What My Parents Could Not Teach Me About Writing

Although writing is still writing and storytellers will be with us forever, there are some things that have changed. Things my parents could probably not have imagined.

1.  The World Is Your Oyster

We are so used to chatting to friends on Facebook and Twitter that we don’t even stop to think how wonderfully insane it is to chat to total stranger on the other side of the world. Someone you have never met, and most probably, never will. Someone you cannot call a friend. Yet you know their tastes, hopes, dreams and food preferences better than that of some family members.

So what? Well, some of your new friends read. And some of them might read exactly what you like writing. And if they don’t, they might have friends who do. Or friends of friends. Or … well, you get the idea.

In the past you had to write for a viable audience. You could not write about your passion for toys from the Second World War, because your publisher said that there is just no market for that. Well, actually that was a lie. There were the fifteen guys with you in the World War Two Toys Club (WWTTC, for the inner circle) and they all were desperate for your research. But obviously that would not enough to help you, or your publisher, make a living. So, maybe your publisher wasn’t quite lying.

But now? Now those fifteen guys found in each town all connect in a wonderful little town called The Internet. It might be a Facebook Page. Or a Twitter List. Or a Board on Pinterest. Fact of the matter is … it is at least a few thousand people now … or a few million.

And they are still interested in your research. In that book you are now writing.

2.  Be Published Or Be Your Own Publisher

We have all been to a Book Fair, and attended a talk by a publisher on “How to get published”. Remember? That is usually when you realise exactly how it works in publishing.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /Free Digital Photos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /Free Digital Photos.net

You see, up to that time, you thought that the best books are published. And you worked very hard to become one of those “best books” in whatever genre you love. And still, you received rejection after rejection.

And you felt worthless and terrible.

You even thought of quitting.

Until that day at the Book Fair. The day when you finally realised what this is all about. Because that publisher said, in so many words, that they publish what will sell. And they have limited resources to do so.

You finally understood that publishing is not about craft and beauty and quality. Sure – those things should be part and parcel of any good book. But publishing is actually a corporate business looking to make money. And to do that they do market research. And th

ey use that market research to decide which books to publish.

Don’t get me wrong – I have absolutely nothing against publishers (good ones, that is!). Love them to bits and support them wildly.

But they are there to achieve very specific, pre-structured goals.

And if your book doesn’t fall within those requirements, then you are rejected.

That is the truth.

Or was.

These days you have options. You can actually choose whether you want to publish through a publisher or self-publish. In fact, often excellent self-published books ar

e later on published by ‘traditional’ publishers. Yes … because they sold well as self-published books, of course!

Do keep in mind that ‘traditionally’ published books go through (usually) stringent

quality control processes. If you want to self-publish you have to set those processes in place yourself. And that can cost money. But then … it allows you to write that book for those crazy guys in World War II clubs.

3.  Writing Comes In All Shapes And Sizes

As you grow as a writer, you will know ‘who you are’ in terms of writing. But don’t let that limit you. Writing comes in all kinds of genres and in all kinds of ways.

You could write fiction. Or non-fiction. Or both.

You could epic fantasy series.

Or copy for companies.

There’s so much you can do if you are able to wield words effectively.

Don’t let the known limit you – try out different genres, different media.

Write a screenplay if you want!

Or copy for greeting cards.

Write the great [add country’s name] Novel.

Or an amazing book for toddlers.

Share your sense of humour or show your dark side.

Writing has come into its own and you should ride this wave all the way to the beach!

birthday wishes and otherwise

Two by Two BY Curt Fleenor Photography ON Flickr
Photo: Two by Two by Curt Fleenor, Flickr

for all my american friends: know that i remembered.

that today is a different kind of day.

i hope you remembered, or were reminded.

not of the impossible mindlessness of what happened.

not of the anguish of being powerless to save lives and restore innocence.

but remembered those who are with you still.

remembered to show them a small kindness.

remembered to share a word of love.

remembered to breathe deeply and feel good to be alive.

* * *

Helen1
mom

it would have been my mom’s birthday today. i wish she was here, to share the the views i love and the sights i see. i wish i could discuss things with her.

i miss her wisdom.

i miss the fact that I never loved her wisdom when she was here.

sure i was young.

sure she understood.

but still.

she passed away too soon.

Baking Words

I was watching an old sci-fi series (must confess I am nervous to say which one, as it would place me on a side of the divide – either loved by rabid fans or scoffed by intellectual superiors) and spent half the time mildly amused at the way future technology was imagined.

Especially the voice-activated “computer” used for everything from lifts to journal entries.

I love the action of my fingers on a keyboard, and seeing the words come out bit by bit. So I am not sure that I would ever be truly fond of voice-only, keyboardless computers. And yes, I do know that it’s coming/that it’s here already.

But still.

The letter by letter appearance of words on the white screen in front of me has always created a kind of a soothing rhythm, hypnotic at times. I love it to bits. It is the best part of writing.

(Possibly because it happens to coincide with the first draft of anything?)

But speaking my thoughts into a microphone? I don’t know. I think it might be too fast, too undigested an action for my taste.

Apple Cinamon Bread BY Janet Hudson ON Flickr
Photo by Janet Hudson, Flickr

Writing has always felt a bit like baking a home-made bread, the way I used to do it with my mom. I loved watching her big, firm-flabby arms wobble as she grabbed the dough, and kneaded it, grabbed it again, folding it inward and wrestling it into rising submission.

And then placing the raw dough into bread pans that she had oiled with butter beforehand and wrapping them in layers of cloth and blanket to place them into the sun, allowing them to rise mysteriously in the hot, dark den she had built for these breads-to-be.

After the unwrapping there was a final battle of wills with the now-bubbly dough before placing it into the hot oven, and finally … the thick wad of butter on the steaming hot slice of bread.

Yum.

And, I think, exactly in line with the process needed to create a proper piece of writing.

Great Writing Quotes (Video)

Entertaining Mythical Characters

Image how different fairy tales would be had Cinderella been middle-aged. A fit, trim, well-preserved middle-aged L1008912lady, in shape because her nasty stepsisters ate all the fatty food and she was left nibbling some leafy green veggies and the odd piece of broccoli. A rocking body because of years of cleaning house and washing windows.

But middle-aged.

Would Prince C. still try to fit the shoe over that unwashed, knobbly foot? Or would he depart for softer flesh, dewy eyes and “yeah, like … ” girls?

One thing I know for sure: she would have been wearing sensible shoes, not glass stilettos.

* * *

I flirted with the muse for many years. “One day I will write and then I will astonish the whole world.”

I did astonish – myself.

Because the muse has gone off to support two other people in my life who actually wrote stuff. A lot of it. Often.

Bitch.

But I have baked a whole batch of cookies and have placed the milk right next to the laptop and I am warming up the seat in anticipation of her inspiring song.

Oh wait. That’s Father Christmas.

Wrong drink.

Wonder what she would like?

I think my muse would not be a tea-and-biscotti lady.

And no ways is she is Sex-on-the-beach-or-lawn-or-whatever cocktail kind of chick.

She isn’t a whiskey-straight-up dame either.

Possibly a freshly-squeezed-watermelon woman.

… time will tell.

(Image: “Shoes” by Michael Cory, flickr)

What is your genre?

To Write About

Enjoy this image by edSos.de taken from flickr. See what stories you can spin around this one!

Dangerous BY epSos.de  ON flickr

This Week on Facebook

Enjoy the quotes and link shared on my Facebook Page this week!

Great Quotes

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” — Larry L. King

write_rewrite

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” — Philip Roth

the_road_to_hell_is_paved

“Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” — George Addair

everything_you_have_ever_wanted

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn

either_you_run_the_day

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

the_two_most_important

“It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”  —  Robert Southey

deeper_they_burn_2

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” — Edgar Degas

art_is_not_what_you_see

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  —  Sylvia Plath

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Great weblinks

Writers Write – A Rant from an Editor and Writer Perspective” by RJ Blaine

10 Fictional Characters Based on Real People” on Listverse

How to write a book – the short honest truth” by Scott Berkun

How to Manage Multiple Plot Lines Without Going Crazy” — The Write Practice

7 things that will doom your novel (& how to avoid them)” — Writer’s Digest

10 things you need to know about Leonard’s writing habits and background” from Calgary Herald

… and of course, the Outlier of the Week

A Letter To Miley Cyrus” by Rihanna

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