Monday, May 21, 2012

What to do with Awards

Last weekend I spent sixteen hours with David Wolverton/Farland.  I couldn't help but notice how every writer has a different take on the writing business.

I learned some simple, valuable things about writing itself.  So simple that I could share it super quick.

*Start your story with pain- usually emotional.
*The middle of a novel is all about escalation
*Know your outer arc vs. the inner arc of your protagonist
*For YA girls, it's all about wonder, romance and adventure
*For YA boys, it's wonder and adventure
*For middle grade boys and girls, it's wonder, humor, adventure and horror
*Adults don't really get into drama novels until later in life
*You can make money writing books, but it can also take forever to do it

That's not even really a nutshell of the weekend, but it's what's been floating around in my head.

Now for awards.  David loves to brag.  shrug.  I mean, he has the coolest stuff ever to brag about, but he loves to shamelessly brag.  Or maybe to him, it's not bragging, it's simply a reflection of his experiences.

He used to be Stephanie Meyer's professor.  And Brandon Sanderson's.  And he taught Dan Wells.  And probably hundreds of other super successful writers.  He told Scholastics to push Harry Potter when it came to America as an unknown.

He's made lots of money.

And, he's won awards.

He's not afraid to tell you any of this stuff.  In fact, he loves talking about it.  Which, I have to admit, was a foreign feel to me.  It didn't even rub me wrong, it just felt weird to hear someone talk about cool stories and huge successes for two days.

We always hear about failures.  How hard the road was.  People usually slip the rest under the rug and hope you know how fabulous they really are without telling you.

So what did I learn from this?

If you don't tell people what you've done, they won't know.  People do want to know.

I bet that when you read that he used to teach Stephanie Meyer, you were suddenly interested in who David Farland was.  Or, have you heard the whole story of how he was a significant part of why Harry Potter went big?  But you want to, I bet.

Bragging, boasting, telling the truth.  We've been trained only to tell our failings.  It's sort of a society norm.

What about the good things?  Keep it a secret.  You must appear modest.

And then no one will know that you can do anything.

You can see why I raised my hand and asked what good would it do me to have a gold seal on a bunch of books that aren't in any stores.  A book that if I do get published by a big press, won't even be recognized as a book at all.  Isn't that like not winning the award in the first place?

No.  I had it all wrong.  He told me to tell everyone.

It's an international book contest.  International.  It doesn't even matter that you've never heard of the contest- it's still proof that I CAN WRITE.  Not just cruddy, mediocre junk, but GOOD stuff.

Whoa.  It feels weird to brag.  Wrong even.  But that's what we're supposed to do in the book industry.  If we don't tell people that we're good, they won't know.

A whole committee took the time to decide that my writing was above other things out there.  For that, I owe them and myself the recognition that they were probably right. 

I don't know about you, but this is a whole new way of thinking.  Try it.  Start telling people what you did right and see what happens.  And, if you have a similar story to share, please tell me.  I would love to hear.


L.T. Elliot said...

Congratulations! I never knew you won that award! That's amazing and I'm so proud of you! I'm really, really glad you decided to share it and you're right, you should. You did a good job! What was the contest like?

Laura said...

Thanks L.T. It was easy. Submit book and wait. Isn't that sort of how most contests go? Anyway, when I got the award in the mail, I felt like throwing it away. It didn't count. But David changed my mind. Thanks for stopping by!

Leslie Pugh said...

I agree that I think you should tell everyone! That is a fantastic award and now I want to read your book! (I just discovered your blog otherwise I probably would have read it by now). I agree that it's a foreign idea though and I think it would take me a while to learn to be as bold as he was in sharing accomplishments, but I seriously agree that you deserve to tell everyone!

Christy said...

Gotta love Dave. :) And he has great advice. Thanks for sharing what you learned. And congrats on the contest! Even if we are not bestsellers in every bookstore, at least we are working on our talents and sharing them with others who love to read them!