Tag Archives: america

Thoughts on a Writer’s Life

The last two Thoughtful Thursdays I’ve been talking about Liberty, but as I mentioned during the blog on Big Brother and Big Government, Liberty is tough without having Life first.

On bigger levels, I hope that our leaders understand what they need to do to keep America safe.

On individual levels, there’s a lot we can do to safeguard ourselves, but today I want to talk about a writer’s life.

It’s not an easy life at times. If you’re not good with handling criticism or rejection, it’s probably not a good career choice.

If you’re in it for the big bucks, it’s probably also not a good choice.

If you’re in it because you have lots of stories in your head that you want to share with others — then a writer’s life is perfect for you!

So how is it that I decided to become a writer? If you’ve checked out my bio, you may know that in the fifth grade my teacher assigned a project – for us to write a book to be placed in a class lending library. The thought intrigued me so that I went home and started writing. When it came time to turn in the book, it was 120 typed pages (My poor mom worked at night for days to get it done!).

I knew then I writed a book, but for far longer than that, I’d had stories in my head.

I remember going to sleep at night and making up stories of princes, intrigue and sword fights (I always was on the dark side). The next night I would continue the story in my head, always moving it along.

After fifth grade, I started putting more and more ideas on paper and that continued throughout high school, college and even law school. So during all that time I was a writer.

Which brings me to the next thing – you don’t have to be published to be a writer. Writers write whether for just themselves or to share it with others. Thanks to the Internet, there are lots of ways to share your stories and satisfy the need to write.

So what made me decided to get published? For starters, and I am dating myself, there really wasn’t much in the way of the Internet back then for everyday people. The only way to share your stories was to go the traditional route of reaching out to a commercial publisher and having them buy your book.

With that in mind, I set out to get published and it took some time. At least six or seven years, but eventually it happened. I never gave up when I got rejection after rejection. I never lost sight of the dream that I had.

I also didn’t quit my day job. Which I guess brings me back to some tips I’d like to share with both pre-published and published writers!

1. Don’t quit your day job. Being a paid writer is an iffy proposition and economic worries will only be a drain on your creativity.

2. Don’t let rejection pull you down. You will not sell every novel you write. No one does (Well, except Nora Roberts although I’m sure she didn’t at first). Think of it as a ball game where .300 is a decent batting average. That’s one out of every 3 and ball players still get picked to play!

3. Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. You may participate in critique groups or get “good” rejection letters from editors and agents. Be open to changes that are suggested, but learn how to separate bad suggestions from the good. You’ll have to trust your gut about that.

4. Don’t be a diva. Be willing to make changes and listen to what others say, especially editors and agents.

5. Join a support group. There is a reason why AA and Weight Watchers work. You need to be surrounded by people who understand what you are going through and can share their experience with you. They will also hopefully provide information on what’s happening in the industry and help you make contacts. (It is now time for a shameless plug for my local writing group – the Liberty States Fiction Writers – who is holding a marvelous conference on March 13th!)

6. Stay active. Writing is a both a solitary and sedentary life. With respect to the sedentary, try to move around during stints of writing and get some exercise!

7. Don’t lose sight of your dream! It’s not an easy road, but if you turn back, you will never reach your destination.

Hope you enjoyed today’s thoughts on a writer’s life!

Thoughtful Thursday – A Wise Latina Woman Once Said . . .

That wisdom has nothing to do with race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

Much is being made of Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonya Sotomayor’s 2001 comments that she “would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Much should be made of that statement because it is either a statement made with poor judgment or one made with the conviction that she is better equipped to make a decision because she is a Latina woman. Either of the rationales for the statements is troubling.

As a judge and a person in the public eye, Sotomayor should at least be more circumspect when speaking. Being a fellow lawyer, we are taught to carefully consider what we say and write. To not do so and speak thoughtlessly can lead to repercussions, witnessed here by words that are coming back to haunt her.

Being a Latina who understands the whole underdog thing — my parents came here from Cuba, I wasn’t born here and didn’t speak English when I went to kindergarten, I went to a top tier college on a scholarship and to law school — I appreciate how hard Sotomayor has worked to get where she is.

But isn’t that underdog story typical of America? Isn’t that one of the wondrous things about this country? My husband’s grandparents all came here from Italy. Barely spoke English, but learned. Worked hard to buy homes, send their kids to school. Grand kids have prospered.

It’s the American dream. Work hard and prosper. Whether you’re white, black, brown, Italian, Cuban, Irish, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, America is the land of opportunity. Equal opportunity, sometimes not as equal as we would like, but certainly doable.

I should know. I did it. My parents did it. My husband’s grandparents did it. So did millions of others.

But back to Sotomayor. She did it and we should applaud her for it, but not just because she is a Latina woman.

You might remember that “just because” discussion from months back. The risks of making decisions based on “just because.”

When the nomination was mentioned, many people in the office looked to me and asked, “What do you think?”

I wondered, did they ask their white male counterparts right off the bat, or just me – the Latina Woman.

That’s one of the problems of “just because.” Everything you do is tainted by the “You got that (job/scholarship/nomination/published) just because you were (white, black, brown, Italian, Cuban, Irish, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim).”

Just because diminishes you and everything you do. It diminishes those around you and builds resentment.

If we are to nominate Judge Sotomayor to the Nation’s most important Court, please let it be on the basis of something other than just because.

I, for one, intend to read more about her and her decisions and you should as well. You can click here for the White House press release. Read about some of her decisions (links provided, although I do not vouch for their authenticity nor the opinions which may be expressed therein).

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/judge-sotomayor%E2%80%99s-opinions-with-dissents-%E2%80%93-part-i/

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/05/26/us/0526-scotus.html

http://ninthjustice.nationaljournal.com/2009/06/debate-continues-on-sotomayors.php

And do you know what? If you take even one minute to read one of these cases, you will be one up on Harry Reid, who said, “I understand that during her career, she’s written hundreds and hundreds of opinions. I haven’t read a single one of them, and if I’m fortunate before we end this, I won’t have to read one of them.” Courtesy Politico – click here for more.

Just some thoughts for you on this rainy Thursday.