Welcome to a special Halloween Edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! What makes this week’s NWOW special? In addition to offering writing tips gained from my 15 years as a columnist, I am in Maine this morning dressed as “Pennywise” and waiting in the bushes outside the home of Stephen King!
Because what better way to kick off a special Halloween NWOW than by scaring The Master of Horror® himself! I’ve been working all week on my scary clown voice and borrowed a costume from my neighbor, who, as I discovered, has a whole closet full of costumes. (I didn’t ask why.)
Shhhhh! Here he comes!
“HE-LLOOOO STEVIEEEEE!!… Ummmm, Mr. King?… Sir? oh crap…”
Update: Ok, so that didn’t go as well as I thought. Fortunately, being a firefighter, I know CPR and was able to bring Mr. King — or “The Plaintiff” as I’ve been told to address him — back from a flatline. I was also able to extinguish a small fire I started in the bushes when my “Pennywise” cigar fell out of my mouth and landed in some bark. These are points my lawyer says “Shows you had good intentions, plus could be helpful if we go with ‘insanity’ as our defense…”
But enough accolades!
Finding a publisher is a lot like trick-or-treating. Though you know there are many other vampires roaming the streets going from publishing house to publishing house vying for the same candy, you dress up and go anyway because you know you’re different; There seem to be just as many publishing houses with their lights out as there are with their lights on; When someone does come to the door, you are routinely asked “Who are you supposed to be?” before leaving with a handful of Tums because the real candy was handed out already.
As kids, we don’t let that discourage us. We know the next house could be handing out king-sized Snickers bars. Or that Mrs. Hollins might answer the door wearing her Catwoman costume again. As writers, we have to do the same. And by that I don’t mean dressing as Catwoman; I mean remaining optimistic by remembering to enjoy the process — not just the end result. When we were kids, thinking about and then deciding on our costume, as well as finding all the right components, was as exciting as taking that first step out the door on Halloween night. Even if your vampire fangs immediately filled with drool and felt like wearing someone else’s dentures, there was no stopping the excitement of transforming yourself into something of your own creation and offering it to the world.
We do the same as writers every time we push the “post” button or send an article or manuscript to a publisher or agent. We take what we have transformed from a blank screen or sheet of paper into something of our own creation and offer it to the world. Then, too often, we set our sites on the candy instead of taking time to enjoying what we have created and taking that first step outside.
Just like the excitement that filled us as kids each time we left one door and headed down the street to the next, we need to take time to revel in the anticipation — so that we will remember it when, at some point, Mrs. Hollins hands us that king-sized Snickers.