Committing

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I’ve always believed that ideas float around in the ether. Creative minds catch them – then some will start on it but let it go, others go further but don’t finish, others will finish, but not do it well and a small percentage will follow through.
It’s the follow-through that counts.
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Or a dime a thousand. They’re cheap, I’m telling you. Ideas are easy. Committing to them, not so easy. I know a few writers who are protective of their ideas. They’re so sure someone is going to steal them.
I hate to burst that optimistic bubble, but no matter how wonderful you think that idea is, the chance of someone actually stealing it is probably remote.
Have you, as a writer, ever found that the idea you thought was so original, has been done or is being done? You see the book you wanted to write on the shelf or reviewed in a magazine or has already been made into a movie? And you think, damn, they stole my idea.
I’ve always believed that ideas float around in the ether. Creative minds catch them – then some will start on it but let it go, others go further but don’t finish, others will finish, but not do it well and a small percentage will follow through.
It’s the follow through that counts.
Lots of people, myself included, pay lip service to their ideas, their plans. They tell their friends and family of their wonderful, creative, sure-to-make-a-buck ideas, talking them up, vowing to make it happen. Then they don’t. It was fun talking about it, impressing their friends and family with their genius. But all they do is disappoint.
I’ve done this plenty in my misspent youth. As I matured, I found how rewarding is was to follow through. Self esteem is not given, it’s earned. And it’s earned by accomplishing your dreams.
If you’re familiar with this blog, you may have read September’s post, Chasing the Dragon. In it I resolved on my last birthday, October 1, to make this year, to October 1, 2017, count. I’ve done four of the five things listed. I finished the revision on Alex Bullied, sent queries to twenty agents (one of whom requested the full manuscript) (still waiting), wrote the first terrible draft of My Identical Cousin, and I continue to celebrate the small victories, like that agent request or completing NaNoWriMo.
I have not yet begun to turn Morning of the Mermaid into a graphic novel and I added another project, a nonfiction adult book which I will self-publish in November.
I’ve been thinking of this nonfiction book, writing it in my head for years, and I believe it will have commercial appeal. I’ve come up with a promising way to promote it. I need an artist and an expert to be on board and I want to have it out in time for Christmas sales. I’m being vague about the book’s contents for good reason, which has nothing to do with fearing the idea will be stolen. Because it’s so different than what I’ve been working on for so long, the project just must remain mysterious for the moment.
This post isn’t about this particular project anyway, but my commitment to do as I’m promising, to not just give it lip service, to put my time where my mouth is. I have to prove to myself that I’m right about its commercial appeal and the marketing.
All the while, I will edit My Identical Cousin to have it ready to be workshopped at a writers retreat in September and get Morning of the Mermaid ready to be a graphic novel. I have eight months to accomplish these things. One key to committing is not to over reach. Don’t be too ambitious, or you’ll set yourself up for failure.
What is that saying? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions? The road to Failure is paved with good intentions is more like it. Intentions don’t get projects done. Only work, often hard work, does that.
Can I do it? I hope so, because if I can do it, it might inspire someone else to not only have dreams, but commit to them and make them reality.
Stay tuned.

Other People’s Blogs

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So many blogs, so little time. To keep up, we’d have to spend most of every day reading. Not even Sunday off. There is so much media out there: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and those of which I am not aware. When do we ever have the time to read them all, much less write our own?

And how do we find the ones we might like?

After I post a new entry, as I will this one, I receive half a dozen or so emails from Word Press telling me how So and So loved my blog and maybe I’d like theirs.

I have found a few that I like. But mostly, not so much. Sometimes I think the posts are a kind of vanity, equivalent to posting selfies on Twitter. Empty and pointless. There are a lot of would-be writers out there and a blog is a good place to start. But remember, quality still counts for something.

It’s not only aspiring writers who create blogs. Agents and editors have blogs. And, as hopeful published authors, we should follow these, right? But which ones? In pursuing some of these, I’ve noticed they tend to be sporadic about their postings. If you “follow” them, you’ll get a notice when they post. So if you find a couple or few you connect with, you may only hear from them once a month, if that.

I follow one in particular, Nathan Bransford, and I recommend his blog. He posts regualrly. He is an agent turned author and knows all sides to the business and has valuable imformation to impart. Sometimes he will take submissions of first chapters or queries and will pick a few lucky ones to critique and edit. Also, he’s funny and fun to read. Recently he posted about the demise of the blogosphere and while I don’t know that I agree with him, it’s interesting. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

Many of the sites I’m directed to by Word Press are “Indie” authors. In the interest of supporting fellow struggling authors, I “followed” a few. I found them mostly annoying. Not  because they’re Indie, aka self-published, but because their blogs are devoted only to selling their books. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but there’s nothing there to interest me.

For instance, one is constantly having contests in which a reader can win a signed first edition of his hightly-acclaimed novel. He doesn’t say acclaimed by whom or what. And I can’t help but wonder how many other editions there will be.

I know this sounds snarky, but because of the convenience of Kindle, I can check a book out in a matter of minutes by getting a sample. I read the first chapter of the book written by the above blogger and it was obvious he didn’t have a critique group. If he did, he needs a new one. I know what we like is subjective, but poor writing is poor writing.

Another Indie author supplements his book promotion with almost daily quotes about writing. This just takes up space in my inbox. It’s funny, though, once I’m following someone I hate to unfollow. I don’t know what that’s about but the fact that I will watch shows I don’t even like because theyr’e on my DVR might have something to do with it.

Then there’s the guy who constantly announces his book is on sale on Kindle for ninety-nine cents. I read a sample of his novel and I liked it well enough. If he’d done his due diligence on the editing, I might have bought it. When I read something I think is so close to being publishable, I can’t help but wonder what the writer was thinking. Not that I know what’s publishable, clearly. Just my opinion. But to put all that work into something and then self-publish without trying to get traditionally published puzzles me. Unless he did and gave up. His site says he has 42,500 followers. Is that even possible? I wonder how his sales are.

Again, I know I’m being snarky. I am not down on self-publishing. Anyone who can sit and put between fifty thousand and a hundred and fifty thousand words on paper has my respect and admiration. If they can put those words into an order that makes sense and transports me, even better. But just because a writer decides to forego the agony of prospecting for an agent and go the independent route doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try hard to put out the best book possible. Also, unlike this blog I just checked out and didn’t “follow,” if you’re going to have a blog to promote your book, for heaven’s sake, at least proof the writing on the site. This person had so many obvious mistakes, it was embarrassing.

I like a theme to a blog, not just promotion and filler. I like an essay, maybe. I’d like to read about an Indie author’s struggle. What else are they doing to market their book? What do they want for their next one? Will there be a next one? What is their ultimate goal?

I think it helps to have a theme. It keeps the blog centered. A couple of friends in my writers’ group have blogs devoted, not to their books, but to the subjects of their novels.

For instance, C.L. Woodhams, author of The Outreach Committe, a story about a group of women who murder each others’ abusing husbands, writes a blog about domestic violence. It’s informative. Womenbreakfreefromabuse.wordpress.com

R.W.Richard, author of Autumn Breeze, Double Happiness, and A More Perfect Union, is a man writing in the woman-dominated romance genre. His blog, Romance:the guys’ POV, gives the man’s view of writing romance, but also general writing tips and helpful advice. http://romancetheguyspov.blogspot.com

Of course, C.L. and R.W. promote their books on their blogs as well and want to sell copies. But they give us more while they’re doing it.

Fortunately, I have been directed to a few blogs I’m glad I follow. These women are on their own journeys to publication. They also write young adult or middle grade. Theya re doing what I’m doing. And misery loves company, right? They post often enought to maintain interest. One of them plumps her blog with book reviews. I’ve bought a couple because of her reviews. Sometimes the blogs will feature an interview with an author or reblog something someone has written about the business of writing. Check them out at  www.wordsreadandwritten.com    and    https://dawnewebber.wordpress.com   and   http://lorellepage.wordpress.com.

What makes these blogs stand out for me is the writing. It’s personal, it feels chatty, not like I’m being taught something or being sold something. They’ve beenproofed and spell checked. And they care as much as I do.

By the way, chances are you’ll find mistakes in these posts of mine. I hope not, but it happens. I just want you all to know, it’s not my writing, they’re typos.