7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Melanie Gideon

1. Don’t Google yourself. It can only lead to heartbreak. If you simply must know what’s being said about you and your work in the blogosphere, get a friend or spouse or sibling to do periodic Google searches for you. But, and this is very important, insist they curate. Suggest they say things like “Gosh, I don’t see anything but five star reviews. Okay, maybe a few four stars sprinkled in.” Suggest they don’t say things like “Why does @gogirlcrunchy hate you so much?” Tip: don’t be in the same room when said loved one is doing Google searches. And if you are in the same room, do not, I repeat do not look at the expression on their face as they scan the results. GIVEAWAY: Melanie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Heather won.)
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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Melanie Gideon, author of WIFE 22) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

GIVEAWAY: Melanie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Heather won.)

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Melanie Gideon is the author of the memoir The Slippery Year:
A Meditation on Happily Ever After, an NPR and
San Francisco
Chronicle Best Book of 2009, and a New York Times bestseller,
as well as three young adult novels. Her latest novel, WIFE 22
(sold in 30 countries and currently in development with Working
Title Films) is forthcoming from Ballantine in June 2012. She has
written for the
New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle,
More, Shape, Marie Claire, the London Times, the Daily Mail
and other publications. She was born and raised in Rhode Island
and now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. 

1. Don’t Google yourself. It can only lead to heartbreak. If you simply must know what’s being said about you and your work in the blogosphere, get a friend or spouse or sibling to do periodic Google searches for you. But, and this is very important, insist they curate. Suggest they say things like “Gosh, I don’t see anything but five star reviews. Okay, maybe a few four stars sprinkled in.” Suggest they don’t say things like “Why does @gogirlcrunchy hate you so much?” Tip: don’t be in the same room when said loved one is doing Google searches. And if you are in the same room, do not, I repeat do not look at the expression on their face as they scan the results.

(Can writers query multiple agents at the same agency?)

2. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Somebody will always be getting more. More promotion, better reviews, better ads (any ads!) in magazines, more cities (any cities!) on their book tour. And somebody will always be getting less than you. Schadenfreude. It’s a difficult word to both spell (I just had to Google it) and pronounce (I usually just refer to it as “that S thing when you feel really good about somebody else’s misfortune”) for a reason. Don’t indulge in it.

3. Celebrate other writer’s successes. A win for one of us is a win for all of us. It means people are reading, loving and buying books. Other writers are not others—they are your kin.

4. Support your local bookstore and buy books from your local bookstore. Booksellers are the most wonderful, passionate, smartest people in the world and you need to be on their side and if you’re lucky maybe someday they’ll be on yours.

5. Don’t expect everybody will love your work. Rule of thumb is 35% will love it. 35% will hate it. And 35% will be indifferent. I know that adds up to 105% but I’m a writer precisely because I’m so bad at math. My point is this: your job is to write for the 35% who love your work. Period. Forget about the rest.

(Which writers' conference is the BEST to attend?)

6. Write something you’re passionate about. Something that you’re willing to work on for the next three years because at a minimum that’s how long you’ll be living inside that story.

7. Writing is a long apprenticeship. I wish I had known this when I started out. I’ve written five books and have been at this for twenty years now. Some people have success right out of the gate. But for most of us it’s a steady uphill climb, filled with reversals, switchbacks and white-outs. But occasionally a supermoon will appear that is so bright and otherworldly it will make you gasp for breath and remember why you began this journey in the first place. Because. You love. To write.

GIVEAWAY: Melanie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Heather won.)

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