Two Pages (22/09/16)

This morning’s pages were continuing the background piece, I am quite pleased with the tone and the progression here. It’s tentative because it’s at a different pace, a foreign setting and hopefully shows off some of the research without being too ostentatious. I don’t want to be visible on the page, I want the characters and their voices to stay with the reader. If you can sense me on the page, then I will lean towards cutting it.

I have nearly finished Tony and Susan by Austin Wright, which is fantastic. It utilises two disparate narratives, both of which delve into primal fears and self deception in different ways. One of them is the voyeuristic pleasures of crime and revenge fiction, the other about self deception and complicity. It’s not a surprise that Tom Ford has adapted it. After that I have Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, which will be my first Chandler in print although I have seen and enjoyed his influence and the cinematic adaptations of his work.

After the recent reading slump, I have renewed my pleasure and appreciation for reading. It waxes and wanes, sometimes with a book that doesn’t meet my expectations, sometimes a book overpowers me. When I read as a writer, it’s a blend of analysis, envy and sometimes contempt. The latter is a distasteful feeling because even if I don’t enjoy it, it does not take away from my baseline admiration and respect for the effort taken to get the work out there.

It’s why I talk about myself and my experiences. Opinions are like bellybuttons, everyone has them, aside from the clones in Space: Above and Beyond, and I can only ever talk about my experiences. Who am I to tell someone what they should have done? Especially when they are at a different stage than I am, with entirely different experiences and perceptions. We cast aside our own failings when we judge other people. Writing, if it’s taught me anything, has shown me that everyone has their own pain, fights their own battles with the same resources that we all have. I really believe that you have to have an unsentimental compassion for people if you are to write with any degree of passion. Cold, beautifully written insular work might enthral for a moment but it does not sustain or stay with me. Susan Choi’s My Education was an example that stood out in my mind. There is a degree of elitism between literary and genre fiction when in truth, they’re both still cut from imaginary cloth. Whether it’s zombies or twenty-something MFA graduates who can’t commit to a relationship, it’s still fiction.

I only worry about what I can control, which is the work in front of me or behind me. The market resists prediction, my agent has their own workload and I won’t resort to blunt instruments of ego to market myself. Which is my final point.

On Twitter, @buddhab3lly, if you want to follow me, there are a lot of habits that although aren’t offensive in and of itself, essentially guarantee that I won’t read your work because it is robotic, it shows a lack of respect and also because they rarely work. I say this because when I self published, I did some of them.

  1. You follow me, I follow back then you unfollow me for the scalp to your follower count.
  2. You post nothing but links to your books. There’s no sense of you, as a person beyond the content. On the page, that’s fine but social media has an emphasis on the social. I can set up a RSS feed if I want content devoid of contact. Who are you as a person, I don’t know and it feels like I’m following a bot.
  3. Automatic DMs.
  4. Pleading me to read your book.

I have done a review when asked, via Goodreads, and will be doing another one because someone actually took the time to write and ask me. Not because I am important and special but because they had seen one I had written, their novella is in a similar style and they asked nicely. Funny how that works, when you treat someone with respect, they’re more likely to help. A suggestion would not be some hyperbolic marketing guide but Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. A bit of contemplation, perhaps but I get it. It takes a lot to get a book out there, and there are a lot of books out there. I tried and failed at self publishing, but it was useful because it showed me that it was not an experience I wanted for myself.

Anyway, thank you for reading. Post comments and questions below.



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