By Debbie Kaufman
I was my own wedding planner, not something that I would ever recommend that you do yourself if you can avoid it. My husband and I paid for, planned, and arranged all but the small reception afterwards. My dear Aunt Frances stepped in and offered to take care of the cake and punch reception, an offer we gladly accepted.
It wasn't until I started the planning process that I realized what kind of a committment I was making to the event itself. I'd thought about the committment I was making to the man that I loved, but to the wedding itself, not really. Who knew that there were so many details and decisions surrounding a twenty minute ceremony? Dealing with the invitations alone was enough to invoke a migraine. What kind of paper, color of paper (really, how many shades of white and ivory are there?)font style, font color, wording, type of envelope, and, of course, how many to order. Don't even get me started on what's involved in creating the guest list. So many details when all I wanted to do was walk down the aisle looking beautiful, make and hear promises of eternal love, and be pronounced married. Instead, I was forced to make a decision and be knowledgeable about everything including what utensil to use for cutting the wedding cake.
The whole process strongly resembles my decision to embark on a writing career. I'd considered the committment I was making to the stories I wanted to tell, but to the union of manuscript and publication, not really. Frankly, what I've learned is that it's not just about writing a great story, it's also about all the details before, during and after writing a great story. It's that attention to detail that gets the manuscript to publication. Fortunately, while I can't afford a publicist and don't yet have an agent, there is still the internet. Boy, wish we'd had that when I was planning my wedding.
So, instead of invitations and utensils, now I immerse myself in manuscript formats, the proper approach to query letters, agent and editor research, which on-line classes to take, which blogs to follow (so many great ones, so little time), and a host of other details. Just like wedding planning, and the married life afterward, approaching writing as a career is not for sissies. You've got to be committed without losing site of your objective.
So, I've struck a balance. I spend a limited amount of time each week working on the planning details. Consider just one aspect of this planning - the realm of contests. For me, this means that I've researched contests to enter and usually choose them based not only the quality of the feedback I'll receive, but also on the agent or editor that will see my work if I make the finals. This involves taking the research one step further to learn more about the agent or editor. I think this is important because, although I do want to be published, I want to be smart about it and find the right home for my story and the right person, one I would be comfortable working with long-term. So I google them, I read blogs where they have been a guest. I learn all I can before I choose to put my work in front of this person. And then I pay my fee, follow ALL the contest rules, and hope for a good response.
And, I plan for the eventuality of a negative response. After all, details are important...
Now, there's more to my planning than this. I carefully consider online classes, I blog for a bit of pre-published publicity, I'm working on a website (Okay, my daughter is working on a website for me since I'm designed challenged), and I regularly attend my local Georgia Romance Writer's meetings. There's a lot to learn in the writing business. When it all comes together for me, I don't want to just publish a manuscript, I want to go all in and make the committment to writing as a business. I don't want my manuscript to be the blushing bride, but one that makes an editor stand up and take notice. The one that stands out from all the others they've recently read, and I'm willing to do what it takes for that to happen.
What about you? What have you committed to do or to learn about the business of writing?
(All photo images copyrighted and used with permission of Onesixphotography.com)