Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Way Back: Blog #2, Clearing a Path to Opportunity
By Gammy L. Singer

Today I took an inventory of how I spend the hours of my day. To keep body and soul together during these challenging times, I’ve been working part-time as a fill-in resident counselor in a temporary shelter for teens — approximately 15-20 hours a week. It pays next to nothing, but the positive — always look for the positive — is that it is triggering my desire to write YA and I do have a book in mind — in fact, several.

But I’m chucking the job in June. Starting a daycare in September, before and after school care. Yes, I am. No more looking for a 9-5. I did that for a year and look what it's got me! Nada.

I also spend about 20-25 hours a week performing duties as Youth Director at my church, Unity Church of New York in NYC; doing lesson plans for four groups of kids; assembling craft projects; shopping for the Sunday School; working with fourteen teachers, et al. It involves quite a bit, and practically all Sunday every Sunday is devoted to it. I leave at 7 a.m. and return home about 6:30 p.m. That includes travel time, of course. So, together with my part-time job, that’s a work week, isn’t it?

The church responsibility is off my shoulders during July and August. Time earned.

I live now near the Catskills. When auditions come up, I travel back down to the City, and time-wise, I unfortunately blow off a whole day. (However, I take my Alpha-Smart with me and I write — that is, if I don’t nap — 110 minutes on the train each way.)

Auditions taper off in the summer months until mid-August. More time.

I’m also president of Sisters in Crime, NY/Tri-State Chapter. Being dutiful at the job has stolen away writing hours. I’ve loved the experience, but two years is enough. (But I'm telling you, if you want to feel connected, there’s no better place than organizations such as Mystery Writers of America and/or Sisters in Crime. I also belong to the Harlem Writers Guild in NYC. Addendum: I received a “comeback” grant for $1000 from MWA. Did you know that Sisters in Crime also offers money to authors through stipends to bookstores for advertising and publicity for events at their stores — turns out to be a good deal for independent bookstores and a good deal for authors.)

My tenure as SinC president ends in June. Y-a-ay! Time.

Whassup in June besides it busting out all over, you ask? What’s the plan? What’s the attack?

Well, let me tell you what I've already done. I wrote an email to the executive editor of the house which published my previous novels. Put things in point-blank terms. It went something like this, abbreviated:

Me: What’s my status with the company? Should I submit?

Her: (Re: last book) Blah-blah —“…modest sales,” she says, “but we’ll take a look, and of course, if it’s really good, we’d accept it.”

Like the cartoons, I see question marks where my eyes are supposed to be. Is that response enough to “build a dream on?” A-a-argh. Well, nothing beats a failure but a try. What have I got to lose but time? When the going gets tough, the tough get going ... together with any other sayings or aphorisms necessary to whip myself up to do what I need to do. Besides, past advice from other writers who have been in my predicament say, in a nutshell, do something different, then submit, submit, submit.

Hmmm… So the first thing I’ll do on the comeback trail is to write something “really good.” Ha! Hey, I can do that. I do my homework. I really check out the line this time. Can I compete? A preponderance of romances. Okay, so what if …?

That’s it. By June 1, three chapters and a synopsis of a romance, Gammy-style. Can I even write a romance? I did the “Can I?” question writing my first book and also when I wrote my first short story barely two months ago. I just went ahead and did it. But hey, guys, I'm not cranking out an entire book on the slim promise of “we’ll take a look.” Anyway, this summer I’m birthing another book — and quietly amassing a list of agents I’d like to represent me, and other things I’m planning to do differently this time around. TBA, the mistakes I made.

In the meantime, y'all, keeping myself open to splendor and opportunity.

I can do it. Y-e-a-a-h! I’m disciplined, I’m tough, and I’m B-a-a-ddd!

(To be continued)


angela henry said...

I'd love to read a Gammy style romance! I bet it would be a lot of fun AND. . .really good!

Gammy Singer said...

I'm approaching it like fun and hope it will be too!
Thanks, Angela.

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