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Monday, February 11, 2013

Whaddaya Mean There’s No Playbook? by Rheena Morgan

How many of you fine writers remember the first time you came face to face with a bunch of other writers?  

I remember it like it was yesterday--which is a good thing because it was only about a year ago.  

So, yes, for those of you who don’t know me well, I’m still a relative newbie.  My enthusiasm is still where it was back then, but I’ve earned a few bumps and bruises—battle wounds that (post chocolate and wine) I wear with inordinate pride. 

<Insert magic time machine swirly effect here> 

I hustled down a hushed, sterile college hallway a good fifteen minutes before our local RWA chapter meeting was due to start.  I wanted to make a good impression—not show up late and disheveled. 

I swooshed open the door with a positive air and strode forward. 

I think I covered my surprise pretty well.  I’m still not sure.  In a nutshell, I don’t think I could have put together a more random group of women if I’d tried.   

Ages spanned the gamut and genres were all over the place.  I remember thinking, “Inspirational?  What’s that?”   

Oddly, they all spoke the same language—one I couldn’t interpret.  They used words like protagonist and antagonist, story arc and conflict.  I think I even heard dangling participle in there somewhere.  

What?  I just wanted to write!  Not dive back into every English class I’d eagerly left behind the minute I’d snatched my college diploma! 

They were all very nice.  They greeted me with faces like this.  
 I took copious notes.  Made to-dos of all the expected actions a writer needed to tackle to get published.   

When they thought I wasn’t looking, I got this look. 
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong.  Didn’t they understand I was willing, willing, willing?
I kept coming back and they kept guiding, answering my questions with patience.  They’re still letting me come around, God bless them.  They even laugh at my jokes.  (Well, maybe not the dirty ones.) 

It took me until the last few months to figure out what that hidden look was about.  They were waiting for me to figure something out. 

Being a writer doesn’t come with a defined playbook. 

There is no script.  There is no magic potion.  If there were some special recipe, editors would just crank out clones and call it a day.

This life takes discipline, learning, time and thought.   

Yep.  Thought.   

Social media is necessary—but have you asked yourself, “why?”  Have you asked yourself WHO your writing audience is?  Do you study the agents before you pitch and try to match yourself up for a solid partnership?  Or do you just blindly canvas the latest list and hope for a catch?  Who do you tweet to?  Writers?  Or Readers? 

This isn’t just a popular dance step we’re learning.  This is an art.   

If painters all painted alike, we’d have some mighty dull artwork. The same is true for writers.  If we want to grow in our craft, we have to learn to ask, “why?” and really own each discovery.  That’s how we become unique and nurture our special voice—make our own masterpiece. 

What about you?  Where are you right now in your career?  Have you had the V8, ah-ha moment that says, “this is who I am as a writer!”?  If someone asked, “What can I expect to read about in your books?” can you answer them?  Or are you rubber-stamping through the steps?  I’d love to hear your special moments of discovery.
More about Rhenna Morgan


Rhenna Morgan writes what she loves to read—paranormal and contemporary romance.  In the real world, most women aren’t swept off their feet by some billionaire Adonis.  In her fictional world, it’s a pretty safe bet.  Nothing thrills her more than the fantasy of exciting new worlds, strong, intuitive men and the sigh of, “Oh, if only that could happen to me.”

Her posse consists of the good folks in RWA, Smart Women Writers of Tulsa, Passionate Ink and the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Special Interest chapter of RWA.  Her mid-life crisis motto:  What doesn’t kill you makes for one hell of a story!

Contact her at  rhenna@rhennamorgan.com

1 comment:

Sarah J. McNeal said...

The first time I walked into a room filled with writers, I felt joy and validation rush through me. Kindred spirits--at last. Talking to others who understand my fears, my joys and, most of all, don't become bored with writer talk was wonderful. I had expected everyone to be better at writing than me, know more, sell more--and some of them are all of that, but there was enough diversity to allow me to feel like I fit in, too.
I enjoyed reading your first encounter with a writers' group. We never stop growing and learning, but we all had to start somewhere as a newbie.