Yesterday was a major sprint in times of development of my writing projects. I had not intended to finish the notes on Until She Sings, but between Saturday night and Sunday morning, I had gotten ahead of myself and completed the work. Lawful Evil gets worked on daily, and even that warranted three pages. I just did two this morning, and put together some notes for a short story that I plan on submitting to an anthology. I’m waiting on whether one of my stories has been accepted for a charitable anthology at the moment but I keep putting work out there, because to me, that’s how you improve and develop.
So, to counter the slight malaise that comes from having finished something (yes I do get them because I know that if I gave into the impulse to keep writing all the time, then the work gets thin and inconstant. Know when to walk away hungry) I spent the afternoon reading. Marcus Aurelius, which is chockful of wisdom but not an immediate read. I find a degree of comfort and solace in stoicism, it’s a useful way to approach things in life. I then watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, purely for Alan Rickman, who managed to steal every scene he was in. I also dipped into a novella that I am reading for a review on Goodreads.
The time spent, although not actual writing, was still writing. I thought through the next couple of pages of Lawful Evil, the scene structure and how I could tackle the next challenges. I understand myself enough to know that when I can’t write, I can work. I am productive, focused and conscientious about the writing. I perhaps, don’t know how to market myself all that well, but that’s okay. DaVinci couldn’t tap dance, Prince couldn’t direct. There are all things we should be doing but don’t because we lack confidence or experience. I want the focus to be on the work, rather than me and until I have paid work to show, it would be. Unless I do hashtag choked articles about finding your characters out and twee, little missives which imply I am vastly more experienced than I am. Encouragement is like cake, which most people love but too much of it makes you ill and incapable of doing anything with any degree of achievement or clarity.
General rule of thumb, if someone presents themselves as an authority on something – check to see if they’ve done it or talked about it. The difference is telling. I include Robert McKee in that, and I regularly return to Story for advice on structure and storytelling.
Lawful Evil has been a challenge simply due to my adherence to a project that has conventional scenes and challenges that I haven’t written before. My sucking at it is par for the course, but I’ve failed on similar challenges, learned lessons from them and applied those to the current project with varying degrees of success. It isn’t to say that I am unhappy with the work, just a vague sense of not nailing it. Then, I tell myself that this is an exploratory draft and I can fix what I fail at later.
Ah, the relief of process.
Until She Sings – well I am going to continue combing through that, ahead of any suggestions by my agent, because it shows due diligence on my part and also it stops me getting irritated with little faux pas that I see online, and probably annoy me out of all proportion to the effort made in the first place.
I loathe the following practices of mainly self published authors –
Auto Direct Messages. I guarantee if you do this, I won’t read your book. If it’s good, I will on point of principle, avoid it. You could email me to ask me instead, tweet and ask for someone to read it and review, those are perfectly acceptable. It’s rude and ugly marketing, it shows a failure to understand that although we are all sold to, and selling to one another, don’t make it obvious.
I had a DM once that read:
No, I’m not providing the click. I even asked if, in return, they’d consider RTing a blog post, after all you’re turning up uninvited and I don’t see why I shouldn’t ask for something in return, seeing as you think it’s perfectly acceptable to put that image in my head.
Good marketing, if you really need it, offers something interesting.
Even Chuck Palahniuk did it when raising money for Lullaby. That knocked me for six, because I would have thought he wouldn’t have needed to. It’s a fart in a can, when you open it, it stinks and you don’t want to open anything else by that brand. It’s an automatic unfollow.
If your twitter feed is nothing but promotional tweets for your book, scabs of hashtags and Follow Friday then you’re getting muted at best. I like Twitter when it’s interesting opinions, amusing memes and one liners but there’s a set of tools self published authors are using that feel desperate and tone deaf. I feel bad for saying this, because I’ve been there, I did it.
It doesn’t work for me. I consider other people’s feelings too much. I like people to be interesting, who have opinions and feelings about things. I follow a guy called Troy Blackford who posts ordinary tweets – books he’s read, films he’s into, sharing things he’s excited about. I downloaded the anthology he edits, Robbed of Sleep and even submitted to it.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
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