Auditions

Ever audition for anything? If you’re a musical artist, perhaps you’ve auditioned for an orchestra, a band, a choir, or some other venue. Perhaps as a visual artist, you’ve auditioned for illustration, animation, or Web design work. Or maybe you’re an actor who regularly makes the rounds of auditions for plays, commercials, or movie gigs.

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Writers, especially freelance writers, also have to audition. Like for work-for-hire gigs. That’s what I’ve been doing a lot lately. (Querying an agent or publisher about a manuscript is another form of auditioning. Been there, done that recently, too.)

If you’re unclear about the notion of work-for-hire projects in the book publishing world (and I shouldn’t assume that everyone knows all about it), in general, this is a contract you sign for a project that nets you a one-time fee, rather than an advance on a royalty. For example, fiction, nonfiction, ghostwriting—you name it. Some work-for-hire projects (but not all, mind you) have led to others that paid an advance. This happened to me awhile ago when I co-wrote a book with a friend. (Another post on someone who auditioned for a writing project can be found here.)

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Um, this is not exactly what I mean.
But I couldn’t resist posting this picture.

Even though someone recommended me as a possible book writer or regular article contributor, and I have experience in, say, writing books for kids ages 4–8, I still had to audition by submitting a writing sample to the editor or project manager working for a publishing house or book packager. This is a very humbling process. I have much more respect now for actors, illustrators, and musicians who go through many, many auditions. Which means they might hear “no” a lot. But you have to wade through a lot of “no’s” before you get to the yeses.

After two of my latest auditions, I was told, “Submit a rewrite.” Sounds promising, right? I have a second chance to make good. Perhaps the rewrite phase can be compared to an acting “callback.” I burned the midnight oil to finish two rewrites. Which is why I didn’t post on Monday.

Preparing for other auditions (writing, querying) is the best way I know to pass the time as I wait for the results of other “callbacks.” Well, it beats my usual coping mechanism: consuming mass quantities of chocolate.

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Does taking on a work-for-hire project mean I’ve given up on the projects I’ve initiated? Nope. But it is a way to gain an income and continue doing what I enjoy doing: writing.

For what, if anything, have you auditioned?

For what, if anything, are you waiting these days?

Audition sign from smkclaven.wordpress.com. Work-for-hire sign from Pinterest. Callback sign from projectcasting.com.

Slow Your Roll

I don’t know about you, but I usually like to get where I’m going as fast as possible. Why drive a Civic if you can’t drive fast? Okay, I hear you mumbling out there, since I admitted in a previous post that I had a bad year when speeding tickets followed me like crows. (Yes, that was an oblique Lord of the Rings reference.) But that’s not important now. What is important is that I get where I’m going quickly.

Today was one of those days where I hit every red light. No matter how fast I sped up, I still couldn’t make the yellow. And even when I reached home and was about to turn in my driveway, there was a little kid, his thin, shaky legs pedaling a bike with training wheels. So, I sat watching him, realizing that this was God’s way of saying, “Slow your roll, girl.”

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Another way is through the wait for agents. Those of you on the search know the drill: you query and wait. And wait. And wait. And no amount of blowing or pacing will speed up the response. Trust me on this: I feel your pain. I’m in the middle of that myself.

Perhaps you’ll appreciate the irony of this: I was a manuscript reader for a publisher for almost nine years. (I won’t say which one, so please don’t ask.) Thousands of manuscripts arrived each year. As aslush pile reader, I had to weed through the dreams. With the publisher’s 98% rejection rate, I knew most of those dreams would be quashed until another querying session revived the flame again. (Believe me, saying no to someone is not easy. I never relished the task.)

Anyway, I’ve received a few rejections from agents in recent months. (Go on. Say it with me: “Slow your roll, girl.”) With each rejection, I had to take a step back and rework and cut and cry and try again.

As I considered the daunting task of reworking my WIP yet one more time, one stanza of a poem that I wrote for an exercise came to mind. Since you’re already here, I’ll share it with you, even if you run away screaming.

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To Hope
Keats talks of ethereal bursts of hope
And sky-bound drifts of inspiring thought.
I feel earth-bound, on a bus, dreaming of
Clear skies, blue and crisp like fresh washed sheets
and ice cream clouds on a picnic, scattered wide.

Slow your roll—what do the words mean to you? Like me, are you waiting for a response to your literary baby? Are you battling an illness? (I had my share last week.) Facing a decision that tempts you to leap before you look? Tempted to write an angry text or email that could have long-lasting repercussions?

You know what to do. Slow your roll.

P. S. I don’t think I properly thanked Patty at Petite Magique for nominating me for another Sunshine Award and Kristen Mazzola for nominating me for another Liebster Award. So kind!!! Thanks, Patty and Kristen. Had to slow my roll to remember to do that!!!

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Photo from thejanedough.com.