Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Diary vs. Dear Blogosphere

If someone were to sneak onto my computer and start reading my journal, they might be mildly interested, or curious, or intrigued for, oh, maybe two posts, at which point they’d start withering with boredom and go watch Psych reruns. Mind you, I like my journal and find it interesting, but it tends to be extremely repetitive. Reason why: I often use my journal to vent.

I know. I’m not sure my posterity will find it very inspirational. But I’m a writer. When I’m feeling stressed about something, it helps me if I can pour words onto a computer screen. Thus I end up with stretches where, post after post, I’m wringing my hands over the same thing, over and over (maybe I can do a “best of” series and leave that for my descendants so they don’t have to wade through the whole record, bless them).

When I’m worried about something writing-related, I write about it. For instance, when I’m waiting to hear back on a manuscript, that’s prime journal venting--er, journal writing time. “They’ve had the book for (fill in the blank) amount of time . . . will I hear back soon . . . will they like it . . . what if they don’t like it . . . here’s my plan for what to do if they don’t like it . . . will they like it . . . what if they reject it . . . what if my sales numbers aren’t good enough . . .” repeat, ad nauseam. Well, nauseam for anyone else. I like to hear myself talk about it.

As any writer could tell you, worry is one of the occupational hazards of being an author. I write, therefore I worry. I seek to publish, therefore I worry. I check Goodreads too often, therefore I worry. I worry, therefore I vent—but I’m careful what I say in public. I can vent my stress in my journal to my heart’s content, but my angst-filled entries aren’t floating around out there for anyone to see. Say I’m stung and annoyed about something a reviewer said and think she missed the mark—but no way am I going to challenge her in public because that’s just plain dumb, and bad author manners to boot. Instead, I can dump some stress into my journal (and complain privately to people I trust, like my husband).

When I was dealing with a particularly painful rejection, two successful, established authors gave me the same advice: don’t advertise it. If I started talking publicly about how my book was rejected, it was going to give the wrong impression. People who didn’t understand the publishing industry would assume the book was rejected because it wasn’t good enough (in this particular case, that wasn’t the problem). I took their advice to heart and was careful about what I said publicly and how I said it.

Recently, an agent or editor—I’m sorry, I can’t remember who it was; if someone saw the post, can you remind me so I can link to them?—was advising authors to be careful about detailing their path-to-publication saga by posting things like rejection letters, rants about agents, or what have you. You don’t want a bunch of negative stuff sitting on your blog when a potential agent googles you. Save the vents for private venues—which is not to say you can never publicly express any frustration or disappointment. But I think we want to be careful to present ourselves online they way we want potential/current agents or editors to see us—and that includes being careful of what we say on social media sites such as Facebook. My editor mentioned to me once that things authors post on social media sites often get back to the publisher. So make sure when you say something publicly, you don't mind if your publisher/potential publisher hears it.

So be wise, and I promise to never make you read my journal.

(For an article from business columnist Evil HR Lady discussing Facebook in the business world, click here).


At 1/26/2011 3:07 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Don't call it a "best of", call it an abridgment. =)

I had to (literally) burn one of my journals from my teenage years because it was so embarrassing to read. I don't regret it now. I do regret being so immature in the stuff I wrote in the first place, though.

I'm much happier with my more recent journals. Sure, they're few and far between, but, they're me.

In a more pertinent question, does anyone have the Psych DVDs? Do you get much useful content with them (like Psych-outs? Bloopers? Cast interviews?)

At 1/26/2011 3:56 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Somehow I bet your journal is more interesting than you've let on. It's the record of the inner workings of an award winning murder mystery writer! How can THAT not be interesting? Heck, your journal would probably win a Whitney award hands down if there was a category for it. I think you're just too modest about your talent. :)

At 1/26/2011 6:35 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Jon, that must have been some journal to warrant burning! :) And I'll ask Amy about the Psych DVDs--she has some of them.

Julie, ha ha, no, my journal doesn't contain much in the way of intriguing inner-workings, but thanks :) I'm not sure I actually HAVE any intriguing inner workings . . . unless handwringing qualifies.

At 1/26/2011 6:57 PM, Blogger Michael Knudsen said...

I use my journal for talking myself into doing what I need to do. This may be weird, but sometimes I even write about myself in the third person, accomplishing things I haven't done yet like I just did them. I can be a chronic procrastinator, and sometimes making myself a "character" is the only way I can inspire myself to get going.

At 1/27/2011 12:30 AM, Blogger Suzanne Lucas said...

Thanks for the link!

I think it's great that you keep a journal. I just use Facebook myself. That way, future generations can learn about my deep thoughts on egg whites.

Suzanne--Evil HR Lady and sister of Stephanie

At 1/27/2011 1:22 AM, Blogger Shanda said...

I totally need a venting journal! Maybe I'll open up a document dedicated just for that purpose. I bet my hubby & kids would appreciate it, lol.


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