Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Open Letter from Ginger Simpson

Dear Reporter:

I'd like to say this has been an easy journey, but it hasn't.  Although finally rewarding, the road to where I'm at has been filled with bumps, ruts, disappointments, tears, but best of all, laughter.  I've always used my humor to see me through the toughest times, and without it, I probably would have given up long ago.  I'm glad I didn't because there's a great sense of accomplishment in seeing your name on a website other than your own, and holding an actual book you've created.  Even more, knowing that people appreciate who you are and what you bring to the proverbial table.

I started seriously writing in 2000, and I enjoyed great success in having my work accepted and published.  As the years passed, and more budding authors appeared on scene, the competition grew tougher, the editors more fierce, and I even encountered some dishonest publishers who tried to make a quick buck off of trusting folk.  This is one ladder you never stop climbing, because the top is an elusive spot where most aspire to be.

People outside the industry may think we have cushy lives if we're able to sit at a computer all day, but there so much stress involved in being an author.  Let me list a few for you:

* Honing a first draft into a real manuscript to submit.  Deciding where to cut, where to add, what to correct, what to leave.  It's all mind-boggling.

*Submitting and waiting for a response.  You can only bite your nails so far down before they start to bleed.  You want to think you've written a best-seller, but the news isn't always good.  Rejection is part of this business, and if you're skin isn't thick enough, not only your cuticles suffer.

*Soliciting reviews.  Part of this 'career' requires promoting your work, so you submit your story to reviewers for their opinions.  Knowing your work will never be everyone's cup of tea is elementary, but it still doesn't numb the pin pricks of having someone crucify your work because it didn't fit into the neat little box they expected it would.  Again, that thick skin is definitely a required part of your author's wardrobe.

*Remembering all the rules.  For me, this has been perhaps the toughest.  Not only remembering, but deciding which ones make most sense for my style of writing...which don't change my voice to something stiff and stilted.  We're told a million things to remember, but if you go overboard with removing passive voice, omitting 'ly' words, avoiding gerunds, or trying to avoid 'was, it and all the shes and hes', you're likely to come away with a piece of crap that no one wants to read.  Rules make sense, but you must use them wisely.

I could ramble on for days about the hardships, but I prefer to focus on the positive aspects of writing.  I'm an author!  I arrived the minute my book went up on Wings' Publishing site back in 2003.  What's more, I've found my niche several times since then, and even the small recognitions are like getting an Oscar.  If I knew everything then that I know now, would I do it all again?  You betcha!  The friends I've made, the moments of fleeting fame and the months of feeling accomplished, fulfilled, and proud are worth any of the fears, tears, and jeers.  I love what I do, and I think it shows.

Ginger Simpson

If you'd like to know more about me, please visit my website.  All my muse books can be viewed on my author's page.  If you'd like to interview me personally, I'm always up for being in the spotlight.  :)


Viviane Brentanos said...

So true about the rules, Ginger. Yes - learn the basics, use them wisely but never let them change your unique voice. I doubt Shakespeare listened.


festival8 said...

Nice blog Ginger, the wait is always excruciating.

Michelle said...

Excellent post! You described so well what it is like for us. I'd like to frame it and put it next to my desk for others to see! ha ha

Author of Concilium, available July 2012
Concilium: The Departure, November 2012

Diane Scott Lewis said...

Ginger, you are so right about the rules. We had a similar discussion on the HF loop about the rules and how to use or discard them. It's too bad some publishers push the wrong rules on their writers, but what can you do. You have to go with the flow of the house.

Mike Hays said...

Ginger, you are right on the money with your descriptions of these issues and the feeling of being on the razor's edge most of the time in the writing life.

Mike Hays

Lorrie said...

It's certainly a nail-biting, bumpy road. So many ruts and pot holes.

But, I agree, it's worth it. Not many readers know what it takes to get your book 'out there.' Comfortable life behind the computer made me laugh. Oh, don't we wish.

Fantastic post. Thanks.

Lin said...

Dear Ginger, you are one of the first blessings I acquired when I stepped across the imaginary line between dreamer and author. Your humor keeps me going when the process seems beyond me. Your, your sisterhood has given me more than I have the words to express.

But there's more...your stories enchant me, make me think, and make me hungry for more. I am so glad you are an author, and my sister.

Love To You Always,

gail roughton branan said...

In the end, it again boils down to: We write because we must. Because even unpublished, we have accomplished something a very small percentage of people can lay claim to. We have written a book, created a world, seen it from start to finish -- and it has given pleasure to us and if we're lucky, to at least a small group of friends. Seeing it debut to the whole world -- now that's -- don't sue me Christine -- that's like touching the Face of God.

J Q Rose said...

You are so right about becoming stifled trying to obey the "rules."Each one you ticked off is one I struggled with too, like so many authors I'm sure. Every day is a learning experience and that's what makes a writer's life such an adventure!!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Ginger,

I think your blog might boil down to: trust yourself and your writers' intuition. If you believe in yourself, the waiting gets easier and the competition doesn't bite so badly. AND you recognize that the so-called "rules" are really guidelines, not absolutes.

Wishing you lots more success in the future!

Ginger Simpson said...

Thanks to all of you who came, read and commented. You are the reason I love what I do, and feel like I've achieved something major.

S.Durham said...

Thick skin...check. Laughter, tears and jeers...check.
Your experience is precious to us all! Thank you Ginger always, expecially for your humor and your wisdom:)