Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Being Committed vs. Being Committed

Every time someone asks me what it takes to be a published author, I give the same answer: Commitment.

Commitment to plant your butt in a chair day after day, week after week, month after month. Commitment to the process of submitting your work to agents and publishers. Commitment to publicity and marketing. You can’t just go through the motions. It will show.

With the Winter Olympics coming up in about two weeks, we will be hearing a lot about commitment as the personal stories of the athletes unfold between the televised events. I love hearing the stories of these dedicated men and women who have sacrificed so much, juggling family and jobs to pursue their particular discipline and dream. It makes watching the events much more dramatic and personal.

As writers, we’re participating in our own Olympics. I’m not talking about competing with each other for prizes, but competing with ourselves for each book to be better than the last. The Olympians, while vying for medals, do that. With each luge run, slalom or triple jump, they are competing with themselves to better their last performance. Only commitment will bring improvement.

Then something occurred to me. Being committed is also the term used when someone is placed in an institution for mental problems. In that instance, being committed is equated with being crazy or at least unbalanced. That led me to that old saying: The definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.

Hmmm, does that mean the Olympians are insane? Or that we're crazy for pounding out book after book and expecting each one to be better than the last?

I’ve been called insane for the schedule I keep, and crazy for the number of books I've agreed to write each year. In a few days I will deliver Murder In Vein to my publisher. It’s the first book in my new vampire mystery series and I wrote it in just over two months. My manager thinks it’s the best book I’ve written to date. I’m not sure about that yet. To me, it’s still a blur, like the faces of a crowd standing in the snow watching me race downhill towards the finish line.

I made a commitment and will deliver on it. In the meantime, I feel like I'll be ready for a straight jacket when it’s over.


Sue Ann Jaffarian
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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think if we're not committed, then we'll BE committed. :) Most of us in this group feel like we HAVE to write. Great post, Sue Ann!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lisa Bork said...

Congratulations on finishing the first book in your new series and delivering a personal best! Can't wait to read it.

G.M. Malliet said...

Do you get to rest now, or do you plunge right into writing another book?

Christine Danek said...

Congratulations on your book. I agree with being committed to what you set out to do. I just hope I have the patience to get through it. Thanks for your post--it was helpful.


Beth Solheim said...

Like I said before, you are my mentor! Your determination and panache amazes me.


Alan Orloff said...

Sanity is overrated. Keep going for the gold, Sue Ann!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks, everyone!

Gin, there is no rest for the wicked, or insane. As soon as this book is put to bed, I start on book #6 in the Odelia Grey series and start fleshing out Vampire book #2. At Malice if you see me talking to myself, don't assume I'm on my cell phone. I really will be blubbering to myself. :)

Alan, my motto this year is GO BIG OR GO HOME - that's the same as going for the gold, isn't it?

Cricket McRae said...

Just think how much writing you'd get done if you were committed AND committed! Seriously, congrats on the new series, the book you're about to deliver, and all your success, Sue Ann.

Julia Buckley said...

Sue Ann, you continue to be an inspiration. And there's nothing crazy about your work ethic--but maybe you'll have "crazy" success.

Keith Raffel said...

Sue Ann, Hope you'll have time to look up from your laptop and say hi to #2 and me Saturday afternoon at the Cerritos Library!