Writing is a solitary activity. Even if you do it sitting in a busy coffee shop or library it ultimately boils down to only you and the page (virtual or otherwise). One of the things I love about social networking is that I am exposed so many different sites and so many different writers that have a lot to say about their experiences doing this “writing thing”. I may be alone with my writing, but I’m not alone in the struggle. It also presents many unique opportunities to participate in the world-wide cadre of scribblers.
One of the hardest parts of doing this on my own is having confidence in my abilities and in my writing. I’m relatively new to this. Like most fledgling writers, I’ve been told all my life by friends and family that I should write for a living, that I have talent. So I create a few stories that people might enjoy and send them out, sacrifices to the dragon, in hopes of glory. And am rejected. And rejected. And rejected. Yet confidence in my writing is the only way that I’ll be able to keep going and be successful.
In this inspiring blog post, Literary agent Rachelle Gardner addresses the need to believe in yourself and your ability to share your work with the world. The world of publishing is changing, but this only expands your options and forces to look again at your process. While not everyone gets published, there is still room at the table for new talent. Rejection letters are opportunities to learn and hone your craft. Writing for publication truly requires a leap of faith that begins with faith in oneself. This self-confidence is a trait I have the hardest time with and have to work on every single day.
The “soon-to-be-classic” picture to the left is the inspiration for a fan-fic contest sponsored by the Lupus Alliance of America, authors John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton, and Subterranean Press. Bask in the glory of the Scalz-Orc and Wil Wheaton, cloaked in the infamous clown sweater, and write a 400-2000 word piece of non sexually explicit fiction. On the line is the possibility of being paid 10 cents per word, publication in a Subterranean Press chapbook with profits benefiting the Lupus Alliance of America. Currently I’m at a loss for words, but I think I might like to find some…
Anyone who has read this blog with any degree of consistency (and both of you know who you are), know that I have a HUGE problem with motivation. I procrastinate, find other things to do, even wash dishes, before finally settling in to write. You’d think I hated writing the way I avoid it. But once I sit down I can easily lose myself for a few hours doing it. It’s the getting there that’s the trick.
Author Cassandra Jade wrote this very nice post “On Motivation“. I really enjoy her lack of self-flagellation when she doesn’t write. For her, it seems that her mind recharges, finds new ideas, turns plots over to see them from the other side. I wish I could claim it was the same for me, that my time away from the page is part of my process. But it is certainly another goal to strive for.
As I said before, I love social networking and the exchange of ideas and experiences that it provides. But, I also have to admit I’m a bit of an addict. I can’t go a day without checking my blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Multiply at least once (though, generally, it is many times more than once). And, it can become a bit of a distraction from actually writing (see my bit on motivation above). However, I’m not currently using it as a marketing tool. I don’t really have a product to sell at this point. I blog as a writing outlet and a place to gather my thoughts and share them with others. I network for fun and camaraderie and to gain things worth sharing.
Literary agent Chip MacGregor warns authors against “The Hidden Costs of Social Networking” in his insightful blog post that serves as a wake-up call for authors and marketers. MacGregor points out that using social networking exclusively to sell books has never netted a significant increase in sales. Abandoning traditional models of marketing, especially face-to-face selling and simply getting books into people’s hands is a recipe for disaster. I pray one day I have the opportunity to heed this advice.
My love for reading science fiction and fantasy directly correlates to my inclination to write it. As both a reader and an author, I have found that the key to good writing, especially in more fantastic settings, is building a strong scaffold of realism on which to suspend the reader’s disbelief. Even if dragons battle in the skies or wizards duel in the canals of Venice, an underlying sense of the real must be there for the reader to hook themselves into the story.
Author Robert Liparulo (“Dreamhouse Kings“) blogs about “5 Elements That Make Fantasy Fiction Seem Real“. Here he presents some solid, seemingly obvious, points on how to make that vital connection to the reader. Essentially, these points highlight the need for strong characterization and attention to those little details that trip the reader up and chip away at their disbelief. These points are not only good for fantasy writers, but all writers.
So, once again, I go out for another three hour tour to conquer the Internets in my virtual dinghy…