Thursday, May 8, 2014

[Author Feature & Guest Post] Erica Cameron

I'm so excited to do this post today! After reading Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica, I was so mesmerized by the book, I was in heaven when she contacted me! The book itself was just absolutely amazing and I loved every second of it. Erica agreed to do a Guest Post for my blog which I'm really excited to share with you guys today! 

Hobbies and Creative Burnout: What to do when your brain just goes "I QUIT."
In a talk at an SCBWI conference in 2013, Michael Stearns advised to never completely drain your creative well. It’s sound advice, but what does it mean in practice? Essentially, he said that you should working yourself until you’re completely drained dry. The theory is like trimming a tree. If you cut it all the way down to the roots, it’ll take a really long time to grow back. However, if you trim the tree down to the trunk, you still have something to work from. To grow from. You have somewhere to start when you come back the next day. Think about it. If you write for hours one day, write and write until you put the last period on the page, blink at the words in front of yourself, and realize that you have no idea where to go next, what’s going to happen the next day? You’ll probably still have no idea where to go. You didn’t leave yourself a single seedling to start from. However if you left just a little bit growing, your mind can continue to process that thought and maybe (one hopes) it will provide you with the next step in the sequence when you sit down to begin again. It’s good advice (I highly recommend it), but it’s not always possible to follow.
August of 2013, I got my last set of line edits for Sing Sweet Nightingale. I’m not sure how other publishing houses organize their editorial process, but my editors at Spencer Hill move from a big picture, sweeping changes editorial rounds and work their way down, passing through what they call “middle picture” edits, down to much more nitpicky line edits before the book passes into the hands of the copyeditors. Line edits usually have a quick turnaround time (as in, a few days or so), but that’s not a problem 95% of the time because the changes you’re being asked to make are sentence-level changes.
This time wasn’t like that. I had a weekend to cut the last third of my book by 20%. At around 8 P.M. on Friday night, I sat down at my desktop to figure out how to do that. I didn’t leave my house until 8 A.M. Monday morning. By the time I made it out, I felt as though my brain was melting out my ears. In fact, I’m pretty sure my brain essentially ceased functioning. I overloaded and drained myself simultaneously that weekend and my brain screamed, “I QUIT.”
Excepting copyedits on Sing, I didn’t write or revise anything new until December.
Creative burnout is a very real thing. When your career is based on that creativity, ill-timed burnout could cause major problems. Deadline-related problems. When my brain collapsed last year, I had the luxury of time, but that’s not always an option.  This is why you should have one or more ways to combat burning out. Reading. Drawing. Kickboxing. Movie watching. Running. Knitting. Meditating. Whatever. Something to recharge your batteries and keep yourself from combusting completely. Diversification is one of the best ways to maintain creative energy. For me, I read, I lose myself in movies, and I make jewelry. Seriously. I have so many necklaces I really don’t know what to do with them all. It’s like knitting for me, a soothing repetitive action that gives me something beautiful yet useful at the end.
There’s a difference, you see, between pushing yourself to do better, be more productive, and outright running yourself into the ground. Our society in general has a hard time seeing the artistic process as work in the traditional sense. (And yes, fiction is art.) For some, there may be a sense of guilt for not “working” as hard as “everyone else.” But just because authors make their offices in bed or at the kitchen table or in the armchair of their local Starbucks doesn’t mean it’s not work. Reward yourself for a job well done on the good days. Scold yourself a little on the bad days, too, but remember that you can keep moving forward tomorrow. And if you do hit the wall hard, if you do drain that well or chop that tree down to the roots, remember that your creative energy will come back. Spend a little time doing something else you love. Take a walk. Kick the crap out of a punching bag. Make a necklace of shiny things. Let your mind wander and eventually it’ll come back to you. Hopefully in time to meet that deadline. 

About Erica:
Erica CameronErica Cameron knew that writing was her passion when she turned a picture book into a mystery novella as a teen. That piece wasn’t her best work, but it got her an A. After college, she used her degree in Psychology and Creative Writing to shape a story about a dreamworld. Then a chance encounter at a rooftop party in Tribeca made her dream career a reality.

Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dancer, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her debut novel Sing Sweet Nightingale releases March 4, 2014 from Spencer Hill Press. It is the first book in The Dream War Saga.

Erica is represented by Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crow Literary. However, for subrights inquiries on Sing Sweet Nightingale, contact Rebecca Mancini at Rights Mix. Regarding publicity for The Dream War Saga, contact Cindy Thomas at cthomas {@} spencerhillcontemporary {.} com.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads | Tumblr  |  Pinterest  |  Google+  |  The Mystical Demystified 

Sing Sweet Nightingale (The Dream War Saga, #1)