When my first novel came out – in 2000 – by all weights and measures, I had “made it” as a mid-list fiction writer. I’d secured a two book deal (the second: a collection of short stories, the most elusive prey on the planet), a tidy first-timers advance, and a round of positive reviews from all the usual suspects.
Archive for the ‘Tips for Beginners’ Category
There’s a tendency for writers to obsess over rules. If you’re reading my blog series “Chasing the First Sale,” you know I’m the chiefest of sinners; it’s packed full of rules, and there’s a good reason for that: rules are helpful. They give shape to good tendencies and bad.
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.
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.
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.