Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Editors. (Take a deep breath. Everything's all right.)

Does working with editors turn you into the defensive, angry, self-righteous author? Here are four things to tell your ego when the evil editor complex strikes.

1. They’re editors, not readers.

The editors that you choose to let start cutting into your work are not reading the piece on a beach on their vacation. If the only feedback is “It’s interesting, I like it a lot,” they are not being an editor. An editor doesn’t read a piece to enjoy it was a reader. They’re reading it to find weak spots – to make it better. It can be crushing to hear “Wow this needs a lot of work,” from an editor. You already put in a lot of work, after all. But trust me, it takes a lot of work to get to a point where it needs more, so don’t be discouraged.

2. Being defensive defies the purpose.

I like it when writers get a little defensive, but not when they completely shut out everything the editor suggests. I’ve worked on projects as an editor when the author is so adamant, I just stop making suggestions. So what’s the point of the editor if that happens? It’s a waste of everyone’s time. The great thing about being a self-publisher is that you really do have the last word. You don’t have to take all the suggestions an editor gives. But don’t let the suggestions you aren’t going to use interfere with the suggestions you should!

3. You are the expert and nothing changes that.

As a self-publisher, I don’t have the resources to pay a professional editor, but I do have a team of a select few readers that have editing strengths in different areas. Some have studied literature, some have not. Some have worked in the writing field, some have not. Just because someone has a degree in literature doesn’t mean they know more than you. I witnessed a lot of English degree people that didn’t read the books they were assigned in lit classes. That’s all lit classes are! How do you learn anything about literature if you don’t read? A degree doesn’t make you. A degree is what you make it. I’m going on six years studying literature and writing. I have my degree and I continue to read, edit other people’s work, and practice my own writing. When I get overwhelmed with suggestions I need to remember to trust my own knowledge, skills, and intuition. On the flipside I’ve gotten great advice from people who know what time it is and know way more than me. You know when you get suggestions from someone brilliant, and that’s great. But you should still be the expert when it comes to what’s best for the audience, the story, the characters, and the whole point of the book. It’s up to you to take suggestions, leave suggestions, and do the piece justice.

4. If you were holding the red pen, you’d be doing the same thing.

People have asked me what would happen if I launched my own publishing company and were the chief editor. Well. Everything would have to get past me. And I’m picky, rigid, unforgiving and terribly honest. But as a writer, I can’t always give that terribleness to myself, because I truly can’t see the forest for the trees. So I put my trust in the editors I choose to give it back to me. And when that makes me insecure or discourages me, I have to remember that I would do the same thing. And it isn’t for some power trip, it isn’t to tear an author down, it isn’t to rewrite the piece for them – it’s to make the piece better. It can always be better. I’ve said that as long as there’s a book I haven’t read, there are things about writing I haven’t learned. And as long as there’s an Ursula Le Guin book on my shelf, there’s proof I can be better. I don’t know why I can dish so much of it, but get wobbly and panicky when it’s given back. But knowing my own motives in reading other people’s work makes me feel better about taking suggestions from others. It’s very psychological.

I’ll do another post on editor-philosophy at a later date. Until then I hope this softens a few porcupine quills when it comes to editing. If that metaphor makes any sense at all. Happy new year!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do consumers want fancier books?

Rummaging around in book news I found this article posted on about how publishers are combating the e-book market by publishing ink-and-paper books with “special effects.” No, no holograms jumping out tossing confetti and slaying unicorns. Rather, publishing books with attractive, detailed cover designs, deckled edges, high quality paper, or ribbon book marks. The argument goes that consumers are purchasing e-books for the convenience of reading and storing books on e-readers and publishers are trying to encourage consumers to buy a product they won’t only enjoy reading, but enjoy owning.

All right. This opens up a whole can of demonical worms to me, and seeing as every other/single line of news and conversation at work includes the economy, it’s a great topic to bring up book buying behavior. So, let’s do it.

I’ve always viewed books as an investment, a resource, and something to be used and owned. Seriously, I’m building a library. However, I’m not the consumer that these publishers are aiming at. Because most of the books I buy are used. I’d love to buy new books all the time to support authors, publishers, and economy in general. But I just can’t. And it isn’t because I choose to buy other things instead. Books are the first thing I spend money on after bills and food. But lately I struggle to get passed the food step to have extra money to buy books. And when thrift stores sell books I want for 50 cents, well, used it is.

I cherish books I’ve bought used, especially beat up, ex-library copies with crinkled covers and a billion marks. I prefer paperback for fiction – more space for more books. A couple books in our collection are fancy hardbacks with a bookmark. But honestly, I want to buy simple paperback versions I can write in when I actually read them. To me, using and owning a book isn’t having something pretty on my bookshelf. It’s what’s inside that I value.

So, as much as I’d like to say that all this Bedazzling books to get people to enjoy owning them is utter superficial donkey donuts and real readers don’t judge books by their covers and people that do probably have “War and Peace” and the Bible on their mantles but have never opened them – I need to put aside my judgment and think about this.

I understand the holiday season fast approacheth (Oh, wait. It’s here.) and there are going to be a lot of consumers acting on emotional impulses to buy products. A person looking for a book to give an avid reader will want to buy a nice book that looks interesting and special, not a wrecked discard from the Platt County library. Also, a reader who has a gift card or a little extra money to spend on books/a book to treat him/herself will probably go after a nicer, new book that attracts their whimsy. Not something they HAVE to read or doesn’t spark their interests at all. Enter deckled edges and a textured cover jacket.

I also understand that hardcore fans of a series, author, or particular book may want special editions or higher quality books that they will keep on the top shelf or pass on to someone else in grand condition.

And yes, interior design and physical aspects of a book as a piece of art are important. Reading a physical book is an experience that stimulates the senses. I’ve smelled all the books in my collection, and I’ve seen readers or fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and text books alike getting euphoric over the scent in between the pages. Just looking at the Harry Potter font brings back all sorts of ideas, memories, and emotions. Books are and should be beautiful.

However, I see some problems with using shiny dust jackets as a way to promote consumers to buy books. The article attests that while some publishers are trying to keep prices of books down, many of these new releases do come with a higher price. A quote in the article from a publisher said that customers would probably pay a few extra dollars for a nicer book. I can see this in some instances, but not all.

The main goal with these fancy books is to combat the dollars going toward e-books. But I think the lower price of e-books, especially in fiction, can be just as persuasive as convenience and storage. Personally, I’ve only downloaded free e-books. (But I buy books with loose change at the thrift store, so I realize my consumerism standpoint is a bit twisted.) It’s been shown when retailers like Amazon put bestselling titles on sale for .99-2.99 then sales of self-published books of those prices go down. Yes, consumers have an eye out for fancy paper… but a lot also have their eye on the price tag.

I’m not saying to not pay attention to cover design and layout – that’ll be another blog post. But to me, a good book at a decent price is what I’m looking for. I love Dover thrift editions and there are many mass market paperbacks that have nice covers, a clean layout, and stand the test of my time reading it, lending it, and going back to it for my notes.

Ultimately, I believe flashy, blinky, glittery books will make some sales, but overall won’t increase readership or book buying. For the people that will buy books the most, a book should be consistent, nice on the eyes, and a moderate price. As the article says, “Something worth buying and worth keeping.”

In summary: Just make sure the paper smells good. It’ll be sold.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How does a writer know a piece is good?

So, here’s the anecdote. Someone found out I was writing a book. That someone then says, “You’re writing a book?” There’s a pause. “Is it good?”

Honestly… I don’t know.

I’m not sure if any new/unestablished writers can ever really know if their work is “good.” Sure, there are basic things like a decent plot structure, invoking the reader to care about the main character(s), believability, and decent grammar/correct spelling. But, still. Is it “good?” Do readers want to finish the book? Does the story communicate your point? Do readers find their own meanings in your words? HOW DO YOU KNOW? Well. I’m not sure.

I’ll use a recent short story I wrote to illustrate examples of problems I think authors run into getting decent, unbiased, feedback.

The story is called “Count Down” and in a sentence it is set in a dystopian future where people are controlled by an internal watch that clocks them in and out of consciousness. It’s a little less than 2,000 words.

I wrote the story in an intense two days and had high hopes for it, but I wanted to make it the best it could. I still needed some direction, some focus, so I edited it over a period of two months.

My first move was to ask some people to read it, as readers. I have a lot of friends who are into sci-fi. I posted an inquiry on my Facebook and got five responses. I sent the story out. That was 6 months ago. Only one person read it, a fellow writer, and most of her suggestions, coming from a writer’s standpoint, I was already aware of. Which brings me to problem one. It’s hard to find readers. I don’t think that my friends intentionally didn’t read the story, or thought it was so terrible they couldn’t face me. They were just busy. I’m guilty of this, too. I have a few pieces still sitting in my email I told people I’d proofread. Life is hectic. And that’s just a short story of 2,000 words. A novelist can’t just put aside a book for five years waiting for someone to read it. And if they do, likely the person that will read it is a writer themselves. The help I get from fellow writers is great, but I believe an author really needs reader feedback. I think that writers get caught up on things readers don’t. But, maybe the readers thought my story did suck that bad, but I wouldn’t know it because they never told me.

My next thought was to give it to my mom to proofread. She’s a professional editor after all. She has an MFA and everything. But, I didn’t. She’s great at technical editing, but our ideas about… well, ideas… are very different. She doesn’t like sex in writing. (Side story: I bought condoms with her at the store once and she built a little condom-hut around the box with other items in the cart. It was awesome.) I’ve gotten to the point where my technical editing is pretty good, when I take the time. I just felt that any feedback I’d get from her would be a metaphorical condom-hut over the sexy parts of my story, which aren’t graphic, but an important part of the theme. I needed to focus my theme, not cover it up. Which brings me to our next problem. A writer might have a well read person eager to read his/her work, but that person might not know anything about/be into the genre of the piece. I try to be versatile, but I know there are some genres that I can’t offer the best advice I have, because I’m not familiar/it’s not what I do. I especially know I can’t give decent feedback when I’m turned off by the content of the story. And that’s not fair to the author, or the story since there is an audience out there for the piece somewhere.

So, I went ahead and submitted the story to a lit journal. It was rejected. The editor said, “It just didn’t work for me.” That’s fine. The way editors and literary journals work (and how authors should work with them) is a whole other blog entry, and something I won’t get into right now. But it brings me to another problem: Editor feedback is rare and even when editors of lit journals make it a point to give feedback, it is generally vague and sometimes not helpful at all. If you’re in school, feedback from your English professors can be great, but if you aren’t in school you’re probably not going to be graded on every piece you have. Even if you are in school, professors can’t read everything you write. You can pay an editor, but right now I can’t even afford to join my local writer’s guild, let alone an editor for every short story and novel I put together. I went to school for five years for writing, so I try to trust my own skills, but I can’t deny the value of a fresh set of eyeballs. And for authors that never studied writing primarily, this self-resource might not even be available.

So here I am with a story I love and I have no idea if it’s “good” or not. I plan to tap out a few more reader resources if I can, or maybe submit the piece to another journal.

At any rate, when an author does get feedback, it’s important to consider the context of the feedback just as much as getting feedback. Don’t let an editor or reader make all the decisions. I strongly believe an author should be a good editor, on other people’s work as well as their own. On the other hand, don’t be so intent on your magical vision that you throw away good advice given by readers or editors. Reflect about what changes you make and understand why you make them.

Also beware of people that just love everything you write. I thought I was super awesome until I realized I had ZERO negative feedback that I desperately needed to hear. Saying “Your story is interesting and I liked it a lot!” is the worst feedback ever, unless it is backed up with reasons. Even then, interesting ideas don’t always equal good writing. It’s great that readers like your ideas, but make sure you give the mechanics and structure just as much thought as your ideas.

I’m not sure I’m closer to an answer after mulling this over. My best advice is to study writing, study the kind of poetry or prose you want to write, and be open to considering feedback wherever you can get it.

Further reading at Better Writing Habits and Write For Your Life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Typing is not productive. Sort of.

Well, that lasted about a week. My personal attempt to keep up with the Nanowrimo writing 1,600-some word a day to get to 50,000 in a month. The first day I started out at negative seven words because I edited. The second day I typed a little over 1,000 words because I had peach schnapps. After these first eleven days of November, I went back and averaged my word count and came up with 500 words typed a day, which has been my working goal for a couple months now. So, I haven’t gotten faster. But I’ve maintained. And I’m pretty much happy with that.

However, the attempt did raise some points about productivity.

I find personally that the days I spend typing are the “least” productive. Yes, typing is important, anda big piece of the process. But other really important parts include but are not limited to:

1. Getting ideas/filling plot holes. This means that one day, one minute, even one second, I won’t know how to end a scene, and the next second I will. Sometimes whole new characters, scenarios, or themes will come up this way as well. (Sometimes even whole new storylines for that matter.) This doesn’t require any typing at all. This goes the same for filling plot holes. I might scribble down ten different ways to stitch a scene together, but that doesn’t get typed either.

2. Rough drafting. I might be in the minority here, but I have to handwrite everything before I type. I usually double the word count when I type it up, but without the material to go on, I just look at a blank screen and a blinking cursor.

3. Editing. Yes, this does include typing, but a lot of times it includes deleting. I took 20 pages out of my first novel. I edited a 10,000 word story down to 2,000 and it was much better. Again, no typing.

4. Final editing. For me, so much of a book actually gets written in the final stages. And it’s not typing a lot. It’s scrutinizing over one word at a time in a paragraph because it will strengthen a theme, or communicate an idea better, or just be more reader friendly.

So, I guess that’s the main hang up I had with trying to make the word count. It wasn’t productive for me. I didn’t change my process, either. I still wrote pages by hand, researched, studied words in the dictionary, and wouldn’t move on unless I was happy. And 500 words a day at that rate is fine by me.

Would it be awesome to have 50,000 words at the end of the month? Yeah, but I know the process will get slowed later (…beta readers… formatting… cover design… ) so I’d rather not rush junk when I can be consistently productive now.

I also tried to keep a “Nanolog” but I only wrote down things that got in my way:

Got called into work.
Was scheduled at work.
People in the break room making me feel awkward while I wrote like a lunatic on the crumpled paper I had shoved in my pocket.
Dishes/laundry/cooking/grocery shopping.
Being a good wife/sister/daughter and helping people I love and all that.
Did I mention sleeping?

In summary: A pot fills one drop at a time. Write every day, even if it’s only a sentence. And peach schnapps helps. Good night.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

For serious writers only!

All right, I gotta say it, and I mean it. Everyone is a serious writer. It doesn’t matter if you write two hundred bajillion words in a day, or just think maybe sorta writing a book would be cool. All writers are serious. I’ve never met a single person who identifies as a writer that wasn’t serious.


I’m tired of the limitless barrage of egotistical forum and blog posts asserting how much more serious of a writer someone is because s/he’s doing something other people aren’t or not doing something other people are. And how there’s a difference between real writers and amateur writers. No, it doesn’t have to do with money or publication credits or education. It’s about how serious you are. How many words you type, how often you think about writing seriously, how you comprehend plot structure and character development.

Not like those posers who start blogs and don’t keep up with them, that pay other people to format their books, that don’t understand publishing contracts or have stupid pen names or write cheap, flat, lurid, pasted together stories for mere entertainment, or self publish their books without an online platform (the humanity!) or don’t use spell check because they’re so dumb.

But writing is a process. When my Dad barely survived two heart attacks, I didn’t exactly keep my word count up. I barely did any writing the months when I changed jobs, the plumbing in our house blew up, or when I got married. I ditched a “literary” endeavor to write a zombie book because A) it’s zombies, that’s awesome and B) I’ve gotten a massively better reception from potential readers from this set of characters and storyline. I’ve launched my blog seven times. It took me five years to get my bachelors degree and six to write and edit my first novel, still unpublished. I wrote a play and it’s terrible. I kept it, but I fear it’s unsalvageable. I don’t have enough money to pay anyone to format my book, though I might do naughty things for someone to teach me (but that’s another story). Anyone can stumble upon a writer that has a lot to learn and a lot of ground to cover, but my guess is everyone’s been there. I know I have, and still am.

I understand there being a separation between “serious” writers and those they deem as… uh… “un-serious.” I have a list of people that irk me to no end with their delusional plans of literary grandeur, that swear they don’t have to read or listen to feedback, that everything they write is EPIC and everyone else is just so sub-par and books they like are good, but books they don’t like are horrible and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But there are some people that aren’t writers that are all talk and no action, lest it be mediocre or least-effort action which usually ends up being useless anyway. It’s not a curse restricted to writers.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud of the hard work you put into studying the craft of writing and working on your own. But the person using much less work and thought energy is just as proud and enthusiastic about his/her book as you are. You shouldn’t judge the quality of your work to how crappy someone else does theirs.

In summary: The term “serious writer” can be beneficial in some cases, but there are poser scrub newbie people in every field, including writing, and there always will be. So be a serious writer… just don’t talk about it.

And this is pretty much awesome.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“It should be a novel.” The bane of the short story.

“It should be a novel.”

“Is this the first chapter of a novel?”

“Is this supposed to be a novel? It’s like, short.”

Poor short story. No one understands you.

It seems absurd to me at times that non-writers whom I give stories to for feedback generally don’t get the point of the short story. Most of the time, the most feedback that I’ll get is that they wanted more and I should consider turning it into a novel. Oy.

At first I thought that maybe this was a mistake on my part – that I was leaving something out, not conveying my point, not being descriptive enough. That if I had genuinely written a good short story then the feedback I would receive would be aimed at the work instead of the form. But when a majority of lit journals have a maximum word count of 2,000 on short stories, I couldn’t be doing absolutely terrible, could I? Eventually I decided that most avid readers read novels and, unless they were English students or writers themselves, wouldn’t be used to the short story. It’s like giving an amuse-bouche to someone expecting an eight course dinner.

Of course if you’re a writer or an English/language/literature student, you are probably quite intimate with the short story. Unless you strictly write poetry, there’s no way to get published in lit journals writing only novellas or novels. Sure, some journals do publish novel excerpts, but they usually have to be self-contained. You know. Like a short story. And since a short story is only 20 pages instead of 200, they are ideal to use in textbooks.

My first upper level literature course was English 320: The Short Story. Later I took Seminar in the Modern Novel. Two great, but very different classes.

But what is the difference, besides length? I mean, I remember in short story the James Joyce epiphany and the idea that short stories can pack a harder moral punch. But novels contain the same concepts, there’s just a lot more to work with. But is there, really? I mean, look at this checklist for writing a short story: First paragraph, developing characters, point of view, dialogue, setting and context, plot, tension, climax, and the list goes on. It’s like a sprint runner and a marathon runner. You’re using the same muscles, but in different ways.

I don’t think that a short story is merely a condensed novel, or that a short story can easily be turned into one scene in a novel. There’s a little of both in each. I don’t see how I could turn most of my short stories into novels, at all. But a few provide a great setting and interesting characters that could carry the structure of a novel.

Ultimately, I think that since you have to be a little pickier with what you choose to highlight in 2,000 words than 80,000, it can be harder to engage readers that are used to reading novels. There’s less time to introduce other characters, or aspects of the main character that readers can relate to. And since a lot of plot structure for general readers has been influenced by movies, there’s a bit of an expected buildup that doesn’t always play out in short stories. Of course, there are many types of readers, but this is my general observation.

I’m not sure why the novel has so much weight, or is at times considered the only “real” form of prose an author can write. I know that a great deal more traditional publishers publish novels over short story collections. But I have bought short story collections in chain book stores. And I know readers who read mostly novels that also own short story collections by HP Lovecraft, Stephen King and Anne Rice. (Even though I just realized that all those authors could be categorized in the horror genre. Interesting.)

Perhaps the short story is viewed like literary training wheels. Something you read to learn about writing when you’re in school and time is limited, and something you write to get published because reader time is limited, and after you’ve proved you can write in small doses, readers (and editors) can invest in the longer work, the novel.

I’ve certainly had a decrease in my short story writing since I’ve been concentrating on writing a novel. Another aspect that I find discouraging is that all of my short stories are very different from each other. Even if I were to write enough short stories to have a collection, I fear that the collection would not be very cohesive. I know that not every short story collection is all that cohesive and that it does serve to high light many facets of a writer’s style and process, which is why I enjoy reading short story collections of my favorite authors.

In short (badum-chink), the short story has all the ingredients of an effective novel, but uses them to a purpose entirely unique to its own form.

Summary? No, I’m not turning it into a novel. It’s a short story.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My take on NaNoWriMo. Jeopardy and all.

I can tell you now that most of the material on this blog will be stuff that happens to be right in front of my face the day I sit down to post. Right in front of my face currently:NaNoWriMo. Oh no. Oh, yes.

As a backdrop, I’ll share my first acquaintance with the NaNoWriMo.

I was watching Jeopardy.

One of the special kid contest ones with middle schoolers or high schoolers, I don’t remember, I was just a middle schooler or high schooler myself. One of the contestants in her little “get to know you” segment in between rounds said that she’d “won” NaNoWriMo by writing 50,000 words in a month.

I was astounded that anyone could write a novel in a month. I’d been messing around with writing a book and I had no clue how anyone my age could ever get passed the chemical spill that was teenagery to write five good pages in a month let alone a whole book. I was inspired. I thought I’d found a magical writing key and unlocked some serious business. It was about accuracy AND speed. I rethought my writing process and made some real improvements. It was great. And I decided that one day, maybe I’d enter, and out of all the books, mine might come close to winning the contest. That would be pretty sweet.

Years later I find out that “winning” is anyone who meets the word requirement, even if it means having a character recite Twinkle Twinkle Little Star seventeen times to make the word count. (Which is honestly totally fine by me; I have come to despise competition poetry slams, so I can respect a contest that doesn’t have one set winner. It’s a goal. A big goal and it’s really groovy if you can meet said goal.) I was just really confused as to what all the hype would be about typing 50,000 words in a month. After all, a lot goes into writing a book besides sheer word count. How would you quantify editing if it meant you had -324 word count for the day?

So, I carried on and never really gave it much thought, until recently when nearly everyone in my writer’s circle (all four of us!) asked if I was going to do NaNoWriMo. And with the importance the internet plays in writing books nowadays (especially the self-publishers like I’m aiming at) I can’t get very far researching book trends and writing philosophies without getting barraged by OMGNANOWRIMOISNEXTMONTH!

That being said, this is my blog and this is my take on NaNoWriMo. It’s a list.
First, something like NaNoWriMo can be awesome if you need a community support. I’ve been pretty fortunate that a lot of people who are close to me support my writing and I can get great feedback from fellow writers and stretch my own editing muscles on their work. Not everyone has such an environment, so that aspect can be crucial for many participants.

Second, I’m not going to bash the balls to the wall approach of pumping out 50,000 words in 30 days. Everyone has different writing processes and this may very well be a great method for a lot of writers. Not to mention that I personally want to try to do it because it’s a method I’ve never tried before and I’d be limiting myself if I just tossed the idea away without attempting. I might get two weeks in and find the method useless for me. Or it might end up being like crack and I’ll have another 50,000 words by January. Never know.

Third, I’m not going to go all epic self-righteous or insecure about NaNoWriMo encouraging already bad writers to make even worse books and flood the reading pool with a few thousand more terrible examples of what not to do in a matter of 30 days. It’s a whole other blog post, but really, writing a book is an opportunity for me, you, and everyone else in the world. Bad books don’t ruin good ones. The end.

Fourth, there are, however, things I don’t like about the idea. Mainly, that there are all these forums, and status updates, and sign-ins, and a bunch of blog posts (like this one) philosophosizing over NaNoWriMo. Who has time to write if you’re so involved in the superfluous aspect of the competition? I mean, I’m almost halfway done with the daily word count for NaNoWriMo with this blog post alone. People that use the internet, especially social networking sites and blogs type a ridiculous amount every day, and on top of that they work on their books. A lot of writers already have set word counts they try to meet in a day. If they don’t, they try to catch up later. To me, if you set your own limits, meeting your own goals should be much more rewarding and productive then following one set by NaNoWriMo.

Summary: Honestly, I just feel like NaNoWriMo is hardcore writing with some light bulbs stuck on it. A novel is a lot of words. Putting all those words together is a lot of work. It’s no different if you do it in July or November.

When it comes down to it, the attention you give your book when no one else gives a goat is where the real success is. What you do with your work before the book launch, the spine-tingling sensation of seeing the final cover design, the potential good and bad reviews, the publicity, the promotion, the giving away of business cards, or the climactic moment when a reader asks you to sign their book – before all of that – is what will make all those aspects fly or flunk.

There’s nothing wrong with participating in NaNoWriMo, if it’s a fun challenge or a kick in the ass for you to get some typing done. After all, you can’t edit a book if there’s nothing there. But just like writing in general, don’t take yourself too seriously. Take what you’re doing seriously, but know that 50,000 words in a row can be brilliance or bullshit. Don’t get the two confused.

Further reading: A pro-NaNoWriMo article and an anti-NaNoWriMo blog post. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So sorry, Mr. Keats

Who are you and why do you have a blog on writing?

Why, I’m AJ. And I’m a writer. And writers have blogs about writing.

But I guess if you want credentials, I do have a B.S. in language arts (I took literature and theatre classes for five years, yay!) with a psychology minor (I know I did it backwards). I’ve had several short stories and poems published in online literary journals and a few print anthologies. If you want to check out my fancy pants press kit with my bio and works, you can do so here. My mother is a professional editor and she taught me a lot, but I’m still learning. I still read linguistics texts and books on literary criticism and take notes. Just because I graduated doesn’t mean I’ve magically been turned into an expert. But I’ve come a long way and though I’m still figuring things out, so I hope this can serve as a decent outlet for all my random philosophy and/or rants on writing and the publishing industry.

What do you write?

Mostly prose with a fantasy or sci-fi element thrown in somewhere. All my poetry is prose-poetry. I’m also focusing a project in the various ways disability and body identity is conveyed in literature.

List some examples of good writing according to you.

Anything by Ursula Le Guin. Anything by Ted Kooser. Anything by John Keats. And South Park. For starters, anyway.

What do you think of self-publishing?

Seeing as I want to take the self-pub route – you’ll find out.

What’s your day job?

I am a part time library clerk with a focus on genealogy research. I also help run the writer's group sponsored by the library.

I also work at a grocery store. The PLU for bananas is 4011. And now you know.

What will readers find on this blog?

Mostly random topics that come up as a result of me researching the publishing industry and the vast community of writers on the internet, which I will try to provide links and resources. Also some things that I have found to be helpful, valuable or insightful. Maybe some book reviews. And shameless self-promotion when I get stuff published.

Why are you apologizing to John Keats?


Thanks for reading!