Something to Stand On

I like horoscopes, sometimes a little too much. I’m selective though, and really only take the good news. It would be terrible to pick a fight because the stars say you might be confrontational, so I avoid those messages, though they’re often retrospectively fascinating.

This is my horoscope for October 11-13, 2012:

The best creative inspiration is something that’s commonly become known as ‘the deadline.’ This necessary intimidation is sponsored by the powers that be, prompted by their insatiable urge to get things done on time. Like it or not, you’ve got one — and resistance is futile.

Sometimes the stars are so spot on it’s a little freaky.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to let the draft of my memoir simmer while I worked on a book proposal.  A book proposal is a beast. It’s anywhere from thirty to sixty pages and is similar to a business plan. Some say writing the proposal can be as difficult as writing the book and this girl is starting to agree.

There’s the overview, the author bio, the competition, a chapter-by-chapter summary, and the marketing/promotion/platform. A couple of years ago I said, as many new writers do, “What the hell is a platform?”

Your platform is how you reach your readers. Being previously published is one way to do this, but in lieu of that you need to write a blog, engage with people on Facebook, and—eek!—tweet seven thousand times a day, which I just can’t seem to figure out.

I suck at twitter, but two of my three platform planks are fairly solid, about enough to stand on. I could extend my circles on Facebook, and will slowly do that. I’ll keep writing this blog, but here’s where you come in: the more you all show up here to click on my posts, read them, comment, share, and (ahem!) FOLLOW this blog the better. I hate to get all sales-pitchy, and wish writers could just write–like in the “olden days” of the last century–but in the current publishing world the platform is important. I can write the blog, but the people have to show up. I offer a sincere thanks to all of you who do. There is no way for me to express how much it means to me, except to continue writing my book.

When I’m done with the proposal I’ll be writing query letters and pitching I Forgot to Start with Myself to agents. I’d love to be able to say I have XXXX number of people following my blog rather than XXX. I’m going to shut up about this soon. I promise. I just know my personal reluctance to sign up for things, and wanted to let you know that there’s a little bit at stake here for me, and I’d appreciate your support.

Last Sunday I was doing book proposal research online (because the bazillion books I have were not enough) and came across a Writer’s Digest class that says you can write a book proposal, with the class, in fourteen weeks. Huh? I’m trying to do it in a few weeks without the class. Am I insane? {Don’t answer. Not today.}

I almost talked myself out of it, but managed to talk myself right back into it. I’ve been writing for a long time. I have a full draft of my book. I attended a writing conference last spring (on my 38th birthday, how auspicious) about memoir writing and book proposals so I’m not exactly starting from scratch. I do not need a $400 class or ninety days. I can get this done by October 20thI think I can. I think I can. 

You might be wondering: Why the hustle? Why October 20th? Well…this happens to be a good time of year to sell a book, which precedes the worst time of year to sell a book. Things basically stop in December and January, and February seems like a million years from now. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and while patience would serve me well, I’m not well-endowed in that department and believe that there must have been a severe shortage of patience when I was being made.

So I set a deadline that is perhaps unreasonable. I decided I’d have this proposal done by October 20th to mark the one-year anniversary of my Poppy’s death. Is that weird? {Don’t answer. Not today.} Working hard and dedicating myself to my dream is the best thing I can do to mark a sad day.

Last night I was in a bit of a frenzy, talking to a friend about the scope of this project, the looming deadline, the everything that needs to get done between now and then. The friend reminded me that my Pop is proud of me already, loves me despite my success or failure, and would be happier knowing I’m taking care of myself rather than running myself into the ground for a self-imposed deadline. Oi—so true.

But that horoscope…..So I’m going to keep after it, but I’m not going to 1) drive myself crazy in the process or 2) send out a proposal that is not ready just so I can meet my (possibly unrealistic) deadline. There’s determination and there’s self-defeating behavior, and the line between those two is fine.

It’s a gorgeous fall day in Missoula. It’s sunny, no clouds, and temps will reach the 60s this afternoon. I will not stay inside all day writing. I’ll write outside, go for a walk, and maybe even hit a park bench for a read, like this guy:



  1. Craig says:


  2. I had a deadline last month, alas life intervened and it’s moved to the end of this month. A 2.5 day writing retreat will help me reach my goal (finish first draft) but if not, I can extend my deadline through the doldrums of book selling and hit the agents at the April NCW writer’s conference.

    Good luck…you’ll make it by 10/20…a family birthday for me….hmmmmmmm

    1. jaimestathis says:

      Hi Dean! We do the best we can. We make deadlines, meet them, or create new ones. I try to remember: We’re ALL doing the best we can, all of the time. Sometimes we don’t have a lot to give, sometimes we have a whole lot. Good luck to you!

  3. Hilary says:

    Good luck with your writing in the coming week. It sounds like a lot but you will be an old hand at this when you are ready to send out your second book. (Writers always have another idea waiting to see the light of day, don’t they?) Cheers and best wishes.

    1. jaimestathis says:

      Thanks, Hilary. I’ve caught a nasty cold which seems to be the universe’s way of telling me to slow the hell down….oi. we’ll see how it goes this week. And yes, you’re right, always another idea in the pipeline.

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