Posts Tagged ‘Writer’s life’

I am a great big nobody- and I’m okay with it! Advice no one wants to hear…

Okay full confession, “I’m a great big nobody and I’m okay with it!” is inspired from a Dear Polly that I read last year. This lady, hurtling toward 50, had some successes as an author—published books—but never broke through to the next level. She was thinking about giving up. Best line: “…if I read one more “follow your dreams” platitude from someone lucky enough to be picked by Oprah, I may go out of my gourd. I’ve been walking in the direction of my dreams for the past 20 years, and now I’m fucking stalled, scared, and frustrated.”

Dear Polly said: “Stop pressing your face to the glass of someone else’s party. Enjoy the party unfolding around you. She basically suggested this mantra “I AM AN OLD NOBODY AND I LOVE WHAT I DO.”

I get it. It’s hard to enjoy your “own party” since no one respects the average writer, not even the average writer, which is kind of weird since we all know everybody wants to be a writer. We all have dreams about what we want. We are all trying to do the best we can. Most of us are trying to do it without wounding our moral compass or harming our loved ones. I know the lady sitting across the table at the coffee house wants to be an author. I can read her notes.

I am an average American writer for this epoch. I have both self published and published novels. I have a couple of short stories published too. Weirdly, most people don’t think I am a success–including myself. Yet there are a few struggling authors who find me an object of envy. I’m cruising towards 40.

Around the same time I read this Dear Polly, I was flipping out about The Light Side of the Moon and my pal, Evan asked the most important question. “So how many books do you think you can write even if they only do as well as Other Systems?”

Damn his logic. The answer is/was at least a solid twenty. Then I realized: I won’t ever give up writing and art. I love this shit!  Yes, I have goals. (Hell, I write a profit assessment for every project to do.) But no matter what happens,  as long as I am able, I’m going to keep creating. 

That doesn’t mean I’m going to a “success” the way other people mean it. Our society bases our worth on how much money we make. You must tell yourself, that you are okay with where ever you are in your career. I don’t need to worry about breaking through and neither do you, because that’s half luck anyway.

And if you don’t believe me or Dear Polly: Listen to Picard.

Picardimages.jpg

 

Want to be a writer? Here is some more great advice from Chuck Windig: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/02/21/25-things-i-want-to-say-to-so-called-aspiring-writers/

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Writer’s Fashion: Do clothes make the author?

What do writer’s wear each day?

Casual, Business, or all out fancy pants?

I have heard of authors who found that getting dressed helps them get more work accomplished. Charles Dickens fastidiousness was especially well documented.  In this blog post by Noelle Sterne, she refers to the importance of “being dressed for action.” She points out getting dressed is a helpful ritual for the creative process. She found being sloppy put writing on the bottom of her list.

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Pre-walk Tycho. Note his expectant gaze for adventure. Rosie is running around so I can’t get a photo with both of them in it.

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Rosie and Tycho postwalk.

Being sloppy don’t effect me in such a way. Mostly because I have another ritual. I make breakfast, drive my husband to work, take my dogs to the park for an hour. Then it is time to kick off my shoes, because I don’t wear shoes at home and make a cup of coffee. Most of the time, I wear exactly what I wore to the park: my old ripped jeans or yoga pants and t-shirts. Exchange the jeans for shorts if its warm. Add a sweater if it’s cold. I tend to wear my hair in a pony tail or a loose bun.

Then the pups take a lie down and I get to work immediately for five or six uninterrupted hours.

Now for weekends, I have a convention or other author appearance, I have a few nice shirts, non-ripped jeans, and one casual dress and a few jackets of charisma. Hey, I live is Seattle and Seattle is causal.

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One of my jackets of charisma.

Here are a few authors who were kind enough to speak about what they wear when they write.

Dan Thompson said:  “If I’m writing at home I have to be barefoot when I write. Socks annoy me and make me frustrated. Barefoot allows me to curl up on my chair and write without feeling restricted.” 

Another lover of freedom in movement is Christina Thompson: At home I wear sweats and a t-shirt. I usually don’t wear a bra…too confining. My other quirk is I brush my teeth before I start. It helps me focus more on the writing and less on wanting snacks.

(I totally understand the snack issue, that’s why I always make breakfast before I get to work! 🙂 )

RL King has nearly the opposite feeling. “I have to wear my shoes. If I don’t wear them, I tend to relax, and I consider writing a job. It is a fun job, but it is still a job.”

Anna's sweater

AnnaLee’s Sweater

AnnaLee Zenkner has a ritual outfit.  “I wear this sweater that I found at a value village when I was a teenager and I still wear it. It’s an old man sweater that obviously got shrunk in the wash… But it shrunk into my perfect intellectual girl sweater and I will never give it up. Why? I call it my “professor sweater” I wear it to think, ease drop, observe, sip scotch or coffee and create obnoxious opinionated characters.”

Adam Watson of Darkslinger Comics: “Whatever I am wearing or not wearing that day. I have never needed any special clothing requirements.”

And apparently nothing stops David Boop: “I have worn everything from a three piece suit to my birthday suit, because I write whenever I have the energy, the opportunity and the equipment available to do so. I have written at a desk, in bed, on the toilet, in a car, on the light rail, in noisy or quiet situations. When you need to write, nothing should come between you and your craft.”

What do you wear when you are writing? Do you have any rituals that help your creative process?

Life of an author: 7 Ways to Keep the Creeping Bitterness at Bay

Yesterday I read this article: http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/09/28/20-things-to-remember-when-you-think-youre-not-good-enough/  I loved it enough to put on my Facebook Page and then I decided to write my own list, specifically for authors.

I wanted to roll myself in blankets with Rosie.

Every author has days they just want to hide under the blankets.

Every author has felt the creep of bitterness when they watch another author do well publicly. We want to be supportive to one another, but deep inside, is a little voice asking “Why isn’t that me?”

Right now, there are the fall releases. Most authors have author friends. And a lot of them are putting out new books. A friend and I went to a reading for two authors in our acquaintance. We stayed for the reading, but during mingle time, the friend was anxious to leave and overwhelmed. Why? Because she was jealous. Her first book just had another rejection and here two of our friends  seemed to have all the success in the world.

Guess what? I know the inner workings of these two authors well enough to know that they don’t have it all. Yet, even I, feel that creeping anger that overtakes my being and stops me from moving forward. You see, I talk a good game and I hide it well. But it’s always there threatening to break out. This is how I control it.

1) Remember EVERY BOOK has a sales arc from release date to current time.

Every book’s sales drop off after the release blitz. Every Book. Some will hit the top 100 lists and some won’t. Not every book from the same best-selling author will hit the best seller lists.  But every book goes up after its release and then comes down.

2) Remember EVERY BOOK has good and bad reviews.

I’ve had epic reviews where the reader said I’m their new favorite author and I’ve had reviews that said Other Systems was boring. Who is right? They both are. A review is an opinion. And everyone is entitled to their opinion especially since I asked them for it!

3) Remember EVERY AUTHOR has a budget for PR.

Some budgets are bigger than mine. I can’t control that. I can control how I spend my own money and remember that just because this book didn’t do as well as I like, doesn’t mean that the next book won’t.

Now here’s where it gets personal….

If I had been afraid to go through this gate, I would have missed one of the most beautiful and interesting gardens in all of IrelanD!

If I had been afraid to go through this gate, I would have missed one of the most beautiful and interesting gardens in all of Ireland! So Be FEARLESS!

4) Don’t be afraid to write what you want to write

I write what I want to write and have basically told people to fuck off if they tell me to write something else. (Depending on the relationship with the person, this will be a gentle or harsh.)

No, I don’t write about YA vampires nor do I write spanking fantasies about women being dominated by billionaires.To be clear, I am not dissing any author who writes about such things as long as they are writing about these subjects because they want to. 

I am saying If I wrote such a story, it would be shit. Know why? Because I don’t care about that. I don’t even care about the Hunger Games wannabe dystopia stories though they are closer to what I write. Not because these subjects are better or worse than what I write, but because I would be a poser and no one likes a poser.

I write serious hard science and hard social science fiction. My inspirations are Margret Atwood, Vernor Vingeand David Brin

Sometimes I also write horror or epic fantasy. My inspirations are Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Tanya Huff.

These are the authors I read for pleasure. Notice something about the authors I listed, they have two things in common. They are authors who write for adults. and no matter what the setting deal with real life issues in their writing.

No one makes me write this. It’s a tough road, but a road that I put myself on willingly.  I really don’t care what other people think I should write. I’m living the dream–and so can you–just remember every great dream has a bit of a nightmare.

5) Go your own pace.

It will feel that everyone is moving faster than you. They are releasing ten books a year while you’re struggling with writer’s block. I once let a publishing contract pass me by. It hurts when I think about it sometime, but I know I did the right thing for me. I nor my project would have been what the press wanted from me.

6) When it gets too hard, reach out for help. 

I think most authors want to help. I love helping. Hell, even if I can only give you a hug (real or metaphorical) and pass you along to some one more qualified, I will do that. And if you  happen to run into jerks, write them off, and come over to my side of the inter-webs.


7) Five Words: I am a fucking author. (And if you need them add another seven…Nothing can take that away from me.)

I wrote a hard science fiction novel and it was published. I wrote, created artwork and self published 4 graphic novels and a comic book series. I have had a few short stories published. This is where I am in my career. It has taken me eight years to get this far and I’m not stopping.

No one can take that away from me…not even death. I might not be remembered, I can’t control that, but I used the time I have in a way that I feel is worthwhile.

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Here is me at Norwescon’s Writer’s Row last year.

If you wrote a book or a short story or a blog post you are an author. You created something out of nothing. Be proud of that.

Plus one extra tip for no charge: Figure out what  gets your hackles up, and do your best to ignore it.

America loves an instant Success story and a get rich quick scheme. Right now, that’s publishing an e-book on Kindle.

Being an author is work. No one just poops out novels or trips over a publishing contract. My pet peeve is every bio from a best-selling author that starts with “I never thought I’d be an author…. ” I’m calling out bullshit on that. Then I stop reading and go about my merry way.

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