Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gluttons for Punishment

Sister Mary Martha had a great post on Gluttony the other day. I was especially struck by the breakdown of the types of gluttony:

Praepropere - eating too soon.
Laute - eating too expensively (washedly).
Nimis - eating too much.
Ardenter - eating too eagerly (burningly).
Studiose - eating too daintily (keenly).
Forente - eating wildly (boringly).

And, this morning, after reading a post over at Editorial Anonymous on questionable contests, I realized that these categories also apply to WRITING. Now, I'm not saying that overeager writers are necessarily committing a mortal sin (though, based on some of EA's slush, there may be some near occasions there), but I think that avoiding these pitfalls can make us more successful writers in the long-haul.

Praepopere- Submitting too soon. Have you had your writing critiqued yet? Did you take constructive criticism? Did you at least run spell check? As I've said below, I had a year where I submitted WAY too much-- and most of it had never been critiqued and just wasn't ready to go. A critique isn't required, of course. I'm usually the only one who looks over my magazine pieces. But they're also usually 5th drafts, and I have an easier time distancing myself when it's only 800 words.

Laute- Do you think the reason you can't get published is because you need more supplies, more expensive computers, more classes, more conferences, more "how-to-write" books and more memberships? Getting too obsessed with acquiring the tools for writing can keep you from actually working on your craft.

To get published you need: Pencil, paper, a place to type and print (usually called a 'Library' for non-computer owners),envelopes and stamps. And, most importantly, a will to improve. Which costs nothing.

But new writers often let themselves get caught up in costly extras. (ooh! I just need one more ICL class. And SCBWI conferences in NY and California!!! and...and....) Don't. Just work on writing well and submitting well. As the ladies at Writers' Beware always say, money flows TO the writer.

Nimis Writing too much. At some point you need to stop writing and actually SUBMIT or you'll never be published. Also, sometimes a break, a nap, some coffee and a snack will really improve your prose quality, even if it hurts the quantity. AND if you only write but never take time out to READ good writing in your genre, how will you improve? Take the time to find some good examples. You need something to aim for! Even Rowling read Lewis. And she's nowhere as good as he is in terms of style, but imagine how bad she'd be if she was writing in a literature-less bubble!!!!!!!

Ardenter -Submitting too rashly. To make money at this, you need a strong desire to be published. But don't let the desire to see your work in print make you lose your common sense. Keep a cool head. Research agents and publishers. Don't fall for scams.

Studiose - Writing too daintily. If you want to succeed, you can't wait for the mood to strike. You have to write even when it's HARD. Even when it feels like work. If you only write when it's fun, you'll never make a profit!

Forente - eating wildly Ok. I'm not really sure how this differs from Ardenter. Anyone want to explicate it for me so I can finish the post? =)

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