All posts for the month April, 2015

Redefining ‘HARD’

Published April 29, 2015 by ellarite

I’m goal-oriented.  Once I set my sights on something, then nothing, short of hospitalization, prevents achieving said goal.   Throughout my many years on this planet, folks have applied various names to this trait:  ambitious, tenacious, go-getter and focused.

There have been other names, but I choose to focus on the good.

Whatever its’ called, this trait has allowed me to check my own personal boxes of success.  I’ve become a homeowner, obtained a college degree, retired from the US military and raised two boys into college-educated men.  Hell, I even bought my dream car.

Not too shabby for a poor girl from Detroit.

What’s the problem?  This damn writing business!!!  That’s the problem.  It’s damned hard.  So very, very hard.

Don’t get me wrong.  I expected hardships, I expected days of painfully vomiting words onto a page to meet my daily word count. The fact that the quality of my work would send agents, editors and publishers straight to the loony bin did not dissuade me from my goal.    Hey, don’t look at me like that.  I have revision plans. My point is that I started on this journey understanding that…


To quote Merideth Grey from the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy”…  ‘it’s supposed to be hard, that’s how we weed out the weak’.   It’s about creating realistic characters, with motivation, pet peeves, goals and personality.  The characters should evoke emotion from the reader.   Whether cheered or jeered, your character should feel ‘alive’.  Which is very hard work.  Not impossible, but very hard.

To quote Tom Hanks character from one of my favorite movies, “A League of Their     Own”… ‘the hard is what makes it great’.  (pic) I welcomed ‘the hard’.  Heck, I relished the hard.  I CAN DO HARD!!!

Professional authors who give advice to aspiring writers, like myself, state that the path to a successful writing career is based on a few key steps.   The order of the steps vary depending on the author, but the following bits of wisdom tends to overlap:

1.|Hone your skills…I attend writing workshops.  See previous posts.

2.  Keep writing…I have 3 novels in various stages of completion and 14 completed short stories.

3.  Network/Connect with other writers…I’ve joined the Horror Writers Association, 2 local writing critique groups and have a monthly dinner with a group of girls I met in a writing class.  I have a twitter account and a facebook page. (Admittedly, I not social media savvy.  I treat my online accounts like a bear trap …I only visit to see if an unsuspecting victim got caught and need help bandaging their wounds.)

I’ve learned the art of the cover page, the elevator pitch and the succinct author’s bio. The result:  I have more rejection letters than I have stories.

To be fair, some rejections contain warm & fuzzy comments like… ‘well-written, but not for us’ or ‘interesting story, but we’ll have to pass at this time’.  I even have a few ‘we hope you submit again’.

My favorite magazine sent my manuscript back to me in the stamped, self-address envelope that I provided:  No comment, no ink on the pages, nothing.  I took it as “here’s the stupid story you submitted.  Do us a favor and burn it.”

 The folks who define the writing career as ‘hard’ have pulled the wool over our eyes.

They’re giggling behind our backs.   Why?  Because they know the secret.

 The definition of hard is significantly different

when describing a writing career.

 Depending on the dictionary, the definition of hard varies from ‘not easily penetrated’ to  ‘demanding the exertion of physical effort’. For writers, the real definition is as follows:

 Hard (verb):

Eye-bleeding, finger-throbbing, mind-numbing, soul-crushing, solitary activity

required of writers who seek success.   Activity may take years.

Maybe that’s our golden ticket:  the piece of knowledge that allows us to embrace our fears of failure and continue on the quest. I was mistaken.  I didn’t really know hard…but now I do.  My quest will continue!!!

Until next time,