bookstore. Touch books. No, caress them. They get lonely.
Also, not everything is on the Web. You will learn a lot just by picking up a book. And not just the original material. Go to the library and read the secondary material about the genre you are working in. It sparks ideas. Those books like to be caressed too.
About my craft
I think the most important thing I've learned about my craft was something I read in a blog of Jane Yolen's several years ago. I can't quote it exactly but she said something like, Each manuscript has its own voice, and the writer's job is to find the voice in each work.
This was very liberating for me because I had always thought that a writer had one voice and you went around looking for it your entire life and then somehow, you were successful once you found it.
I know that sounds incredibly naive and stupid but well, these are the misconceptions we have as writers...
Anyway, since I read that bit of wisdom, I feel so much freer as a writer to explore each manuscript and ask myself, "what am I trying to say?"--"what are the characters trying to say?", and let the voice of the piece come out naturally.
Read a Cynsations interview with Lindsey.