So, some good stuff and some bad stuff. It’s quite the mix of random things today, so if you’re in the mood for a focused, pointed blog post…move on. Nothing to see here.
But if quirky complaining and drinking coffee are your thing? Well, have a seat!
First, some good stuff.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a great blog post up today about writing and how different writers are from athletes.
Athletes tend to be realistic. They set achievable goals for themselves and work toward them. They plan out the paths to those goals when that’s necessary. They’re honest about where they are in the athletic careers and map out how they want to get to the next goal for themselves.
Writers, on the other hand, are delusional. When you ask a writer what their goals are, they give you their delusions. They tell you the plot of their book. And you know the book – it’s the one that’s going to make them a bestseller and household name. The goal is to be the next J. K. Rowling/George R. R. Martin/Stephen King/James Patterson/John Grisham/[insert name of big-selling super-writer here].
But they won’t ever say, for the most part, they’re going to practice more.
I know a few writers. Most I’ve lost contact with. Some I haven’t. But not one of them ever told me they were writing to practice. I think of all the writers I’ve ever met, I’ve only known one who wrote like a compulsion. She just kept writing, and writing, and writing, spitting out words and more words. Every idea that flitted through her head went onto the screen, even if it ended up sputtering and dying later.
She wrote because she loves to write. And I wonder how close to a million words she’s come. Or if she’s even surpassed it. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Which reminds me of some more good: Dean Wesley Smith‘s blog post today, which is originally from last year, but has great relevance to his wife’s post about obsession and writing. He calls the production levels of pulp writers, logically enough, “Pulp Speed.”
There’s also a lot of really interesting information about the history of pulp writers and the myths many writers in the modern era believe. Writing fast does not equal writing poorly. Period. It just doesn’t. And if you can move yourself out of the trap of a rewriting spiral, you can become a lot more productive and still produce fine literature. Or, you know, pulp fiction.
And that’s awesome on two fronts. As a reader, this should excite the dickens out of you (because Dickens was a pulp writer – among the first!). It means there’s going to be a lot of stuff to read. Writers being more productive and writing what they want means you have a better chance of finding that midget-on-dragon erotica you know you were searching for all those years.
Don’t laugh. Rule 34.
So more writers shooting for Pulp Speed (and DWS likens “Pulp Speed” to warp speed from Star Trek, wherein each level is exponentially harder to reach than the last) means a lot of words in the world. It’s an exciting time to be a reader, because there is genuine choice now. Not what you’re told you have to choose from, but serious choice.
Second, as a writer this is exciting because we can all stop thinking about the ridiculous word count ratios we’re handed by the gatekeeper publishing crapheads.
A lot of writers get caught in a word count trap, believing a novel is something close to that 80-100K word range. Well, up until the 1980s, a “novel” was anything from 20K-40K. Below that is a short story. And when those numbers were inflated – because publishers needed to be able to increase paperback prices – pulp writers generated more words and fewer novels, but kept up the Pulp Speed production.
So a writer with a story that didn’t come in in that archaic word count range never got considered. Vanity presses, when they came along, preyed on such hopefuls. (Or, you know, mooks, depending on your view.) But today’s new publishing world doesn’t have any limitations on the writer. You can write what you write, write to the story’s length, not to word count, and if you only have a short story in you…write it. Publish it. Love it.
In other words, writing can be fun again. You can write what you want to write, and find the readers who want to read it. No more gatekeepers.
But…some won’t venture into the new world. So, for them, the wheels turn differently.
Some not-so-good stuff is, I have to cover not only the ATR desk, but the pricing request inbox tomorrow as well. Our pricing manager is out of the office tomorrow, and so we have no one to cover her job but me. So I have the joy of three jobs tomorrow.
The parking situation was pretty bad last night, day one of the construction at our complex. But by God’s grace, a spot was open only two down from my usual space, and my back didn’t complain once during the extra fifteen feet of distance. Huzzah.
If you don’t follow Kris Rusch or Dean Smith and their blogs, you should think about it. Much valuable information resides there.
More good stuff: I started reading what amounts to a vampire book the other day, online. It’s not like me to read that – because I don’t do vampire books. They sparkle, they’re always rich, they wear silk, and they tend to have no weaknesses. Which makes them suck to me like the Hulk sucks. (Not Film Crit Hulk, though. He rocks.)
Anyway, the narrative is present tense, and it took me a while to be drawn in, but I like it so far. If you’re a fan of that sort of thing, check it out here.
Last word on this: I love the new world of writing and publishing. I may never make a nickel doing it myself, but this is still infinitely better than having my work, my writing, my labor of creativity, be subject to someone else’s opinion, mood, and what’s selling in their “line” of product by their distributors. And I don’t have to give that person 15% of my property for life because they did a few hours work once in a while.
Like DWS says, why sign over 15% of your house to a gardener who mows the lawn a few times a year? You’d think that was stupid. But all agented writers are doing just that.
And now I’m out. If I don’t talk to you again before next week, have a good holiday weekend (in the US).