Sunday, February 6, 2011

Are You a Mother Hen?

     Today, I have some great reading material for those aspiring writers, coming straight from the wonderful VS Grenier. She has an important lesson to get across - and it's quick, so listen hard and listen good.

Heather: VS, take it away!

VS: Today I went for a mile walk around my neighborhood with my son and dog, Taz. We were doing well until Taz decided he could not walk anymore and started chewing at his leash. At first I did what any dog owner would do . . . I chocked up the leash and started encouraging Taz to keep walking. At about the half way point, Taz sat down and refused to take another step. Now, I could have done what most don trainers tell you to do . . . pull the dog along and make him walk. But I didn’t. I went right into mother hen mood. I picked up my dog and began to carry him the remaining half mile to our house.
After I got home, I sat down at my computer and posted about our walk on Facebook. Then I turned to my WIPs. The ones I have been working on for a little over a year now. Then it hit me. I am treating my WIPs like my dog!
Okay, so you are wondering how in the world are my WIPs like my dog. Well, they both give me comfort, but that’s not what I’m talking about. No, what I am talking about is how once my WIPs get too tired, unsure of themselves, or lose their way, I pick them up and carry them around in my mind. I make up excuses as to why they are not ready to be sent out. Just like the excuse, I gave on Facebook about my dog needing to lay off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What I realized today is I am afraid to let my WIPs go. I am afraid their not ready for an editor, publisher, or agent’s eyes to look them over. Does it mean my WIPs are not ready to be sent out? Maybe, but most likely not. In truth, many writers do this. They work on a manuscript trying to perfect it. Trying to make it the best manuscript ever written, but the fact is . . . you will never see that day! Why?
Because all manuscripts will be a WIP until they are published. This means they will go through many more revisions, edits, and rewrites before a publisher will put them on the printing press. It means once you’ve had your manuscript critiqued, proofread, revised, critiqued again, revised some more . . . you need to find the right time to send it out into the world. To let your baby fly with its own wings. You may get some rejections and some may even be helpful to help you prefect your WIP a bit more. But if you do not set your manuscript down and let it walk on its own feet, it will never be strong enough to walk the whole mile to publication.
So stop being a mother hen. Let your manuscripts leave your arms and take flight! Or in the case of my dog, Taz . . . walk.

Want to learn more about VS Grenier? This is her second visit to my blog (you can't keep the good stuff away for long) so you can check out my previous posts on her, or you can visit her blog The Writing Mama.

Contine your writing discoveries with


Nancy Famolari said...

Great post! I will definitely stop treating my WIPs like the dog!!

Magdalena Ball said...

That's a really valuable point Virginia. One tip for determining that tricky 'when' point is to give your work to other readers who can look at it with objective eyes, and ask them if it's ready. One of the best ways is to pay for it by getting a manuscript assessment. Often a professional (unlike a good friend or your mother, though mine is fantastic at assessing my work) will be very honest about a work's state of readiness.

elysabeth said...

Great advice - I guess we all have a bit of that in us, not wanting to let the apron strings go, but just like our real children, we must untie the strings and let them do their own thing - or fly on their own wings as you stated. The fear of rejection has to be right up there with the fear of public speaking and death. I know we writiers all go through this but if we never let go, we will never know if we produced a worthwhile product or not. And gathering dust bunnies in the file cabinet on our computers is not a telltale sign - lol.

Nice job, Heather and Virginia. Thanks for joining our group, Virginia and passing around the wisdom. - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?

Donna M. McDine said...

Absolutely terrific post. Thanks for the virtual slap upside my head. I'm definitely guilty of this!

Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Karen Cioffi said...

Great analogy, Virginia. I agree, once sent out it's hit or miss. Holding onto your ms eliminates the miss, but then you'll never get the hit!

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks for sharing this story and your advice, Virginia. My dog used to do that... but he's 50 kilos, so I couldn't pick him up! LOL

Mayra Calvani said...

Hey, Heather,
I just become your follower. I hope you'll follow me too. :-)

Virginia S Grenier said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'm happy to say the MSS that have been sitting are now in the mail be it snail or virtual. I'll let you know if anything happens on my blog The Writing Mama at if you're interested in following what I'm up to.

Thanks again for stopping by and to Heather for hosting me.

terri.forehand said...

Sound advice and tips I should put in to practice right now. Thanks for sharing.


KittyNadem said...

Thank you all so much for stopping by - and a big thanks to Virgina for being such a wonderful guest! :D

I'm following you now too, Mayra! :D

~ Heather Paye

Heidiwriter said...

That's great! LOL. Never thought about it like this, but good advice.

Lisette said...

Great blog. Very thought-provoking. It's hard to know when to let go. I try to rewrite extensively before I even give my WIP to my editor. And then, I try to perfect it before publishing. There comes a time, however, when we must release our work.

Your delightful dog story reminded me of being in the park years ago with a friend and her dog. Sparky decided he didn't want to walk anymore and so I carried him quite a distance. I will never forget the looks we got! :-)