Have Patience

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve Got Nothing!

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I wish I had a dose of wisdom to bestow upon you today, but I don’t. I wish I had something to give that somehow made even just one person’s day brighter or easier, but I’ve got nothing. I am all out of poignancy at the moment. 😦 The thought is disheartening, to say the least.

I had an amazing character idea come to me in the shower the other day. Normally I would have immediately taken notes and elaborate on that idea, but I’ve decided to let it simmer inside my head. My fictional characters are loosely based off of people in my life. Some, not all. Many are an amalgamation of many people rolled into one. If a person is deeply entrenched in my life, they’re probably not safe showing off all of their character flaws in front of me. There’s this awesome mug I want and it says “Piss Me Off: Pay The Consequences”. As a writer, I definitely get my best revenge in print. Nine times out of ten, no one even knows what I am talking about, and that just goes to show you how unaware they are. Me? I’m self-aware and I’m glad for that because if someone were, on the off-chance, to write about me, they’re not smart enough or subtle enough for me to miss it. Reading between the lines is a special gift.

Call me crazy, but I don’t feel the need to make a laundry list of “2016 Writer’s Goals”. I’ve seen about a thousand of them on Twitter and they almost all say the same shit, ad nauseam. This year, I enter my 29th year as a writer. Far too many newbies discredit experience, mostly because they don’t have any to speak of. There is much to be said for the experienced writer who is comfortable in his or her own skin and mind.

The handful of times I have doubted aspects of my fictional work, a little voice would pop into my head and say “Pssh! You’ve written SO much. You’re attentive to the point of it being creepy. You’ve GOT THIS!” That is experience whispering in your ear; much like the angel/devil on each shoulder that some people like to speak of. My inner voice doesn’t lie, but people do, so I don’t put a lot of stock into a handful of people “loving it”. I’ve learned that a lot of people are scared to challenge me when it comes to my work or my words (and sadly, in my life in general), and so they will agree with me as opposed to saying “I didn’t really like or understand this part, can you elaborate?” I’m not SO bad that people have to fear asking a question or disagreeing with me, but apparently I am intimidating and intense, though my closest friends only see this on occasion, it is not a daily occurrence.

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Finding people who will challenge you, and not agree with every single thing you say, is crucial for any writer (or artistic creator). The few friends I have that do write are relieved that I don’t sugarcoat things. They know they can present their work to me and get an unbiased, honest thought process. They know I will push them to produce their best work. Honesty is a foundation of greatness, especially for the truly creative soul. I’d rather someone speak the truth as opposed to be fake with me, and this expands to all aspects of my life. I’m confident enough in my talents, but if I trust you enough to share my work ahead of publication, it’s okay not to like something. I will not bash you with a hockey stick for being real. I’m tough, but I’m not THAT bad. 😉

I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it is important as a writer to take stock of your health. You can spend 16-20 hours a day in front of the computer, and while that might get you a completed manuscript or a ton of smaller completed projects, it can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. I know because mine required a LOT of rest and slowing down in order to go into “remission”. To this day, I still experience some pain in my hands and wrists and actual weakness in both hands when I overdo it, but thankfully it’s not daily. Don’t take your hands for granted; you only get two, if you’re lucky.

Posture is everything. Don’t slouch at the computer. If you feel your shoulders begin to touch your ears, you’re stressed and you’ve been sitting there way too long. It is time to take a break, straighten your neck/back. get some stretching in, and take a walk. You will already find that staring at the screen isn’t helpful, or productive. Magical words will not flow out of your fingertips. Step away and stop touching your face when you’re doing the slouch of exasperation in front of the computer. Sometimes it’s a good idea to pick up a notebook and a pen and make notes for a while, it often leads to a better period of writing because it helps spark creativity. I have always found that if I jot down 1-5 pages of notes, ideas, or dialogue, it will later result in roughly 15-30, or more, pages of high quality work that I am proud of. I type more than I write by hand, so when I’m filling up notebooks, you know I’ve got a dozen tricks up my sleeve.

I’d rather write 300 pages of my best work, than 600 pages that aren’t cohesive in the story-telling. I have to be able to read it from start to finish and say “Wow! This is really good! Who wrote this?” I have to be able to get lost in it. I have to be able to impress myself; no one else. I am not the first writer to exist and I am certainly not going to be the last, but I do have to be a captive audience.

Okay, so apparently I DID have something to offer today. I’ll celebrate that fact later. 😛

Carry on everyone, and unleash some genuine creativity this weekend.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Friday Musings

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Mondays bring forth a lot of stress and anxiety. Fridays? Not so much. In fact, I feel calm that the week has come to an official end. I’m looking forward to putting up a load of laundry, eating dinner, and eliminating an hour or two off my DVR.

I spent a huge portion of my week battling migraines. I was unsure if the cycle would continue, but I can say that after an exceptionally long day yesterday and going to bed early, I have mostly felt good today. Sore and achy, a little moody at times, but nothing I can’t handle. The downside of going through so much pain is that your body is pre-programmed to take the brunt of what it normally handles each day. It took me almost a full 12 hours to realize I wasn’t in agony. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing what tomorrow brings in terms of the physical side of things. 😦

I’ve struggled with some work-related things this week. I’ve had some personal breakthroughs with ideas for my work, I’ve made some career-related decisions for new creative outlets, but I am still being tormented by that manuscript. It requires so much time, it frustrates the hell out of me, so I’ve decided I will never edit for someone ever again without doing a read-through first. I refuse to price myself into a position that makes me feel used or abused.

I should be charging between $1000-$5000 per job, or more for additional development. I have tried to be incredibly fair to people, I even offer a payment plan, but the end result is that I am being unfair to myself, my time, my vision, and my skills.

When someone says “I’d like to pay you a penny per sentence and there are 10,000 sentences to go over.”, I shake my head. That’s a grave insult. Even worse, I bid on the job and didn’t get it. Yeah, that didn’t help my attitude one bit this week. Anyone that approaches with a disrespectful budget and the claim “It should only take an hour or so.” should Google the cost of minimum wage for an experienced freelance editor. I have exactly one client who I work for on an hourly basis and he thinks my hourly rate is “really reasonable”. Others are fearful of the hourly rate and even more fearful of the quote. I have an answer to that: Don’t write 100,000+ words and expect for it to be edited in a professional manner in a week for “$50 or less”. Be fair, be realistic, and don’t be disrespectful if you truly want to do business with someone.

What else occurred this week? Injury from cat’s back claws. I have absolutely NO idea why she’d think climbing over my scalp was a good idea. I tried to detach her from ripping me apart and she wouldn’t budge, so I have a long tear on the right side of my scalp under my hair down the side of my temple. The facial part isn’t even noticeable because she dug deeper into my scalp, which, thanks to my new hair color, isn’t visible. It hurt for a few days, but should be healed completely in about a week.

Yes, I said “new hair color”. When I get bored, I get dangerous. Last month I cut off a ton of hair. It was way more than I’d anticipated, far shorter than what I walked in asking for. I am still adjusting to having to put product into my hair as opposed to using Argan Oil and being able to work with my natural texture or straighten it. “Short Hair Don’t Care”? Bullshit. Shorter hair requires some finesse in order to look good. I’ve been every natural color a person can be. Blonde, a wide array of varying degrees of red and brunette, but this is my first time truly on “the dark side”. It’s only a few days old, but it is truly blue-black. My stylist refused to do it for me because my skin is on the fairer side of fair. I asked if it was “too dark” or “too Goth” and she said “Too dark.” I think she was trying to be diplomatic. Guess what? It is dark, and it’s a little Goth, but it looks fucking awesome. Ultimately, the only person who has to like it is the person that has to live with it and look at it day in and day out. Every time I look in the mirror I think “Man, this looks AWESOME. It’s so much better than I thought it would be.” Let’s hear it for listening to your inner voice and not the odd judgment of others. Everyone else is going lighter for summer, I’m going darker. Typical. Now all I need are sharper fangs to get my point across. 😉

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Quote credit: Angelina Jolie. I agree with her.

Have a great weekend everyone!

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Apparently, Some People Can’t Read Warnings…

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I think I make myself incredibly clear. Clear to the point of overly repetitive! I’m starting to think I should come with a warning label, because some people are so stupid they cannot read the simplest of statements.

If you read my editor’s profile I strictly state that I will NOT do sample edits. I have done a few, but over time you see that the job you just did a sample for ends up going to someone else. It’s always the person with a lower bid. It’s not about how good you are, it’s about someone saving a few dollars. That’s fine. C’est la vie. However, I have now made it mandatory, part of my own personal policy if you will. I don’t give my work away for free, nor should anyone expect me to do so.

I received an inquiry late last night, complete with a chapter. Not only did the person not ask me anything, they simply said “Can you do a sample page? Thanks.” (I’d like to say that request wasn’t riddled with spelling errors, but it was. A simple request, filled with errors in spelling and grammar. For a second I said to myself “Do I just do it, or am I competing against two dozen other people?” The thought of losing out to someone else over a few dollars made me stand firm. I finally replied “I will only do the sample if I am the only person you are considering for the job. No one worth their salt gives their work away for free. Thank you” That’s not me being a bitch or egotistical, it’s laying down some important ground rules.

I’m always polite and professional, but I truly don’t think anyone worth their salt should give their work away for free. I will work with a person until they are happy with their manuscript, but I don’t think I should have to posture and/or bow down to whatever it is they’re looking for in a “sample”. If you’re hiring someone, read their bio. Look at their list of experience. Choose based on that. I might not always choose the person with the most experience, because sometimes they aren’t the right person for the specific genre, but I will choose the person that instinctively feels right in my soul.

My bio says “27 years of writing experience, nearly 20 years of editing experience.” (January 1st is my 20 year mark. 🙂 ) and lists all of my qualifications and precisely what I specialize in. It also clearly states that I no longer do sample edits because the practice has become unacceptable to me, not to mention it is frowned upon by the employer. Even they tell you that 99% of the time when you do a sample for someone, you will never hear back from the person and not to give your hard work away for free. For me, it’s really not worth it. Yes, I want the job, but I am not going to beg for it, not with an extremely long list of experience backing me up. Choose me because I am right for the job, or choose someone else. Either way, it’s okay.

As a writer, I am extremely careful who I share my work with. I don’t care who you are or how much trust I have in you, my work is MY WORK and there’s a line I simply will not cross. There are only two sets of eyes that have ever looked at my fiction work, and one set of those eyes is my own. Some people have seen brief excerpts or quotes, nothing more.

You really have to be careful to protect your work and shield it. There are thousands of cases in the court system for copyright infringement. There is always someone claiming to own a story when it was simply shared with them in friendship, or as a fresh set of eyes. I sign non-disclosure agreements to protect other people because I respect that they’ve worked hard. I do not want or need their ideas, and it is not my right to steal their work. My word is my bond, but if a piece of paper will also protect a client, then so be it. I feel the same way in kind because I have worked immensely hard on every single thing I’ve ever written.

I was lucky, because I was taught about copyrighting very young. New writers know next to nothing about how to protect themselves or their work, so I often have to step up and say something. Not everything you read on the Internet is true, so when in doubt, ask someone who has some experience.

Many new writers share their work via blogs and various platforms through social media. Therein lies your first mistake. Be a writer, share new material on blogs and social media, talk about new projects, but do NOT release privileged work until it has run the gamut with literary agents, editors, and/or you have already chosen to publish it yourself. Do extensive self-publishing research and don’t fall for any crap. Again, when it doubt, turn to someone knowledgable.

Above all, don’t do anything for work that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. A sample edit might seem fine to a lot of you, but to an experienced editor who already has a sample of her work posted to her profile, it is a grave insult. I won’t whore myself out for a “maybe”, nor will I whore myself out for a “yes”. If a person cannot show you respect, then you probably don’t want to work for or with them. Remember that. Your personal integrity is so much more important than anything else. It’s something someone can only take from you if you let them. I choose to keep my integrity in tact.

UPDATE: Integrity & Intuition will not lead you in the wrong direction. This person sent a chapter of her work out to every single person, 37 in total. I filed a complaint because clearly she wants free work if she’s doing that, and I usually get sent a prologue or a first chapter, never something in the middle. I was sent chapter 12, and the warning bells went off inside my head. She has listed the same job 4 times. They immediately flagged it and told me to continue reporting anyone that violates the terms of service because I could accidentally be booted for following the rules when I haven’t done anything wrong, but it’s hard when you’ve got 10 million customers and workers to be on top of every single incident. I feel better knowing I did what’s right. Always read the rules. It takes a few minutes, yes, but it gives you knowledge and shows you’re not a moron! I’m many things, a moron isn’t one of them.   

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.