I have been in the slow process of finding other blogs by writers who talk about the business, the skill, and the practice of writing. I want to know what other writers do to deal with writer’s block, how they find inspiration, how much research they do and what kind, whether or not they write outlines, and how much they know about their characters or their subject before they even start writing. I seek the community of other writers.
One blog I have added to my blog-roll is a blog called “Don’t pet me, I’m writing” which I like because the author, Tawna Fenske, is open and personable. She had a post today that I found really interesting with links to a couple of other articles on the subject of what authors really make on their books. For me it brings up the question of whether it’s really worth trying to get published by one of the big publishers, or any publishers at all as opposed to self publishing. The article that especially brings this in question is the one written by Sabrina Jeffries “The Big Misunderstanding about Money”.
My writing friend Emma, who writes for The Kitchn and is just beginning to write her first book on home brewing, passed along a great link that I hope everyone with any creative life will read by Austin Kleon called “How to Steal Like an Artist and 9 Other Things No One Told Me” Read it. It’s brilliant.
Speaking of my friend Emma, she and I were discussing writing exercises that might help shake the blank-brain syndrome. If she doesn’t have time to write about this in a guest post I will have to do a post by interviewing her and sharing our notes on ways to overcome writer’s block that don’t involve landing yourself in jail or ending up in a skeezy motel room naked and chained to the bed.
I am priming myself for a day of writing tomorrow. I pulled quack grass roots and planted bean seeds today so that I can lock myself in my office tomorrow all day and write with a clean conscience, knowing that I have accomplished at least a meager something to benefit my family. Having completely rewritten chapter one I must now smooth it a little and add to it. I must extend everything outwards, develop dialog, go deeper into characters, take greater time and care to fill out the world I’m asking people to live in for a while. It’s short. Too short. I was focused mostly on making sure that I had a whole story, that the plot worked (mostly), and that I had some dialog that didn’t make me feel like a twelve year old writing my first book (if you can’t imagine what that’s like I suggest you become my best friend, give me lots of money, and beg me to show you the first book I ever wrote that I never talk about), and that I covered the basic descriptions necessary. Now is the time for detail, for development, for taking the time to go deeper.
In some ways I’ve gotten to the best part, the part where I add all the textures, shadows, and olfactory memories that propel my characters through life. This is the part where I show you how the winter landscape of the woods is reflected in my main character’s mourning as well as her first real inner crisis in life. This is where I make you hear the crows in place of gunfire as you might actually remember it yourself. This task is the juiciest part but as life often arranges things it is also the most complicated because I have to be careful with each word that I keep on point and don’t let the flowery details excavate so much crap on the page that you lose sight of the main thread. This is where I must demand of myself more excellence than at any step before it.
I can do this. I was made for this purpose. I am at the finishing point. This is what I tell myself to pad my confidence and not shoot myself before I have to.
I’m trying so hard not to ask how some authors manage to write two or more books a year. I’m trying not to think about how many authors must write more than a book a year just to make a modest living. This one has taken me over a year, edging up on a year and a half now, to write. I’m not writing pulitzer material here. Does it mean I’m slow-witted and complete crap that it’s taken me this long to write a book that I hope will be really good but isn’t going to win any book awards? Should I be able to whip the same quality material out in half the time or a quarter of the time?
NOT asking those questions.
All I’m going to ask is that if I have to self publish because it’s ridiculous to go through a publishing house that will make me pay for all my own promoting anyway – you all will help me get the word out about my book. Anyone who promotes my book may come to my house for a free dinner.
I’m an excellent cook.