We’ve all heard about (or maybe even know!) writers with bad additudes–scribblers who are bitter, self-important, unrealistic, or just plain old hard-headed.
I worry about that quite a bit–I don’t want that to be me. I’m no expert, but here’s what my interactions with writers, agents, and editors have taught me about cultivating a healthy writing attitude:
1.) Realistic expectations should balance optimism.
Some of my friends in our writers’ group tease me about being a bit of an Eeyore when it comes to writing. No, I’m not oozing with false modesty or self-deprecation. No, I’m not a naysayer.
For example, when I started querying my novel, I told myself I probably wouldn’t get requests. When I did, I smiled. When I got requests, I told myself I probably wouldn’t get offers. When I did, I danced. I always let myself dream and entertain thoughts of success, but here’s the key: I never expect them. I never feel entitled when it comes to getting published.
If and when it happens, I will shout and jump into the air and fly to the moon. Until then, I will keep my feet on the ground. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other.
2.) Live in the moment.
Once a manuscript is queried or goes on submission to editors, there’s not much more writers can do to influence the outcome. We have to let our work stand on its own. We have to let our wonderful, capable agents do their jobs. To wax Beatle-esque, we have to LET IT BE.
Here’s what we can do–we can read in our genre or field. We can work on another projects. We can take the time to support fellow writers. Day by day, we can enjoy the blessings we already have in our work, friends and family. After all, a writing project should be fulfilling, but it shouldn’t be the only thing keeping a suicide watch at bay. (If you feel it is, PLEASE GET HELP NOW.)
3.) Be circumspect.
At every point in my journey, I’ve been faced with the temptation to blab, blab, blab about the minutiae of my writing life. I’ve fretted. I’ve obsessed. I’ve contemplated word vomiting my ups and downs into cyberspace. But one thought stops me (almost) every time–I can’t regret what I didn’t say, blog, or tweet. My rule is simple: If I can’t say something constructive or share good news, it’s crickets for me.
4.) Embrace opportunities for real growth.
Setbacks and rejections are tough schoolmasters, but they are instructive, all the same. Every time I sit down to write, I process and exploit whatever feedback I’ve received. I try to get better. I always want to always look back and see development and change. I always want to stretch for words just beyond my reach.
Stasis is my enemy, not rejection.
What about you? I’m so grateful for all my writing friends. What have you learned so far?
Hungry for more? Try this recipe for my cinnamon rolls. They’re from scratch, but they’re worth the wait!
4 packages rapid rise yeast
1 cup hot water (not boiling, not lukewarm, just hot tap water)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks real butter
1 1/2 cups warm (not hot!) milk (heat on stovetop or in microwave)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
8-9 cups of flour
Dark brown sugar
Good Quality Cinnamon (don’t cheap out on this one, ok?)
Even more butter
Dissolve yeast in a medium bowl with 1 cup of hot water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You will not the yeast mixture is active if the yeast bubbles up (mixture should get very foamy, if not, you goofed with bad yeast or too hot or too cold water).
Melt one cup butter and combine with 1 1/2 cups of milk. Mix the milk/butter mixture with the yeast mixture. Add 1 cup sugar and then the eggs. Mix in salt and four cups of the flour. Mix until smooth. Add in the remaining cups of flour, a little at a time, just until the mixture is cohesive enough to handle. Save some of the flour to knead with. I usually save the last cup or so for this purpose.
Slap dough onto the counter and knead it a bit. Knead it just enough so it no longer so gooey and sticky in your hands.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Put the dough into the bowl. Cover the dough with a thin cloth and let it sit. Let dough rise for an hour to an hour and a half. Dough should double in size.
Spray a counter top surface with cooking spray. Spray your rolling pin, too. Divide the dough into two lumps. Roll one out one lump into a large rectangle. Soften a stick and a half of butter and smear on the dough. Sprinkle a lot of cinnamon (to taste, I like a LOT) over the dough. Smear a bunch (a heaping cup) of dark brown sugar. Roll up the dough from the widest side to make a log. Use a length of dental floss (unused, please!) to cut and section individual cinnamon rolls (1 1/2 inch width sections).
After placing the rolls in a greased 9 by 13 pan (you should have approximately a dozen), roll out the second lump and do the same. You’ll end up with two pans of cinnamon rolls. Cover pans with a thin cloth and let rise for another hour to an hour and a half. I put my rolls on my stove top and turn on the oven to preheat. The warm airflow near the oven helps the rolls rise.
When the rolls are nice and puffy, bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I have a large oven, so I can bake both pans at the same time on the same rack. If your oven is not big enough, bake one pan at a time. Don’t use different racks.
After rolls have cooled a bit, ice with homemade frosting. For frosting, I use one stick of melted butter, one tablespoon of vanilla, some powdered sugar (just add until the mixture is the right thickness), and a tiny bit of milk. Add powdered sugar and whisk until icing is the right consistency.