by Kari Diane Pike
Most of you who read this blog know by now that my daughter-in-law Aprilynne wrote a delightful novel, Wings, that debuted May 5th. Watching this metamorphosis taught me not only about the publishing process, but lessons I can apply to life in general.
1. Stayed focused on what you want to achieve. (This assumes, of course, that you know what you want.) That lesson became a turning point for me. In the past, I could tell you all about the things I didn't want to see happen in my life and with my writing. I struggled to name the things I did want. When I began setting goals, writing or otherwise, and focused on those goals, amazing things began to happen. Focusing on the positive brings more positive, and doubts and fears about the things I don't want, slowly melt away. When I recently tried to explain this concept to a younger child, I remembered a driving lesson many years ago. I had a dangerous habit of drifting to the side of the road or sometimes getting too close to the center line. I struggled to keep the vehicle in the center of the lane. Finally, my dad asked, "Where are you looking while you drive?" I told him I was diligently keeping my eye on the line at the edge of the road...or if there wasn't one, on the center dividing line. Dad laughed...a bit nervously as he once again pointed out my drifting. "Keep your eyes up ahead! Look ahead down the center of the road. Where ever you look with your eyes, that is where the car is going to go!" Why it took me thirty five years to "get it" is another subject for a future blog!
2. Talk less, do more. Do more than just talk about writing! Sit down and write. Aprilynne shut herself in her office for a certain amount of time every day. She didn't answer the phone or IM all her friends. She focused on her goal and took steps toward achieving that goal. This goes right along with setting priorities...and of course, knowing what we want.
3. Do your homework. I watched this woman research agencies and publishing houses. She read everything she could on blogs and websites about what the powers that be were looking for in the next season of books. She asked questions. She wrote queries...and not just one or two dozen. Aprilynne literally wrote over a hundred query letters. In writing and in life, I cannot emphasize enough, the value of education and perspiration. I hope I never stop learning or working towards learning new things.
4. Network. If you visit her blog or website, you will see that Aprilynne has communicated with writers all over the world. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It is much easier to learn from the experience others have had than trying to reinvent the entire process. Attend conferences, join writing groups and discover as much as you can about who's who in the writing business. Find out who knows things...and learn from them!
5. There is as much joy in watching someone succeed as there is in personal success. All too often we allow feelings of envy to spoil a relationship. When we embrace another's success and celebrate their talents with them, we add another dimension to our relationship. It has been a joy to witness not only Aprilynne's success, but the blessings that have come to others because of her success. I took the thirteen-year-old daughter of a friend to Aprilynne's book signing. Megan had never been to a book signing before. We acted like groupies, taking pictures, asking for an autograph, listening intently to every word Aprilynne had to say. I got the biggest kick out of watching Megan and the other young girls in attendance who wanted to know how the story of a teen-aged girl, who discovers she's really a fairy, came to be. As I watched to light in their eyes, I remembered what it felt like to dream.