Saturday, December 29, 2007

I've Been Awarded a Roar.... meow...

My favorite Resident Alien bestowed this award upon my blog... and I thank her wholeheartedly for the accolades. Now, as per the rules of being A Roar for Powerful Words recipient, I must publish three tips, for to be powerful and writerly, and pass the award on to five more bloggers of worthy esteem.

So, here goes:

Tip #1: Don’t take wooden nickels :

The lovely thing about writing circles, blogging buddies, critique groups, and books on the craft of writing is that you find new ways to look at and edit your writing... Wanting to evolve and grow, many of us have a keen ear for picking apart our own prose and others’... and this tip is not to say that you shouldn’t listen to critique, you absolutely should, especially when you’re getting identical crits from multiple sources...

As an author of your own creation, though, you have to know where to draw the line between others’ views and your own voice. For example, I did a lot of rewriting specifically with active voice in mind because I’d been around a lot of writers who touted this absolutely... It messed with my voice. Luckily I had only edited two chapters of my ms with these ideas in mind, but once I realized how far off it was, it took me weeks to bring it back to my own voice... honestly, some of those cuts and edits were necessary and I still am a back story writer who needs multiple weedings, but to the extreme that I had followed... well, all action and no prose is not good writing to me, it’s manic and it disrupts the flow of the language... I won’t read that type of book, so I certainly don’t want to write one.

Tip #2: Network, Baby :

For blogging in general, networking is a necessity. You develop a readership by reading and commenting thoughtfully on posts around the blog-o-sphere. For writing, though, I think we often think it’s more procrastination than helpful, but that is somewhat untrue... while you can get sucked into blogging and networking to the extent that it interrupts your writing time (yes, I’ve done this... my own fault, too) – ideally, if you use a little discipline, what networking with other writers offers you is invaluable.

Not only will you find more avenues for submission, critique groups, and a like minded set of people exchanging thoughts and ideas... but you will get your name out there in a way that you couldn’t sitting at your keyboard alone. Networking is good for the soul if nothing else. It lets you gain a bit of support from others who are where you’re at, or have been there... and those who have made it higher or are just coming up... community is always a good thing – no matter where you find it.

Tip #3: Write, dammit!

This is so basic and so overlooked. If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. You can spend twelve hours a day critiquing others, discussion craft, and reading books on writing... you can be the most prolific agent and publisher watcher imaginable... you can have a handle on every book your list of most wanted agents has ever represented .... but if you haven’t put your ass in the seat and done the actual writing, none of that will make you a writer.

Do the writing. Do it first. I know, stories flesh themselves out in your head all the time. Even when you’re not physically writing, some part of you is working on it... I know that. I do that, too. So does every writer I know... Guess what? That’s not writing... it’s a perk of writing, but it’s not the actual work. Sit your ass in the chair and write. Do it every day. Do it first. Don’t walk away because nothing’s coming... write it out and edit it later... write it out and trash it later... but write. Yes, we all need the research and the research on publishing is more time consuming than most people think... the writing still has to be primary, or you’re only daydreaming with conviction.

Oy... five bloggers for to pass this on...

Okay, guys, some of you may have received this one already; in which case just take the kudos and don’t worry about posting... here are my picks...

Anita Daher I first met Anita on Myspace, and a nicer author you’ll never meet. She’s a Canadian author with multiple books out, and she’s always very generous with her time and insight, even to us unpublished newbies.

Angela She always has thought provoking posts and always responds to comments with the same amount of consideration with which she pens her entries... This particular blog is more about parenting a teen, but she has another all about life as a freelance writer... both are excellent.

Pinhole I can think of nothing else to say about Pinhole except that he is brilliant... and even more attractive, he doesn’t seem to know it. His blog is full of hand drawn illustrations, beautiful prose, and some of the best wit you’ll ever find. I highly recommend him whenever you’re in need of deep thoughts or a chuckle, you’ll find both.

Travis Erwin I can’t believe that Travis hasn’t already been nominated for this one, he’s brilliant and his voice is just the most fun ever. You’ll find the best turn of phrases and the most fantastic stories here. If you haven’t stopped, check him out.

The SUV Driving Bitch Your Mother Warned You About Suv Mama is a favorite stop of mine... she had a blog that I visited regularly and took down some time ago, but she’s back... and better than ever. The name says it all, so I’ll let you all check her out on your own.


~SUV Mama~ said...

WOWSERS!! My first award. I will pass this on dutifully.

As always, Merry, your tips are right on.

The networking part is hard for me-the blog world is so large. Is there a "blog list" that you would suggest? (Other than, of course, blogrolls).

And now, I must go, as my big ego isn't fitting in the computer chair at the moment. I must go change a dity diaper to deflate.

:) Happy New Year!!

Marty said...

I'm on one of those procrastination trips though the blogosphere, hoping to get inspiration for an upcoming manuscript, due in February. Your suggestions are sending me back to real life, but I enjoyed reading your posts!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hey, SUV,

Very happy to bestowe this one on you and I can't wait to see your own tips go up.

As far as a blog list, I find most of my favorite bloggers by following comments. When I like a few entries I'll favorite them, and when I notice that I visit them fairly regularaly I add them to my blogroll.

I've found a lot of great writing blogs by following the more thoughtful comments at agent and other writer blogs - that's how I found Ello, Josephine Damian, Jaye, and JJdebenidictis.. I've also found writer blogs by following comments at other writer blogs... like Travis, Anti-wife, and Stephen Parish (who I haven't added to my blogroll yet but will be soon..)

Motherhood is another thing. There are a number of blogs on motherhood that are fun, both by writers and just moms venting... Yours is at the top of my list there, so is JerseyGirl... and I've followed some of the regular commenters at Jerseygirl's blog, they all have great blogs, too.

Hi Marty,

Nice to meet you! I think the blogosphere can be a great source of inspiration and connection... as long as we don't forget to get back to the actual writing... blog posts can sometimes feel more productive than they are!

Best of luck with the ms, and thanks for the visit.

Anita Daher said...

Awww...thanks, Mer! This is a lovely surprise. I will post my tips in the next day or two, but first I must follow your most excellent tip # 3 :-)

Colorado Writer said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I had to come over and see what you've got. You've got some STUFF sister!

Lottery is my favorite adult book of 2007.

I'll have to delve into your meaty stuff and read more.

Stephanie (Colorado Writer)

Pinhole said...

I, honestly, don't think I have any decent advice to offer anyone about writing, but I'll see if I can come up with a post, anyway.

Thanks for your kind words, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks for the award. I 'll try and get my advice posted in a few days but you stole a couple of my ideas so now I'll have to rethink. And just because you did this first doesn't mean you didn't steal me idea I sensed a telepathic disturbance that seemed to be emitting from the Chicago area. Okay, maybe not, but seriously I was going to talk about guarding your voice and now I'll have to come up with something new.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Anita,

You're very welcome... I have to start following #3 a little more closely myself ;-)

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for stopping in, I'm going to be looking around your blog a bit more, too. I especially liked your pitch for the marble queen book... 'mibster extraordinaire' is a great line, though I wish I'd known what a mibster was the first time I read it :-)

Hi Pinhole,

I'm sure you'll think of something both brilliant and humorous for your tips... gee, enough pressure?

Hi Travis,

Okay, you got me... you finally noticed I've been poaching your thought for my own nefarious uses... mwa-ha-ha-ha.. When I get really good at it, I'll start poaching agents thoughts for to sandbag them into taking my on as a client!

Seriously, though, I didn't think you could lose your voice that way until I did it myself... I think taking a step back helps because a few of my readers tried to tell me but I just didn't understand what they were getting at at the time.

It becomes a bit of a balance for me, because I love winding prose and tend to lean that way... so there is a lot of cutting to keep the backstory out, but there shouldn't be so much cutting that the only thing left of action and dialogue... Now it's a matter of letting the revisions sit... because I keep re-reading the original chapters that I should be done with... and I always find more to change...

The Anti-Wife said...

Congratulations, Merry. Well deserved.

Happy New Year!

The Anti-Wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Parrish said...

Hi Merry. I actually tagged Travis with this a while back, but I don't think he noticed.

Happy New Year! See you on the other side!

Stephen Parrish said...

I almost forgot: the Cubs will be great in 2008!

Josephine Damian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josephine Damian said...

Merry, three EXCELLENT points on crit. perspective, why blogs - in moderation - are a good thing for writers - and the all important seat of pants in chair.

Proof positive you are a worthy recipient of this award.

All the best in the New Year!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Anti-Wife,

Happy New Year to you!!! Your ode, by the way, will be going up in the next few days.

Hi Stephen,

Happy New Year!!! I hope you're right (about the Cubs) but don't go saying it, you're liable to jinx us!!! :-)

Hi Josephine,

Happy New Year to you! The seat of the pants meets seat of the chair thing seems to be the one I need to keep reminding myself of.... it's easy to get side tracked on writing discussions because they're so much fun.

Take care, guys. Thanks for stopping in and I'll see you all in 2008!!!

~SUV Mama~ said...

Hiya Merry! Okay, I posted the tipss... still working on the awards. :)

Great point about the blog comments. Thank you!

Happy Friday!

Mary Witzl said...

This is great stuff, Merry, and I needed to read the bit about the importance of writing because I have spent the past week in a funk, waiting to hear something from an agent. I know it is foolish to take a break from writing until I hear -- I'd get hardly anything done if I always did this! -- but for some reason, this week I have found it tough to get motivated. I'm always amused by the people who tell me that they would be writers if they only sat down to write; that they know they can write, but they just can't manage to find the time for it, etc. And yet this is essentially what I have been doing for the past week -- making excuses. Eek: time to get back in gear, and thanks for the reminder!

Merry Jelinek said...


Personally, I love your blog - I think I found you originally by following a link at Jerseygirl's... or someone's... and there are a few bloggers who don't really respond to comments all the time who I follow anyway, because their posts are so great... but, for the most part, I like the conversation in the comments. Great comments are always intriguing and if I've seen a blogger add to the conversation a few times, I almost always go check out their blogs.

It sounds a little catty, but if I comment more than a few times on a blog and the writer never responds, I tend to get bored and move on - unless they're so unbelievably stellar I have to read. Agent blogs I don't expect responses from, though sometimes they surprise you... but regular old bloggers, I think they should at least acknowledge you were there most times, if not furthering the conversation.

I've missed comments here and there, but for the most part I try to make sure I respond... because I like it when other bloggers take the time to respond to my comments and the other bloggers.

Hi Mary,

First, I'd be happy to beta read for you if you're in need. I was actually going to ask if you might like to read for me around the end of the month, too. Second, in the technology age it's hard not to sit around waiting for the response... And after the whole holiday thing, it's hard to get back on track, too.

Don't beat yourself up over one week... if it was a few months you'd need a good kick in the pants, but sometimes a little break will re-energize your writing.

Jerseygirl89 said...

So I finally catch up with the rest of your blog and there it is. I love your tips!

silken said...

I tagged you for another meme if you want to join in:

Paula said...

Merry, my friend Tena suggested I check your blog out, and I can see why! I am also an at-home mom who writes MG (am revising and submitting now), loves cooking and baking, and is fascinated by all things Sicilian. My email address is Would love to talk a little more with you.