Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My name is Cara Lockwood, and I am a Slacker

Yes, I admit it. I've been a total slacker. Have I posted anything here the last week? No. Have I done much writing? Um, sort of. Have I had a few Mai Tais, spent last night getting an Origins facial with my best buds, and had a pedicure? Yes, yes, and yes. By the way, thanks Jordan for the Origins facial (Jordan won facials and invited us all along - Bless her).

It's because of weeks like these that my husband is pretty skeptical of all that "pressure" I'm under to write novels and how much "hard work" it is to write. Anyhow, my apologies for slacking and leaving you hanging. I realize the "Mai Tai/facial" excuse is right up there with "let them eat cake." But it falls under the "recharge my creative batteries" clause of being a writer, in which any and all slacking, including lying on the couch and watching a Lifetime Movie marathon, can be essential to the creative process.

Speaking of finding that creative spark, Sam writes:

After buying, reading, and passing around your books, my friends and I have developed a small following for your books. Oi. Ok that sounded better in my head. Long story short, we think you're fab. Moving on...

For as long as I can remember I've wanted to write a really great book. The only problem is, I get really weirded out by people reading what I write. I was curious if that's just some weird quirk I have, or if that's common?

First of - small following! Excellent. I'll take any kind of following, I swear. Small, medium, large - whatever you've got. That is, unless you expect me to actually lead you somewhere, because I've got a lousy sense of direction. True story: when I first learned to drive, Mom asked me to take us to the grocery store, which was literally a half-mile away. I had to ask her which way I was supposed to go. Yeah, cause me so smart.

Second, it is very hard to get used to the idea of having other people read what you write. Even now, if my hubby glances over my shoulder while I'm writing, I'll pretty much freak out on him, shouting, "Don't READ it, you fool! It's not ready!" as if it's a soufflé that might deflate by breathing on it. Then again, maybe my extreme reaction might be related to the fact that he'll sometimes read something I wrote and conclude: "I don't think I'm the target audience" and leave it at that.

That being said, I have come a long way in letting my work go. Part of it came from the fact that I used to be a newspaper writer, and had some pretty brutal editors. When I was an intern, I had an editor who seriously once shouted from his cube, "Who wrote this shit? It's SHIT!" Um, that would be me? Anyhow, this toughened me up a little bit, but frankly, I'm still sensitive. A bad Amazon review makes me want to spend the day in bed.

I wish I had a magic bullet to making the weirdness of having other people read your stuff go away. The only thing I can say is that if you do let someone read it, and they genuinely love it, that's the best high in the world. It's completely worth risking the rejection. If you never take the risk, then you'll never know.

My best advice is work on something for awhile; get it into the shape you like. If you feel confident it's good, chances are it is! Give it to someone you trust to read it, and don’t watch them read it. You don't want to be there if they don't laugh at the right parts, or worse - they laugh at the wrong parts. Trust me on that one. Not to mention, staring at them hopefully will probably make them nervous, unless they’re like my husband and immune to peer pressure.

If for some reason some fool thinks it's anything less than fabulous, then I recommend the company of good friends, some Mai Tais and a facial -- they pretty much cure almost anything that ails you.


Jessica said...

First of all everyone needs a little Mai-Tai in there life. Second I was so excited that you responded to my first comment I made my Boyfriend get out of bed and read it. ( He wasn't as excited as I was... Hmm, oh well.) I do have a question though, how do you come up with the characters in your novels? Are they based on real people?

Samantha M said...

Thanks so much for your reply. It's nice to know that I'm not alone on that one.

I'll definitely order myself a copy of the movie.

Good luck on the next ones... I'll be stalking the bookstore for them.


Terri B. said...

With regard to sharing your writing with others, I used to have a big hang up about that. But then I decided to give something to a friend of mine who I knew would be honest (but not brutally so) in her assessment of it. Not only did she read it but she wrote me a very encouraging note telling me which parts were her favorite, etc... Now when I feel discouraged I will go back and read that note (along with the e-mail Cara sent me a while back). My friend also stays on me to write and that's a good thing. I think the trick is to be selective when deciding what person to give your work to. Don't give it to your toxic friends, the ones who are always negative about EVERYTHING.

Jen Steve said...

I'm Sam's friend, and she has definitely recruited me into the following.

And it's not a far cry from the truth when she says she'll be stalking the bookstore for your next book. I've witnessed the chaos.

Good luck and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Monica said...

cara, you give great advice! don't let those bad amazon reviews upset you- i don't know what those people are talking about.

Cara Lockwood said...

Hi guys!

Being stalked in a bookstore! Wow! I really have made it. Sweet.

And Jessica - you're hilarious. I'm sorry the Boyfriend wasn't as excited as you were, but if he's anything like my husband anything not sports or music related is not worth thinking about.

Great advice, Terri! I call that a Writing Cheerleader - somebody who is going to give you really encouraing, yet honest, advice.

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