Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Forward Motion

I'd like to welcome paranormal author Jacqui Jacoby to Terry's Place today. Working in both the fiction and non fiction world, Jacqui is a retired martial artist, as well as a workshop teacher, and student, having returned to school for a second B.A. Today she's talking about moving forward.

“Try starting on the second paragraph …” ~Lucien Carr

Forward motion makes the world go round in a very real, astronomical way. All that gravity and stuff … spinning planets, etc. It’s not something we really think of as we sit down to our computer to open our Facebook, check Twitters, open the day planner and then, finally, open that file we either love or hate, depending on the day of the week.

Forward motion creates and maintains a writer’s career, it writes the books in that file. It moves us in the right direction every time we start to type.

If you are a writer, just starting out, that new cursor blinking at you, waiting for you to type the first words can be scary. You have that whole novel in front of you and do not know what to expect.

If you are close to finishing your first story, then you have entered it in a few contests. You are awaiting the results, hoping for the agent or editor to say you did this right.

If you have finished that first book, won that contest, the book is now polished, ready to be submitted for representation.

Once you get representation, you wait for that first contract.

You get that first contract and then you wait for the second.

Then the five book deal …

… it does not matter how many steps you take in your writing; there are more to go. If you attend a conference and you go to the luncheon, there will be someone sitting to your right at the table who is four steps behind you, looking to you for support and encouragement. They will think wherever you are is where they wish they could be. To your left is a person four steps ahead. You will want to ask them questions about their journey.

Because all of us have a journey. All of us have a place to go as well as a place we have been. The secret to surviving and thriving is learning to juggle the two with equality. I learned from some of the best: Dean Kootnz, Suzanne Brockmann Nora Roberts. There is a talent to “arriving” in our job, to selling that book, that article, that -- whatever. You will be excited, but you have to, as they did, keep a level of humility that makes it possible to turn to that person four steps behind and ask “what can I do for you?”

You have paid your dues, now is time to teach some of what you know to the next generation coming up behind.

I got an e-mail just this week telling me I was famous.

I, of course, had to print this out and save it just so I could jokingly show my kids and prove to them that yes, I really do things at the computer besides update my blog and look at YouTube clips, that there is more in the package than “Mere Mom.”

But the e-mail made me pause. Made me wonder. Why? Why would someone say that? It was flattering, of course, and I don’t report it just so everyone realizes it happened. I say it because … don’t all of us that deserve that e-mail? Haven’t all of us done something to deserve that message?

Fame has never been a big deal with me. Either obtaining it or sitting across from it or sending it a letter. Whether a person is just starting out or already, arrived my tone of voice, my familiarity with the person I am speaking to, it will always be the same. I can think of at least two people high up on the fame food chain who would probably wish I was more reserved and less friendly and I can promise them, I am working on it – it’s just -- well -- besides the fact they are fun to talk to? I can blame it on Clive Cussler in one of the lessons he taught me when I sat with him in a bookstore, just the two of us: you have to keep looking back, remembering that you were once at the beginning, too. Remembering that is the only way you will ever move forward with class. His candor, his friendliness, that he may have given to me? I hope I have what he has and I can pass it on, too.

Sitting down to write a book it has got to be one of the most dedicated, mind numbing professions on the planet. We are creating real worlds with real people who otherwise would never be heard and that is an amazing feat.

But every step we take in our career, from that first blinking cursor to the day we hit send on the copy we are submitting, to a book on a shelf, it is all about forward motion. Every day we type -- forward motion. Everything we do in this job, in our lives, each and every day -- forward motion.

The trick, the balancing act, is to continue that forward motion on a daily basis, while looking over our shoulders at our past and remembering that even the people behind us, they are on the forward motion journey, too, and we can reach back and lend them a hand, making our forward even more amazing. Enjoy the trip because the experience is as good as the reward.

Dedicated to Lucien Carr (1925 – 2005), my hero this week. :)

(image credit for "forward motion" is here.)

For more about Jacqui, you can check out her two blogs, http://jaxsmovielist.blogspot.com/ and http://bodycountinc.blogspot.com/ She's also new to Twitter, and loves to follow and to be followed. Right now she's holding a contest for new followers-- win a copy of Stephen Kings "On Writing".


Lynne Marshall said...

Great blog. thank you, Jacqui!

Catch Them If I Can ... said...

You are welcome Lynne. This one actually hit really close to home for me as in the way it was written and as in how Mr. Carr's influence helped!! Really like to learn about the writer's who came before.

Elspeth Futcher said...

These are truly wise words. Every day we move forward - some days more than others! I needed to read this today. Thanks.

Cassidy McKay said...

Beautifully said, Jacqui!

I think this is true in so many aspects of life, including writing. As I watch my children make those forward strides (and the backwards ones), it's a privilege and a challenge to nudge them toward their individual paths in a way that inspires and doesn't discourage them.

Thank you for inspiring us to continue on our forward paths as well. Even though sometimes we experience the stop signs and detours that discourage us on our journey, it is encouragement like yours that move us forward again, and remind us to graciously lend a hand to the person behind us.


Catch Them If I Can ... said...

Elspeth and Cassidy -- thank you for saying such nice things. I really do hope that people do understand that we are all just in the same boat.

Catch Them If I Can ... said...

Explaining Lucien Carr:

This might give a little insight as to why I dedicated the piece to Lucien Carr. Mr. Carr was a writer with the United Press for -- I think it was thirty-five years. Since I started reading about him, I discovered he was a very fascinating, wise man:


Glynis Peters said...

A lovely post. The film Pay it Forward sprang to mind.

I have been encouraged by several published authors this past year, and have completed my novel. Without their guidance and support I might not have made it. They all reminded me they had been in my shoes at one point.

I found you via Patricia Stoltey, and I'll be back. :)

Annabelle Ambrosio said...

Enjoyed reading your post.
Ann Ambrosio

Catch Them If I Can ... said...

Hey Glynis, congrats on finishing your book!! Huge milestone and one you can always own.

Annabelle, thank you very much. I am glad you enjoyed.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post - it certainly is all about balance.

Terry Stonecrop said...

So touching and inspiring. Thank you! And so true. Keep moving forward but don't forget to turn around and lend a hand. I like the quote from Carr, too.

I worked as a news reporter for a few years and heard good things about Carr.

Great tribute to a great man:)

Catch Them If I Can ... said...

Thank you so much Terry for that wonderful comment on Mr. Carr. My first introduction to him was seeing the movie "Beat." Since then I have been trying to find a biography on him but so far without success. All I had read so far is on the Net and all of that was inspiring -- even the fire hose story!! :)

Terry Stonecrop said...

You're welcome, Jax:) Great post!

I find the Beats fascinating too. In my WIP I have a Beatnik character. She's the classic Hollywood Beatnik stereotype that the real Beats didn't like.

And, of course, the term Beatnik, referring to Sputnik, was meant as an insult. My MC mentions the Hollywood thing.

Now I have to go and find that fire hose story!

Catch Them If I Can ... said...

LOL ... the fire hose story was great!! Really showed that he, as the glue of the movement, had a sense of humor. Okay, maybe it was a little far, but I liked it. I have found several books that deal with the movement and with William Boughs -- didn't spell that right, did I -- but none on just Carr himself and I would have thought someone would have written that. He had another great quote, too, and that is listed on Wiki.

There is a photo of both the actors portraying Carr and Ginsberg on my blogs as well as a *great* shot of the men themselves.


Terry Stonecrop said...

Check! Cool pix!

Cee Dunsheath said...

As always, Jax, I find your posts illuminating. This one makes me wonder how many more novels would be written if people didn't get sidetracked by ego or jealousy, or the most treacherous detour of them all: self-doubt.

Not a big fan of Carr's myself, but I'm a huge believer in remembering where we came from, being grateful to those who've helped us along the way, and doing whatever we can to lighten the load of our fellow travelers.

So thanks, Jax, and thanks, Terry -- always enjoy surfing through your site!


Catch Them If I Can ... said...

Cee, as one of the most talented writers I know, I do know you do not let ego get in the way of your work -- you just write amazing things and then let us bask in the wonderfulness of it. You are going to do amazing things and I am going to sit back and collect my five bucks on our bet!!


Terry Odell said...

Thanks to Jacqui, and to everyone who stopped by today. A great post.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good point! Plowing ahead is the biggest part of getting a first draft written.

Anonymous said...

Great post Jacqui. Thanks for the inspiration.

Susan May

Jasmine said...

Wow, that was so inspiring! I'm definately going to be the kind that helps other authors. Of course, I'd have to reach fame first...

Catch Them If I Can ... said...

Jasmine ... no fame necessary!! Trust me!! :)