Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday So What: Flight of the Bumblebee

Today's So What is brought to by this little guy.  And today I am going to endeavor to be a little more like him.

No, I'm not going to make honey, or sting someone (even though they totally deserve it).  Let me tell you a little something about my striped friend here. According to aerodynamics, this little guy shouldn't even be able to fly. His wings are just too small for the mass density ration of his body. So why do you think he can fly?

Because nobody's told him he can't.

This is the way I think we should be as people, but specifically I wanted to focus on being that way as authors. At the LDStorymakers conference recently, I met a ton of highly intelligent and talented authors.  We would chat at the dinner table and the topic would inevitably boil down to whether or not we had been published. I would whip out my spiffy little card that had my blogs and release dates for my two books. Then they would tell me this, "Well I really hope to be published one day." Some had been honing their craft for ten years. Some had been working on their manuscript for almost that long.

I was shocked! I read through a few of their manuscripts or queries. Some were really good. So why hadn't they been published? Most often, because someone along the way had told them that they can't. Or even worse, told them what they should.
You should have at least 15 drafts and rewrites before it is ready for public consumption.
You should never try to publish your first book.
You should spend at least a year polishing a manuscript before sending it off.
You should have exactly x amount of words in each chapter.

Rewind to back at the conference tables. The other person would ask me a few questions about my work, and after hearing their story I was almost embarrassed to admit that it took me 11 weeks from first word to submission. And that I had been a "writer" for all of 6 months now. Cue jaw dropping on the floor. How did I do it? How did I get published on the first try?

Because I had the good fortune to have no clue what I was doing. I had an idea, had a story, and a good friend that believed in me. I didn't know any other authors yet.  I didn't know it was supposed to be hard and be insomnia inducing. I just did it, because nobody told me I couldn't.

Now I know better. I have a huge list of things that every story should have and should do. I am positively agonizing over my current WIP wondering whether or not I am following all the rules.
I should only use this word x amount of times
I should tag my dialogue in a certain way
I should write it, then edit it, then edit it some more

So what's different? For the first two books, I wrote the book I wanted to write without any rules. The only rule was that it had to be something I would want to read. Now I'm so caught up in worrying about what everyone else wants it to be. I can hardly get two pages without being sure I am doing something wrong. Something against the rules.

After beating my head up against a wall for the last two weeks, I've decided that there are no rules. Just plain old good storytelling. That's why we do this right? To twist someone up and bring them into OUR world. Where WE make the rules. Think of some of your favorite books. Did they follow all the dos and dont's? (JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer anyone?) But we fall in love with them anyway.

I challenge you to join me in making the bee your authory-type mascot. Whether you are writing your fifth manuscript or agonizing over your first, forget about all the aerodynamic reasons why you shouldn't be able to fly with it. And just... take off.

You can find me on my other two blogs Finished Being Fat, and Betsy Schow Writer/Mom/Weight Loss Survivor. Until next week, happy flying.


  1. Betsy. I wish every struggling writer could read this. It is motivating.

  2. I agree with Amber- very motivating, and makes me want to kick you in the head a little bit less for getting published right off the bat. ;-) (you know I'm totally kidding)

  3. So true, Betsy! I loved this post.



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