Social Media by Christine Duncan

This week I read yet another, “What Not to Do on Social Media if you’re An Author” Post. I must have read a million of these types, and I’ve written more than a few myself. But what struck me was that many of the things on the don’t list were things I considered to be common courtesy not all that long ago. I’m not going to list the list here. I imagine you’ve read a couple social media don’t lists yourself. But not only will I unfriend you if you call people names, are condescending or just nasty, there’s no way I’m buying your books either. Just so you know.

Ashamed

There was a wonderful drama about the Brontes on over Christmas. (To Walk Invisible, by the excellent Sally Wainwright)

One of the ways it differed from previous Bronte stories I’ve seen or read is that Charlotte was ambitious. All the sisters tell stories, but have no burning desire to share them with the world. But as Branwell fails again and again, they realise if they want to survive, they have to earn their own living, and being a governess just isn’t enough.

Ambition is seen as an awful thing for a writer, especially a female writer, and wanting to earn money from it is sniffed at. Look at the furore over literary festivals where is paid a fee except writers. Asking for money for art is seen as grubby.

Yet all we want is to be paid to do the work. Of course, we love to write, but it would be wonderful if writing didn’t come at the cost of being able to eat, or have a roof over our heads. I currently have to work to earn enough to live on, but a daily job means far less time for writing, and the massive amount of research my books take.

I don’t think we should be ashamed of asking for money for our work. Every other job earns money, after all. It’s not necessary to starve in an attic or work all day at a job you hate to be a good writer. I don’t think we should be ashamed of publishing ourselves, or being ambitious, or of wanting to earn more.

I think others should be ashamed of asking us to pour our heart and soul and secrets and experiences and fears and joys onto paper and yet give us nothing in return

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

It’s That Time of Year Again by Christine Duncan

The beginning of the year is a time for new starts, for organizing, for, dare I say it, thinking about taxes. If you are a writer, you are probably self-employed and you should be thinking about estimated taxes, which not so coincidentally are due this week.
When should you submit estimated taxes? If you are going to owe more than a thousand dollars in tax. Otherwise, you will incur penalties. You should pay estimated taxes four times a year: April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th. But since the 15th occurred on a Sunday, this January, and Martin Luther King day is a Federal holiday on the 16th, you get a couple extra days for this last payment.
So, if you were fortunate enough to make some money on your writing in 2015, pay up!

Not So Jolly

I’ve been re-reading Enid Blyton for book club. Now of course, Enid Blyton is full of happy jolly kids having lots of fun and adventures and completely ignoring the adults, whilst at the same time eating masses of food (she was writing during and just after rationing, so the idea of not only getting enough to eat but wonderfully rich food to eat is pure wish fulfilment)

But as I read it, I noticed just a thread of sorrow. Just a line here and there hinting this world isn’t all bright and sunny. I’ve noticed this in other of her books, usually the Barney Mysteries. There’s a hint of tragedy, a twist of darkness, an unexpected touch of pain. Of course, Enid Blyton was writing for children who, like herself, had just been through a devastating world war.

But it’s something I never noticed as a child. As an adult, when I read the books I read as a child, I find all sorts of things I never noticed before. Wind in the Willows and Enid Blyton and Alice in Wonderland are full of themes and messages and details that washed over me as a child – but as an adult it gives me a whole new understanding of the books.

Can I suggest you go back and read your childhood books? Not just to recapture your childhood but to see it with whole new eyes, see the story behind the bright happy tale, those little touches you never noticed before.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Writing Quotes I like by Christine Duncan

My plan for 2017–notice I don’t say resolution, I don’t do resolutions, is to be more organized, make better use of the time I have. Write more. With that in mind, I decided to look up writing quotes so I can be surrounded by inspiration.
I found: “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Isn’t that the truth?
There were the ironic ones: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Earnest Hemingway or maybe as Walter Winchell reported, it was Red Smith.
Mark Twain: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
My favorite writing quote has always been this one from John Gardner: “People will tell you that writing is too difficult, that it’s impossible to get your work published, that you might as well hang yourself. Meanwhile, they’ll keep writing and you’ll have hanged yourself.”
It was at about this point in my research that I realized instead of getting more organized, I was again, procrastinating. So I’ve saved you the research time, and the realization time. Or to quote Miss O from Odd Squad, “What are you waiting for? Go!” (Write!)

Two Creators

Sometimes a writer will create a character, a truly great character, that transcends the author’s original stories and takes on a life outside of them. What’s interesting is how all these new writers and readers and film makers and viewers see very different versions of this one core character.

Let’s take for example James Bond (bet you thought I was going to say Sherlock Holmes, didn’t you?)

James Bond, of course, was created in a series of books by Ian Fleming. Since then he’s been written by other authors, turned into a radio play, filmed for movies and TV and pastiched and parodied.

For every adaptation, Bond has been something slightly different. There have been six movie Bonds (not counting David Niven) and all unique whilst still being all Bond. Sean Connery’s dark, panther-like Bond is a world away from Roger Moore’s light-hearted, almost comic-book Bond and both totally different from Daniel Craig’s damaged, vulnerable Bond. Fleming chose Connery based on the reaction of the women in the room, wonder what he would have thought of the rest?

I’ve read Bond pastiches that revealed a whole new side to him, and pastiches that seemed nothing more than a superficial retelling. Yet every author felt they saw Bond that way.

A good character, a really strong character is seen differently by everyone who sees them. I think perhaps the trick is they are all rather mysterious. We rarely see their inner thoughts. So we can project on them, and take from them, whatever we need and whatever we believe from them.

I think, as authors, we have to be prepared that readers may see our favourite characters very differently from the way we do. A character has two creators – the author who writes them, and the reader who brings them to life.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Happy New Year Everyone, by Christine Duncan

I don’t make resolutions but I do try to find a word, just one word, to define what I’d like myself to be in the year to come. I’ve had a lot of words. This year, I’m thinking resilient. Or how about just bounce? I’m still thinking. What is your word this year?