Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Respect Your Fellow Writer!!!

I decided to wait a day to write this post after deciding that I was going to because, quite frankly, I needed to cool down a bit. One of the forums I frequent (I'm not going to mention any names here, although I imagine some of you have seen the thread) has a woman who I consider to be little more than a troll who is basically bashing any genre she doesn't write. Among others, she compares "short" (less that 100K) books to Readers Digest Condensed and Golden Books. She also referred to romance novels (which comprise over half of the paperback industry these days) as "slim Wuthering Heights-style knock-offs with smoldering women and Fabio clones on the cover," and pretty much everything that isn't either extremely long or a classic as "rubbish" and "inconsequential." She then proceeded to be quite abusive to anyone who dared to disagree with her.

In my opinion, especially on a writing board, this is unacceptable. If you are a writer who has started a novel, you know how hard it is to start. If you are a writer slogging through the middle of a novel, you know how hard it is to keep going. If you are a writer who has finished a novel, you know what a huge accomplishment that is! (And in my personal opinion, if you have ever attempted poetry and short stories, you know how hard it is to actually produce something decent. I do NOT write short fiction because I am not talented enough.;)) Because you know this, you ought to respect anyone else who has been down the same path. Anyone. I don't care if you don't like the kind of books they write, I don't care if you never read their genre (I don't care if you never read any of their work at all!) you still owe them respect for what they have done.

I think I have a friend in pretty much every genre at this point: non-fiction, commercial fiction, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, YA, and even *gasp* erotica. And you know what? I respect them all. (I don't think I personally know any mystery writers . . . what a shame. I LOVE a good mystery and am simply not smart enough to write one.;)) I am happy to know so many writers because, well, they're writers. I don't care what they write! They are weavers of words, purveyors of plot, creators of characters, just like me. I have a couple of special friends who I e-mail with frequently and none of them write in the genre I am currently shopping. That doesn't keep them from understanding what I'm going through and vice-versa. We still cheer at each others' successes and moan at our losses. And more importantly, keep each other company through this mostly solitary journey.

In my opinion, you never, never, have the right to think of yourself as superior because you write longer/more literary/more commercial books. (You are welcome to think of yourself as more successful, after all, some of us are more successful than others. *cough, cough* Pat *cough, cough* :)) And hey, since you just mentioned her (;)) mentioned her, does anybody (personally) know any debut author more successful than Pat? And more importantly, does anybody know a more genuinely kind and respectful person than Pat?

Personally, I think there's some Karma involved here. And I would much rather follow in Pat's footsteps than this other woman's.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's A Lot Of Work!!

I've been thinking about how much work writing can be this week and now, to top off my little thought pie, Miss Snark has apparently been working pro bono for long enough. She's announced that she is retiring and I, for one, don't think it's a joke. And who can blame her? She'll be sorely missed (especially by me!!) but she'd put in an awful lot of work. I think it's ironic, because even though Miss Snark is an agent who makes money off of the publishing industry, in terms of her alter ego, she is doing the same thing the rest of us are; spending years working and cultivating our babies without getting a paycheck.

Are we such masochists?


But let me tell you about the last two weeks. My hubby finally got all his loose ends tied up for his second semester of law school and our summer officially began. Our schedule is this. We get up, feed and dress the kids, and then I go into the office, lock the door, and work for four hours straight. Then I come out and switch places with my husband who works from home. He comes out for dinner. You know what I've learned from this? It is a ton of work to write for four hours straight every day. I come out of that office totally fried every afternoon and sometimes feel like I could not have written another word.

But you know what else?

I LOVE it!!!! On top of that, I feel like the last two weeks have lasted about three days. And that's saying something for a woman who is approaching eight months pregnant AND has had her book out on submission for ten weeks. Time has been dragging for me.

But not the last two weeks. The last two weeks have flown by so quickly I can hardly believe it's true.

Also, *ahem* I finished my first draft yesterday. *ahem*

I wake up every morning to either my son demanding a bottle of milk or my daughter crawling into my bed to cuddle. Then I wait for my husband to wake up. That is usually the longest hour of my day because I want so badly to get in the office and start working again! (sometimes I cheat and take my son into the office with me and get some work done ahead of time.;))

Maybe the novelty will wear off and by the end of the summer I'll be ready to catch an hour here and there . . . but I kinda doubt it.

So I am working really, really hard, but loving every minute of it. I get to start editing next week and have some rather strict goals set for myself so you'll have to excuse the light blogging. But every time you check this blog and there's nothing new up, just think of how many new pages that means for me and my new book!;)


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Best. Headline. EVER!

Sometimes you have to chase opportunities, sometimes you wait around and they never show up, but sometimes they just fall into your lap and with a little creativity, you can make the most of them.

Like whoever wrote this story. I guess there is a big tightrope walking contest in Korea this week. They have stretched a wire over the Han river and 14 men and 4 women are in the process (considering the time change, probably at this moment) of walking it to see who can do it the fastest. Big 15,000 dollar prize, some records for tightrope-walking length involved. Fun stuff.

So guess what the headline is?

Go ahead, guess.

Aw, man! It's too good.

You ready?

"Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo."

I am so not kidding. The link is here if you want to read the whole story.

All I can say is that if they gave out Pulitzers for the best headline, this guy would be a shoo-in.:)


Thursday, May 03, 2007

But . . . but . . . but So-and-So Loved it!

I imagine we've all been guilty of this at some point or another. A rejection comes in, maybe a harsh critique, we're feeling a little low and all we can think is, "But my mom/ my cousin /my hairdresser/ my garbage man /everyone who's ever read it loves it! Why can't this agent/editor see that the general public would appreciate this?!?"

I've done it. I admit it.

But you know what I've discovered? That's not the point.

Picture the average reader. I actually consider myself an average reader and I'll use that to justify this slightly less than complimentary description.:) The average reader in the U.S. does not read for errors or consciously check out your point of view. They are not looking at your pacing or the way your story weaves so intricately with the subplots. They are reading for entertainment.

(Now, if you have written your story right, they won't have to look for these elements. They may not be able to tell you in all of the above words, but they just know that everything "clicked.")

The average reader will pick up books their friends recommended to them, spines that caught their eye in the bookstore or library, the paperback that was sitting on their friend's coffee table. The average reader will often slog through a boring middle of the book to find out who-dun-it or if the guy gets the girl. (I'm a cheater, if I'm getting bored I will often skip to the end and if the end looks good then I will decide if I want to finish the book and see how they got there.:))

Like the average spectator at the Olympics, viewer at the art gallery, and diner at a five-star-restaurant, the average reader is more easily satisfied than the professional judge/critic/agent/editor asked to evaluate the athlete/art/food/book.

If all of your beta readers are average readers, you will probably get less out of them than if you chose some beta readers from the industry as well. Why? Because the average reader will be more impressed than the average editor. I've heard so many people lately say, "I don't understand, everyone who reads my MS loves it! Why can't I get an agent/published?" People will reference their muse with the same tender affection. "My muse was just guiding this book, why can't anyone see what an inspired work it is?"

Well, the fact of the matter is that neither your average reader nor your muse are acquiring manuscripts.

And would you really want it any other way? What if we held other industries to the simple standard of what their average consumer likes? I know a lot of people who are happy if you simply put a reasonably done steak in front of them. (Hehe, like me when I'm pregnant.:)) I personally love fine food. I am so glad that there are chefs out their working hard to please the food critics. Why? Because it means that I am going to get a very, very nice meal. Now, I don't know what to look for . . . the cut of the meat? I'm clueless. How seasonable the vegetables are? How should I know. But boy, because someone who does know is watching this chef very carefully, I know that when I get my meal, it is going to be just right.

Same for publishing. Find someone, who knows what they're talking about, and ask them not, "did you like my book," but "Tell me what was wrong with my book." Then listen. Really listen.

Like all critics/judges/agents/editors their judgement will not be infallible, but it will probably be better than your average reader.