Friday, July 6, 2007

Please do not adjust your Television Sets...

But DO adjust your bookmarks. I'm moving my blog to wordpress due in part to the high level of annoyance inherent in your average blogspot blog. I may be importing some of these posts over there at a future time, right now I don't have time to do that, so old posts will remain here, and new posts will be:

Monday, March 26, 2007

Writer Bullshit: The Muse:

The muse is bullshit. Yeah, I know, I just shot a sacred cow. And what a way for me to re-enter my blog after a bit of a hiatus (was busy...writing. Heh I know, shocking)

The muse is a nice idea. It's a romantic metaphor, but too many people start to believe in it as some kind of literal immutable reality. “My muse isn't here today.” “I can't write when I don't feel inspiration.” blah blah blah. Bullshit.

As long as you have two hands and eyeballs and a working brain, you can write. (And really a working brain is the only requirement, since there are other methods of writing which don't require working eyeballs and hands.)

I believe the muse idea can be damaging to a developing writer and I don't accept it. I know from personal experience that most inspiration comes while in the act of writing, not before. If you don't start, you'll never get there.

The muse is like Dumbo's magic feather. You believe you need the feather to fly, but you really don't. You've got those big floppy ears that make you fly. The feather is just a nice idea. Magical thinking, but not real. YOU are the magic.

When you believe that, you'll be free of this silly belief that you have to be properly inspired to write. No you don't. I write quite often without a hint of inspiration and often my words from days of inspiration are not perceptibly better than my days when I wasn't inspired.

I know you want that first draft to be genius, but it's probably not going to happen. I know some people write and edit as they go along and end up with a perfect draft at the end of the novel. And if that's your method, I'm not going to knock it.

But I'm a draft writer. And anyone who has a paralyzing fear of the blank page, might try this method. The first draft is the crap draft. Really, it's awful. But if you start writing by draft, instead of expecting to get it right the first time, or before you can move on to other parts of the story, that mysterious and dreaded ailment, writer's block, is unlikely to darken your door.

How does one write the crap draft? You just write it. Really. Use an outline or don't use an outline. Have character sketches or don't have them. Just make a word quota for the novel, and a deadline can help. Then just write. ANYTHING. Really, you're characters will do something, I promise.

If you need proof of this, read: “No Plot, No problem” By: Chris Baty. If it was just his word only, you might not have to believe it. But tens of thousands of people meet up online every year to write novels (the crap draft) in one month and many of them succeed at it, and most of them just put words on paper without needing the muse to show up.

The most important thing to remember when you sit down to write the crap draft is: The words don't have to be right, they just have to exist. You can put the feather in the drawer now. And forget your muse. The muse works for you, not the other way around. If he gets uppity, fire him and keep writing.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Are you a Method Writer?

This post is inspired from a discussion on a yahoo group I'm involved in right now. When speaking of things like "Voice" there can be some VERY big differences of opinion.

Some writers believe that when you write, you expose your soul. It's about naked vulnerability. You aren't just telling a story, you are attempting to create art, because you are expressing a view/message about the world through a well crafted story. For the purpose of this post so there is no confusion, ART is when you SAY SOMETHING through a medium, be it a story, a painting, whatever.

It's not about being preachy/pedantic. Nor is it about writing Mary Sues. But it's very honest, very real. You can bet that this writer got turned on writing the sex scenes, laughed during the funny scenes, and cried during the sad scenes, even though they wrote it.

Perhaps these writers are Method writers. On the group, we were discussing method actors. Some actors like Dustin Hoffman absolutely BECOME the character. Others, just turn it on and off like a switch. The method actor may feel what they are doing is more "real" and the other actor may feel "it's just acting." Likewise, a method writer might believe they are "baring their soul" and "being honest and real" while a non-method writer might believe all writing is "fake."

Neither one is necessarily empirically "right" it's just that actor's/writer's way of approaching their craft. It's also a matter of differing philosophies. But what works for one actor, may not work for another, and so it is with writing.

There are also writers who try to completely separate their ego from the act of writing. (non-method writers) They are telling a good story and that's it. They have no desire to express the deeper parts of themselves. They don't plan to bare their soul, so don't wait for them to. They write the story, and then they clock out. That's their way.

I am a method writer. My characters are not me, but there is a facet/piece of me in them. I can't conceive of drawing from a brain outside of my own for information. (seriously, seeing my characters as speaking to me and telling me what they want told about them is too schizo for me.) I can study other people and I can try to understand their motivations, but everything I experience or do will always happen through the filter of my own perception and how I see the world. So therefore it will all be "me" in some sense, but very hopefully not in the mary sue sense. (Although if we got right down to it, the major problem with the Mary Sue is lack of honesty. Because they are built up as perfect idealism, and that's not real.)

I try to express things as honestly as I see them. I don't hide. I don't shy away from the material, I tell it as honestly as I can and I'm not afraid to show you my soul in the process. Now this isn't meant to imply that I think a "non-method" writer is a hack or is lying. I don't think that.

I DO think that many writers expose parts of themselves without understanding they are doing it. I really don't think you can write from a place of passion and yet have that passion completely separated from who you are as a person unless you're operating under some type of schizophrenic episodes. But I understand that for that type of writer, the "height" of their craft is to stay as much out of it as possible. (and I agree that author intrusion is bad.)

I'm more responsive to a writer who I feel has bared their soul. Their books tend to be elevated in my mind to art, and they stay with me forever. They weren't just telling a stylistically good story, but something that moved me. (Now don't get me wrong, you can bare your soul and either have nothing interesting to say to the world, or have a lack of stylistic talent, but that's another post...probably Wednesday's.)

Likewise I'm more responsive to an actor who is a method actor. More of the actor's self was given. It's the same with writing, more of the writer's self was given.

Writers who come from the other side of the fence see the "baring of the soul" writers as "self-indulgent" and all about their own "ego." But for a method writer it's not about ego, it's about sharing and being brave enough to reveal something very intimate.

Are you a "method writer?" Why or why not? How much of yourself do you reveal through your themes/stories?

Friday, March 9, 2007

More thoughts on rejection:

I forgot to post on Wednesday, it was a crazy day. Anyway... Welcome to Friday...

When submitting fiction you have two things going on: 1. seeking the right fit. And 2. creating the strongest manuscript and query letter it's in your power to provide. Number 2 is the only thing you have total control over. Number 1 is like dating. You'll have to kiss a lot of frogs.

I've come across a few personal blogs and websites where the writer just took rejection way too personally. They listed rejection after rejection and then went on about how impossible it is to ever get published and why waste the time and energy blah blah blah. (Well, I think...if you've determined that you're a 'lifer' in this thing called writing, you may as well write on a schedule and submit it.)

But the point is, this individual was completely disillusioned with “them” (the publishing industry.) And yes, I've had my own personal private more anonymous rants on this type of thing. It seems getting published just opens more cans of drama. Wheee. But yeah...not going there here, and probably not ever on this blog. Suffice it to say I think it's really naïve to believe that the world is your oyster once you're published and let's leave it at that.

But anyway on some of these: “I was rejected a lot of times which proves this is a big ole lottery and no one appreciates my brilliance” websites, you can view the actual query letter sent. And honestly and truly, I would have rejected them too.

Many times the query starts and ends with cliches and every single thing agents say PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T PUT THIS IN YOUR QUERY, is in the query.

Such gems as:

“I'm an aspiring first time novelist.” (there is no need to shout this one from the rooftops)

“first book in a trilogy” (let them decide if they like this one first)

“my sister read this book and loved it.” (of course she does, she's your sister. I understand that everyone who likes me is going to like my work more than they would if I was a stranger because people WANT to like your stuff when they know you. A good friend of mine thought my rough draft of the paranormal was just brilliant and there was no reason someone wouldn't just snatch it up and publish it. I took that with a grain of salt because even I knew the book had a lot of problems. It definitely was NOT up to publishing standards.)

“I really think this book can be a bestseller.” (if the industry can't accurately predict a bestseller how can you? Most people do NOT hit the bestseller list with their first book. It indicates a bit of a “pipe dream” mentality if this is in your query letter.)

Instead of talking about how the publishing industry done you wrong and writing your own country song, go back to craft. Rework the novel, rework the query. Find someone who will be almost cruelly honest with you. People can tell you how wonderful you are after a book is published and it can't be changed. Work to change what you can actually change, rather than obsessing over what you can't.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Rejection and Validation:

Right now I'm in a yahoo group called Write_Workshop and a workshop is going on called “Rejection Hell” on how to cope with rejection. There is also a sister list for chatting called: Write_WorkshopChat.

We're up to day 3 of the workshop and it's about not losing your self-esteem due to rejection. (actually on Wed. 2/28 we're up to day 3 because I'm writing blogs ahead as the mood strikes me.)

I don't have "novel rejection" yet to go by. Because I just
haven't submitted any novels yet. If I know something isn't ready,
why send it out there? I've tried to determine if it's a "fear of
rejection" but I really honestly don't think that's it. It is a "I
know that one wasn't the one."

And while I could have worked to make it publishable...I was still
learning and finding my voice. I really think a lot of people rush
out the door too soon to try to get published. There shouldn't be all
this imagined pressure to publish while you're still learning how to
even say what you have to say.

But I have experienced rejection at the short story and article level.
And it rarely upset me for very long. I'd
be bummed maybe for an hour or so, but then I just went back to
whatever I was working on.

I mean I knew it wasn't personal. And I really believe that. Having
run my own business before, choosing someone else's work or not
choosing it really is just business.

I learned very early on, from a very different set of circumstances
outside of writing that you can't look to others to validate you. You
have to validate yourself. And not everybody will like you, period.

So you may as well stop trying to be anyone but yourself, because if
you change for acceptance, you might be accepted by one group, but
another group with shun you. That's just life.

Everybody won't like you. No matter how nice, smart, talented,
whatever you are. Someone will say you are a suck up. Someone will
say you're a smart ass, someone will say you're a know-it-all. And
from their perspective, it's probably true.

So it's more useful in the grand scheme to just look to form
connections with those, both in your personal and professional life
who DO get, like, and appreciate you or what you have to offer and for
whom you can return the same like and appreciation.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Pink Elephant: Writer's Block

You know there are some things that you just don't talk about in polite society. Like sex. Well, yeah, I'm not a member of polite society, so I talk about sex. And anyway, Stephen King says if you want to write, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway. I'm glad I got it out of the way early.

No, what I don't talk about much is Writer's Block. I don't believe in it. I believe I've said before that I don't believe in writers block unless you lose a hand or something. I don't believe it even when I have the classic symptoms. You know...whining, moaning, feeling like I can't write, lying back all dramatic on one of those fainting couches...

That's perfectionist's block, procrastinator's block, refusing to just type out the words so I can continue to be a prima donna block. But none of that sounds as glamorous or sexy as writer's block. Sure, the words I write, they might be shit. But if it's the crap draft, who cares? I can fix it later.

If it's revisions...well revising a novel is a big ass and not necessarily linear project. You make a big ole list about what you're going to do and you fix what you can when you can and don't spend hours obsessing over what you can't yet fix. It'll all come about in time.

Now some days I believe I am just exhausted. If you write several days in a row and feel tired, take a break. But call it a break. Calling it writer's block only serves to set it up in your head that such a thing exists, that writing isn't a choice, but something that flows magically from the gods. It's not a very empowering way to go about.

Of course this could be a quirk of me. I don't believe I get colds. I mean I believe they exist but I refuse to acknowledge if I get one. If I get the sniffles, I call it allergies and move on. Now the flu is something quite different, that I can't ignore or deny. But writer's block is sort of like a cold, even when I have the “symptoms” I call it something else and move on.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pet words and phrases:

Most authors seem to have them. Some people aren't bothered by them and think of them as the author's fingerprints. Some people are. I'm reading a novel right now in which the words: “spidery” and “spidered” are used way too much.

Don't get me wrong, the occasional use of these words in snippets of description is brilliant and wonderful and gives me images and feelings from the book that I couldn't have gotten any other way. But after awhile it becomes less brilliant and seems more lazy than anything else.

I LOVE this book though. It's wonderful. It's one of the best books I've ever read. (And yes, I realize now that almost EVERY book I read ends up being “One of the best books I've ever read.”) And yet, when she uses this pet word/variation over and over, it takes me out of the novel a bit.

It reminds me I'm just reading a story and the writer is just a mere mortal just like me. On the one hand such things make the author seem more human. But on the other hand sometimes I wonder, can the writer not see they are doing this?

Usually by the second or third read I can catch most of my pet words. I like to use the words: “Bizzarre” and “Clearly” a lot. Actually I'm way too in love with adverbs to begin with and once I murder those, the writing is much stronger. A lot of -ly words in a book just scream tentative.

Certain phrases that are pets of mine are: “Hurt like hell” (even though it's a total cliché to begin with). OH! And “slumped unconscious.” I found that a lot of characters had a habit of “slumping unconscious.” The poor souls.

So I go through and I edit and change etc. So that the ONE time someone “slumps unconscious” it's not totally stupid. And the one or very few times someone uses the word “bizarre” it actually carries some impact.

I also seem to like the words: “creepy” and “evil” a lot. And I'm having more trouble letting go of some instances of those because in some sense it's a “style/voice” thing. But in another sense I feel like if I don't take care of this stuff now, it will be my “spidered” and “spidery.” That thing that reminds readers I'm only mortal. A wonderful and endearing quality AFTER finishing a book. Maybe not so much during.

But maybe I'm being too hard on myself and others. It just seems to me that given all the millions of word combinations out there that to continue to use the same pet words and phrases over and over is a sign of laziness and I feel we owe readers more than that. And maybe the author doesn't even see it. Maybe they're too close to it. Perhaps I have other pet words and phrases that I don't even catch. But surely this is what critique readers are for. Yes?

At least it's not as bad as “pet metaphors.” Pet metaphors are much much worse. It's my opinion that you can use a truly descriptive metaphor ONE time, no matter how much you love it. To use it over and over makes it look like either, you can't come up with something else, or you're way too in love with your words in that instance.

Comments? What are your pet words and phrases? And how do you get rid of them?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Pet Peeve #784: “Love too cheaply bought.”

Even though the last pet peeve number was entirely made up and pulled out of my ass, I thought I would stick with that numbering system, so for those curious, that's where I got the number.

I hate when characters fall in love too quickly in a romance. I mean I understand if the storyline has to happen on a time crunch, but if they've just met there better be some really good reasons they are falling in love so fast. You can fall in lust or infatuation pretty quickly but not love, because I've been in love and am currently in love. What you feel at the beginning is so shallow compared to what comes later.

I understand it's fiction and “fantasy,” but to me a part of why romance so often cannot rise above being “just romance” to being a good story for its own sake, is the high unreality of characters who fall in love too quickly.

In my opinion, Romeo and Juliet is the worst play Shakespeare ever wrote. I would never badmouth a living author on my blog because well, that could be bad for my future success, but Shakespeare is gone so I'll say it. These kids knew each other like three days. That's not enough for real love to grow. Killing yourself after knowing someone for three days isn't love, it's a sign that you need a padded cell and a lithium drip.

I want the characters to have something deeper. I also think it's okay in a romance for the characters not to love each other eternally by the end of the novel. As long as they are starting their HEA, it's cool with me. I'd rather have that than: “Oh, Eric, I love you, I love you. I cannot live without you.” When the heroine only met him less than a week ago. Give me a break. That's not real. I'm quite sure at that level of attachment she can live without him.

In the paranormal romance I'm editing right now, I have this problem. I do have a bit of a time crunch going on, and yes a crisis situation can bring people together. Constant togetherness can bring people together, but I needed to add another scene to help bond the characters to make their love more believable when it happens.

So from this, I guess you know I don't believe in love at first sight. I believe in lust at first sight. Pheromones and chemistry are lovely things. Raw lust is heady and exciting. But actual love is something that grows over time. It's deeper than that and I don't like when it's too cheaply bought. It just takes me out of the story.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Every now and then a novel comes along that causes a big stink and book burnings etc. However, in the end, the author tends to be better off and the banned book becomes more famous. Now, I'm against censorship and this isn't really about censorship pro/con. It's more about...comparatively speaking books are the most free things out there.

Think about it. Video games, movies and television shows all have rating systems. Even CDs now have parental advisory warnings on them. But at the current time there is no such rating system for books.

You have to be an adult to buy/rent/go see an R rated or NC-17 rated movie. You have to be an adult to buy a Playboy or Hustler or any of thousands of movies with charming titles like: “Debbie does Dallas.” I have a very hard time believing she did ALL of Dallas, but whatever. ;)

Books aren't like this. Even novels of erotica share the same shelf space with the other books. There is no red curtained off area. There are no parental advisory labels. There is no rating system. There is no law that you have to show your ID before purchasing it. An erotica novel can be purchased by anyone with money to buy it.

Now granted, any individual store clerk might say: “Now, honey does your mama know you're buying this” if some 14 year old were to approach the counter with 'Story of O' or the erotica of Anais Nin for example, and yet, there is no law saying that 14 year old couldn't purchase it.

I wonder why that is? It's definitely adult material. And judging from recent freakouts over the word 'scrotum' in a children's novel, surely words like 'cock' and 'pussy' are things conservative people who set themselves up as protectors of our morality and children should be in an uproar about. Not to mention BDSM fiction. Sometimes I wonder if our gatekeepers of morality are even aware of how inundated in our culture games of dominance and submission have become.

I think it's kind of a bizarre situation to tell the truth. Online erotica stories have stiff warnings of “you must be 18 to view this material” blah blah blah to cover their collective legal asses. And yet, a fifteen year old who manages to get a hold of mommy's credit card, or buys a visa gift card, or is savvy enough to exchange their spare change at a coinstar machine for an amazon gift certificate, can hop on over to and buy an erotica novel, no questions asked or hoops to jump through. Not even a button to clicky clicky saying you're 18.

Although I have no idea how/why anyone thinks this honor system works. I can only assume it's to protect the seller because they didn't knowingly sell to a minor. I can assure you, almost no kid feels guilty for lying on the internet about being 18.

To some degree I think we overprotect both minors and adults from sex and it shows in the sexual hang ups a lot of people grow up with. It's not healthy. Human beings might not be super emotionally mature before 18, but they are sexually maturing before then.

While I believe kids should be allowed to be kids as long as possible, and the sexual exploration of a minor should happen between minors and not between minors and adults, exploration will happen. They will explore, and figure out what they need to figure out. And they're going to masturbate. Get over it. Keeping them from reading a book with the word Scrotum in it, only makes you look like a ninny.

It also makes me wonder how many adults have forgotten their own sexual awakening. Have they just blocked out of their memory the first time they had a dirty thought, read something 'naughty' or masturbated? I really don't get it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Emotional exhaustion etc.

So this is Wednesday, hence it's post-y day. So unless there is something dire going on, I'm posting on the days I said I'm posting. Today's post is writing related but more 'personal' I guess. Kind of more like a regular journal entry. I'm kind of just throwing this out here because it's on my mind a bit and so why the hell not? It's not like it's deep dark secrets which will later incriminate me. Well hopefully. Different people think different things are incriminating.

So anyway...some of you know I'm a fanfic girl. And yes, I only write fanfic where the author/creator has approved it. I don't try to profit...blah blah blah. I just feel like I have to specify that because otherwise someone's going to just think I'm the queen of evil or 'not a real writer' because I do something just for fun sometimes. shudder, gasp.

At any rate. I'm taking a fanfic writing break. Probably for about a month. Like fanfic is supposed to BE the break lol, but it's turning into "fake pressure." Like if I don't update WIPs in a timely fashion I lose reader interest and get less feedback blah blah blah.

On top of that though of course I'm working on two diff novels. The paranormal romance is getting into the final stages of revision and I'm about halfway through the rough draft of an erotica. The erotica will be under a diff pen name should it get published because I really want to keep those two identities separate. I know this makes it completely insane for me to blog about it here, but...yeah. I'm not super good at compartmentalizing my life into a bunch of different multiple personality bubbles.

It's enough that I keep the actual exact name I'm using under wraps for privacy's sake.

ANYWAY... so the erotica is very dark. I mean VERY emotionally dark. And it's hard to write for a lot of different reasons, that being only one of them. It's emotionally exhausting. Like I wrote this most recent paranormal romance for nanowrimo and I was churning out 3,000 and sometimes 6,000 words a day like nobody's business. The erotica however, Jeez, it's rough sometimes getting just under a thousand words done.

Good thing my daily word count goal to meet my personal deadline is just 750. Thank you gods and magical creatures for the shorter word count requirements of erotica. I'm going for 60,000 words here and that seems to be pretty standard for the genre, novel wise.

There are several challenges in this novel. One is of course the fact that it's just so dark emotionally. Another is, smut is always hard to write. And the third is that there isn't as much dialogue here as I normally write, so I'm having to develop a lot of other types of writing muscles.

I think the end result will be worth it though. I really believe I have something worth saying in the genre, blah blah blah. It's just...yeah. So hence fanfic break. Because I can't be sitting around going: "ZOMG imaginary looming fanfic chapter deadline" when I'm writing this novel.

I'm taking like a month break from the fanfic and then I think I'm going to just not post things unless I've finished them first. I just hate having unfinished things hanging out there. I mean I completely understand it's "only fanfic." And yet...real live human beings have taken time out of their lives to read it. The same amount of time it would cost them to read a "real book." So I feel like I owe it to people who have invested time in reading my words to finish what I start, even if it's "just fanfic."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Pet Peeve # 783: Euphemisms

Welcome to Monday, and the new blog posting schedule. In personal news I finished the third draft of the paranormal romance today. An end to revisions are in sight and the revision process is getting less and less scary as I learn to trust it. So Yay! :)

On to today's blog topic:

Writing romance and reading it, I come across a lot of horrifying sexual euphemisms. I'm thrilled to find that a lot of current romance novels are getting less embarrassed about sex and are more willing to write about it honestly. But there are still those that make me cringe.

I've spent a lot of time trying to determine why people insist on writing sex with euphemisms. If you have a hard time saying "cock" or "pussy" or don't want your novel to be that graphic, fine. Say: "He thrust into her." or "He slid into her." There. Simple and not squicky. Cause when I read sex unless it's a case of a joke between lovers, I really shouldn't be laughing through it. The euphemisms kill it for me.

If sex is written out, why is it being written out? I understand that romance is not erotica. Erotica is meant to physically turn the reader on. And I write a little of that too. Still, if you choose to write sex, rather than just alluding to it, isn't arousal a natural response? Doesn't it reflect a culture that is still deeply ashamed of sex no matter how much they "act out" when arousal is separated from it? It's okay for it to happen as long as you don't like it too much? Let's keep that puritanical guilt rolling merrily along.

When a writer writes a sad scene, the highest reader response is crying. When a writer writes something funny, the highest reader response is laughter. When a scene is intense or scary, a bit of pulse racing is in order. So why then should so many writers shy away from writing sex that creates arousal, when they aren't afraid for the reader to feel everything else?

If you don't want to write the sex, fine. Let it happen off screen. And maybe the sex scene is meant to be romantic or convey something more emotional. Maybe it isn't meant to arouse. Fine again. But euphemisms still make no sense.

To me, flowery euphemisms for sexual acts are a way to shy away from the material. It says to the public: "I'm not really that comfortable writing this." So don't. Please for the love of God don't write it and kill it with euphemistic phrasing.

Perhaps also it's a case of various publishers/lines wanting different things, but I don't think I would ever write for a line that required me to write sex with silly names and phrases for anatomy. Because to me it's not a sign of sexual maturity, nor it is a sign of emotional honesty. When I write, that's the most honest thing you'll ever get from me.

I'm not going to hide from it to write about a throbbing pulsing member of love.

Friday, February 16, 2007

My not a blog post:

Ok, this SO does not count as a blog post, but here it is. Some have noticed that I haven't been posting as often as usual. I don't want to lose readers due to my not posting regularly so I'm making a short little post to explain.

I'm dealing with some personal issues so the blog isn't exactly at the very top of my list of priorities right now. I'm still writing, I'm just not focusing a lot of energy on "extra writing" such as the blog.

Also a part of it is, I'm getting a little bit burned out on it. There are only so many different things one can say about writing. So I'm sort of at a cross roads. I may have defined the blog too narrowly to keep my interest as well as other peoples'. So...the blog may start to morph a bit and cover more ground besides just "writing stuff."

It might start to become a bit more personal but in the edited "what I don't mind sharing with the whole world" kind of way. I'm just going to have to play it by ear and see.

Also, I'm going to change the schedule I'm blogging on. For awhile there I was blogging every day or practically every day, but that's just too much. But I want to have some kind of schedule so that people who read it regularly don't drift away because I'm not here when I say I'm going to be here so to speak.

So...I'm going to try, starting next week to post blog posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Some of it will be writing stuff, some of it might not be.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why I love Young Adult Novels...

Fewer flashbacks. Most Young Adult novels tend to be shorter and have fewer flashbacks, concentrating instead mostly on the front story.

There tends to be the view by many that if you stick closely with the front story and don't spend a lot of time in flashback that you're writing something "simplistic." Yet, at the same time, lots of flashbacks don't advance the story and cause readers to either skim, or just put the book down, never to pick it back up again.

The more I write and the more I read, the less patience I have for flashbacks. It's not always true, sometimes I'll read every single one and love it. But often I just skim through the flashback to get to the next scene so I can get back to the front story.

In the novels that I've skimmed in this way, I've never gotten to the end and thought: "Damn, this climactic scene makes no sense...I should have read that flashback."

Since I don't say this, I can only assume that many times a flashback, while interesting to those who want the backstory, tends to slow down the front story. We're told constantly as writers, "Show, don't tell." But sometimes I think that advice can be taken to an extreme.

For example...there are things you REALLY want to tell. If a character goes through the normal routine of getting ready and then goes and catches a cab and sits in the cab for twenty minutes, we don't need to be shown all that. The realism of a cab ride just isn't all that exciting. If I see all that I'm already at the skim point.

Back to flashbacks...

Many times, if a flashback doesn't advance a story, it's a case of it would have been better to just "tell it" All stories have exposition, stuff you're just telling. It's the job of the writer to know which parts are better to show and which are better to tell.

If you show something in a flashback, be VERY sure it's advancing the plot and not just advancing your need to show how much of your characters backstory you know as the writer. i.e. don't do it just to be clever.

I've got a few flashback scenes in the novel I'm revising now and I try to keep them really really short so I can get back to the front story. Sometimes you have to have flashbacks and if worked properly they can be great. Just don't write a flashback that all but the most fastidious readers will skim. And don't give people an excuse to put down your story.

Friday, February 9, 2007

2007 Reading log, book 5/50: "Blood and Chocolate" by: Annette Curtis Klause

OMG, what can I say about this book? It's amazing. It's classed as a Young Adult novel, but it's so richly textured and just plain wonderful that I can't see any adult turning their nose up at it. It's a coming of age novel about a werewolf named Vivian. This is my current favorite book, and probably in my top five all time ever.

It just deeply resonated with me. To say what it's about without giving the plot away besides just saying it's a "coming of age" novel... It's about the struggle between one's light and dark side. It's about family and about the relationship between mother and daughter. It's about love and finding it in places you don't really expect.

It's about werewolves, but there is such a deep realism to so much of it that you easily forget that. Normally I read a vampire or werewolf book and it's a book that's just 'fun' but I don't take it seriously as great literature. This book I feel differently about. It stands, IMO as something deeply wonderful and "breaks out" of genre barriers to be just a fantastic story.

A movie has been made about it, but honestly I would just skip that. The movie is completely different from the book, not the same story. They've cut out the mother entirely, aged Vivian to in her twenties, took the story to another country and made her a trendy club hopper. And made the hero of the book the villain. They've basically cheapened every layer and nuance of the book by turning it into an all werewolf "Underworld." Do yourself a favor and read the book instead.

However, if not for the movie I never would have heard of the it, and never would have found it. So I'm grudgingly grateful that the movie got made, but deeply disappointed that the novel was so desecrated.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5 / 50

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Choosing your Pack:

Today my post is going to intersect in a lot of places. It's going to be part book review and part personal observation and by the end of it you may wonder what it has to do with writing, but I hope not. ;)

I'm reading a fantastic book right now called: "Blood and Chocolate" by: Annette Curtis Klause. I started reading it last night and if not for sheer exhaustion, probably wouldn't have put it down. A movie has been made about it and I was intrigued. It's a coming of age story, but that's not what makes it great. What makes it great is that it's about a werewolf named Vivian.

The last lines on the back of the cover sold me completely on this book: "What is she really - human or beast? Which tastes sweeter - blood or chocolate?"

I've always felt that vampire stories weren't really about "supernatural beings" but are about humans. What we long for: immortality, no sickness, power, youth. What we fear: those stronger than us, what lurks in the shadows, our darker selves. etc.

But until "Blood and Chocolate," I didn't really see werewolf stories as being "about people." Reading this though, I see that they are. Even the werewolf main character notes the pack mentality of human beings. And yet the central werewolf story in this novel...I read it and I get a sense of "otherness" but also a sense of "sameness."

It seems to be a giant mirror of what humanity is. Essentially, we are pack. We boast about our individuality while following trends set by others. We often "do what we want", but we deeply care what others think. Even those of us wearing the mask of "I don't care" cares what someone thinks. To not care what anyone thinks on any level is to separate yourself completely from society and not be a part anymore. And what is society? If not a large pack?

Human beings are incredibly complex in our social interactions. We have many units of social structure, ever widening circles that encompass different levels of human interaction. And yet this pack mentality exists and exists strongly. It goes by many names and has many philosophies attached but it is there. We don't long to be lone wolves. We long to connect but not lose the pieces of what makes us ourselves.

There are many packs. There are family, work, religious, and purely social units. And there are writers. Writers, while so solitary in our endeavors, seek very strongly to connect with others of our kind. We run in packs, be it critique groups or online groups.

I've noticed this pack mentality even more strongly in many online groups recently (both writing and nonwriting.) It seems usually small online groups that have known each other for awhile tend to see each other in terms of "family." And this word, family, it's comforting to us. Because we are so strongly social.

But "family" alone cannot be a selling point for the packs we choose to run with. There are many abusive families out there, many that will seek to tear you down rather than to build you up. Immature, emotionally stunted, and unhealthy families are a dime a dozen.

Like me, as a writer you probably feel almost compelled to interact with other writers, to have that connection and sense of community. But choose your pack wisely. So much of how you see yourself and others in this business will depend on it.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The price of freedom:

So on Magical Musings the blog today is about the freedom of being unpublished, how so many writers look back on this "pre-published" time with longing because it was before deadlines, back when writing was just "fun" before it became a job...etc.

So that post inspired my blogpost, and some of it I'm repeating directly from my comment cause I'm getting lazy with the blog. I'm going to have to develop some accountability factor for my blogging. ;)

The vast acres of time and freedom that prepublished writers have can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing, because it can be a wilderness that is hard to navigate. Without deadlines...sometimes shit doesn't happen.

I’m pre-published and deadline oriented. If I’m not, I don’t produce, if I don’t produce I can’t get published. The more I produce, and the better I get, the more I up my odds. So I don’t really see it as “vast acres of freedom.” I see it as Deadlines I’m not getting paid for lol. So when the day comes when my deadlines equal a check, I won’t be sad to see this “vast freedom” leave me. ;)

Because I can't produce in "freedom" I have to be chained to a deadline, either self imposed or imposed on me. At least once it's imposed on me there will be money attached to it. A pretty little carrot that I can chase.

I tend to get involved in online deadline oriented writer groups where you have to post your progress for accountability. Last November I was in a smaller LJ group for nanowrimo and we had to post wordcount progress every day. Now I’m doing something on LJ called “novel in 90″ and during this 90 days I’m revising one novel and completing the rough draft of another. I do about 2 hours of revisions and 1 hour of rough draft a day and I take maybe a day off a week.

If I don’t do this, I don’t feel like a writer. And the reality is...I'm not one. Writers write. And if I ever hope to be published I have to write a lot, and on a deadline.

Friday, February 2, 2007


So, I'm really getting into this whole "simultaneous" thing. There was a time when I wouldn't work on more than one project at once, for fear that I would drop the other. It really comes down to, being in two different phases of the work. Like I wouldn't write two rough drafts at once, because to me, that's a recipe for badness. (Although this isn't a judgment on someone else's process. If you write more than one rough draft at once and it works for you, more power to you!)

Now I'm starting to let this carry over into reading. Right now I'm reading a book that is kind of hard to get through. I like it, it's good, but it's just not something I can pick up and not want to put down. I know that sounds insane. How can I really be drawn in by the characters and story if I can so easily put it down? I'm not sure really. Maybe the author's style doesn't quite jibe with me. That happens sometimes. I'm not sure what it is, but I want to keep reading it.

At the same time though...I'm stalling out on it and it WILL take me forever to get through it. And I've committed myself to reading 50 novels this year because I think reading is so very important to being serious about writing. To make a commitment to write is also to make a commitment to read.

So I'm considering adding this multi-tasking attitude to reading and read more than one novel at once. Hell, I'm writing on more than one at once, if I can do that, I can read more than one at once. This way I can take my time and meander through this difficult, but still very worthwhile novel, while not slowing down my progress on my 50 novels in a year thing.

The other day I commented in the magical musings blog, that I tend to not read flashbacks in novels. Usually they slow down the story for me and at the end it's very rare for me to honestly say: "Gee, I really wish I'd read that flashback, because the story doesn't make sense." Usually it does make sense. Sometimes flashback enriches a story, but often it just slows it down and gives me a stopping place to put the book down.

As I've grown more serious about writing, my attitudes toward reading have changed. For example...I don't feel it necessary to plunge through a novel I don't like. I just cut my losses and stop reading. If I get to a flashback that doesn't just immediately drag me in, I skip it and go back to reading the front story. Now I'm considering reading two novels at once on those occasions that I get to a "difficult" novel that I still want to read but that is slowing me down.

Does anyone else read more than one novel at once? What are your attitudes toward reading, as a writer?

Thursday, February 1, 2007


So there is always this ongoing war over epublishing. One faction says it's not "real publishing" and another faction says: "We're just as good as you...neener neener."

I would like to circumvent that entire argument. Because it's really really not the point. It's two totally different worlds. It's not necessarily a "one or the other" type of deal anyway. You can do both. For a long time I was very resistant to the idea of ebooks. Mostly because I personally am not a big fan of the format. When I read I like a print copy. A real live book in my hands.

Because of my deep and abiding love of print books, ebooks don't just thrill and excite me quite the same. But it's a different format. Audio books don't overly thrill me either, but some people prefer them, and I would never say: "Don't publish me in audio books, I'm not a big personal fan." That would be ludicrous, and probably ignored, and rightly so.

The fact is, some people love ebooks. I want to sell to New York, absolutely, that's my goal. And after that, my goal is to keep selling to New York, and after know...up and up. I've thought also about smaller presses. But while I'm waiting to sell to New York, I may as well at least consider the possibility of ebook publishing (with one of the good houses. There are only a handful that I would submit to, because beyond that, I may as well self publish.)

I know one should keep trying and not give up, and that is my intention. But "this" book, might not sell to New York no matter how much time I keep it circulating. So if it's good (and I believe it is) then it should sell SOMEWHERE. To automatically just shut out the ebook possibility is shooting myself in the foot.

Ebooks, while not my eventual goal, still provide me with some things. For one, It starts to give me a fanbase, people who might follow me into print publication. For another, it's money. The royalties at some of the better ebook houses, aren't bad at all, and you get paid monthly. Money is money, and if I am to consider my writing as a business, then I have to be smart and be willing to do what is necessary to get my name out there.

So that's an attitude of mine that has shifted recently. What about you? What attitudes have you had change as you've gotten deeper into your goals and writing plans?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I finally got a strong lock on my goals for this year. They're some pretty big goals. I'd like to complete 4 novels this year. Yes, I said 4. You heard me right. Why Four?

It's not a magic number, it's just I write pretty fast when I'm working like I'm supposed to. If I'm not twiddling my thumbs there's no real reason why I can't finish a novel in 6 months time. Now I realize there are only 12 months in a year, but I have a "simultaneous work" plan that's working out really great for me and allows me to complete twice the work without the burnout factor. (Each day I write I'm doing around 3-4 hours of actual writing work, and since I don't work outside the home, that's definitely not excessive.)

While editing one novel, I'm writing the rough draft for the next one. So, 4 novels. I may not get an agent this year, or even any kind of ebook contract (yes, I'm ready to consider the possibility of ebooks until I make it to New York, more about that tomorrow.), but I will up my odds considerably by working hard, and getting things completed on my deadlines and getting them out there in the world circulating.

Right now I'm 26 days into the novel in 90 challenge, and at the end of the 90 days, my goal is to have my paranormal romance completely done and ready to go out the door, and my query letters ready, and also to have the rough draft of the erotica novel I'm writing. Then as soon as I send my queries out, I can start work on the rough draft of the next paranormal while I edit the erotica.

My production goals are pretty big this year, but I believe I can do them, I've never written and completed four novels in a year, it seems insane on the surface of it. But I'm ready to commit to this full time and I'm practicing what I preach. My goals may be big, but you can't reach a goal you don't set. If I set lower goals, I'll only go that far. I want to set a goal that's impressive if I reach it.

I would love to get an agent this year, or a contract with someone, but even if I don't, completing four novels will move me down this road closer to that agent and contract.

What are your goals for this year?

Monday, January 29, 2007


Let's talk method. I'm still fine tuning mine, but the more I do this novel writing thing, the more I figure out what method works best for me. And what alternate routes I can take. I'm much clearer on the beginning parts of my method cause I've done them longer. When I first started trying to write a novel, I tried to write a rough draft and made several different attempts before I actually got through a rough draft. Then I got to where I'd completed several rough drafts and that was no longer impressive. I'm still fine tuning some of what works for me on revisions, since I haven't been at that stage as long. bore is my method. (Don't worry, I'm going to ask for yours too, because I really am interested in how everybody else works.)

1. Idea and Outline. I'm an outliner not a pantser. I tried pantsing once, and still haven't gotten that mess cleaned up. It was truly scary. I admire those who can pants, but I'm not among them, I'm way too anal retentive. When I make up my outline I decide how long I want the book to be, how many chapters, and divide the chapters evenly for word count. Now every chapter isn't EXACT, some are over, some are under, but I really like fairly even chapter lengths because it helps me with my pacing, as does the outline. This part takes me maybe a few days.

2. Rough draft. I try to write this as quickly as possible. The faster the better. My personal best is this past november when I wrote a 93,000 word first draft in 29 days. (next I want to try to do "Fast Draft" A rough draft in 2 weeks. The idea of being able to do that thrills me! And I really think I can.) Also during the rough draft, I follow the outine as a general 'pit stop' guide on the way to my ending, cause I can't start if I don't know my ending. I always veer though, and so I revise my outline accordingly. (Yes, I know I'm freaking ANAL about this. It's my safety net. It keeps me from sitting in front of the computer and just staring at it. It's nice to know what I'm going to write about at least in general before I get there.)

3. Then I let it sit for a few weeks. During this "sitting" period, I start working on my query letter. This is when I do my research and character sketches. Which may sound counter intuitive but I basically bullshit through the first draft on most things. I do my fact checking and research during the cooling off period, because then I know what I actually need to know and I'm not just filling up 30 notebooks with research that may or may not help me. (clearly I don't write historicals, because then I would probably HAVE to have 30 notebooks of research.)

4. Then I revise. I'm finding that just jumping in and editing and cleaning it up helps a lot. Because this can be an overwhelming stage. It's kind of like the rough draft though. Before you start the rough draft it's incredibly intimidating, but the only way to do it is to just jump in and do it, and not try to be perfect. I think revisions are probably the same way. Best not to second guess yourself, just save all your drafts and keep working at it. I'm finding a chapter a day of edits is working well for me. (of course this isn't the only pass through.) Someone on one of the loops suggested keeping a list of problems to fix as I come to them and then marking them off as I fix them. (like plot holes, scenes that need to be moved, etc.)

Also I've started something new, that is working out so much better than I anticipated, which is...while I'm editing one novel, I'm writing the rough draft of another novel. It allows me to do more work this way and allows me to shift gears.

That's as far as I am in the steps. I'm assuming the revisions stage could go on through several passes, finally getting to a polish, and manuscript formatting etc. But yeah...that's my method at this point.

What's yours?

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I'm known as an opinionated person (Frankly I think all writers are. If we didn't have this intense need to express ourselves we wouldn't be writers.)

On a writer loop I frequent we've been discussing expressing yourself without sabotaging yourself. Online it's so easy now to connect with others in the publishing world. And what you say lives on with you forever. I think about this a lot. And I addressed it to some degree on the post where I talked about persona and whether or not I should kill off Zoe Winters.

I decided 'no' on that, btw. And the reason I did is because I'm not a runner. I don't run from people or situations. I sometimes get frustrated, I've occasionally made an ass of myself, but I don't run and hide. When you are part of a community, people get to know you. I've seen sides of people I once perceived as one thing, and now I see them as something totally different, something more human and worth knowing.

Before I started chatting online with other writers, in other online personas I had a reputation as being a bit on the bitchy side, but mostly snarky. I could make posts without thinking too much about it because people kiss and make up and that's that. Sometimes they don't, but in the grand scheme, it wasn't hurting me any. With writing, it's a whole different ballgame. From the very beginning as an unpublished baby in this industry I have to think about how I come across.

I've never been one for self censorship. I've always admired emotional honesty and wanted it to be something I display. However, you can't just let everything hang out all the time. There is a time and a place for everything.

What I once viewed as "sucking up" in other people, I'm now starting to view as "being professional." There is a public/professional you and a private you, and the more one can get a handle on that, the better.

If given a choice between "self expression" in online forums and "being published" I would pick number two. I would rather learn to curb my bitchy side in order not to burn bridges or turn off potential agents and editors. I'm not willing to do anything to stand in my own way.

It would be awful to not succeed based, not on the quality of my writing, but based on a reputation that I wasn't careful about. Very slowly I'm starting to try to get rid of old habits, and in the writing sphere follow an attitude of: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

On some level it's not fair, because I'm not a prima donna. I'm not hard to work with. I accept constructive criticism for my writing and make changes where changes are necessary. I'm career minded, but at the end of the day, if I spouted my mouth off to someone on some forum somewhere, it might not matter.

I think everybody has bad days though. No one is perceived as perfect all the time. We are not Stepford people, cardboard cutouts of humanity with no souls... I think it's a cummulative effect. I think it's a karmic effect. A matter of sending out the type of treatment you want to come back to you in return.

I wanted to live in a world in which my words made an impression, being online, now I do. It's up to me to decide WHAT impression.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Training your brain not to quit:

This blogpost is inspired by today's post at Magical Musings The post was on how science is discovering that you can rewire your brain in a sense. Most purveyors of positive thinking techniques have known this for a long time. You CAN condition yourself to be an optimist. And you CAN train your brain not to quit.

You can also train your brain to have a positive attitude toward rejection, thereby making it possible for you to keep going through the "no's" until you get to "yes." The first thing to remember is: Rejection is inevitable. This is actually pretty encouraging. It means if you get 50 rejections it doesn't mean you suck. Author Kate Perry stated on a yahoo group recently that she received 70 rejections before she got an agent and 25 rejections after that before her first book sold (and the first book, was actually the third book written since obtaining an agent.)

This is encouraging. What if she had quit on query number 69? Or what if she gave up after the second book? We live in a fast food culture where we want it NOW! Well tough. Publishing doesn't work that way. And actually success in life in general doesn't work that way. This "now" mentality I believe is at least partly responsible for vast groups of people never accomplishing anything, because if it doesn't come fast and easy it must not be "meant to be." To be very blunt, that's crap, and you know it. Name for me ONE successful person in any area of life who begins his story like this: "So this one day I woke up, and on a dare decided to do this really successful thing, and voila, look at me now. It was just meant to be." No one? K, that's what I thought.


The following are some positive ways you can deal with rejection when it comes...besides understanding that it's normal:

1. Send a thank you note. No, I'm not insane. Do you know how rare it is for someone to express actual gratitude that someone took the time to consider their work? This suggestion isn't something I just pulled out of my ass either, it comes from Carolyn See, author of "Making a Literary Life." It's a bit of psychic self-defense. Instead of being down, you take the rejection and you lob it back to it's target in the form of a genuine nicely written thank you note. Practice an attitude of gratitude.

2. Before you really get involved in anything else, send out another query. Seriously. One for one. One rejection, one new submission. It keeps things circulating and moving. This is a long enough process as it is to just wait to hear back from everyone before you start sending out more. Don't wait until your first 10 queries come back rejected to send out 10 more. Go one for one.

3. Do something nice for yourself. It's like behavioral conditioning, if you get something nice when you get a rejection, you keep submitting because hey, when you get the rejection instead of jumping off that cliff like you planned, you can buy new shoes. Isn't that so much nicer than the cliff idea? Of course you want the acceptance and you can REALLY celebrate then, but do something nice. Get a manicure, watch a funny movie, buy a new pair of shoes, whatever. Make a list of all the things big and small that you would like to get or do for yourself. Don't make them all monetary, since we don't all have endless pots of money. But make them all something nice. Rejection. Nice thing. Rejection. Nice thing.

4. Finally, be working on something else already. Rejection for one piece is much easier when you have already shifted your attention and psyche to the next project. Start the next project when you send out your first batch of queries (unless you're the type that works simultaneously. Like I'm editing one thing while writing the rough draft of another, by the time I start sending out my queries for this novel, I'll be editing the next one and starting the rough draft of a third one.)

I used many of these techniques when I was submitting short stories and articles. They work. They make you pro-active. They keep you moving. Start training your brain. Try these techniques for your next rejection letter. You're almost kind of looking forward to it now, huh? So, very very twisted. ;)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Self-Defeating behaviors, and revisiting the lottery.

I'm going to be very blunt. However my knowledge comes from observing other people, not direct experience (yet) in my own publishing saga. And so feel free to ignore me. My complete talking out of my ass in fact is a very safe space for you to be in right now, because you can think I'm idiotically naive and not be troubled further.

Here's the thing: Publishing is not a lottery. YES, some good books don't get published. And YES some bad books do... However, this REALLY is not like your name getting pulled out of a hat, or your raffle ticket drawn. There are things you can do to increase your odds exponentially. Studying the business intensely is one. Surrounding yourself with successful people is another. Reading and writing as much as you possibly can is another. (I mentioned in another blog entitled: "But mine is different..." that a short query and not too much set up in the first chapter of your novel will put you miles ahead of a lot of the competition.)

THE odds in general are not the same as YOUR personal odds. Don't make the mistake of confusing the two. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking "delusions of grandeur" here. I'm saying, someone else's personal success or failure in no way has anything to do with you or what you can or cannot accomplish.

Whatever you can do to improve your craft, do it. If you fail, it might not be your fault. But it might be. Take responsibility for your own faults, whatever they might be. I am in no way, shape or form implying that any one individual person is wholly responsible for their failures, I'm saying, on the whole to grow, you must own up to whatever you have done that is self-defeating.

Over and over I've seen people who have "made it" have very similar attitudes. Maybe you believe they have those attitudes because they've succeeded, but I believe those attitudes are partially responsible for their success. I'm not just talking about writing, I'm talking ALL areas of life. Most people I've ever met who have ever succeeded in any area of life had a winning attitude to match. If you don't have the attitude, get it.

You have GOT to believe in yourself. Absolutely, above all else without reservation. There are many roads here. You don't have to take any given one, but get on a road and go somewhere. Don't bitch about "the industry" as if it's personally out to get you.

Figure out what you have to do to get where you want to go and start moving. Stop bitching. The world hasn't promised you anything. You aren't automatically entitled to anything. You have to make it happen. You have to know you ARE the magic.

Attitude and talk alone won't get you there. The power of positive thinking can't be what completely steers your ship. You have to have a plan and you have to work it. But please, for the love of God and all that is holy and unholy, don't allow yourself to fall into the traps of self-defeat. Just refuse to do it.

You might put all your hopes on one dream. You might try and strive and be good and have a great attitude and not make it. (If we are talking odds and you do ALL these things and don't just lie to yourself about it, those odds aren't nearly as great.) But so what? Your entire identity and self worth cannot rest on the success or failure of one dream. Even if you fail, you have to believe it's worth the attempt. If you don't believe that, then yes, your odds suck.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The hardest part is starting...or why Zoe had to be punished:

So, as cosmic punishment for being so flip about writer suffering the other day...I had a bad writing day. Well it didn't end up bad, but it was a struggle. It's because the hardest part sometimes is starting.

I love those days when I can just get out of bed, sit down, not check email, just dive into the story, write my words and go on. Those days are shining beacons of hope and wonder. They are epic. Usually I procrastinate a little first. I check my email, shower, eat something blah blah blah.

Yesterday I REALLY procrastinated. I spent several hours whining about how I didn't want to write. I DID want to write, I just didn't want to write it "wrong." Despite my preaching about the "crap draft" I too have sinned. (yeah, I know that wasn't a big revelation to you all.)

When I finally stopped fussing over the plot (which is important, granted) and sat down to write my words it took me about an hour to get 889 done. ALL that build up...ALL that fuss. I could have just sat down and written.

I realize I build up too much performance anxiety before hand by expecting to write something "great" or even "not craptastic" the first time out of the gate with any novel. No wonder alcohol is the classical writer's drug of choice. It lowers inhibitions so you can perform. It's like the viagra of writing. Since I don't intend to take up drinking, I have to deal with this another way.

Maybe that's the problem. "Performing." When we write with our eye on publication we tend to start thinking in terms of "what the market will bear" and while that's certainly a concern, possibly the ROUGH draft isn't the place to deal with it. There's this lovely and wonderful phase of writing called the rewrite. I should embrace it.

I'm revising one novel while starting the rough draft on the another. The last novel, the rough draft was easy. Why? Because I wasn't trying to write something "great." This one though is darker, has deeper themes, has the potential to be something psychologically gripping. It also has the potential to never be written.

I'm spending too much time worried about if this will be publishable. I feel like I need to write this particular novel to stretch myself and see what I can write. It isn't paranormal romance, my normal fare, it's just an idea I got. I feel like I need to write it to have the experience of writing it. That somehow it will enrich my writing in some measurable way over the long haul even if it never sees the light of day.

So...yeah. That's where I am right now, trying not to perform. Just sitting down, writing the words and not caring if they're shit. I can fix it in the rewrite. If I don't have that attitude, I won't GET to the rewrite.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Have you suffered enough?

There sometimes seems to be an almost pathological masochism in the writing community at large. This undercurrent of “you need to suffer more.” It can't be too easy. No part of it. Ever. That rough draft? By better spend hours staring at the blank screen, agonizing over every single word.

You are a serious writer now, dammit! Forget that it's a rough draft and you just need to get the damn thing written first so you can fix it. No, it should take all day to write 500 words. If it doesn't, then you must be a hack.

You should read every classic ever written no matter how dry or dull. You must make yourself read it because this is the flogging portion of your punishment. It's what makes you a contender. Didn't you know? If you can read everything any academic has ever deemed “literary” and STILL want to can go on to the next level.

Your level of masochistic glee must be great if you wish to be able to add to the great literature out there already. You should spend months upon months doing research and maps and outlines, texturing a world that you probably won't get around to writing the rough draft of because you spent so long acquiring notebooks of notes now too large to sludge through.

How can you write a novel, a narrative, when you have that many notes? No wonder you just spent three hours staring at the blank screen. You can't top your research with your fiction. So go along little darlings...suffer some more.

Don't enjoy the process of creation, don't just let it flow, don't read things you enjoy. Make everything a “task” a “chore” a “punishment.” Because must be punished. That's what it comes down to right? You feel guilty for liking it?

There are women who can't reach orgasm because they've been raised with such guilt toward the sexual act. Is the writing act like that for you? Can you not reach the orgasmic release of creation because it's naughty for you to be doing this while someone else is working long hours in a factory developing carpal tunnel? (By that logic, you should stop enjoying your food due to the children starving in Ethiopia.)

This may be a bitingly sarcastic post, but I think you should think about it. Do you feel guilty for liking it, or like you aren't a real writer if you like the process too much? On the other side of the fence, are you a prima donna who just wants to look like they are suffering? Should we get you one of those fainting couches?

I'm not trying to downplay genuine difficulties with writing. I'm asking you to examine yourself and think really hard if this is some kind of psychological block brought on to you by the fact that the writers around you might be trying to “suffer.” Will you join the hive mind, or will you smile politely and say: “Oh, yes, it's so terribly difficult” while smiling secretly about it?

There is no shame in enjoyment. If you like a book, read it. If you like the Classics READ them, enjoy them, with my blessing. If you don't, don't force yourself to choke them down so you can “suffer for your art.” If you aren't enjoying the process of writing why are you doing it?

I'm not saying that some days aren't hard. I'm not saying you should only write on the days you want to. I'm saying if you don't love it, the process, the act, then find a way to recapture it. But for God's sake, stop punishing yourself.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Zoe Winters, Literary Heretic:

I'm a heretic. With very rare exception, I don't like the classics. I like Poe and I like Stoker. Not much else. I don't like Austin, or Dickens or any of their ilk. I know this makes me a heretic. It's practically shameful to say you aren't in love with the classics, that you don't idolize and bow down before them.

It's a bit like a high society woman admitting she's secretly been a whore for the past decade. But there it is, I said it. And now the world knows my shame. (Ok, not the world, just you five people reading this.) I can't sit and pretend to be engrossed by Charles Dickens, although I will admit that “A Christmas Carol” wasn't as dry to me as most of his stuff.

I can't try to be in love with something that just doesn't grip me so that I can seem more “literate.” Suffering through books you don't want to read is what you do in school, not life, in my opinion. Granted, it's been said that you can learn many things from reading the classics. This is true. Of course you also should guard against the one thing you don't want to do, which is “learn to write like a dead guy.” (or girl.)

In their time, most of the authors of the classics weren't writing something “literary.” They only became studied in ivory towers and whispered about in reverent tones, in most cases, after their deaths. During their lifetimes, most of them were writing for the common people. One of the most famous “commercial writers” of his time, was Shakespeare.

What he wrote was crass, baudy, vulgar, common. Although rich and poor alike went to see his plays, few would have elevated it at that time to the status of great literature. Today one of the largest examples of commercial success is JK Rowling. Right now she's “too commercial” in the eyes of most of the literati. In about 50 years she'll be elevated to that worshipful status. I can see absolutely no reason that the Harry Potter series won't become a children's literature classic.

If I like something, I like it. But I make no apologies for not liking a classic author someone else might like. When a piece of writing survives for a long period of time and becomes a classic, it must have some merit. And time goes on, the writing style and voice, while connecting with a certain segment of the population who love it, or try to, it won't connect with the majority of people in the way that modern fiction will. After all there is a reason why if you write now like they did then, you'll likely get a polite form rejection slip.

I guess my point, today in 2007, this is your audience. These are your readers. Don't be afraid to be “common.”

Friday, January 19, 2007


So, I have this blog. And while I have ideas I need to write down, it's not the only purpose. I have this blog to start to create a space for “Zoe Winters” to exist in. To network, to start some small scale promotion of my name.

So now I obsess. I have this horrible habit, which I'm working right now to break, of giving TMI. Sometimes to the point of alienating others. There is a time and space for everything, but dragging the persona I'm trying to gradually create through the proverbial mud is counter productive.

I see the writing loops and while many of them are closed and private for the most part, it's still “out there.” It's not totally private. You don't know every person who sees what you write. I'm at a cross roads. Do I murder Zoe Winters while she's still young and start over? Or do I keep going and try very hard to know what's “appropriate” to attach to my name and what isn't?

Because sooner or later I'm going to “make it” and then this paper trail I've been creating, is going to come to light. I mean unless I make it REALLY big, it's probably safe to say that most of the world won't know most obscure things about me that I've posted. many strangers is too many to let into any aspect of your private world, even if you operate under some level of anonymity with a pen name?

Something that I really admire in authors is emotional honesty. Someone who is real and naked as a person and not hiding. To me this displays courage and a level of “kickass” that I aspire to, because it's so raw and real. At the same time, sometimes it can alienate. I won't name names, (because it could come back to haunt me as I try to learn the fine art of diplomacy...yes...she can be taught!) but I've seen some author blogs where they are just catty and bitchy and whiny all the time and I think they are alienating their fans because in some way they are alienating me.

And yet at the same time it's like a car wreck...I just can't look away. Who can really say that scandal has hurt most people's careers? Once you get big enough and well known enough for anyone to CARE about your personal scandals, it just keeps making you larger than life in the public view. There comes a point where there really is no such thing as bad publicity.

Then there's the issue of people saying you said things you didn't say or saying you are a certain way that you're not. Even the most carefully planned “persona” can still end up revealing things about you you don't want floating around. Some of those things will be true, some of them not. The more public you are, the less people think you have a right to privacy or feelings that aren't up for public scrutiny.

I won't kill Zoe Winters just yet. It could be a messy death and I'm not sure where I would hide the body. But I'll try to keep in mind when I post something, that someday the whole world could know it. And I'll try to remember that even though there are some things I don't mind being public knowledge now, that might not always be the case.

Beliefs change, views change, how we approach life changes. But once you're in the public eye, you're a static figure. If you said a political party was stupid 20 years ago, it'll stay with you, even if you're now a part of that party.

How do you feel about your public persona versus your private identity? How much emotional honesty is too much, and TMI? Is it all a matter of individual opinion? i.e. A case can't please everyone?

By the time anything near “fame” happens to me, if it ever does, the things I've shared that may be “TMI” will likely already be assumed about me, just by reading what I write. Fiction is fiction, and yet people often assume certain things about authors based on what they write. I'm not sure one can write “anything” for publication while still insisting on being totally private.

You're often out there pretty naked, even if you don't think you are. Some people will always read between the lines and be able to separate what's fiction from what's fact. And even if they're wrong...that won't stop the gossip.

Wow...cheery huh?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sometimes all you need is a solid plan

So I'm doing this whole "novel in 90" thing which I've mentioned enough times for you to want to beat me with a stick. And I got a bit overwhelmed. There are some things I need to do before moving on to the next draft of this novel. But it all seemed overwhelming. I'm a bit of a weirdo because I outline before writing a rough draft but I don't do character sketches or tons of research (just bare basics) until the second draft. Because the first draft is where I figure out who my characters are as well as what it is exactly I need to find out. Basically I bullshit through the first draft and act like I know what I'm talking about.

Anyway I was a bit overwhelmed because there is always the danger of stalling out at this phase for me and not actually getting into the rewrite portion because I have to access a different part of my brain here.

Turns out...all I really needed was a deadline (which I already had) and a solid plan. So I took all the things I had to do and made specific lists. Exactly WHO do I need character sketches on? Place sketches (maps and descriptions)? What EXACT things do I need to research...list them. Then divide and conquer, reasonable chunks a day and micro-deadlines.

Now I'm back on track and not feeling so overwhelmed by it all. In fact in the overarching original deadline chart, I'm only going to be one day behind if I stick to this plan, which I'm sure I'll catch up at some point. It feels doable now.

Another thing I did today was start the rough draft of the next novel, which I'll be going at a slow and steady pace of 750 words a day on. Getting back into the creative space, I think is helpful to keep me in this whole "writer flow." Plus, by the time I finish revising this novel and send it out into the world, I've got the next thing to revise, I'm already on my way to the next thing.

I was a little hesitant about starting this next book. I know there are dangers to working on too many things at once. And yet I think working on one "rough draft" and one "edit/revising process" isn't overkill, because they are two fairly different processes. Some days i will have to write new scenes on the edit draft so I will likely not write new stuff on the rough draft on that day...I'm just going to play it by ear. But I figure if I ever get published I'm going to have to learn to switch gears like this to keep forward momentum and I think I can do it.

You never know until you push yourself.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


While I don't think I'm freaking Buddha by any stretch of the imagination (observe my inability not to engage in argument), I've recently had an "awakening" of sorts.

I don't know exactly when it happened. I was in this big ole non-writing slump. I could call it writer's block, but I don't believe in writer's block unless you lose a hand or something. You can just might be crappy. The universe never promised more.

But I started writing again. It started with fanfic. Yeah, I know, go ahead, mock. But it got me going again. Then I was looking at my other novels and planning to edit one of them, and then Nano was here. And out of nowhere I got this great idea for a novel, so I had something for nano.

Then I actually overachieved for nano...93,000 words in 29 days bitches! Then I got ready to start revising and there was this novel_in_90 comm and I'm like KICKASS. So I'm just rolling along.

At some point in all this, I woke up one day and it just struck me, "This is it, this is what I want." I mean yeah, I've always thought this in the back of my head...probably since I was about eleven. It was just always a "pipe-dream" like a nice thought but not realistic. Suddenly I'm like "Why the fuck not?" If the mystical "They" can do it, I can do it. Hell, my mama didn't say: "You can be anything you want to be" for me to waste it on a "safe and sure" goal.

It's just...until that moment of clarity I was floundering trying to develop "other goals." Sure I've gotten passionate about other things. Other ideas, other businesses, etc. But nothing has been a constant companion in the same way that writing has been. So suddenly I'm more serious.

I don't know if I'm getting to an age where I'm just ready to buckle down or what. Maybe it's not an age thing. I'm just ready to be completely fucking honest. I want to write. Desperately. That's what I want to do, it's who I want to be. This is me.

In all my permutations, nothing has screamed more loudly than the writing thing. I just woke up one day and I "wanted it more." I started getting in gear, setting deadlines, KEEPING deadlines (that's a big deal cause I used to set goals and deadlines and not finish them.) The earth just shifted on it's axis and I was like: "Oh crap, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I better get busy."

When did you wake up?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Writing REALLY Offensive things...

I'm not talking about writing sex that might make Grandmother Lulu blush...I'm talking REALLY offensive, politically incorrect things. At some point, the question arises over whether or not it's irresponsible to write fiction that might cause a group of people to look bad.

For example...

Let's say you write about a priest that's a pedophile. This has become a pretty stereotypical example, and yet it happens. Does writing about a pedophile priest make the entire Catholic church look bad? Does it cast a negative light on ALL priests? Religion in general? God? It's a slippery slope.

Another example...

The Neo-pagan community has at various points gotten in an uproar over the fictional depiction of witches because supposedly it makes them "look bad." Despite the fact that I don't really think anyone confuses a "hollywood witch" with a "Wiccan." I mean really, I don't know anyone who shoots lightening bolts out of their fingertips, do you?

What about kinky erotica which explores various sexual fantasies like the "rape fantasy?" By writing the fantasy itself instead of a "real life" BDSM treatment with safewords, are you making an entire community of kinky people look like rapists and abusers? Do people understand that nonconsensual kinky stories explore a fantasy and don't condone a reality? (i.e. Can it really be argued that the world of Erotica would be better off without classics like "Story of O")?

One might be deeply disturbed by the writings of the Marquis de Sade, and yet we wouldn't even have the word "sado-masochism" if not for his literary contribution.

Anything you write is going to piss someone off. Forget Grandmother Lulu. We live in a "Politically Correct" climate where many people feel they have the inalienable right not to be offended. Rather than just choosing not to read certain types of books, there are those who will insist you are doing something "wrong" by even writing them. They might not out and out condone censorship but they'd be thrilled if you quietly sat in your corner and stopped writing things that upset their sensibilities.

No group's PR image should override the free expression of ideas. Nor should it, IMO make a writer hesitate to write about things which might create controversy.

Writing requires courage on many levels. If you only write about things that don't upset anyone, are you really writing anything worth reading? I don't want to be controversial for the sake of it, but I'll be damned if I only write what's "PC."

Fiction is a safe space in which darker things can be explored. Concepts and ideas too dangerous to explore in any other way. What happens when people decide the fictional expression is too dangerous as well?

Is the problem that fiction makes certain groups of people "look bad" or is the problem that the general population seems to have increasing difficulty separating fiction from reality?

Monday, January 15, 2007

But...mine is different...

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, Magical Musings, and the topic was about “Beginnings” by guest blogger, Carolyn Jewel. She was talking about finding the real beginning, and maybe the beginning you think is your beginning really isn't. Novels really start somewhere in the middle according to her, and I agree. It's finding the right place in the middle that's the key.

By some weird magical blogging serendipity, on the same day, the illustrious Miss Snark posts the beginning sample pages she requested from the “Crap-o-meter.” I love it when everything in the universe seems to converge like this.

Over and over again, about these first pages she says: “this is all set-up” Almost everything sent in spent pages setting the scene rather than just getting into the story. Three guesses what is going to put you ahead of the competition once you get over the query hurdle? If you guessed a kickass, strong, in the thick of it beginning, you guessed right. You get a stuffed teddy bear.

Over and over again people in the industry tell writers what they're looking for, and over and over, writers, even savvy ones, give them the exact opposite saying: “But....mine is different...”

This is true of query letters also. Several times I've heard agents say: “keep it short and to the point.” They cite repeatedly how rare it is to get a SHORT query letter. And yet...despite these blatant instructions, writers still send in long letters. I mean sure, the query letter has to be good, but don't you think you might stand out by being concise? (Yes, this will be a hurdle for “the zoe” clearly, but I'll still do it...and freaking hell if *I* can be concise, I don't want to hear that you can't.)

Same with if they ask for a partial...If you know that most people give too much set-up in the beginning pages and don't get right into it...don't kid yourself that yours is some kind of exception. Give them what they ask for. Be the rare writer that gives a good and concise query letter, and then the even rarer writer that gets right into the story instead of giving five pages of set-up.

It'll put you in the top ten percent, and that ups your odds considerably. If you persist in believing that publishing is a big lottery...look at your query letters and sample chapters. Do you find yourself saying: “But...mine is different...?”

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Who wants to win a book contract?

So, there is a big buzz going around about what is basically promising to be the "American Idol" of book publishing. Slut it up here

I have some pretty strong opinions on this which I will share below. It's not going to be pretty or polite, so if you're looking for "Nice Zoe" she's left the building for the day.

To be very blunt about this contest, I think it's lame.

I read the fine print. In the first place, with all the people who are going to be entering this thing I think your odds are really no better than they are if you were to go the traditional route trying to get an agent or submitting to small presses.

Supposedly these people are just Desperate to increase book sales and find new talent. If that's true, you should just leap right out of the slush pile, right? I don't buy it. I think it's just a bunch of publicity nonsense taking a bunch of newbie writers' hopes and dreams for a ride through their Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of Doom.

From the site:
Submissions may not be submitted elsewhere unless and until the entrant has been eliminated from the Competition. By entering your Submission in the Competition, you hereby give Touchstone/Fireside (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) first publication rights to your manuscript until such time as you are eliminated from the Competition.

Excuse me? What? I'm your butt monkey now? I submit and you own me in some kind of novel limbo until such time as I'm eliminated? Yeah um...ok. Sure. I'll get right on that.

Granted, I do understand the purpose of them holding rights while the individual is in the competition, it would be crazy for someone to win and go: "Yeah, sorry I just got offered a better contract somewhere else." Still, the fact remains...if I've put my hat in the ring of your writing lottery, I can't actually pursue any other means of publication. (i.e. querying agents to represent me.)

And while it's RUDE to simultaneous submit to editors, it's pretty impractical to let a manuscript sit in a slush pile forever while you're waiting on someone to pass on it. Still, THIS says they own your ass until you're eliminated. If I was real serious about getting published...which I seems a bit silly to tie myself up for months at a time when I could be sending out query letters.

The other thing that makes the little red flashing lights go off:
• By entering this Competition, you agree that if you are selected as the Grand Prize Winner, you will sign Simon & Schuster’s standard publishing agreement within five days of receipt of the agreement.

Whoa, there assuming I'm the "one true chosen one" I have to just sign over my soul within five days? Is this a fiction contest or a hostage situation?

Also, is five days really enough time to find an agent or a lawyer to look over it to protect you? I mean we're talking a big publisher here with giant thirty page contracts designed to screw you over without the proper buffers in place. Does ANYONE go into a contract with a big publisher without a second set of eyes to protect them from evil legalese?

They aren't incredibly specific about what's in it for the poor sob that wins. ($5,000, a publishing contract, and distribution through Borders. Excuse me for saying so, but Borders alone isn't very wide distribution for a publisher of that clout.)

So...I'm just going to sit back and watch it like reality TV, like I did when Darva Conger, love her heart, won "Who wants to marry a multi-millionaire" and married a relatively poor (for a millionaire) balding ugly guy with no personality, whose later very public divorce was splashed all over the tabloids.

I imagine this will be something similar. I can't wait to meet the little Darva.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

750 words a day

Yeah, I'm raising the bar, slackers. ;) So I made a blogpost not too long ago about "100 words a day"

100 words is literally nothing. It's so easy that anyone who even THINKS about calling themselves a writer, can do it.

Now that we're over that hurdle I'm proposing 750. Now before you start digging in your claws and freaking out like I'm taking you to the vet to get you neutered...hang with me a second. 100 is like a "trick" to get yourself going.

It's the "well, just do it until then and see how you feel." It's the thing that "gets you started." And that's all fine and good. However, once you get to the place where it's easy for you to "get started," the 100 words isn't very motivating anymore. You write the 100, you're going, but now where do you go? What goal is a worthy goal?

Enter 750. Let's do the math here. If you write 260 days a year, (that's 2 days off a week, like most people with regular jobs), you've written 195,000 words. That's 2 novels (though you still have to edit/revise.) If you write every day, because really, what's 750 words in the grand scheme of things...that's 273,750. Damn!

I had to redo that on my calculator just to make sure the number was right. That's 3 decent sized novels. Consistency is so much better than writing in fits and starts.

So why 750? Maybe it's some kind of psychological trick, but 750 still feels like almost nothing. It's not the daunting, scary "official" 1000. But it's still a respectable amount of words that slowly builds over time. Also, it doesn't take forever to do.

I type pretty fast, and when I write a rough draft I don't sit and second guess myself, I just write it, so I can generally write 1,000 words in about 45 minutes or so. A lot of people can probably write 750 words (on the computer) in 30 minutes to an hour. This isn't a huge time involvement and it's something you can do successfully over the long term without burning out.

Most professional writers don't do actual "writing" 8 hours a day. You burn out too quick. ACTUAL writing, most I've talked to, we're talking 2-3 hours. (and if it was longer, a lot of that was spent staring at the screen or something, not actually typing. I'm talking actual typing here.)

Anyway...enough rambling. I think 750 is my magic number. What about you?

* The 750 words a day idea comes from the LJ novel in 90 community.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Do you steer your ship or do you wait for the wind to blow you?

Magic. Fate. Luck. They're all very romantic notions that probably every writer at one point or another has spoken of. I know I have. With me it's the "magic of this" or the "magic of that." But the "magic" I think it's good to remember, is you. Dumbo's feather wasn't the magic. It's nice sometimes to think those things, but it can be a crutch rather than a help in the end.

What about fate? And luck? Writers often want to credit good luck with their success and blame failures on bad luck. I'm not sure I believe this is a healthy way of seeing things, because it makes you dependent on the whims of some outside mystical force that you can't predict, so why try?

If something is defined as "good luck" then how can you replicate it? If you blame "bad luck," how can you learn to grow? I know it's a horrible cliche, but I truly believe luck is when hard work meets opportunity. All the luck in the world won't help you if you haven't been honing your craft and completeing manuscripts to submit.

It's not a very popular idea, but I believe taking responsibility for your writing will get you farther down the road than believing in magic or luck. The best shot you have is becoming a truly great writer. Make your goal something more ambitious than just "good enough to be published." Both "good writing" and "great writing" are subjective, but whining about someone not recognizing your brilliance does nothing but identify you as a whiner.

A lot of writers want to blame bad luck. And maybe someday I'll be bitter and cynical and be one of those writers, but I hope not. Maybe my adorably cute "naive optimism" will someday be gone. Still, I hope I always understand that my greatest shot is to develop a strong writing voice and produce great writing. Take responsibility, it's empowering. Far more empowering than sitting around and wishing on a star. If your writing isn't great, figure out how to make it so.

It always comes back to craft. Read more, write more. Get your work critiqued, enter contests. Submit. Submit. Submit. But don't wait for luck. Just get better.

Take control of your ship.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Crime of Fanfic: An evil, soulless miscreant speaks out:

I stumbled upon a big ole self righteous argument about fanfic on Lee Goldberg's blog. (note the self-righteous behavior wasn't his actual blogpost. While I disagree with a few of his views on it, he wasn't an arrogant jerk, so I'm not going to make an issue of it.) It was really other people who responded to his blog that were misbehaving. views on fanfic:

First the legality/morality issue of fanfic:

The words "copyright infringement" are bandied about by a lot of people who don't seem to understand why copyright law exists. Copyright protects the ACTUAL EXPRESSION OF AN IDEA, not the idea itself. There are no new ideas. TRADEMARK protects characters and worlds. It is my opinion that a fanfic author could not ever win a lawsuit to protect a fanfic from being "stolen" by the original author. Not because of "copyright" law, but because of trademark law. That story cannot BELONG to you because they aren't your freaking characters. And everyone knows who's characters they are.

(I thought of an exception to this, since authorized media tie ins I believe are copyrighted in the author's name. But I think the keyword here is "authorized." You can't just write a star trek novel and get it copyrighted if it isn't authorized.)

If you're a big enough author to have fanfic written about your stuff, trust me...we all know who your characters belong to. So far a "fanfic" case has never actually gone to court. (And don't bring up Marion Zimmer Bradley...that never went to court, there were just threats of lawsuits. Anyone can threaten. It doesn't mean they have a case.) Also, the vast majority of fanfics posted online have a copyright legal disclaimer making it clear that the intent is not to infringe on copyright, pretty much waiving the fanfic writer's "right" to sue anybody.

Until a case goes to court, I'm going to consider the "incredibly famous author could lose rights to stuff everyone in the known universe knows is his" concept as retardia and nothing more. When a fanfic case goes to court, then let's talk about this.

I don't personally agree with authors who complain about fanfic. I can maybe understand a little bit of the fear that drives it despite the reality of a fanfic case never having gone to court. (Take the infamous Marrion Zimmer Bradley cautionary tale. While I feel that this is a pretty insane reason to send cease and desist letters, the story is whispered almost reverently among published authors fearful of their fans revolting.)

HOWEVER, despite my diagreeing with authors who disallow fanfic, I would never write fanfic in a verse where the author had explicitly said "no, don't do this." Of course I won't buy their books either. That's just how I feel about it. And I have a right to those feelings. It's not a petulant "you won't let me write fanfic, I won't read your stuff" It's more a: "I feel like you're overreacting and showing lack of support for your fans and I'm not on board with that attitude." I'm a fan and customer, and like any customer, I'll vote with my wallet.

People who are against fanfic whether it's based on some kind of classist elitism or self righteous indignation, or they just plain don't like it, often paint all fanfic writers as amoral miscreants. The vast majority of those who write fanfic, write it and share it for fun and to be part of a larger fan community. The vast majority respect the wishes of the Author who says "don't do it" and just don't play in that sandbox. The vast majority would never try to sue or harm an author whose world they wrote in.

So really, if you're still on this: "OMG aren't you ashamed you're so evil and immoral" bandwagon, get over it. It's tired and makes you look like a ninny IMO.

The other issue of fanfic that seems to be argued ad nauseum:

You aren't a "real writer" if you write fanfic. I believe this is a strawman argument. For one thing I've yet to personally meet anyone who thought they were a "real writer" BECAUSE they wrote fanfic. I HAVE, however come across people who write original fic and ALSO happen to write fanfic for fun who call themselves real writers.

There is this elitist classism among the "holy and respectful and real" writers who don't write fanfic against the "evil, heathen, defacing, disrespectful, criminal fake" writers who make all their original writing null and void by participating in a hobby.

When framed that way it DOES look pretty stupid doesn't it?

So why do I like fanfic?

1. Well, it's fun for one thing. I think really that if you have a passion for something, say writing... It's emotionally healthy to participate in the act in ways that aren't for profit. i.e. fanfic. Paul Goyet referred to people who write fanfic as "soulless." However I think doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it without looking to fame or monetary gain is one of the least soulless things you can do.

2. It builds community for fannish geeks like myself. We like to speculate about other people's characters and what if they did this or that. (And despite people complaining about anal sex fanfic, I think even fanfic smut has it's place as a way of exploring situations that would never be appropriate for the 'mainstream' audience of the original story/show/whatever.) Although...I will say, Harry Potter porn? Nasty. Isn't that like vicarious pedophelia?

3. And finally, ANY writing you do improves your other writing. The act of writing teaches you to write. And while I agree that fanfic isn't "real writing" in the same sense that original fic is, and it's not a literary genre... I still think it has its uses, like any writing exercise in the grand scheme of things. I mean really...if given the option do you want to do a writing exercise describing the clear blue sky outside or something that happened to your cousin when he was three, or would you rather write about something that you're passionate about?

So...fanfic, yay or nay? Stupid? Pointless? Evil? Fun? Weigh in. I might be away for a bit...I have to write some of that evil fanfic anal sex that people get so worked up about. *Listens to the sound of a thousand fanfic haters screaming.*