Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What the Carpe?

We're past the half-way mark for 2013 and maybe you're wondering, What's all this Carpe Annum stuff? What does it mean for me and what should I be doing to Carpe Annum --Seize the Year!

The six of us made a choice at the end of 2012: that 2013 would be the year that each one of us took control of our careers in new, important ways. We wanted to share that gusto with you this year and we hope each time you've visited the blog or our Facebook page you've come away encouraged, challenged, and ready to face your next blank page.

So, here you are writing your heart out, Carpe Annum-ing all over the place but no one seems to notice. Publishers aren't clamouring to sign you to a six book deal. Agents yawn in your general direction. Even your critique group seems a little cool when you read your work aloud. What's the point of all this Carpe if no one is rewarding you for all your efforts?

Good question.

The point is that publishing, being agented, or being the darling of your critique group was never the point of Carpe Annum. Confused? Here's a checklist to keep you on the Carpe Annum track:

1) I've stared down my fear of telling the truth. Biggest obstacle for every writer of fiction is, perhaps not surprisingly, the fear of utter truth telling. The whole human experience white gloves to red knuckles, sunset kisses to warts on your knees. If you've kicked the habit of hiding behind pretty words and faced raw humanity head on, you've Carped your Annum, baby.

2) I've stared down my fear of agents, publishers, editors, etc. They are just human beings with a job to do, same as you and me. No one publisher holds the keys to your writing career. No single boo-boo on your proposal is going to cause an agent to laugh hysterically and toss your hard work in the trash. It's nonsense to waste time and energy fearing a system that is in place to assist talented writers. If you've been patient, professional, and kept your cool in the face of the query/proposal/one-page two-step, you've Carped your Annum, baby.

3) I've stopped comparing my writing to other writers. Comparing only brings bad things: jealousy or pride, despair or false security, writer's block or pages of purple prose. You're not a better writer than he/she is, you're not a worse one. You're you. Forging your own path. There is no time to waste wondering what another writer is working on. There is only your path. If you've stopped comparing your work to another writer's work, you've Carped your Annum, baby.

4) I've stopped comparing my success as a writer with another writer's success. See above.

5) When people ask me what I do I tell them, "I'm a writer." When they laugh, I laugh with them and then say, "It is funny. But I'm still a writer." If you've started thinking of yourself as a writer, you've Carped your Annum, baby.

How many can you check off? Which ones are you still working on? In what other ways have you Carped your Annum, baby?


Megan Sayer said...

Good list. I like performance indicators like this. And I'm proud to say I've carped my annum so far pretty well, even tricky ones like number 4. Well, it was either that or let my annum carpe me. Some years you wade through mud, others you wrestle with crocodiles.
Here's to seizing the crocodiles!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Yes--hadn't read your Carpe Annum post, but I can tell you that 2013 is THE year this "little red hen" takes matters into her own hands and makes something happen for her writing. In a day and age when self-pubbing is such a viable option, waiting for the gatekeepers to get on board with your slightly-out-of-the-box book topic/genre/whatever just doesn't make sense anymore. I'm still pursuing the traditional route...but hybrid author-dom is calling my name. 2013--the last year my writing life is on hold. I'm going all-in, baby, or all-out. Thanks for the encouraging post today!

Marian said...

Thanks to Novel Matters I stopped thinking that writing a novel was beyond me. I also stopped thinking I had to get it right the first time. Thanks to Novel Matters I am actually enjoying the experience.

I faced the fear of telling the truth even when I hear the voices telling me to avoid it. I haven't gone very deep. It's been scary enough just scratching the surface.

I met with an agent who told me how much work I still had to do. This actually gave me hope even though it means a lot of work.

I still compare my work to other writers and come up wanting.

I hardly ever call myself a writer.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I got an 'eh' review from someone I know. As soon as I read it (which I NEVER should have), her voice infiltrated my brain and became the negative internal voice. Isn't that crazy? But I know you all understand.

Part of my carping adventure is to silence her voice. Remember that she's not evil. Brush it off as the book not being "her flavor" and move on.

Carpe Annum to me, this week (because it seems to change from week to week) is determining which voice I listen to.

Cherry Odelberg said...

Onward and forward! Keep reminding myself that I am living as though I have only 365 days to live - I just wish it would be a bit cushier.

I agree with Susie^ as to which voice I listen to.
Because we are writers, we have an entire thesaurus of vocabulary to beat ourselves up with (with which to beat up ourselves). I continually flog myself. I am so responsible, I will take the blame for anything. No making excuses about the state of the publishing industry or etc. No, it must be ME that is the cause of my own difficulties.
The only thing that works? Putting one foot in front of the other (literally and figuratively) and following my heart.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Bonnie, what a good reminder to all of us that this writing life is OUR life and we need to take control, face down our fears, and forge ahead. I've had a really good month of writing and it's spurring me on to continue. Rather than a vicious circle, it's a visionary circle, where the more I accomplish, the more I want to accomplish. I'm carpe-ing my annum, baby.

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