I shambled in from DFWWCon dirty, tired, with no voice, out of energy but filled with hope. It’s been such a privilege for me to stick with this job long enough to watch it evolve. I’ve even witnessed WANA grow from an acronym in e-mails from my original editor to whittle down typing OUT my first book title (We Are Not Alone) to a binding movement where writers of all levels refer to themselves as WANAs. All genres, all forms of publishing welcome.
We don’t make you dance with snakes until your third meeting *wink, wink* :D .
WANA has always been about love and service instead of self. I believe WANA is the connective tissue that makes writers stronger in craft and spirit—writers knowing they are stronger together than apart. WANA has always had this wonderful mix of sage pros mingling with bright-eyed newbies.
The pros help the new authors become more grounded and educated in the business or craft. Newbies refresh our spirits. They fill us with the wonder and magic of youth, the vigor that reminds us why we write. I believe we share the same message from different points in a timeline. Keep pressing. Keep going. Keep loving what you do.
We are NOT alone.
Have You Heard of Gluten-Free Jesus?
Okay, I am not meaning to be irreverent but I am living proof God has a sense of humor. I’m from Texas and part of our culture is church (we go shooting after :D ). In other states they might ask where you work, we might inquire where you go to church. Vacation Bible School is a staple of childhood.
We’ve just been through the Easter season and I SO love where we go to church, namely because when we had communion on Maundy Thursday there were two baskets of communion wafers.
So I am standing in line with Hubby. Music’s playing. We are all feeling the love. I lean over to Hubby and whisper, “So do I just ask for the Gluten-Free Body of Christ?” ….and he ribs me and says something about how he can’t take me anywhere which is true so I don’t argue.
Blessed are the Peacemakers
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you my belief system hasn’t affected how I’ve developed WANA or helped writers. I believe love trumps all. Love of writing will overcome the nagging self-doubt and the legions of people telling us we are fools for trying. Love for each other is what keeps us going when we go through the wilderness, those withering empty times when we start reconsidering Aunt Thelma’s suggestion that medical billing might be a better career choice. WANAs bind together for more than book sales.
We are a family who will love you and be there even when it’s ugly.
But one of the core tenets of WANA has always been we are united by love. Love for each other as human beings and artists. WANA has never taken sides in writing or publishing.
It might have been easier or more sensational for me to blast NY and call for it to be burned to the ground. Conversely, maybe I’d have had more friends in traditional publishing if I labeled all of self-publishing a gaggle of hacks. But, blessedly I have friends I adore and admire in all realms of publishing because authentic love is always balanced with truth. What is the truth?
Stories will live on. Stories are like Mother Nature. We humans could nuke the planet into a shell of itself and I guarantee you something green will poke through a crack in an irradiated parking lot somewhere. Same with writing. The institutions that govern HOW our stories reach those who want to hear them are less important than the art. WANAs are blindly devoted to great stories, not business models.
A Tale of Two Siblings
My POV? Traditional NY publishing is the older child and self-pub/indie is the younger annoying sibling. I’ve loved both and seen the strengths and weaknesses each has offer. If you read my newest book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World I feel I’m even-handed. I praise and chastise both.
Bluntness is my superpower.
Not all artists are wired for indie. It is BRUTAL. The flip side? Not all artists are wired for traditional. It is BRUTAL.
They call me the WANA Mama and it SO fits. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to break up two kids fighting.
Traditional: He doesn’t even have a STORY and yet he can publish!
Self-Pub: She is SO full of herself and won’t let me even try!
Me: Knock it off before I hairlip both of you. Trad, let your brother try. He only learns by doing. Selfie, you have to learn the rules before you can break them.
Traditional: But he is publishing a Zombie-Self-Help!!!
Me: Okay, Trad. Selfie might have a point. Texting? Real Housewives of the OC? Selfie, Trad has a point. Don’t come crying to me when no one buys it. Now both of you go play Battleship before I make you pull weeds.
Dear Gluten-Free Jesus, give me strength to love both these kids and not kill them.
So the point of all this, other than being able to use the term “Gluten-Free Jesus” is I am finally, after years of playing referee, seeing both kids learn to play together and appreciate each other. Sure, Trad has convinced Selfie that he can jump off the roof using an umbrella because Penguin from Batman does it all the time. And Selfie still reads Trad’s diary and tells the neighborhood all the best dirt. But, all in all? They’re learning to see the GOOD each has to offer. Combine strengths and buffer each other’s weaknesses.
Selfie has taught Trad that social media is NOT a fad, rather a fundamental shift in human communication. He’s made Trad appreciate some newer and ways of doing things *cough e-books* and to remember writing is FUN. Try NEW THINGS. Trad, however, is the older kid and is teaching Selfie that quality can trump quantity. She tells him to listen to his teachers. Appreciate those who’ve gone before and be humble enough to learn something. Not every thought that flits across our brain makes a book others want to BUY.
Thankfully, Optimism is my other superpower. I’d longed for a day where the lines would blur and the kids would play well together. Trad would stop putting Selfie in a chokehold and Selfie would stop feeding the dog the game pieces in order to win.
This conference left me on such a high. I always believed “the kids” would finally see what they had in common. Love. Love for stories and telling those stories and getting them to people who wanted to enjoy those stories. I always believed this new era would weed out people who are in our industry for the wrong reasons.
Agents who loved great books and good writers would innovate and thrive. Publishers who appreciated great books would evolve. Writers in this for more than a get-rich-quick would endure and everyone would have a chance to prove he or she has the right stuff. With the right attitude, this is the best time in human history to be in this business.
It is still a tough industry and not everything is as clean or just as it could be. But, by the grace of Gluten-Free Jesus we’re getting there ;) .
What are your thoughts? Do you see traditional and nontraditional playing nicer, sharing, and learning from each other? Are you excited about the future? That you don’t have to choose which kid you love more?
I will announce April’s winner after waking from the conference coma in a couple days.
If you want more help with plot problems, antagonists, structure, beginnings, then I have a FANTASTIC class coming up to help you!
CLASS COMES WITH HANDOUTS AND FREE RECORDING.
Understanding the Antagonist
If you are struggling with plot or have a book that seems to be in the Never-Ending Hole of Chasing Your Tail or maybe you’d like to learn how to plot a series, I am also teaching my ever-popular Understanding the Antagonist Class on May 10th from NOON to 2:00 P.M. (A SATURDAY). This is a fabulous class for understanding all the different types of antagonists and how to use them to maintain and increase story tension.
Remember, a story is only as strong as its problem ;) . This is a GREAT class for streamlining a story and making it pitch-ready.
Additionally, why pay thousands for an editor or hundreds for a book doctor? This is a VERY affordable way to make sure your entire story is clear and interesting. Also, it will help you learn to plot far faster and cleaner in the future.
Again, use WANA10 for $10 off.
I’ll be running the First Five Pages again at the end of May, so stay tuned.