Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Willing to Change

Change is hard for everyone. We resist it and don't want to do it—unless we are forced to do it. I've moved several times in the last few years and every time I move, there are many changes that I'm forced to make—some I like and others I dislike but change happens. It is a constant in our lives and our writing life.

Right now are you writing something? A book? A magazine article? Are you telling an interesting story that others want to read with a beginning, middle and an end? We sit at our computers and create words. And after they are created, we wonder if they are the right words and if our audience will want to read the words. Will the audience enjoy, like, change or ??? from reading our words?

One of the keys is to create it in the first place and create an excellent work. The next step is to test your words and get feedback. Some writers gather a group of first readers who will give feedback about their writing. Other writers have a trusted friend who reads their work and gives honest insights. Yet others belong to a writer's critique group. If you are not in a critique group and want to form one or find one, read this article to learn more details. The key is to write something that is excellent and others want to read. You will not know if you don't check with the audience—before you send it to an editor or literary agent. Just using this process will help you gain an edge over the other submissions—because you are striving for excellence.

In the journey of going for excellence, you will have to consider any changes that you learn about in this critique process. Some suggestions are excellent and you take while others aren't right and you ignore. You are the only person who can make these decisions about the reactions to your work.

Finally you have your work ready to send to an editor or agent. Congratulations. When you send that work, are you willing to change and follow the suggestions of the editor? Your attitude and willingness will be critical in this process of finding someone to publish your work.

I've been writing for years and I still go through this process. 

Every other month, I write a column about book proposal creation for Southern Writers Magazine. I've been writing for them since their first issue. In the last few days, I completed my November/ December article and sent it to them on their requested deadline. Each time I send my article, I tell the editor that if something doesn't make sense or needs to be changed let me know. If I'm honest, I'm not eager to make those changes and I wonder if the editor will find something to fix. 

Why do I express my willingness to change? Because ultimately the editor is in charge of their publication. They could decide not to publish my words.  I'm always mindful of who is in charge and has that ultimate power over what is published and what is not. Sometimes as an editor, I hold that power but normally it is in the hands of others.

To my relief, I heard from my editor. He loved my article and sent me the version already laid out for their magazine. I reviewed it and everything looks great. It is wonderful to have another article in this publication—but I never take it for granted—nor should you. The professional attitude is to work with the editor or whoever to produce an excellent result.

Are you willing to change for a better result?

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