These days, many authors focus more time on self-promotion through social media than on marketing their books. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but with all the social media hype, it can be easy to forget about the fundamentals.
Archive for the ‘Advice for New Writers’ Category
Don DeLillo wrote: “One truth is the swing of the sentence, the beat and poise, but down deeper it’s the integrity of the writer as he matches with the language.”
Can the same thing be said about a writer’s connection to the work of another?
In Silent Interviews, Samuel R. Delany said: “I begin, a sentence lover. I’m forever delighted, then delighted all over, at the things sentences can trip and trick you into saying, into seeing. I’m astonished—just plain tickled!—at the sharp turns and tiny tremors they can whip your thoughts across.
The biggest reason people fail at creating and sticking to new habits is that they don’t keep doing it.
That seems obvious: if you don’t keep doing a habit, it won’t really become a habit. So what’s the solution to this obvious problem? Find a way to keep doing it.
When I first decided to take up writing as a serious pursuit, I figured the best way to get started was to ask a writer for advice. My lucky break was that Connie Willis happened to be in town to give a reading, and she gave me a wonderful tutorial in the basics; just Connie, her husband, and my wife, talking for a couple of hours in a Laramie bookstore. I owe a lot to Connie’s early advice.
I’ve been meaning to complete this piece for months but, well, you know how it goes: first there was that story that needed something I just couldn’t put my finger on, so I put it aside for a moment and began to do some editing on another piece that was almost ready to go in the hopes diverting my attention momentarily would break something loose…
One of the things that sometimes comes up when talking to new writers is the question, “How do I acquire mentor?” There’s a glazed and desperate look in the eyes of each querier, and sometimes a bit of professional jealousy, because occasionally we see people in positions where we’re not convinced they really should be…
How does a sudden attack that puts a sword in your belly play from the inside? If you’d seen the blade properly would it be in your belly? Didn’t you see it properly a little too late, when it was up to the hilt? Shift that “blade” and we shift the awareness of it.
I feel passionately that some of the information we are getting is increasingly wrong and motivated by selfishness and, yes, to some degree, a form of hyperbolic illogic. We are so hung up on predicting the next big thing, on getting in on the next gold rush when it comes to ways for authors to promote themselves and market their work that we often seem to be active participants in our own destruction.
There comes a time in the life of of every author when the list of Things One Should Do exceeds one’s capacity for time investment. Commissions, anthology invitations, interview requests and business propositions… They all accrue in proportion to one’s professional reputation.