I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. My publishers have all these expectation on how I should sell my books. All include a lot of time on my part or a lot of money on my part. None include the amount the time it takes me to actually WRITE.
I work full time and sometimes nights and weekends. My family is not especially supportive of me while I try to write.
So all in all, during those few precious hours that I can call my own, I cannot do what makes me happy (writing), because I am too busy trying to sell or catering to my family.
There has got to be an easier way.
I recently attended yet another writer’s workshop where several authors kept insisting how their characters have ‘told them’ how the story should go, or have ‘refused’ to do what the author had intended for them to do. A little picture appeared in my head of the computer screen with a little stick figure, shaking its little fist at the author and stomping its triangle foot.
I was like, “wow.” How deluded is that? I’m not disputing that sometimes you can be so deeply into a character that you are channeling them. Or that a character will develop and you will have to alter the path he/she takes due to that development, or that a character has grown so much that perhaps he/she has evolved so he/she doesn’t fit his role in the story anymore. I myself have taken an antagonist and changed him to the protagonist just because the roles had changed so drastically.
Ever evolving characters are crucial in a story. Keeping the characters suitable for a story is even more so, but to say that the characters are telling YOU, the author, how to write your story is just plain fantastical. Does the author NOT know what is going on in their own story so they create this device as an excuse not to progress on the story? Is this a way to make the writer ‘appear’ more ‘creative’ or ‘authentic?’ Or is it just plain laziness? “My characters won’t do what I tell them to do, so I can’t write anymore.” “I’m waiting for my character to tell me what happens next.”
Does Stephen King know about this phenomenon? It sounds like a horror story to me.
Let’s make this clear: you created the characters, you created their world and you came up with the plot. If something goes haywire, it’s up to the author to fix it. Blaming it on the characters is lame.
Worse is when the book is complete and they are still saying that their characters controlled the story. Hello? Don’t you want any credit for the monumental task of writing a 90 thousand word (or more) story?
I’m sorry, but if one of my books hits the NY Times best-seller list, I’m not telling Leno that my characters wrote the story. That’s all me, baby. My characters can’t take it to the bank.
Feel free to tell me how wrong I am.
My girls and I took our yearly trip to visit my mother in Florida this past August. Yeah, I know…Florida in August? Yes, I am certifiable. This year, it was the only time the three of us could schedule. So we packed up my daughter's little Ford Focus (it get's like a gazillion miles per gallon - lol) and we drove down. It takes us about 20 hours total (from Long Island to the Orlando area), switching between her and I, and we drive straight through.
I love these trips not only because I get to see my mom, but because we leave the men at home and there is no pressure to do anything. It is a ‘relaxing’ vacation. Gasp – I know. Who would have thought it? We do little things and day trips, but we usually don’t plan anything, so we can always change plans if we need to. It’s bliss.
The biggest thing I love about this trip is I get to write whenever I want. I don’t have to drop everything to cater to anyone or feel guilty if dinner is late or the bathroom isn’t cleaned. My mother is a big supporter of my writing now, so she is very indulgent.
This year presented a problem. My mother quit smoking.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful thing and I am thrilled. My problem is that I still smoke. And I smoke more when I write. If I have a scene or a situation that warrants mulling around in my head, I light up. There goes my perfect little writing scenario because now, when I need to light up, I have to go outside.
Ever dedicated, does this stop me? Not at all. The carport is shady and has an outside outlet (my laptop is a few years old and the battery is iffy so I always plug it in). My mom dug out a folding chaise lounge and I set it up in the carport with a little stool for my mouse. This was surprising comfortable and worked quite well, except for the heat. August in Florida. And except for the mosquitoes once the sun went down.
So there I was, out in the carport in 100 degree heat, complete with humidity, straddling a chaise lounge with my laptop on the foot rest. Sweating profusely in shorts and a tank top and occasionally swatting at bugs, I hacked away on the keys, smoking at my leisure and sipping lukewarm beverages. Rereading the passages I wrote, I think it’s some of the best stuff I’ve ever written.
I guess there’s something to be said for the suffering artist.
So let’s hear your tales of ‘suffering.’
I went to a marketing conference for work and I learned how to sell to women, how to advertise effectively and how to make a brand and sell it on social networks.
Does this make me an effective marketer? In my opinion, it just scares me to death.
I am a writer. I am an introvert. How the devil did I get a marketing job?
I imagine it’s because I can sit in the background and write clever little strategies and post them. Put me in a room with ‘real’ marketing personnel and I’m a wall flower. Can it be good to be in the background?
I’m learning, with today’s internet-devouring target audience that, yes, it can. With Facebook and Twitter, you don’t have to be face-to-face with your target audience. I can create wonderful ads without looking or interacting with anyone other than the computer screen. I can post to my hearts content and never have to ‘get a word in’ because I’m not competing with anyone.
If I had to compete with anyone for voice time, forget it, I’d be a goner. I stood in the ‘Networking’ room at the conference surrounded by ‘talkers’ and felt like I was being swallowed by a black hole.
But low and behold, I went to the ‘Social Networking’ break-out session and learned that I was doing everything right. All these ‘talkers’ didn’t have an advantage over me because you can’t talk over anyone or be more charismatic than anyone else, unless you can put your charm into words. Hey! I can do that! I’m a writer.
I guess that’s why my boss gets paid more than me. LOL
A few years ago, we ‘rescued’ a Weimaraner from one of my husband’s co-workers. Living in Queens, he simply didn’t have the room for such a large dog, especially since his wife didn’t want the dog in the house.
Anyone who has ever owned a Weimaraner knows this for the mistake it is. The breed is very family oriented and extremely nosy. When we first welcomed ‘Leisl’ into our home, she would wander around the house, making sure she knew exactly where every member of the family was. As there are five of us, all with varying schedules, this was a real challenge for her and one she took very seriously.
Leisl (named after the eldest daughter in The Sound of Music), like most of her breed, is affectionate to the extreme. We have a magnet that warns: Caution: Weimaraner – may lick you to death. This is more accurate than you might imagine. She is also a ‘musher.’ Meaning that she will mush her face into any part of your anatomy she can reach. For most people, unfortunately, this is their groin (the top of her head is about 3 feet high). It also includes everything below, including the thigh, and unfortunately for me, the back of your knee.
She has a tendency to come up behind you and ‘mush’ into your leg, buckling your knee and, at times, sending you to the floor. She can also accomplish this by leaning, another of her proclivities. Like a cat, she will lean and mush (and not only at feeding time) and at 90 pounds, this presents a problem. She will knock you down.
This, it turns out, is her main objective. For once she has you on the floor, she will do what she does best and lick you to death…what she wanted in the first place.
Another thing she enjoys is pretending to be a lapdog. When she wants to go out, many times she will put her paws on my chair (keep in mind that I am seated at my desk and my chair is on wheels) and lick my face until I give in and get up to let her out (because suddenly no one else in my house is available to let the dog out).
Leisl has been a part of our family now for 3 years and she is now 7 years old. I would not change a thing about her because no one welcomes me home from work after a long day or adores my kids any better than she does.
She takes up half the bed, half the couch and is always underfoot when I’m making dinner. As a hunting dog, she chases squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the neighbor’s cat out of the yard. She barks at 2:00 am when the kids come home from a night out, and is the pizza delivery man’s best friend. She thinks she can get anything she wants when she turns those sad green eyes at you with those floppy ears back.
She’s right. How pathetic is that?
We’re big NASCAR fans in our house, and we spent a week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We rent a motor home and ‘RV’ with all the other pseudo rednecks in a 4 day tail-gate party.
A few weeks back, my husband hears of this cook book that the wife of one of the drivers wrote, compiling a whole bunch of recipes from other drivers. Apparently, she went around the pits, collecting everyone’s favorite track recipes.
Now, the husband has to have this book. My alarm bells go off immediately because I know how much work this involves for me. But my husband insists that he will do all the cooking and experimenting. I have been married to this man for almost 23 years and I know that is not how it works.
He finds the book and orders it through Barnes and Noble to be shipped to our local branch, which conveniently (for him) is located right near where I work. Naturally, I have to go pick up said book and pay for it, not that it was expensive (under $5.00 and less because I’m a member), but already it involves work for me and we haven’t even opened the cover yet.
Now I don’t love to cook, but I don’t hate it either, so I peruse the book and find some really interesting recipes. We know we have to try some before we go camping to judge how easy they are and how much prep time they actually require – those times listed on most recipes are never accurate. So we try some…by this I mean I make them and everyone else judges their acceptability…did I mention the work involved for me?
I admit that the recipes worked out well and most are delicious…the grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp is to die for. And my husband is completely enamored of this book even though he has not made a single thing from it.
There we are camping with the rest of the race fans and my husband cannot seem to contain his enthusiasm over this book of recipes. He tells everyone we run into (and there are 93,000 seats at this track…use your imagination) and even passes it around for others to admire. I barely suppress my irritation, wanting to remind him that his wife has two books published herself.
I just looked at my oldest daughter, who rolls her eyes. If he spent half as much time promoting my books so vehemently, I’d be a best-seller.
Ever have one of these?