By Lyn Fairchild Hawks-
Why do I love C. Hope Clark’s protagonist Carolina Slade? She’s relentless in the pursuit of truth. She steps around those who say “no.” She’s a maverick tuned straight into reality — a heroine with her feet in clay, not ether.
Writers need this persistence. We shrug off rejection, doubt, and the unknown. This gig ain’t for flakes. Most days, nobody cares what you do. But anything worth doing plays by this rule: There will be long, unsung hours in the clay — what I call The Slog.
Think about the Nobel Prize recipients in Physics. Englebert and Higgs discovered the Higgs-Boson, aka the God particle, in 1954. Fifty-nine years passed with no one knowing their names. What’d they do in the meantime? Kept working. Followed their passion. Writers in it for the long haul know work never stops; the mountaintop is never “achieved.” No matter who notices, we must love the invisible toil.
In a culture where fans scream for blood after a few losses and baby stars emerge from nowhere, we can feel like failures. The impatient crowd wants it yesterday. When we can’t deliver this instant, we ask, Can I do this? To survive my writer’s journey, I’ve had to cheer myself along and reignite my love affair with writing.
When I began reading FundsforWriters, I had a pile of unknown stories and a novel languishing after 15 years. Hope’s words comforted me, as did leads from Poets & Writers. I began submitting to contests and magazines. Every time I got a submission confirmation, I got a ping of validation.
Since childhood I’ve read voraciously, so I made time for this love. I embarked on my personal MFA to study great writers, annotating religiously. Then I returned to my rough stuff, inspired. I found supportive writers’ groups. People said nice, tough things, motivating me to revise.
In 2008 a small-circulation magazine accepted a story. Then in 2009, I won a contest. I spent the money on a laptop. This inspired me to start a novel about a teen girl obsessed with Michael Jackson. I got up mornings before work and in six months wrote a draft. I had no idea there would be 25 more.
I continued to follow Hope’s journey. Through her I found Nathan Bransford’s and Rachelle Gardner’s blogs. I joined Querytracker. I began querying agents and after 150 emails, found one in 2011. I was a finalist for the James Jones Fellowship and denied a grant. I parted ways with my agent in 2012. I re-applied for the grant in 2012 and got it. (FundsforWriters lead!)
Now I’ve published two books: a YA novel and a short-story collection. I have a beautiful website (thank you, Shaila Abdullah!). Check out my trailer, signings, and other news at lynhawks.com.
I’ve learned to love The Slog this way:
•Subscribe to newsletters like FFW.
•Submit to publications, contests, and grants. Make deadlines and new drafts.
•Have a goal each day and week. Check off lists. See progress.
•Make sacred writing time. Defend it like your firstborn.
•Go for The Personal MFA. Revel in words.
•Talk to artists who celebrate ups and suffer downs. (I married a musician.)
•Keep your beloved pet nearby. (My mewse, Sonny, purrs me through drafts.)
•Find beta readers to keep your story alive.
•Celebrate what goes well, like the encouraging rejection.
•Give yourself a daily reward, like a latté. (Caffeine Rewards Program)
Find every way to fan the flames of writing love. Be a true fan of you. That’s how this writer does the long haul.
Lyn Fairchild Hawks is the author of a YA novel, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought; and a collection of short stories, The Flat and Weightless Tang-Filled Future. She is also author of several works for educators. In the last few years, she has won a James Jones First Novel Fellowship prize and an Elizabeth George Foundation grant. As Lyn is married to a musician, Greg Hawks, and stepmom to Henry, an aspiring filmmaker, their North Carolina home hums with the soundtracks of clawhammer banjo, classic films, and chattering computer keys.
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