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Friday, August 21, 2009

Five on Friday: Conflicted and Convicted

Ever feel overwhelmed by an abundance of advice?
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As I blazed a trail through the blogosphere the past few weeks, I encountered numerous insightful posts offering information aimed at helping writers achieve their goal of being published. While I'm eager to learn from these knowledgeable bloggers, choosing which counsel to heed became increasingly difficult.
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Why?
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Because of the conflicts.
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As writers we embrace the concept of conflict. However, when faced with conflicting choices in my own life, I don't always react well. When opposing sides of issues are being advocated, I can sometimes find myself uncertain how to proceed. How do I decide what works for me and what doesn't?
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Much as I'd like to avoid the discomfort I face when confronted with opposing viewpoints, I can't. This past week I've felt convicted about my tendency to ignore tough topics.
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So, what areas of my writing life did I feel a need to address? Here are five with which I wrestled . . .
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1) Do I heed the market trends and write what is selling, or do I write the stories of my heart, those that bring me enjoyment?
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2) Do I adhere to the rules or allow myself freedom to break them on occasion when I have good reason?
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3) Do I write with a goal of creating a breakout novel that will take the literary world by storm or write the best break-in novel I can and be content with that?
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4) Do I continue to work on building a Web presence and name recognition prior to publication or pull back in order to spend more time writing my stories?
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5) Do I utilize social networking sites primarily as a forum for self-promotion, or do I focus on developing relationships first?
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I've wrestled with each of these issues and come up with answers. Although I was hesitant to do so, I'm seeing the benefits. Now, when I read posts promoting one viewpoint over another, I don't spend time feeling conflicted. Because I've taken time to think through each issue, I no longer find myself convicted.
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And what are my answers?
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1) I write the stories I feel I've been called to create. Although I await the sale of my first book, I'm not going to sell myself short by writing with the single goal of publication. I put my heart into my stories and have fun doing so. I don't want to chase market trends and lose the joy.
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2) I keep the rules and guidelines in mind as I write, but I no longer adhere to them slavishly, which isn't easy for someone with OC tendencies. Forcing myself to follow every rule I learned about stifled my creativity and made my writing dull at times. I've given myself permission to stray from the straight and narrow on occasion, but only when I feel doing so is best for my story. As a result, I'm experiencing the thrill of finding my voice.
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3) Getting a book published is challenging enough without the added pressure of producing a bestseller my first time out. Therefore, I'm focused on writing a break-in novel. Since a breakout novel depends upon reader reaction, something I can't predict or control, this decision has taken some of the pressure off. I will still produce the best stories I'm capable of given the education, experience and talent I currently possess, and I will take the market into consideration, but I'm content to build a career over time.
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4) Because I've spent a year learning to navigate in Cyberspace, I will continue to work on my blogs, maintain my Web site, participate in Yahoo! groups, etc. However, I strive to streamline my marketing so I have more time for writing. For me, balance is the key.
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5) I endeavor to establish friendships first. I love to meet others, hear what's going on in their lives, happy dance with them when they receive good news and offer encouragement in tough times. I share news when I have it, but that is by no means my primary goal. I've been given so much by so many generous people and want to give back in as many ways as I can.
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• • • • •
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Do you feel conflicted at times as you encounter discussions such as these I've spotlighted?
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Do you feel convicted to answer the questions for yourself?
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For those of you who have wrestled with one of more of these issues, what conclusions did you reach? How did you come to them?

12 comments:

sherrinda said...

Keli!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guess what I'm eating at this very moment? You guessed it!!!

GUMMY WORMSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are the sweetest thing EVER! The last 2 days have been extremely difficult at work...not to mention 12 and 10 hour days. So, to come home to a package from you picked up my spirits immediately! And then, to find out there were gummy worms in the package made me squeal with delight!!!! I can't believe you remembered that and thought to send me some.

Seriously, that was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me! What a sweet friend you are. Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement! You made my day!

Okay, to answer your question. I think number 4 is hard for me. With my limited time during the year, I question the validity of spending so much time in the blogosphere when I should really devote more time to writing. I think balance is the key, but struggle with finding the balance.

Great blog, Keli! I love your answers. I think they are spot on and I can really relate to all of them. :)

Jessica said...

Wow, great post! I def. feel this sometimes, more often with writing craft stuff. Other stuff I'm more opinionated on. LOL
Hmmm, I like blogging too much to let it go. So that's never convicted me too much.
I'd rather do a break-in novel too. Never read his book but I've read his interviews which made me not want to read his book. *but don't tell anyone, lol*
I like friendships first, definitely!
And I like to break rules. LOL My crit partners call me on it, esp. when I use hissed or growled. They hate that. LOL! So I try to balance it by only using one or two per manuscript. Snort! :-)
Really good post here. Sometimes I can be discouraged by conflicting advice.

Cindy said...

I definitely feel conflicted with these issues. Mainly the Web presence and social networking part of it. I started late in the process and only began blogging at the beginning of this year. I strive to create friendships and that's the most important part to me. But I also understand the necessity to market my book. I've found a balance by staying away from twitter (and too much on Facebook) and stick primarily with blogging. It's my favorite, I learn a lot, but I still get to make connections. Even better, connections that seem more real and turn into friendships.

I am happy to hear you've come to conclusions on your issues and feel comfortable and unconflicted (lol, did I just make up a word?) about them.

Keli Gwyn said...

Sherrinda, I'm glad the package gave you a smile. I feel for you and all the work you're doing right now. Those who serve behind the scenes often don't get the recognition they deserve. As the wife of a teacher, I so appreciate those, like you, who support them.

I enjoy your blog, so I'm glad you make time to post. And I love when you're able to stop by mine. Since you managed to work, write a book, blog, spend time with your family, serve at your church, etc, I'd say you've got things in balance.

Keli Gwyn said...

Jessica, sounds like you and I have come to some of the same conclusions regarding these issues, except that my characters don't hiss or growl as a rule. They have, however, been known to snort. :-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Cindy, thanks for chiming in on the discussion. I'm glad to hear you've been able to resolve your issues and are unconflicted. I like how you've chosen to invest your time in blogging so you make connections that turn into friendships. I'm on Twitter and Facebook, but I limit my time there so I can use most of my Internet budget for blogging. I've made many wonderful friends in the blogosphere.

Amy De Trempe said...

Loved the questions. My weakness is the webpresence. I am still trying to find the right balance. I could spend literally all day with blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It would be easier if I wasn't always discoverying interesting blogs to read. So, my biggest thing at the moment is trying to find a balance of internet and writing.

Jessica said...

Ahhh, well snorting is the best.
:-) I saw your comment on Eileen's blog that you finaled again!!! Woohoo and congratulations! :-) Just wanted to stop by and give you a shout-out!

Keli Gwyn said...

Amy, with so many great blogs to read, choosing which ones to visit is so tough, isn't it? And Facebook, Twitter, etc. are just plain fun. On good days, I motivate myself by using visits to them as rewards. The other days, though, are the problem. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Jessica, thanks for sharing in my celebration. I'm excited that Violets and Violins has been so well received. And I'm grateful to those serving as coordinators and judges. Their sacrifices and generosity make getting feedback via contests possible.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

So happy to read your post! You must have ESP as I've struggled with everything you wrote!

I take into consideration the suggestions offered out in writers world, but decided to do my own thing. I'm writing whatever I want...break-in, break-out, break-up! LOL! The market is fickle and changes so much I can't be worried what's going to sell. If my book is meant to be published it will be. If it's not, I've had the joy and satisfaction of writing it.

My blog friends are precious and I will continue to keep in touch with them and hope to add to the list. But I've given up Facebook, Twitter and a webpage...at least for now.

Keli Gwyn said...

Donna, sounds like you're happy doing your own thing. I like this: "I'm writing whatever I want...break-in, break-out, break-up!" Made me smile.

Have fun with your blogging buddies, and thanks for stopping by mine today.