Thursday, January 27, 2011

"But are you a -real- author?"

You are nothing without the bind.
"I'll read your books once they're published!"

If you're a writer you've probably heard this before...unless you're not interested in people reading your works, then maybe you haven't.  But if you have then you're probably also familiar with the connotations a phrase like this carries.  On the surface it's innocuous and means "When you're out there I'll support you", which is always nice to know, I suppose.  But on the other, if you've been "in the business" long enough, what you're interpreting is "I do not take your writing seriously enough because you are not published."

This whole topic comes from the interview I had the other day with the local newspaper.  At one point while we talked about writing life in a rare sunny January morning, one of us mentioned how writing is that one art that you usually don't have much to "show" for.  If you're a painter, a sketcher, even a sculptor, or hell even a master quilter, you've usually got that tangible product to show for all your hard work.  In this day and age, however, most of us authors do our thing electronically.  All of my writing is stored (in various places, because I've learned many lessons...) primarily on my laptop, on my web server, and even on a USB drive for good measure.  And while way back when I used to print off my manuscripts and bind them in a binder, that quickly became impractical and something that wasn't worth my time anyway.  Yet that was the extent of which you could see a tangible product of my work.  Even if you've painted something too large to carry around with you for people to look at, odds are you can still take even a cell phone photo to whip out at all those small-talk parties.  But if you're a writer, you can say, "Yeah, I'm a writer..." and worst case scenario they say, "Oh, have you been published?"

The moment you say "no", you've lost all credibility.  It doesn't even matter if that person is someone who swears that it doesn't matter if you've been published or not - once "no" passes through your lips, you see their faces fall and their eyes say, "Oh, well...then how are you a writer?"

If a painter is somebody who paints, then a writer is somebody who writes.  Nobody would really argue with the guy in his studio whether or not  he is actually accomplishing something with his may not be "good", it may not make him any money, but the painting is there and people can clearly see the outcome of his time spent.  With writing, however, you usually have to work on the basis of good faith, especially if you're like me and have a propensity for deleting everything you just wrote because it's crap.  The painter who destroyed his works for the same reason still has to take out those scraps to the garbage, but we (electronic) writers just have to hit "delete" and it's like it was never there.  We know we wrote something, but now nobody else does.

Unless you've been published.

And even "yes, I have been published" means different things.  How?  When?  "I published a short story in a magazine ten years ago" is not as exciting as "I just released my first book last year."  The first thing people usually want to know is if they can get a hold of your work.  Depends on what they mean by that,, eh?  They want to hear, "You can get it off Amazon / at Borders" not "I think there's still a downloadable PDF at the magazine's website."  And heaven forbid if your publishing claim to fame is an academic piece about Gnostic mysticism and there was this guy named Jesus and can see them yawning already and quickly losing interest. 

As someone who has claimed to be a writer / author (the difference or interchangeability of the two is a discussion for another day) for over ten years now, it's a song and dance I'm quite used to and have finally responded by simply saying "I'm an author" and then pretending I don't hear anything else after that.  No, I as of yet have not been "legitimately" published, and I'm pretty okay with that.  Right now I'm focusing on finishing projects and cleaning them up, which one would hope precedes any actual publishing.  And with my impending move overseas looming in front of me, I don't exactly have time to see if I want to try sending things off to be published or not.  These aren't even excuses:  it's reality, and it's something that does not bother me.  It seems to really bother other people, though.  How dare I call myself an author when I haven't even been published before?  Sometimes I wonder if other people would also have a problem with finding out that anything I published was self-published, since there is certainly still a stigma around that in the writing world, but like most other things that's a topic for another day.

Believe it or not, this wasn't really where I was planning to go with my opening topic.  While I may not be published, many of my works are available in various formats for people to read - freely, even.  More than once I've pointed this out to those who lament that I'm not published for them to read...and the usual response?  "Oh, well, I'll read your books when they're published!"  Gee, thanks?  Where does that leave me in the mean time?  Oh, and thanks for insinuating that I'm not a real author and my novels have no real merit unless they're published...that's not what you meant?  Well, for me, and many other writers out there, that's sort of how we interpret it now.   Furthermore, we love beta readers.  What's a beta reader?  Someone who reads our drafts (and takes into account which draft it is) and helps us figure out what's working and what isn't.  That way when we do attempt publishing we're the best we can be at that stage, and you've got a finely polished book in your hands that you've apparently been waiting for so long to have.

Or maybe I'll just screw with everyone and only do electronic publishing.  What now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Let's Talk About Irony

I wonder who's winning.
 Being an anemic, I love irony. When I see irony I am filled with a dramatic, Socratic glee that would make those singing kids on TV cry because their lives aren't as awesome as mine is at that moment in time.  Thus, I like it when irony occurs in my long as it's, you know, awesome irony and not the shitty kind that makes me cry at night because my life isn't as awesome as the singing kids on TV.

What, was it like...a week ago when I was bitchin' about how I was gonna take it easy on writing and blah blah stop dreamin' blah blah blah woe is the Shakespeare cat with a play sword wedged in its fluffy chest blah blah...

That all pretty much still stands, except today I got a random phone call from a reporter for the city newspaper asking if they could do an Art Column piece on me and my Wonderful World of Writing.  Just a blurb of 500 words + pic of me in the local weekly paper.  She found me via that Nano article I was in a couple months ago.


What an odd time for this to happen.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks the entire county is going to be reading about my authorin' ass, and the timing is quite lovely because it'll be a week or two before the regional writers' conference (which I will be attending).  Huh.  Hmmmm.  Something is afoot.  I do not trust this auspiciousness. CLEARLY THINGS ARE ABOUT TO CRUMBLE.

Regardless, this has prompted me to get some shit together and be productive (gasp) and attempt, MAYBE overhauling my site. (So if anybody knows of a good place to get some nice templates or just WANTS TO DO IT FOR ME~~) I mean, what if people look me up and see that pile of shit.  And even better, I might get readers out of this, because damnit I love you guys but y'all ain't much help here right now, ha.

I should also get to finishing the first draft of Rebirth.  I'm like...two chapters away.  It's ridiculous.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You can wish in one hand the other...

Well, it's only been since Nano since I last updated this. What can I say ~real life~ happened. Mostly the last hurrah of the worst year ever (sounds like lots of people wish 2010 would have just jumped off a cliff).

During that time I spent a lot of time thinking and wondering the usual: what I want to do with my life, what will make me happy, etc etc. And I came to a surprising conclusion - I had absolutely no idea anymore. Perhaps that was a primary source of all my ~issues~...thinking that I knew what I wanted to begin with, when I was just bitching crap.

This is related to the theme of this blog, I promise. In the course of all this I was forced to make a decision about my ~writing career~...namely that I don't care about one anymore. I spent a long time harboring the goal and the dream of becoming a published author, and now I've realized I must get rid of that as well as all my other goals and dreams. Clearly, many people would disagree with this, but the best I can do for myself right now is stop putting so much stock in "dreams" (what are those anyway, somebody plz tell me) and just live my fucking life and try not to have so many breakdowns. This in the long run means no more being frantic about not meeting my writing goals or even wondering about a future as an author. Writing is no longer a means for me to tell stories but now serve as the primary way I work out my own views and issues .

That was all a part of me telling 2010 to go fuck itself. I was completely decimated as a human being, by my own devices and via others, but I am not the type to blindly and delusionally say "I will build myself up and be stronger!!!" No, I'm the type to say "and now I just do what helps the most" with no predilection in that direction. I can only wonder how long it will last.

This blog will continue, but I will no longer make myself feel guilty for not updating it on some abstract schedule, as that is my own view towards writing in general now. INSTEAD, guys, I've spent all my writing time sending my characters through the Sims 3 again and laughing at all the quirky ideas they gave me. There is hip-hop in the future of my Nano novel, if I ever get around to writing it at all.

SO YES THIS POST. idk. Hi? First post of 2011? lol idk. Forget I said anything at all~