In my storage locker, I have two boxes full of little scraps of paper, half-filled notebooks, computer printouts and all kinds of things, all filled with my writing from the last 20 years or so. I even have old computer disks.
Every so often, I try to sort them out into some sort of order, and throw away what I really don’t need. The problem is, I realised I need them all.
In the book I am almost finished with, I have used images that I came up 20 years ago, and ideas I had 10 years ago, and lines I’ve found written on scraps of paper from goodness knows when.
I’ve realised nothing I write is wasted. Even if it’s just one line in a notebook, or an idea I had discarded, it all gets used one day. When I have the right story, all those little scraps of paper find a place.
Don’t throw any of it away. Keep it and read it and go over it and one day, even if it’s decades later, you will use it.
I saw a post from an author today, telling others not to identify themselves as Indie or Independent when they were trying to promote their books. It was, she said, the kiss of death, as most people didn’t know Indie Press from mainstream. Her thought was that for most readers, Indie meant something less. Readers who knew about it would identify it as inferior.
It could be true. I’ve seen reviewers, who knew better, put down Indie books for lack of proof reading if they found one tiny grammatical error which they would have ignored in mainstream. Many Indie presses employ proofreaders and editors and have a turn down rate that rivals New York for the fiction submitted to them. And any writer who has been around the Indie publishing scene for a while could tell you how the whole thing has changed from its inception.
Unfortunately, many of us who write believe that readers know what we know. It is seldom true. There were writing wars about who could be included as published authors in many of the author organizations such as Sisters in Crime just a few years ago, with some bad feelings on both sides of the fence. But the average reader knew nothing about them. Readers might know that a book is only available as an e-book rather than having both paper and e but even that division is becoming less of a hurdle as more people read on their tablets and phones and as some NY publishers make some writers earn paper publishing by how many e-books they sell.
I have never identified with the Indie label because I never really thought of my books that way. And I’ve always seen e-publishing as just the latest form of the written word. Anything that has gone through as many changes as writing has, from cave walls and parchment scrolls to moveable type and paper back novels was bound to evolve some more to fit our time. Are e-books the way our grandchildren and great grandchildren will read? Time will tell.
In the meantime, maybe Indie isn’t the way to promote. But then neither is tweeting your log line over and over and over on Twitter. But authors still do it.
I am currently putting the final, final, absolutely final touches to my manuscript, as suggested by my agent. I have been working on this book since late 2012. I have written and rewritten and touched up and rewritten and at this point – I absolutely hate it. I never want to see it again. I loathe it. I am certain it cannot be any good.
I know it’s because I’m too close to it. I’ve spent too much time fiddling with it, even to the choice of certain words. I’ve discovered links, and researched the subject intensively and thought endlessly about how to improve it. I’ve thought of little else for over a year, and now that’s it’s almost over, I’m sick of it.
I always get this stage. Just before it’s done, I get this ‘it’s rubbish, it’s vile and if I never see it again it’ll be too soon’ feeling.
However, I know perfectly well once I let it go, and forget about it for six months, it’ll be fine. If I don’t look at it, if I work on something else, if I forget it even existed, and then go back to it, I’ll like it. I doubt I’ll love it, I’m far too aware that the book I write doesn’t live up to the book in my head. But I will like it. I’ll enjoy it. I may even be impressed by certain moments.
I just have to get through this stage of hating it.
Thanks to MarketingforRomanceWriters@yahoogroups.com, I have a new obsession. I am trying to set up all of my social networks on Hootsuite. Hootsuite, for those of you who, like me, never heard of the darn thing before, lets you see all of your social networks at once. Plus, and this is the part I really like, you can schedule posts or tweets beforehand or have them repeat or whatever.
I’m still learning. The problem with all of these deals that are supposed to save me time is they all take me time to learn. And by the time I’ve learned some of them, the world has moved on. But if this works out the way it is supposed to, even this blog should be able to be done faster.
Or it would be if I could write faster. I’ll keep you updated.
Helen Mirren at the BAFTAs this week asked us all to thank the teacher in our lives that had made a difference, that had influenced and inspired us. I’d like to thank Mr Adams.
Mr Adams was my English teacher when I was 12. I was a miserable, lonely child, who hated everything, especially school. Mr Adams saw something in me. First he encouraged me to read everything. Then he encouraged me to write.
He praised my stories. He guided me. He read my stories out in class. Knowing that I was unpopular and the other children would boo the stories if they knew I wrote them, he read them anonymously, and asked them to guess who wrote my stories. No-one guessed it was me. When he revealed it, I actually had a moment of joy.
He made me think I could actually write. He made me work at it, and think about it and take pleasure in it. He made me see how a good story can inspire and move readers, as well as the writer. He made me think I could be a writer.
Sadly, a year later I had to change schools, and other teachers were not quite so inspirational. Creative writing was tolerated, but just as an amusement. But I have never forgotten Mr Adams. I have never forgotten watching him reading one of my stories out in class, as the other children sat entranced, utterly caught up in a tale I’d created. He changed my life, and if I am a writer today, it’s because he pointed the way.
Thank you, Mr Adams.
I am, as usual, obsessed about promotion. I read a post about a fellow author promoting via a Facebook party. As near as I can tell, a Facebook party seems to be a newer version of chats. An author offers prizes to participants, and has some kind of a thumbnail of the book along with a description. After that, I have no clue. I never had a clue when it was a chat either. It’s not for lack of people trying to explain it to me. I just can’t imagine why people want to do this. At all.
I have done promotion that I like. One time, a writing group I belonged to had a promotion where each of us wrote a chapter of a story using our own characters from our books, interacting with the other writer’s characters. (Did I say that right?) Anyway, that one was fun. We were all mystery writers but that was the only area in common. Some wrote Noire, some wrote traditional, one woman’s heroine was a Vietnam Vet with as far as I can remember PTSD, my own heroine is a counselor in a battered women’s shelter. There were a bunch of us doing this so there were a lot of different viewpoints. Having these characters interact was a blast and we offered the story in installments as that was how we were writing it.
I guess that is my problem with promotion. I think it ought to be fun. And be about writing. Or maybe I think the writing should be promotion enough. Sigh.
Meanwhile I’m still trying to learn about Triberr. But I am as clueless about that as I was about Facebook parties.
Not much to say this week, because I’ve been ill. The problem with an illness like mine is that I cruise all along, pretty much fine, pretty much coping for a long periods of time – and then I crash. And when I crash I crash hard.
So, I’ve pretty much been confined to lying on the sofa, whimpering quietly. Books are too complex, a lot of TV is too demanding, I can’t even move.
Luckily, however, my manuscript is at the copy-editing stage, checking spelling, grammar, gaping plot holes, that sort of thing. I can do that when I’m ill. I can do three pages at a time, not really thinking, just reading and noticing and marking with my little red pen. It’s interesting to discover the urge to write is stronger than the urge to lie still, not moving, watching the wild weather on the news.
At least I’m getting something done. It’s a relief to know that even when everything else crashes, I can still write.