It’s pretty rare for a month to go by where I don’t make some kind of comment about the way all of our collective problems seem rooted in excessive propagation of our species by less than ideal propagators. There is one thing that explosive population growth is good for, though. On any given day, there are more people on this planet than there were the day before. On any given day, more children become adults than ever before. (The first should give hope to the YA author; the second gives hope to those of us writing for our worldly readers.)
We may be using up more oil every day than ever before, and more water and even precious air; there are all kinds of things that we only have so much of that are threatened by there being so many of us. There is one thing that some of us can’t get enough of, though; and the more people that make more people, the better our odds of finding them. They’re the Blessed Reader, of course; and it’s nice to remember that they are one natural resource that is very far from being endangered or extinct. Every generation seems to worry that the next generation won’t read, and that literature will die as they take control of the world.
That is so not going to happen. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #025 – A Million Friends”
If there is one thing that has always been important to me, it’s reading. When I did it for escape, it saved me from the reality that was trying to shape me into something other than I longed to be. Books show us that there isn’t just a whole other world out there; there are endless other worlds out there! Reading can give sweet escape to the overwhelmed, a fresh perspective to an old and tired viewpoint, and a whole new start to what may have otherwise been a dead end life. I should know; it did all those things for me. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #024 – The Blessed Reader”
Some philosophies are strongly based in gratitude, and it’s hard to argue much of their reasoning. Sometimes it really does seem as though the only way to get more is to be grateful for what we already have. Other times it sounds like these folks are telling us that the secret to having what we want is to want what we have. That’s all well and good if all you long for is contentment, but if you have dreams to fulfill it simply will not be enough.
It’s still something that is good to practice, if gratitude is not something that flows naturally for any of us. Gratitude can give us perspective, and show us that what we consider rock bottom may actually be several times easier than the best that other people ever get to have it. Comparisons are horrible things when we look up, unless we’re looking up to learn. They can be awful when we look down as well, unless the looking is done with compassion. Then we can see that no matter how bad we think we’ve got it, there are likely a lot of people who would be happy to kill you with their bare hands to have your life.
Way to lighten things up, hmmm? Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #023 – The Gifts of Gratitude”
There were some authors out there that I could never get into. The ones that I did almost always had something to say about publishers in general, and editors in particular. I’d quote some of them here, but I like to keep the swearing to a minimum on my blog. Suffice it to say that most of my favorite authors talked about picking their battles, resisting making long-term sacrifices for short-term gain, and questioning how most editors got their jobs and kept them. The happy ending comes after many books and fans have been amassed, and they finally get to tell their publisher to print the next book how they wrote it.
That’s all changed. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #022 – Edited to Death”
We’ll start this with my usual disclaimer. I’m not calling myself on expert on any of this author stuff, or anything silly like that. There are so many levels and layers of learning to writing and publishing, I know I’ll never put down my metaphorical pen and say, “okay, I’m done”. To whatever degree that might aggravate some folks who aren’t in love with the process, it delights those of us that are. We’re the writers least likely to notice when the books are or aren’t selling, and most likely to keep writing either way. I’m an expert only on knowing that this is what I was born to do, and experienced enough to know that the only thing between me and knowledge is more learning.
Hey, I can do that. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #021 – Building a World”
One of the best things about life is all the characters you get to meet along the way. It’s also a great reason to write books. As many authors will attest, characters in stories are not creations; they are people, with minds of their own. The fact that they don’t have bodies in our world is not relevant at all; some of my favorite people don’t have bodies in our world. What they do have is personality, and a startling amount of free will. They don’t always agree with how the story is going in your outline or in your head, and failing to listen to them can result in the most dire of consequences. They can turn from your best hope of a champion to your most clear antagonist with a swift act or comment. A good character will almost always take the author by surprise at some point.
You know, like people do. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #020 – The Characters”
When it comes time to impress someone with how much goes into writing a book, it’s easy to start listing endless complicated steps. When it’s time to really break it down for the writer on the way to becoming an author, it’s just as easy to take heart. My habit of pointing out that Today’s Writer has it easier than ever may delight some, and annoy others; nowhere is this more true than in the realm of research.
There used to be a lot more know-it-alls in the world, if you don’t remember. Google almost single-handedly put them all out of business, except in the most remote or web-controlled areas. They still talk their shit, of course; but we can point out that it is indeed shit they are talking now. It’s pretty wonderful, except for all those out of work know-it-alls. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #019 – The Research”
It took a lot of living before I figured out that I needed a clear plan and a logical trajectory if I wanted to get anywhere deliberately. It’s hard to say what kind of life I would be living if I hadn’t gone through so many purposeful changes, or if I wasn’t still pursuing the next purposeful change. Setting up a system for self-improvement is a good way to learn to write an outline, it turns out.
When I wrote my first book, I did not use an outline. The next undertaking required that I employ one, for a number of reasons. This is a point I would like to stress before some writers drift away: the need for an outline is more determined by the story than it is by the author. The second point is that any author can benefit from outlining, as can any story. The only reasons to not use an outline is because the author doesn’t feel like using one, or doesn’t know how. They’re not good reasons, but they are reasons. Now let’s look at some of the reasons why outlines benefit the author, especially the author who is or may become interested in taking things to the next level. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #018 – The Outline”
I love to talk about how good writers have it these days. We’re super lucky in so many ways, simply to have the calling that we do. Some authors may feel like they chose to write books; many of us feel that writing chose us, or that there was no choice. There’s a part of us that has to write, to get those stories or ideas out there in the best way we can, and not stop no matter how many times we type ‘The End’. It’s nice to realize that the thing that chose you has so much flexibility and longevity built into it, and that those things are getting better every day.
Did you ever dream of being an athlete? I didn’t. I knew back then what they’re finally telling us now: the most rewarding sports are the most dangerous, and success still means minimal brain damage and constant pain for the long period of your life where you can no longer compete with others. One season of football in junior high taught me that smacking into someone or something full speed gave me headaches and an inability to focus. That’s American football, by the way. There was no organized futbal (uh, soccer?) going on in high school when I was a kid, and even those guys retire awful young; so I withdrew back into drawing and reading. Like public school programming, I realized pretty early on that eager participation would result in the loss of some precious part of me that I would need later, so I withdrew for the most part from both. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #017 – In It For The Long Haul”
I’m a big fan of meeting readers. I think it’s important for authors to figure out just who will love their books, and do their best to introduce them to each other. There are a variety of ways to do this, and I’m only barely getting started. However, as I pointed out before, I am here to help the writer who is where I was a few years ago. When I need advice, I look for folks one or two levels up from me. I know that trying to do things like someone five levels up will not work at my level. If you don’t understand levels, think deeply on this subject if you want to get anywhere but where you are. If you deny the existence of levels, or think they aren’t fair to point out, I heartily encourage you to get the hell off my page.
For the rest of us, a good understanding of levels is essential. For authors, a good understanding of their readers is equally important. Some research can be done at home, and it can be done easily once you slap a few labels on your book. Find your genre, and your sub-genre, and then find out what your key demographic is. You can reverse engineer this if you want to write with the reader in mind; pick your audience, and then write what they read. It’s one of the ideas we’ll explore later, when we talk about where authors go for stories. That’s not the kind of writing we’re discussing here, though; we’re talking about that first book, and it is often written for the author more than the reader. It’s also not always the easiest sell. Continue reading “Why I Love To Write #016 – Who’s Reading, Anyway?”