Not Time to Party Yet!

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” ~ T. S. Eliot

It’s official!

This morning I signed a contract with Mango Publishing to publish my re-titled memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought me Back from the Brink.

Yes, I’m over the moon!

But it’s not time to party. Now the real work begins.

The editor made suggestions and I have my own ideas of what still needs work. I have until December 1st to submit a “final” draft. (Is any writing project ever final in the writer’s mind even after it’s published?) That will be edited and returned to me. I’ll make those additional revisions and then it will be submitted to the copy editor.

Boom! Boom! Boom! The published book is expected in Spring of 2019.

In the meantime, if it seems I’ve disappeared, my apologies. I’m head down, working, blinders on.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted as developments occur.

We party in the Spring!!

Chicken Soup for the Soul

I love how my friends look out for me! As I continue to tell people about my (as yet unpublished) memoir Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink and how running helped my mental health, several friends alerted me to Chicken Soup for the Soul possible book topics on which I could write. These include “Life Lessons from the Dog,” “Running for Good,” and let’s not forget “The Golden Years or Second Wind” among the nine listed.

The writing guidelines for their stories are deceptively simple. The bottom line? They are looking for stories that inspire.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have a terribly high opinion of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Weren’t these just fluffy, feel-good stories with no literary merit? Book snob much? Sorry. So I ordered Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners. Just a few stories in, I dropped my superior attitude and began to thoroughly enjoy these tales of challenges overcome and lessons learned, stories similar to my own.

With my new and improved perspective, I’m going to submit a few essays and send them over. While the author biographies are compiled in the back of each book and not after each individual essay, if the series selects one of my essays, perhaps a reader will enjoy it enough to flip to the back and look me up. Ideally, I’ll have a published memoir to include in the bio by then, but even a “soon to be published” reference can’t hurt.

Five Structures to Help You Achieve Your Writing Goal

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

My memoir, formerly titled Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two: How a Sedentary, Middle-Aged Manic Depressive Became a Marathoner (with the help of her dog) has a new working title: Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink.

But that’s beside the point.

The real news is that the manuscript (whatever you want to call it) earned a spot as a finalist in the 2018 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in Nonfiction. The winner will be announced in September at the conference in New Orleans.

How in the heck did that happen?

It happened because I followed the instructions of my writing coaches, the award-winning authors Tania Casselle and Sean Murphy. Among other things, they advised me to enter every single contest for which the book was eligible.

Every! Single! One!

Still, how does someone who continues to have depressive episodes so crippling they make it difficult to get out of bed some days achieve such a goal? My secret? Structure.

The following five structures work for me:

1) Classes and Workshops.

The idea of entering every contest (or submitting to every publisher) that fit my book came from two extremely qualified writing instructors. Suggestions might come from other students as well. In either case, these people could help you do what might not occur to you, what might seem too difficult, or what you might think is a waste of time and money.

2) A deadline.

The final days of a contest or publisher’s reading period usually is enough to spark me into action. It’s that pressure cooker effect. There’s no time for perfectionism. I just have to get it done.

3) Tracking Tools.

I love and Submittable. Real numbers don’t lie. I can see my submissions and percentages. The geeky part of me loves this. Plus, Submittable recognizes people who collect the most rejections in a month. Anything like that helps.

4) Accountability Partners.

I tell a friend I’m going to do something. I tell my little writing group. I tell my husband or my neighbor. I tell the regulars at the coffeeshop where I write. Eventually, one of them will ask about my goal. I don’t want to let either of us down.

5) Online Groups.

These are a different breed of accountability partners. But be careful with this. Choose wisely. I’m in a secret Facebook group for artists collecting rejection letters. If I’m not entering, I have no rejections to report. Telling these kind strangers is oddly satisfying.

But here’s the true secret. At some point, these external structures become internal. They light a fire inside me and I’m surprised to find myself motivated to attempt things I would never have done before. Magic? Perhaps. But I’ll take it.

What kind of structure do you need to meet your goal? What will help you not give up? I’d love to hear about it.

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