Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

[Wyrd Words Weekly] We Can Do Hard Things!

Published 8 months ago • 4 min read

Hello Reader,

If you know me in real life, you may know that I'm more than a little bit obsessed with the We Can Do Hard Things podcast. My sisters and I have many a text thread about whatever is on the pod that week and all my close friends have all heard some version of the words "I was listening to Glennon, Sister, and Abby's podcast the other day..." or "Have I told you how much I love We Can Do Hard Things" or "I heard XYZ-Amazing-Author on WCDHT the other day..." In truth, my besties basically laugh out loud every time I start a conversation (or several) that way. It's a time-honored Julie tradition ;)

So I laughed at myself when I realized that I was going to talk about speed dating, writing, and, yes, We Can Do Hard Things in this week's newsletter. Whether you're into the pod or not, read on for some reasons that writing, and particularly trying to find folks to help you publish your writing, is like online dating!

Earlier this month, behavioral scientist turned dating coach Logan Ury visited WCDHT to share her tips for success in the cutthroat waters of online dating. The more she talked about things like how important it is to be clear what you want out of a relationship, to focus on how a person makes you feel rather than what they look like on paper, how hiding who you are is going to come back to haunt you, and the importance of being honest and open, the more I started taking notes for this week's installment of Wyrd Words Weekly.

She warned folx who are entering the dating sphere to avoid being "fruit on the bottom yogurt" because while they might think they're making the maximum number of people like them, they might miss finding the ONE person who is really going to love them for the full flavor of that fruit they're keeping hidden. And that is so like the process of trying to find an agent or editor. We think if we hide our flaws, or send something out that's good enough, someone will see past it and still give us our long-sought yes. But the publishing waters, like those of online dating, are treacherous. And the only way to navigate them is with honesty and clarity.

Tricksy Tricksters

I instantly thought of all the submissions I read when Jessica and I were Pitch Wars co-mentors. We were clear up-front that we didn't want to mentor portal fantasy because, while it's a favorite genre of mine when done well, it's hard to get right and a notoriously hard sell. So for the short time we'd have to mentor someone, we thought we'd have more to offer other genres. Yet folx tried to send us a pitch and pages that hid the fact that their story was a portal. They called it fantasy. They called it sci-fi. They just left off the genre entirely. But guess what? We figured it out every time.

Those writers would have had such a better chance of being chosen if they'd held out for the mentors who really wanted to mentor a portal fantasy instead of wasting their shot on someone who didn't. And hiding what their stories were all about hurt their chances instead of helping them.

I'm not calling anyone out, but I see folks doing this with agents and editors too. They don't want fantasy, but maybe they'll love mine! They said they don't read MG, but mine is upper MG, so maybe they'll make an exception! I've heard it all. And I'll probably even hear from someone today who didn't follow this advice and found amazing success. To which I say "Congratulations!" and "You're the exception that proves the rule."

This Advice Works Both Ways...

Finding a successful match is not just about putting ourselves out there authentically to show agents, editors, book coaches, potential critique partners, contest judges, or whoever you're trying to meet who we are. It's about discerning whether those people (who we hope are also authentically putting themselves out there) are a good match for us.

How often do we look at the accomplishments of an agent, editor, book coach, or potential critique partner and value their resume, their accolades, their all-star client roster more than how they make us feel, how aligned their tastes and values are? Sure, we're looking for people who can help us improve as writers, can help us take the next step toward publication, but to do that we have to enter into relationship with these folx. And that should not just be a leap of faith, but a decision made based on our intuition, on personality match, on preferences, and on values alignment.

If you're looking for an agent or editor match, or trying to find the right book coach or developmental editor, listen carefully to what these folx say online, at conference, at interviews, and in their bios. In the immortal words of Maya Angelou, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." The fanciest pedigree might not always be the best personality fit, just like the rich investment banker might not be the one who makes you swipe right! Writing is an intuitive process, so don't shut that intuition off after you type "The End." Listen to it and let it guide you as you search for your perfect match.

And of course, if you're looking for a critique partner, there's still one more week to sign up for Round Five of CP Meet Cute, my free critique partner matching service. I knew there was a reason I used romance language to talk about finding your perfect CP match ;)

Hope to see you there!



PS - I'm taking the summer off of teaching so I can be with my kiddo, who leaves for university in a few short weeks. But that doesn't mean you're out of luck if you're pushing hard this summer to get your novel ready to submit.

My friend and colleague Susan DeFreitas—an award-winning author, editor, and book coach—is offering a course next month specifically designed to help your novel stand out on submission, by helping you strengthen the sense of depth and meaning in your story.

It’s called Story Medicine: Better Stories for a Better World, and it’s a great way to get some expert guidance on the final revision of your novel. It will also help you avoid some of the most common issues that keep otherwise excellent novels from getting published.

Right now, there are just a few spots left in this course. You can learn more—and claim yours!—here.

Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Julie Artz helps writers who dream of a life spent telling stories that matter slay their doubt demons so they can send their work out into the world with confidence. An active member of the writing community, she has volunteered for SCBWI, TeenPit, and Pitch Wars and is a member of EFA, the Authors Guild, and AWP. A social and environmental justice minded story geek, Julie lives in an enchanted forest outside of Seattle, Washington, with her husband, two strong-willed teenagers, and a couple of naughty furry familiars. Check out her weekly newsletter, Wyrd Words Weekly, and subscribe today.

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