“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” ~ Booker T. Washington
The PURSUIT of the goal of excellent writing is publishing. I can share 90 percent of the formula for pursuit with you in one word:
Some of the best writers/artists in the world have gone unnoticed for years. Some just went ahead and died to get published.
I’m trying not to go that route.
So you’re writing killer copy and the phone’s not ringing? Email comes up blank? Twitter isn’t tweeting your way?
- Recognize your existing relationships.
- Enhance those existing relationships.
- Forge new relationships every day.
RECOGNIZE YOUR EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS.
Begin with your inner-most circle of friends. They can’t write a book for you, and they probably can’t give you advice that amounts to squat. But they’re your support team. A few people are always there for you – through everything. A writer’s life pursued to the fullest is chaos. You need those people. Hang on to them.
Then move to the outer circle. I have about 800 Facebook friends, 130 blog followers, 150 followers on Twitter and about as many on Linked-In. Most of these people I don’t know well. Some of them are distantly casual “virtual” friends. Others are professionals in my field. Occasionally, they “like” my work and pass it on for others to read. That’s invaluable.
ENHANCE THOSE EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS.
I’m currently about 60 percent through the first-draft manuscript of my first non-fiction book, Light Wins. About 25 percent of that book (its flesh: see this post: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-kE) is told through the stories of real people who were tragically wounded by “religion.” They experienced a metaphorical Darkness some of us will never know, but the metaphorical Light healed them. Most of those stories come from people who live within 20 miles of my home. And that’s not a matter of convenience. Their stories are incredibly powerful. It just turned out to be convenient because I listened to what they were saying and their trust in me gave me the privilege of conducting some magnificently productive interviews.
Build those relationships.
At any given moment I may “like” or comment on someone’s social media post. They may only know me by a simple profile picture, but if I genuinely care enough about what’s on their mind, maybe they’ll be inquisitive enough about me to learn more. And maybe one day, one of those folks will be a powerful agent. Or maybe she’ll be an established author who would endorse my book. You just never know.
FORGE NEW RELATIONSHIPS EVERY DAY.
This only makes sense right?
All of us are trying to get attention in a world where communication moves nearly at the speed of light. Twitter blows me away. Those people who have 30,000 followers and follow another 30,000 and have made 50,000 tweets … what else do they do? It’s the fastest moving medium I’ve ever seen. I tweet, but I don’t have time to manage a lot on Twitter. It’s somewhat useful, at best – for me, that is.
Sometimes you have to break the rules. I did it today. I have one non-fiction literary agent who I REALLY want to represent me. I follow her every way imaginable. I’ve submitted the query with all the dotted i’s and crossed t’s. But I’ve gotten impatient. I’ve made a subtle follow-up, (big no-no) and when one of her colleagues made her own blog post today on the topic of “How Do You Get Noticed By An Agent” who has the strictest of rules, I commented and told her I’d followed the rules … so why don’t you just tell her to pick up the phone and give me a call?
So we’ll see about that. I’ll let you know if it works.
But just maybe, my approach was radical enough to get noticed and forge a new relationship.
One final note.
ABOUT BURNING BRIDGES.
I hate it. It goes against everything my logical self believes, but I’ve done it, and probably will again.
We’re a passionate people, we writers, aren’t we?
We’re artists and scientists of the world. We invest ourselves radically in what we do. So if you burn me, and it REALLY stings, I’ll burn the bridge. You go your way and I’ll go mine. We’ll probably cross paths again, and it’ll be awkward, but I probably won’t stand in the distant corner, just because you’re in the room.
I’m not offering this as advice. Do it if you must. Just be careful.
The pursuit of greatness has a lot to do with relationships.
To see other posts in this series, you may view:
OBSERVE @ http://wp.me/p2bjEC-kf
THINK @ http://wp.me/p2bjEC-kE
PLAN @ http://wp.me/p2bjEC-m2
WRITE @ http://wp.me/p2bjEC-nE