Dog Ear
Effort (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 May 2012 17:24

It always seems like a strange question (especially from wanna-be writers): “How do you make the time for writing?”

My answer (which I picked up someplace along my life) is “Butt glue”. That’s what it takes to make myself write – establishing a time and metaphorically gluing my ass to the chair, and forcing myself to write. Some of my best writing came from times when I really didn’t want to, but had to.

But that’s not the real crux of the question.

See, it’s not just about finding time (and passion) to write. That’s the easy part. I’m always listening to internal narratives (mine, others, or fictional) all day. Writing them down clears my soul. But there are other things about writing, worse things, which you are going to have to do in pursuit of your endeavor. Trust me – you aren’t going to want to do any of these things.

Right now, I’m putting together 3x5 cards for a speech at the library. This is a love/hate thing – I’m looking forward to the engagement and I really want to give a good talk but I’m a mediocre speaker. Do I really want to sit in my chair at night, timer running on the computer, speechifying through my eleven cards and tuning what works? Is that why I write? No.

I’m also trying to lure the artist I used (so successfully) in Early ReTyrement to do my map in Indigo (as part of my agent submission packet). Do I like getting dozens of submissions and having to pick a winner in this creativity Hunger Games? And then forking out cash? Not really.

And there is the entertainment lawyer I’ve contracted in LA for a few issues I’m dealing with. Nothing major. But dealing with LA people is like dealing with hyperactive children – when I hang up the phone, I’m exhausted. And our progress is so slow. Is this the tart taste of creativity? Not really.

Even this website you are viewing right now was put together by me. I had to spend a month or so fumbling around with a Jumla book to figure how this all went together. I’m not a web designer so all that had to come from researching and tinkering and fumbling. It all came out of writing time (or sitting in front of the TV, numb, time).

There is a popular trope the involves successful writers groaning about all the book groups they need to speak before, of their tiresome dealings with Hollywood and the wearisome signings. And every wishful-writer who considers that concept secretly thinks, “I’d sign up for those troubles in a second”. But remember that there is truth in this – that as a writer, you’re going to have to do a lot of things you’d rather not do. You are going to have to spellcheck hundreds of pages. You are going to have to learn every detail of Microsoft Word (how do I turn off this goddam paperclip guy!). You are going to have to write (and later revise) cover letters to agents. You are going to have to spend evenings assembling submission packets (complete with SASEs for those rejection letters). You are going to have to learn how to deal with agents, or, conversely, how to work in eLance, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. You are going to have to hone your sales pitch. You are going to have to learn to smile when readers tell you where your book failed (and which parts were boring, silly, misguided, or why they didn’t get through it in the first place). There are thousand things you are going to have to force yourself to do if you are ever going to see your book in print, in any format.

But, on the plus side, you get to write.

I always find time for that.

(see how that works?)


Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:39
Naga-more (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 April 2012 00:00

I don't think other writers have this problem.

I don't think Moby Dick hung off a pier near Melville's house, bubbling dejectedly. And I'm sure Mr. Darcy didn't rap on Jane Austen's door, grousing, "Damme, but are you through yet?"

But me, I've got crows. Been working most evenings on knocking off a chapter or two of Indigo, my aerial version of Watership Down. The book is done but there are a number of things I'd like to do before putting it back before the agents (who were warm to it, so there is a shot). I need to read and clean it (and force the spell checker through it one more time). And I need to create a map (I'll hand-draw it myself, just to an idea of what I envision). And there is my working chapter analysis where I note down what each chapter covers (out loud, symbolically, and otherwise) just so I can pare the story down if needed. So much to do, which I can't when my writing lunches are interrupted by work-pals and team outings. So it's slow slogging.

But the nagging!

When I ride my bike, there is generally a schwarm of crows hanging around on the perchlines above 17-92 and Fairbanks, watching me roll past, cawing their harassment. And there was a group of four this weekend who batted around the grandfather pine behind our house. First the four cast down insults. Then two orbited the block while the others held fast. I actually kept tabs on them as I painted the windowsills, my computer cold in the corner, its files untouched.

And I could imagine it easily...

"I'm sure this is the place," Weed piped, looking down over a specific hive, the one that specific tallpink lived in.

"Are you sure?" Tuft snapped, visions of Cirrus haunting his thoughts. "I can't get plot resolution until it gets its story accepted by an agent."

"This is the one, all right."

"Well then, let's voice our displeasure! We're crows! We don't wait!" And so they screamed, hurtling insults down upon the roof like darters would acorns.

I'm working on it, alright?


Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:39
Writers write (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 April 2012 19:22

It’s no secret that publishing, and especially self-publishing, will burn a lot of your time. There are submissions, proposals, side-efforts. If you attend a show and rent a booth, there are all sorts of things you have to arrange (as detailed HERE). All this takes time.

I used to write – a lot – at lunch. The café downstairs has a nice outdoor patio and if I go early, nobody is out there. But now I haven’t been – I’ve been busy with getting Early ReTyrement ready, cleaning it, changing it, fiddling with it. I’m so focused on it (and it’s a many problems and disappointments) that I forget about writing. It’s hard to write when you are organizing, blogging, cleaning up your website and getting your coverart finalized. In a way, it’s like parents who bring a newborn home – with all the noise and poop and change, it’s hard to make time for things like sex.

And to writers, writing is their intercourse. We feel whole and new and free after an hour of writing. When there is no deadline, when it is not for anyone’s enjoyment but our own, that’s writing. True writing. And that’s what we need to remember. How many writers get their first book finished and send it off to agents, then wait. And wait. Rejection letters drift in. They tune their story, trying to anticipate why it’s not selling. They end up despondent, equating writing with rejection rather than fulfillment. They don’t write anymore. They just put it away and move on to other things.

If one can find pleasure in writing then do so, even if it’s a journal. I keep a free website under a service where I can post short stories up under a pen name. This is great – I get to play with different styles and voices, writing whatever I want with no thought of harming my brand. Even better, I get immediate feedback from fans, ones who enjoy what I post and like to chat about it. I haven’t updated in a bit – too busy cleaning up Indigo. But once it’s launched at agents I’ll have more time. And then I can start writing again, just writing what I want, 70mph and 80wpm, just flying down a sweeping plot device with a new character at my side, writing for myself. Keyboard rattling and world forgotten, I’ll be in the zone.

Writers write. It’s what we do.

So write.


Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:39
What's wrong with this picture (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 April 2012 19:18

Photo credit: wife-unit

So here's me at the UCF Book Festival.

What am I doing wrong?

Oh, there are some positives. The big eye-catching cover art. The price marked on the elevated book. The handsome author. But what's wrong?

1) The stack of books for sale are too far back on the table, right back with me. Anyone who wants to flip through them (why do you flip though books? What do you hope to find?) has to reach across the table. That mistake I noticed in the first 15 minutes when I saw how neighboring mystery author Rod Sanford had his, all the way forward, teetering on the edge. Easily fixed.

2) The cover art, while both whimsical and colorful and eye-catching and striking, is (in it's way) juvenile. People would come up to me looking for a children's book. Others would drift by (perhaps pining for a creative science fiction book, alas). This took a little longer to noticed but I eventually did. No corrections possible during the show but in future I'll make more flashy signs to stick to the poster, saying things like SCIENCE FICTION!, TIME TRAVEL!, INTER-TEMPORAL ROMANCE!, HORSE CHASES!, CITIES AFIRE!

3) You can't see it but down in my cash box, down below the table, I have my brother's apple phonetoy with a Square credit card reader hooked to it. Maybe someone liked the book but didn't have the cash (and the balls to ask about credit cards). I should put little "Visa" and "Master Card" signs up. If anything, it makes me look more professional.

4) And speaking of which, the jury is still out on the vest. Hey, it's Tunisian, a cool authentic Arabic vest. But it makes me look a little costumed and perhaps there is a bit of an anti-Arabic current still flowing. I don't know. Jury is still out on that one.

Can you get the bonus question? The final fault?

5) The booth sign - simply Early ReTyrement. I'm not sure what the character count for this was but I should have used it all. This went into the programs and was hanging over my head. Sci-Fi would have pulled a few more in, as would Time Travel. Everyone had a program. Everyone probably thought I was offering estate planning. Sheesh.

Still, I'm not going to beat myself up too bad. For everything I did wrong, I did enough right. I tightened up my delivery and learned how to pitch. I was funny and witty - charisma helps. And I had pants on. So, see, it wasn't a total disaster.

Next time will be better!

Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 18:39

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