Is it nap time yet?
Winter's a tough season for me, particularly January and February when I battle an overpowering urge to hibernate. Were I independently wealthy, I'd sleep nearly as much as any of my cats. That urge to hibernate turns normally fun activity into drudgery and normal drudgery into...well...let's just say that my usually lackadaisical housekeeping takes a nosedive. You wouldn't want to visit my house during winter. I don't even want to visit my house during winter.
This seasonal attitude affects my writing. Last night, I managed to write maybe a little over a thousand words in Russian Dawn. I couldn't even begin to tell whether the content was any good, so absent is my enthusiasm for anything that doesn't resemble snuggling beneath the covers and sleeping the days away until spring. Hell, I'm not even all that interested in reading anything.
But, it's gotta be done. I can't stop just because my energy levels hover somewhere between comatose and lucid dreaming. I must continue to solicit clients, to chase down freelance projects, to write my books.
This is why New Year's resolutions fail. It's not because people don't want to succeed; it's because doing what's necessary to survive takes everything we've got and leaves nothing to spare for luxuries like goals.
There's a big, gorgeous Victorian house for sale in Dawson, GA, where winters are mild and summer swelters. But the sky above generally beams down sunshine, a contrast to the Miami Valley, which averages 188 cloudy days per year. In fact, of the 10 cloudiest cities in the USA, three of them are in Ohio: Cleveland (202), Columbus (190), and Cincinnati, (186). Seattle, WA and Portland, OR top the list, first and second respectively, but no other cities in Washington or Oregon make that list. The only state that comes close to Ohio in cloudiness is New York (Buffalo and Rochester).
So, yeah, I'll plug away at Russian Dawn and hope that I can finish it by my self-imposed deadline of March 31. If it doesn't happen, check my bed. I'll be hibernating.
Rejection, all part of the game
No career is built without rejection. Every hopeful applicant submits resume after resume, only to be rejected until that final acceptance comes through. Every service provider submits proposal after proposal, chasing after more projects than the company could possibly handle, because company executives know that rejections far outnumber acceptances. Therefore, it's no surprise that rejection flavors a writer's life, too.
Rejection comes in various levels, from the mysterious black hole into which synopses and cover letters disappear without ever receiving a response to brutal "you suck" reviews to gentle "we liked it, but it's not for us" replies. Personally, I find the black hole approach the most offensive.
Today I received a gentle rejection from Pulp Literature Press. I submitted a short story to them in response to a call for submissions and then promptly forgot about having done so. The rejection stated that two editors considered my story, but finally decided that it just didn't make the cut. That's actually encouraging. Not as encouraging as an acceptance, but it came with an invitation to submit again.
That encouragement comes as validation. My writing doesn't suck. Perhaps it's not quite what was wanted, but it didn't suck.
Writers are a needy bunch. We need validation, if only to justify what we do. Since the work we put out for the public to see bears our names and oftentimes a piece of our souls, we're desperate for validation. One might think that multitudes of favorable recommendations might result in a writer's swollen ego, but every writer knows that the next scathing, confidence-crushing critique could be seconds away.
It's difficult to put yourself on display for the world's criticism, because the general public isn't known for its kindness. Any writer who embarks upon a career as a published writer must develop a thick hide if only for self-protection against constant rejection, blatant and lurking in the shadows. The writer must also develop a way to dig the good from even cruel reviews, learn from them, and use that cruelty to improve one's craftsmanship.
For a writer, failure isn't rejection. Failure is quitting. Writers who don't write cannot call themselves writers. For some of us, not writing is not an option. We write because we must. The production of content then compiles into at least a small measure of success to which one can point and say, "I did that. I created that."
How not to solicit business
I received the following solicitation today from a vendor seeking to be hired as a proofreader:
I won't proofread the vendor's solicitation, because I'm sure you, dear reader, can see for yourself that it's riddled with errors. It boggles the mind why anyone advertsing his or her expertise as a proofreader would circulate such a stellar example of incompetence. Frankly, this vendor ought to be embarrassed. Don't tell me offer expert proofreading services in a solitation that shows no evidence of such.
Another way to be dismissed as a contender for my busines is to fail to read and follow instructions. Although direction to insert a certain word or phrase at the beginning of the proposal may be irksome, it does indicate those vendors who actually read and understand the RFP. When soliciting for a Facebook marketing guru, I received 17 proposals. Of them, only one--yes, just one--vendor bothered to read the RFP and respond accordingly. He's the one I hired.
Yet another way to eliminate yourself from consideration is to over-promise and under-deliver. If I should ask for a vendor to edit a document and give a deadline of a week for delivery, don't promise me that you'll have it done overnight for $5. If I give someone a week for delivery, then I have a very good understanding that the project can't be performed to satisfaction in a smal fraction of that time. I'll know that you'll do a poor job and you won't get my business. If I have a project and don't know what it will take to complete, then I'll request the vendor's estimated delivery time in the RFP.
Of course, that works both ways. If I'm the vendor and the prospective buyer suggests an out-of-whack delivery deadline, I will state in my proposal a deadline that's realistic for me to do the best job I can on that project. I provide such responses to prospective buyers seeking a 100,000-word novel in a month. Ain't gonna happen, folks.
Some buyers place greater value on speed and quantity than on quality. That's their prerogative. I don't deal with those buyers. As my husband says, you can ask for fast, cheap, and good, but you'll only get two of the three. If you choose fast and cheap, then you won't get good. If you choose fast and good, then you won't get cheap. If you choose good and cheap, then you won't get fast.
I tend to combine fast and good. I don't to settle for cheap--either in the vendors I hire or in the projects I serve.