Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I'm a natural optimist. Always have been.

It's not to say that I've had a rosy life, or that all is wonderful now, nor am I delirious enough to assume that from this day forward, rose petals will pave my path (although, I must admit, if that happened, my wife would be very impressed).

All I mean is that I believe my outlook on life is directly correlated with how I choose to experience it. If I think good things will come from fighting the good fight, then good things will indeed happen.

Last September I attended the Southern California Writers' Conference. I blogged about that experience and continue to reap the rewards of the guidance I received from that weekend.

As I've already mentioned, at that conference, I took an opportunity to meet with agents and editors. Amongst the people I met was prolific author and veteran editor Laura Taylor. Here's a brief bio from her site

1985 to Present: award-winning author of 22 novels for a variety of international publishing houses, including Bantam-Doubleday-Dell, Franklin Watts, Inc., Berkley Books, and Harlequin-Silhouette Books. Current works in progress include a mainstream novel and an associated screenplay.
Some of Laura's awards include:


Also, she's a member of Readers Rule -- these are authors (like Bob Meyer) who have earned the stamp of approval of readers by selling 100,000+ books. To put it in context, Laura Taylor has sold more than a million.

Why do I mention all this?

Because the great Laura Taylor is now endorsing my novel, Aces. Her blurb is below.

"ACES from author Ara Grigorian is a powerful, well-crafted, and compelling novel guaranteed to delight readers."
— Award-Winning Author and Editor Laura Taylor

I am eternally grateful for this. In a very crowded and tough marketplace, it's hard for a debut author to get noticed. This is officially my second endorsement--the first from bestselling author Michael Levin. I have update the "Aces" page on my site with both blurbs.

The more I expand my network of friends in the writing community, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of gracious and giving people amongst us. I am honored to be a member of this tribe. With the help and guidance of people like Laura and Michael, I can't help but have an optimistic view of the future.

Whether 1 year, 5 years or 10 years from now, you can rest assured that I will continue to fight the good fight!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Art is Never Finished

"Art is never finished, only abandoned."
Leonardo da Vinci

During my senior year in undergraduate school, I enrolled in an Art History class. This was a fun class. Basic premise was that through art, we could learn about the history of the people, the region, the era.

The professor (I can't recall her name) told us that during the renaissance, the only reason the artist in question stopped the work of art (painting, sculpture, murals, whatever) was because the sponsor of the piece "wanted the damn thing already." They were tired of waiting.

The artists generally had a hard time parting with it, because in their view, the work was not ready.

For an unpublished author, this is an interesting dilemma. We want to be published, yet each time we look at our manuscript, we find maybe "one more thing" to touch up. Speaking for myself, each time I read my manuscript, I want to modify something--again.

If you're doing it right, you're always learning about the craft, you're always reading more novels, and you're always writing. These three things have one significant impact -- they make you a better writer.

So it's only natural that what you know today, makes you slightly better, than what you were say, a month ago.

This isn't a dilemma in and of it self. But it's a problem if you don't hit send. I spoke to a few agents recently and they said something that nearly dropped me on my arse (I was going to say ass, but the way the British say it so much more refined.)

They each said that more than half the people that are asked to send in pages, don't. Don't! In other words, the agent is showing interest. They ask you to send them the manuscript (partial or full) and yet, the writer in question never follows through.

There are a variety of reasons, I'm sure. One is probably fear. What if they hate it? What if they love it? And when you start asking these questions, it is a natural step to think, "It's not ready yet." I need one more review, one more beta reader, one more proof reader, one more scene, one more adverb. That last one was a joke... you never need more adverbs, he said, passionately.

The reality is that you have no deadline. When you have no "sponsor" (agent, editor, etc) the only gate is you and your own inner-voice that doubts you and reminds you that you're not good enough, smart enough, or just enough. Please do not misinterpret this. You should NEVER send out material that is not ready. You need to slave over every word, and clean it up with a toothbrush, and have trusted people read and critique it. You must do these things and these things will take time -- a lot of time.

If you are signed, you don't have a choice. You throw caution into the winds and you let fate take its course.

Here's my recommendation. Set a deadline. Create goals that will challenge you. Declare it to others in your writing world. Then be committed to that timeline. Have integrity in your own words. Amazing things happen when you put yourself out there.

Then test it. Test the quality of your work. Be ready to share it with some people that you trust. Get their feedback, and be brutally honest with yourself. Be ready to internalize and understand the criticisms you get. It's not personal, it's opinions that may make your manuscript better.

I have a small, but badass set of first readers who want to see me succeed. So they will not let me make a mistake. I also have a mentor who is a NYT bestselling author who will call me out on the deck. He doesn't let me get away with anything. I also turned my work in to agents and editors at a conference (20 page critiques) to get their feedback. Was I nervous? Yes. But not knowing was worse. And once I had all the arrows pointing north, that's when I knew I was ready for a final proof read. Once you're there, the only next step is to jump in with both feet.

If you don't, then you take the risk of falling into Leonardo da Vinci's astute observation. Your art will never be finished, and one day you may decide to abandon it.

How do you know if you're ready? What criteria do you use?

Fight the good fight.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...