Most authors I know have writing blogs where they primarily talk about the process of writing. If I were only a reader, something like that would bore me to tears. I don’t want to know how the sausage is made. I just want to eat it. (In the case of sausage, I really don’t want to know how it’s made.)
That’s one of the main reasons why I don’t talk about writing very often. The other reason is that it’s still magic to me, even after 55 books.
Yet I’m going to talk about writing for a minute. Something popped into my mind the other day and I realized that it might be an odd attitude to have. Or, it might be something that all writers share and I’ve just not heard it discussed.
I’ll confess something right now, I don’t like groups and I’ve especially avoided writing groups, seminars, and conferences like the proverbial plague. I take courses all the time, but they’re either webinars or self-directed learning. I’m not good in groups. I tend to sit against the wall and watch everybody with big wide eyes. I’m not judging as much as I am simply uncomfortable. I haven’t been a member of RWA for a decade or more. I recently read through the winners of the RITA and I didn’t recognize more than two names. So I’m really out of it.
To me writing has always been – as I said earlier (and often) – magical, but in another, very real sense, it’s also spiritual to me. I honestly think that writing saved my life. At one point I was so filled with pain and anguish that I didn’t see how I could keep going on. The ability to translate what I was feeling into words helped me process everything.
That’s why I don’t discuss writing with other writers. They may think of it as a job or a career. I think of it as something more. For example, when I talk about Tapestry, I make a joke and tell people that I shorted out a keyboard crying. Well, I really did. A lot of what Laura was going through I had experienced and it was cathartic to have her be able to express to other people how she felt on losing Alex.
Given all that, what I’m about to say will probably surprise you.
Books are not my babies, and I’ve made that comment before, too. I think of them as works for hire, actually. Even those books that I publish independently. It was a story that I had to tell you. I wanted to get it down on paper, make it as perfect technically as I could and have you enjoy it when you read it. I don’t feel this heart to book connection that seems to exist with a lot of writers. If you didn’t like the story I told, I’m sorry. Maybe you’ll give me another chance and read the next one. Or, it could be that you don’t like the way I tell stories. That’s okay, too.
I have to admit that I feel a sense of discordance between being so passionate about the process of writing and the product it delivers, a book. I think the two thoughts are almost at war with each other.
I do not, as a habit, ever read a book in its final form. By that time I’ve distanced myself from it. I look at a book as something that I did, a project that took a certain amount of time in my life and a certain amount of dedication. I instilled every bit of emotion I could into that package of words. I gave it everything I had but that was then and this is now.
Once I finish a book, it’s done. It drains out of my brain.
Maybe that’s why I have such difficulty with placing characters in previous books. Don’t mention Margaret or Daniel or Brandon to me. I haven’t a clue who they are. Isn’t that the oddest thing? My editor and I had the funniest email exchange the other day. She said that I had used the hero’s name in a recent book. I had? She reminded me of it, so I changed it. Then she said, “Uh, you used that one, too.”
It could be that I share these traits with other writers. Or they could be limited to weird, odd little me. 🙂 And that’s okay, too.
I stumbled onto an author’s site this past weekend. She wasn’t telling her blog readers about the writing process (which, basically, is kind of boring – you sit in a chair, imagine, and type). Nor was she talking about her books all the time.
However, she committed what I consider to be an even more egregious error. She was talking politics.
She and I seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. She insulted me – without ever meeting me – because I am in a particular “group” that she considered sub-human.
I think politics is like peanut butter.
Let’s say I absolutely adore peanut butter and make sure to eat some every day. Would my posts on peanut butter inspire you to also love peanut butter? I don’t think so.
What if you were allergic to peanut butter? Would you be convinced to try it despite your allergy because of my impassioned posts about it? I doubt it.
I don’t think you can convince or persuade anyone in a blog post (or dozens of posts), regardless of your passion. Especially on a subject as important and elemental as peanut butter. 🙂
All I’d be doing, as I wax eloquent about my love of peanut butter, is talking to hear myself talk. If people gravitate to my website I think it would be a case of like seeking like.
Anyone with a differing opinion probably wouldn’t return. Or if they did it would be to argue against peanut butter.
All I could do with this author was leave her site and vow never to return.
I’ve about had it with contentious sites – and that’s why there’s no talk of peanut butter (politics) on my website.
If you’re a writer, or have writing as an item on your bucket list, may I give you some unsolicited advice?
Forget about getting an agent.
You’ll thank me for that advice.
There’s some brouhaha lately about a famous agency admitting that an employee absconded with $3.4 million of their clients’ money. Y’all, that means authors. Authors weren’t paid for their books. They got zilch.
What shocked me about the story wasn’t that the agency stole the money. It’s that the authors didn’t start bitching, moaning, and complaining when they didn’t get their royalties. Or that they didn’t have the sense God gave a gnat in the first place and demand separate accounting.
An agent demands 15% of your hard earned money, even if they do diddly squat. They act as if they’re doing you a favor representing you when you’re paying them. I fired my last agent five years or so ago and I’ve never looked back, but when I had them I demanded separate accounting.
Here’s what I mean.
You’re a writer. You get an agent. Let’s say the agent gets you a book deal. One book for $50,000, which means $25,000 on signing and $25,000 on acceptance of the manuscript. You sign the contract which stipulates that your agent gets 15% while you get 85%. The publisher sends $25,000 to the agency. They hold onto it as long as they want, then finally cut you a check for your 85%.
In separate accounting, the publisher sends 85% to the author and 15% to the agency. The agency doesn’t get their little mitts on your money. You KNOW where it is at all times.
Why these big name authors – who have now been cheated out of $3.4 million – didn’t insist on separate accounting is a mystery to me. Because of it, they’ll never be able to recoup their money. THEIR money.
Trust me, you’re so much better off doing your own negotiating. Hire an intellectual property attorney to look over the contract. You will save yourself years of grief. And money.
This morning I finally finished the last, final, don’t-touch-the-book-again, read of the new book on Kindle. I am always amazed that there are changes at this FINAL stage. This is the FIFTH final read of the book – which I do for every book – and it never fails that I find something that needs to be re-worded.
I’ve been bopping back and forth between my MacBook Air, my iPad Pro, and my iMac. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that last night around midnight I kept pressing the screen of my MacBook Air and nothing happened. It didn’t dawn on me that I wasn’t on my iPad and that I needed to use a mouse. Duh. That’s when you KNOW you’ve been editing too long.
Anyway, I finished today so I was doing the web surfing thing.
First article I found was about a plucky terrier who had a habit of chasing a crocodile back to the Adelaide River in Australia. Uh, until the last time. The owner of said plucky terrier made a video of the crocodile EATING his dog. No, I have not included the video. I haven’t seen it, either. Why would I want to?
Segue to another article, this one featuring a video of an alligator being followed by a mama duck and her ducklings. Anyone want to speculate how that ended? No, they didn’t show that, but nature will do what nature will do.
There are rumors that Bravo is creating a new franchise for their Real Housewives series. I hope, hope, hope it’s not true. It’s the Real Housewives of San Antonio. We’ve gotten more and more famous over the years, but I really think we can do without this kind of infamy. But what do I know?
I heard a weird noise a little while ago. I looked down to find Stanley chewing on my desk. Um, no.
I’ve taken to singing Stanley, Stanley Ranney, King of the Wild Frontier, to the tune of Davey Crockett.
Born on the Southside in San Antone
Hottest state of Texas don’t you know.
Raised in the woods so he knew every tree
Peed on every one from the time he was three (days).
Stanley, Stanley Ranney, King of the Wild Frontier.
He isn’t a fan of singing, for some odd reason. 🙂
The dog cracks me up all the time. Since he isn’t allowed on my bed anymore, we play in the kitchen or the living room. Wherever we are there are about twenty dog toys. I imagine that Flash’s ghost is watching and shaking his head over our antics.
Off to find some way to celebrate finally finishing, finishing the book!
I debated posting this because it’s kind of snarky. I really do try NOT to be snarky, but there are times when it just seeps out, y’all. This is one of those times. I did a search of my posts and I ranted about this in 2014, which means that I’ve gone four years without busting a gasket. I’m due.
Here’s the snark, just to acknowledge that she’s escaped from her cage:
I have made no secret of my loathing for two words, especially when they’re uttered by writers: clean and literary.
I actually ran across this question on a writers’ forum the other day:
Has anyone ever made the move from writing dirty to writing clean?
Yep, I almost threw my computer across the room. I didn’t because I like my computer. I need my computer. But, please.
Let’s just ignore the jab you made to fellow writers. Do you have any idea how insulting you are to readers?
Yes, I’m several subway stops beyond annoyed.
In another forum a writer stated, “I write literary. Not genre books.” She actually had the gall to state that she was worried that her second book wouldn’t be as GREAT as her first (her emphasis and she wasn’t being sardonic).
La de dah.
Literary means that you write good stuff, of course. The rest of us, the genre writers, write crap.
I have to stop going to writers’ forums. I end up wanting to kick something. Or someone. 🤬