Get yer write on

Hello, darlings!

I do hope that 2015 has started off awesomely for you. And before you ask, no. I don’t make “resolutions” in the classic sense. Rather, I have “schedules.” That is, things I will be working on, and those usually involve making adjustments to my daily regimens and organizing writing and editing projects.

At any rate, this year I’m going to be doing some writing in genres that I’m not known for (including paranormal). I think it’s important to stretch as a writer, and try new things in order to get a sense of how your style and voice work across genres and what kinds of adjustments to make to write effectively no matter what you’re working on.

I’ve also got a lot of other writing things I’m up to, including romance and sci fi and I’m working on New Mexico things. So don’t worry. You’ll see things from me this year, too. 🙂

And speaking of working, I’ve been reading some “how to” and “how not to” books because I like to check in on my own techniques and continue working on my craft. I recently read this gem of irreverence, called How Not to Write a Novel, by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark, both writers.

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The book is indeed filled with 200 examples of bad writing in an attempt to get other authors thinking about what constitutes bad writing and how to recognize it. The examples are often raunchy, hilarious, and in some cases NOT SAFE FOR WORK. So you probably don’t want to share this with teens or ‘tweens.

From the book’s website (linked above):

Many writing books offer sound advice on how to write well. This is not one of those books. On the contrary, this is a collection of terrible, awkward, and laughably unreadable excerpts that will teach you what to avoid at all costs if you ever want your novel published.

The book walks you through things not to do when you’re setting up your plots, writing characters, dealing with perspective and voice, learning about mechanics, and world-building. The examples can be over-the-top, yes, but the authors will tell you after the bad writing what’s wrong and why it doesn’t work (readers might also find the book interesting because it’ll get you thinking about the parts of a book and why some things work and why they don’t).

From the book’s intro (which will give you a sense of the approach):

We do not presume to tell you how or what to write. We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy.

We do not propose any rules; we offer observations. ‘No right on red’ is a rule. ‘Driving at high speed toward a brick wall usually ends badly’ is an observation.

Hundreds of unpublished and unpublishable novels have passed across our desks, so we have been standing here by the side of the road for a very long time. Had you been standing here with us, you would have seen the same preventable tragedies occurring over and over, and you would have made the same observations.

Do not think of us as traffic cops, or even driving instructors. Think of us instead as your onboard navigation system, available day or night a friendly voice to turn to whenever you look up, lost and afraid, and think ‘How the fuck did I end up here?’

Sometimes, dear writers, you need to see what absolutely does not work to get a sense of what to look for in your own writing. Most (if not all) of the examples in this book I have done, the vast majority when I was just starting out as a fiction writer.

Part of developing as a writer is finding your own voice and style within the rubric of solid writing craft. And that involves comparing all kinds of writing as you’re working to figure out who you are as a writer. Which is why I think having really bad examples can be helpful, along with the reasons that the writing is “bad.” You’ll also find tips in this guide that hopefully help you fix the bad so you can apply them in your own manuscripts.

So writers, if you’re looking for a funny and useful guide to hone your writing skills, give this a look (here’s the Amazon link; more purchasing links at the site). If you’re a beginning writer pounding away on your first novel, definitely give this book a spin. And if you’re a reader curious about what bad writing might look like and how writers might address it, you might enjoy this, too.

So let’s get crackin’ this new year and hit the manuscripts!

Happy Wednesday!

I swear.

No, really.

It’s true. I curse. And, like many people who do, I generally use swearage in contexts in which there is precedent for it (i.e. friends and yes, family).

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For those of you who know me personally, you’re not shocked by this revelation. For those of you who don’t, sorry. I’ve blown your image of me as a pristine, untainted virginal woman with an entire closet full of white dresses who coyly smiles and demurely defers.

I bring this up today because I was recently answering some questions for a book group and one of the questions I got asked was why there was so much swearing in the book.

Context of question: The book was one of my mysteries, whose main characters identify as lesbian. The book group was predominantly (if not all) women and, I presume, lesbian.

Someone else then said that she hadn’t even noticed the swearing. I responded that there was far more swearing in one of the other mysteries I’d written, and that some people swear. Ergo, some of my characters swear. It’s unrealistic, I think, for characters not to swear. I did wonder what the person considered “swearing.” There were a few F-bombs in the book, but for the most part, it’s “hell” and “damn” in my books, which, on my swearage scale, ranks a bit above “crap” and much below “fuck.”

But the deeper issue here is this:

If I were a man writing mysteries and thrillers (regardless of sexual orientation), would that question even have come up?

I doubt it.

Language conveys many things, including where in the social hierarchy someone is. The way you use language and the way you express yourself linguistically signals certain things to listeners. Language can convey power, and the way you say things (your intonations) as well as what you say provides clues about how you think of yourself, where you’re from, and what your background might be. did-you-mean-damn-with-an-n-or-without--13cea

Swear words (which are found in pretty much every human language) are typically considered “power” words (maybe “scary” words), and have historically been most associated with men. Women who curse have historically (and still) been viewed as “unladylike,” “dangerous,” “uncouth,” “ugly,” “trashy,” “harlots,” and [fill in epithets here; the list does go on]. Buzzfeed has a nice GIF-ridden list that addresses the double standard that women face when they curse.

Professor of linguistics Robin Lakoff opened a whole new field in linguistics — language and gender as an object of study — in 1975. She identified “women’s language,” i.e. the characteristics and kinds of language women were expected to use and often were socialized to use. Here’s a chapter she did, “Talking Like a Lady” (Language and a Woman’s Place, 1975). Below, a relevant quote from said chapter.

Allowing men stronger means of expression than are open to women further reinforces men’s position of strength in the real world: for surely we listen with more attention the more strongly and forcefully someone expresses opinions, and a speaker — unable for whatever reason — to be forceful in stating his views is much less likely to be taken seriously. Ability to use strong particles like “shit” and “hell” is, of course, only incidental to the inequity that exists rather than its cause. But once again, apparently accidental linguistic usage suggests that women are denied equality partially for linguistic reasons, and that an examination of language points up precisely an area in which inequity exists. Further, if someone is allowed to show emotions, and consequently does, others may well be able to view him as a real individual in his own right, as they could not if he never showed emotions. Here again, then, the behavior a woman learns as “correct” prevents her from being taken seriously as an individual, and further considered “correct” and necessary for a woman precisely because society does not consider her seriously as an individual.

And if a woman “appropriates” what’s considered male language, she also runs the risk of being ridiculed and dismissed for “stepping out of line.” Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t (see what I did there?).

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked that question. And each time (around 7 or 8 times, now) it gets asked, it’s a woman who identifies as lesbian wanting to know why there’s “so much cursing” in my books. Have you read John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books, I ask. And usually, the answer is “no.” Well, I say, there’s your point of comparison.

And, yes, swearage can also be a function of one’s background. I grew up in a household that used swearage in appropriate contexts. I also grew up around a lot of public defenders and other attorney-types and I’ll tell you right now, the swearage was strong with that group. Both men AND women. I grew up in a rural western town, where we snuck swearage into our conversations during high school lunch breaks and after school, and learned how to wield it with our friends. Furthermore, I’m not religious, so any kind of religious moratorium on swearage has no context in my life. And, let’s be honest, here. I grew up with strong women. Who swear.

I come by my swearage honestly.

But again, the deeper issue here is the fact that if I were a man writing, I doubt I would ever get asked why there’s “so much swearing” in (some of) my books.

And what, exactly, is “so much”? How much is that? I’m only granted one F-bomb per 100 pages? I have a finite number of “hells” and “damns” I can use? Do dudes writing have a finite number of swear words they can apply to their work? Again, I doubt it.

Regardless, I don’t believe in quotas on swearing. And I don’t believe that women shouldn’t swear, because I think ultimately, that’s what’s really at the root of that question. Some people swear. Others don’t. Some of my characters swear. Others don’t. It depends on the scene, genre, story, and the characters’ arcs.

Basically, in my world, women swear.

For realz.

To explore this further, see the following links:
Robin Lakoff, The Language War (2001)
Profanity and Gender: A Diachronic Analysis of Men’s and Women’s Use and Perceptions of Swear Words”
An Encyclopedia of Swearing
A Brief History of Swearing
Swearing: A Social History…
Swearing can help with pain
9 things you may not have known about swearing

Happy Monday!

The lull between the storms

Hi, peeps!

Been cray-zee bizzy. You may have noticed. Heh.

I’m currently in that awkward place between projects. Kind of. I’ve published a novel this year, just released an anthology I co-edited (in which I have a story), and had 2 other stories selected for publication in 2 other anthologies. I’m also waiting to hear on whether another story I wrote is selected for a different anthology.

I am working on the fourth installment of my space opera series (I’m about halfway through) and I’m doing a bit of research on the fifth in my mystery series, so I am working on some long-term things, but I’ve just about finished up a whole bunch of things that I wanted to this year. And that feels pretty good.

Having said that, I am trying to hammer out another story this month for yet another anthology, but I’m not sure I’m going to make the deadline. If not, I’m not going to freak out about it because it’s not like I haven’t done any other writing this year.

In terms of my writing life, it generally cycles between completely slammed and these stretches where I’m not pressed to do a whole lot. I like these lulls. I still write during them, but I don’t feel the frantic OMG I HAVE TO GET THIS DONE HOLY SHIT SOMEBODY HOOK ME UP TO A RED BULL IV that can accompany my slammed periods. I also use the lulls to ponder writing projects that aren’t related to what I’m currently working on, and that’s always fun, to think about all different characters. I think that might be why I’ve written a lot more shorter stories this year than in years past. I wanted to hang out with some different characters and see what sorts of things could unspool in the narratives.

I do that, too, if one of my long-term projects is giving me some issues and I haven’t figured out how to write/re-write it to fix it. I’ll write something else — usually a short story or novella-length thing — and that helps loosen the logjam in the other project. There are times, too, that I’ve completely scrapped a project and started over from scratch. I don’t know any author who hasn’t had to do that, so if you’re in the middle of that, don’t freak. It’s normal.

So here. 5 things I do that help with the writing cray-zee.

1. Don’t force it. If a project you’re working on is just not working out, stop working on that one. Work on something else. If even that isn’t working, it’s a sign that you may need to take a couple days off (or more) from writing. In which case…

2. Read. Yeah, you heard me. Go read somebody else’s book. When I’m not feeling it, I read. And I generally read a genre that is different than the one that’s got me hung up. For whatever reasons, that gets me out of my headspace and gets me excited and interested in different kinds of plotlines. That feeds the creative stuff, and helps with logjams. If you don’t want to read…

3. Watch a movie. Or stream something. Some cool series you’ve been wanting to watch. Watch a couple episodes. Or, hell, go ahead and binge-watch. Just be careful with that. You don’t want to get into the habit of binge-watching all the time. But every once in a while, it can help get you out of a writing rut.

4. Get out of your house. Or office. Or wherever you write. Take a walk. Go exercise (which you should be doing regularly anyway, because that, too, helps the creative juices). Go do something in your community like visit a museum that’s having a cool temporary exhibit. Go catch a live music show. Call up some friends (or text or however you do it these days) and meet them for dinner or coffee. Have a barbecue with friends/family. Point being? Remove yourself from writing for a bit. Writers live in their heads. It’s important to get out of your head and, as they say, smell the roses. Besides, if you don’t, you might be missing out on good writing fodder.

5. Take a couple of days and go out of town. No, really. Leave. Even if it’s something goofy like driving a hundred miles to a neighboring town and spending the night at a B&B there. Do it. Go hiking or mountain biking. Rent a canoe and do a day-long tourist-y river float. Being outside in natural surroundings is a cure-all for just about anything that ails you. Don’t believe me? Here. And here. Oh, and definitely here.

source Ahhh...don't you feel better just looking at this?
source Ahhh…don’t you feel better just looking at this?

Find whatever combo works for you. And don’t beat yourself up if you’re in a writing rut or stuck. What that means is you need to recharge the ol’ creative batteries. It’s a normal part of a writing life, to hit ruts. So make it part of your normal writing life to develop healthy strategies to recharge.

Speaking of, what are some of yours? Leave ’em in the comments and happy Wednesday.

Updates

Hey, kids!

So I’ll be scarce the next 10 days or so because I’m scheduled to be on-hand at the GGLS conference. What that means is that I’ll be traveling for a couple of days and then I’ll be on-site at the con running around like a freak because I’ve got lots of things going on there this year, including panel appearances and an author chat. I’m also going to be available for chatting outside the formal panels should any readers who are in attendance see me bouncing around the halls.

Oh, and yeah. My third installment in my sci fi series, The Edge of Rebellion, made the finalist list for an award. I’m very pleased about that, and congrats to all my fellow nominees!

I was going to do a long-ass post on the process a manuscript goes through in terms of self-publishing (at least my process), but decided that was too long-ass for today. Instead, I’ll get you updated on a few things.

Fellow author/editor R.G. Emanuelle and I have finished up the edits for our forthcoming edited anthology, All You Can Eat.
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What does this mean? Well, it means that it’s about to go to the typesetter where it’ll be made all sexy-time. JUST IN TIME for its August debut. Yes, indeedie, friends, this dish is just about ready for the table. Y’all be sure to dig in, now.

In other news, I’m waiting for the final proof from CreateSpace for the print version of From the Hat Down. Jeeziz freaking Christ on a jet ski, but this damn project has been crazy-making. Getting the print version ready has been so amazingly WTF that I can’t even begin to describe it to you. About the only good thing that has come out of this process is that I now know a lot about what to look for and what to do when really weird unheard-of tech glitches pop up in a file and you’re trying to figure out what mystical sorcery powers you can draw on to attempt to fix it.
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On the other plus side, I’ll be ordering them to start printing it today. LORD WILLIN’ AND THE CREEK DON’T RISE!

I’m also working on some short stories for some upcoming anthologies. AND I’m almost halfway through the fourth installment of my sci fi series, the Far Seek Chronicles. Always something going on up in here, fer sure.

All right. I might post a couple of quick things at the con, but I can’t make any promises. In the meantime, y’all have a nice break (from me) and y’all come back now, hear?

Five tips about reviews

Hi, peeps!

I’m thinking a bit about reviews. I know a lot of authors think about reviews. Sometimes incessantly. And yes, reviews can be helpful in terms of sales, both long-term and short-term. They can also be really harmful, but if you engage in this writing pursuit, guess what? That’s part of the territory.

In the world of books, reviews have a long and tortured history, as this 2012 Atlantic Monthly piece points out. Yes, friends, no matter the era, there are invariably complaints about reviews, reviewers, and what they ultimately accomplish. There are also always complaints about whether someone has the expertise in a particular genre or subject to do a review, and whether someone has a background in writing.

And yes, reviews can also be political/false in the sense that someone is trying to deliberately sabotage a writer or a writer is actually posting glowing reviews of his or her own work (that’s called a sock puppet review).

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None of this is really new, friends. Certainly technology gives us the ability to post things quickly and create “buzz” (whether negative or positive). It also allows people to mask their identities and post whatever they want about a writer’s work. Which, again, isn’t necessarily new. It’s just a lot easier now than it was a couple decades ago to do it. The Interwebz have created an arena in which anyone can voice an opinion about a book (or any other product) and even develop reputations for reviews, and become kind of a reliable source for others about particular genres. You might, for example, find that you seem to like the same types of genres that, say, “pinklady998” likes, and you start following that user and find that you trust her/his reviews about certain things, which might in turn guide some of your own purchasing habits.

So reviews can also be tools. They’re a “word-of-mouth” kind of thing, in this crazy Internet age. So rather than hanging out with your friends on Friday night talking about the latest reads you got at the library (or at the bookstore), you post a review of a book online and that then becomes part of a larger conversation about the book/story that anyone else can engage in. Which is kind of neat, actually, that you can engage with other people from all over the world about a particular work.

As an author, though, you might consider the following guidelines regarding reviews. And I’ve said some of this elsewhere, but I’ll reiterate it here:

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Writer McCrankypants strikes again

ARGH. Kickity kick kick ARGH.

Sigh.

Hi, peeps.

I’ve been running around trying to get a print version of From the Hat Down up and operational.

It’s not working. It’s making me frustrated. REALLY frustrated.

The main issue is that the print people claim that the file I and my typesetter supplied is causing the print to be too light. You see, I ordered an ol’ skool paper proof, which means I ordered a preliminary version of the book, bound with the cover so I could see how it looks. The exterior looks fine. But the interior typeface is just too light. So I brought it up with the printer people who allegedly did some “tracking” to determine what the cause may be. Meanwhile, my typesetter checked, too. The settings in my typesetter’s file are fine. They’re where they need to be. The printer people insist they’re not (bless their hearts).

In the meantime, the book doesn’t get printed because I refuse to release a book whose type looks like it’s the 20th Xeroxed copy off another Xeroxed copy.

I spent around 15 years in publishing. My typesetter spent about 20. And my designer is still working in publishing. I met her 20 years ago at the press where we worked and at that point, she had a good 10-15 years of design experience under her belt. Ergo, we kind of know what we’re doing.

But the printer people are just not on the boat with us.

And this makes me Writer McCrankypants.

So, dear readers, at some point, I will have a print version available. For reals. But I want to make sure it’s a quality product that you will be able to read without thinking: “Damn. This typeface is so light.” Because that will make you Reader McCrankypants, and that is so totally not cool.

And yes, at some point, I will have some other e-formats available. Those issues are also contributing to my McCrankypants self. Send me some good ju-ju. Maybe the printer needs a ju-ju infusion, too. And all the e-platforms. Just massive good ju-ju everywhere. I think that will decidedly help. In the meantime, howsabout we listen to the playlist to From the Hat Down to make us feel better? Music always makes me feel a bit better.

Here:

LINK, in case this embedding freaks out again.

And here’s the playlist for From the Boots Up, just cuz.

LINK, in case the embedding flees this site.

Ahhhhhh…

Happy reading, happy writing. And happy Friday, all!

10 things that make writers insecure (that we don’t talk about)

Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s Sunday and I’m supposed to be resting.

NOT! Day of rest? WTF? Clearly somebody who wasn’t a writer started that meme.

So here’s my tongue-in-cheek list of things that might make writers insecure. I mean, beyond the usual “OMG I TOTALLY SUCK AT THIS WHY AM I WRITING THIS IS POO” angst. As we all know, many creative-types (whether you write, paint, sculpt, do music or whatever it is) are a bit on the sensitive side. Which is actually contradictory, because we’re putting things out into the public world for people to look at, which invariably will draw critics who will smash our sensitive sides into quivering piles of angst, whether they have valid points or not. So on the one hand, here we are all sensitive about what we’re doing and yet we put it out there for lambasting. I haven’t figured out that contradiction, yet. Maybe it’s a type of sickness. Regardless, there are things that just make people who work in creative fields get their insecurities all up in a twist. These are some of them, but most of us won’t tell you that. So here I am, gossip-mongering. 😀

1. Getting ready to release a book just a few weeks after a fellow writer releases a book and that fellow writer’s book is getting gajillions of accolades and everybody’s talking about how awesome it is. This makes some writers want to just quietly gather their things and go home, put on the TV and lament that they could’ve been a contender, maybe, had that other writer not been so much more awesome.

2. Blurbs on other writers’ sites that say how awesome their books are and your life is a meaningless desert of ennui if you don’t read that author’s work. Meanwhile, the blurb on your site says: “fun read, good to kill some time” or “doesn’t suck.”
yeah-i-read

3. Parties where it comes up that you’re a writer and someone invariably asks what you write and then says “never heard of it” and adds “should I read it?” To which the writer is stuck. If she says “yes, you must read my work. You’re deprived otherwise.” then she looks kind of like a douchecanoe. But if she says, “oh, I don’t know. If you’d like to, I guess so.” which then makes her look like a sad and shipwrecked douchecanoe. Although, to be fair, there are many, many writers who are brilliant shining lights in literary-land who have never been heard of at some party in a state far away. Hold on to that.

4. As a follow-up, people who say something like, “If you’re published, how come I haven’t heard of you?” Um. Maybe because there are almost 1,000,000 books published in this country every year? Nevertheless, this makes some authors start twitching about not doing enough promo work.
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5. As another follow-up, somebody saying something like “how come you can’t make much money if you’ve published that many books?” At this point, you’re better off taking your sad, shipwrecked douchecanoe right into the rapids rather than attempting to explain the vagaries of the publishing world.

6. Reading “how to write” blogs and realizing that you have engaged in every single one of those DON’T DO THIS in terms of craft. At which point the writer feels cold and clammy because the book she’s just about to release has several writing no-nos in it.

7. Bad reviews that somebody forwards to you with the subject line “FYI.” (here is a pep talk blog)

8. A really super-cool cover on another writer’s book. Especially if everybody is talking about how super-cool it is. This causes some writers to immediately scrap all forthcoming covers, go home, turn the TV on, and think how they could’ve been a contender, if only they had awesome covers, too.

9. A really cool promo thing that an author does and it gets everybody talking about that author and that book while you’re still trying to figure out how to get something like “sparkle pony” into your title because you’re sure that’ll sell.

10. Hammering away on a book and you’re about halfway through when you go onto Goodreads and see another book whose plot is pretty similar to yours and you wonder if writing Godzilla into your romance will thus distinguish you from the pack.49075106

Other than that, WRITING IS FUN, people!

Hope your day of rest is filled with happy reading, happy writing, happy happy joy joy!

Writer McCrankypants on formatting manuscripts

Greetings, my peeps. (I almost said minions, but that might be taking liberties)

I’m in a strange twilight zone of writing. I’m not really between projects, but I’m hung up on one and it’s preventing me from really jumping into anything else. Not to suggest I’m not working on anything else because I am doing some work on the fourth installment of my Far Seek Chronicles (that’s the sci fi). I’m also working on a few short stories, and those require a different kind of focus than the longer stuff.

Anyway, I’m preparing a book-length manuscript for a typesetter, which is detail work and makes me super cranky, but it’s necessary work. While doing that, I sent some of the scenes out to an expert in the field to check and make sure I’m not Writer McLooneytoons with my take on certain things. Fortunately, he works fast and he’s been awesome and I’m pleased that I wasn’t completely McLooney but I still have to do some re-writes to correct some of the things in those scenes.

Which also creates more cranky in Andi Land.

So what exactly does it mean, this preparing a manuscript for a typesetter? Or for uploading onto the ebook virtual reality deck? Well, intrepid reader, clickety click onward to find out!

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On the philosophy of writing

OMG how deep did that even sound? Yeah, we’re all navel-gazing up in here. Heh.

Actually, there seems to be something in the writing water, because a few of us have been waxing philosophical (wax on, wax off) on our blogs for a couple of days, now. I must’ve had some of that writing water, because I’ve been navel-gazing after all.

We all make choices. I get that. One of mine was to work a day job so I would have health insurance and other benefits that I just can’t afford otherwise. At least not at the moment. As a result, I don’t write 8 hours a day. I would LOVE to do that, but I made a choice. So writing is a part-time job (though it takes up many more hours than that), and I view it as such. I don’t view it as a hobby. It’s a job, and one that brings me a lot of satisfaction and happiness in many ways.

But it also brings me a shit-ton of frustration, angst, and exhaustion. There are days I’m despondent, that I have no desire to write anything, and I wonder why the hell I do this and what the point of it all is. Rejection emails. Skimpy royalties. Bad or weird reviews. Plots that suck. Characters that piss me off. Ineffective writing. Word salad with no flavor.

I have those days.

I’ve written thousands of words over the decades. As individual words, they don’t suck. They’re just words, part of a language that indicates something. Without context, they just float around in thought bubbles, neutral entities without baggage. As combinations of words that I put together, some of them do suck. Others don’t. They’re slung together, thousands of them, in patterns and styles that track this long slog I’m on. Some are epically bad. Others aren’t too bad. And sometimes there’s a gem in there.

I have the evolution of my writing life in boxes, on discs, on my hard drive, my flash drives, and the Cloud, signalling the shifts in technology over the years as well as various points on this path, when the combos of words started to suck a little less. And out of all of the thousands of words that I have written, very few of them have made it to the big stage. I’ll write thousands more. A small percentage of those will make it off my hard drive and out into the world. The rest will serve as pavers on the road that is my personal writing journey.

That’s okay, fellow inkslingers. As author/writer/ninja wordsmith Chuck Wendig says,

Your writing career will be long. Lots of peaks and valleys. Lots of digging in dirt, lots of learning “wax-on, wax-off,” not sure how waxing a fucking car will teach you goddamn karate. Lots of living to do, lots of reading to do. A world of of thinking, what feels like literal tons of doubt pushing down on your neck and shoulders. And, obvious to some but not obvious to all:

It’ll take a lot of writing.
See Chuck’s blog, “It Takes the Time that It Takes,” HERE

And then I read Kameron Hurley’s blog over at Chuck’s virtual house HERE.

THAT is the essence of a writing life. And this, from that blog, is key:

I think I’ve been on the long tail a long time, but the more I talk to other writers the more I realize that that whole slog – the shitty apartment with the shitty boyfriend, the frigid outhouses in Alaska, the cockroach wrangling in South Africa – weren’t actually the start of it. That wasn’t the part where things got really interesting.

It was getting the first book. It was after the first book. It was being confronted with the fact that writing is a business, and expectations are very often crushed, and your chances for breaking out are pretty grim.

It’s persisting in the game after you know what it’s really all about. After the shine wears off. It’s persisting after all your hopes and aspirations bang head first into reality.

That’s when it starts. The rest of your life was just a warm-up.

Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
Kameron Hurley, “On Persistence and the Long Con of Being a Writer

Once you have that first book or story out, THAT’S when things do get interesting. Writing IS a business. And now you have to find the balance between your creative lovefest and the crapshow that the business can be. Wax on. Wax off. Repeat.

Because Hurley’s right. Persistence is what it takes to be a successful writer. Think of that, as she says, as a way of life and not just a word. That is the essence of a writing life.

Back to it, Grasshopper.

Monsters

Hi, peeps!

Been a few days. I’ve been battling a winter-time nasty cootie attack that involved feeling like crap for over a week. Some monsters aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they can lay you out just as easily as a zombie or werewolf or pissed-off MMA fighter.

And when I physically feel crappy, I don’t have the creative energy to work on my fiction writing. So I spent a lot of time watching movies and paranormal shows on Netflix and basically sleeping. In other words, spending a lot of time alone without being able to write or go outside and feeling generally icky.

For me, that’s a recipe for monsters.

Not the ones in the shows I was watching or the microscopic cooties that went to war with my immune system. And not these friendly, fuzzy ones:

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Rather, the ones in my head. And those, my friends, can be worse than any external monsters we might have to face.

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