The power to create a world, solely from the words written by your own mind, is a gift that should never be hidden.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

What I have learned...

The end of the year is a great time to look back, reflect, and see where you have come in life.

So I have been wrung through the ringer more than a few times as a writer this year gone past, and I have learned more than a few things about this business. Does it mean I am now signed and making the big bucks? No...but it does mean that I know a thing or two about the mistakes you can make as a writer just starting out in this big mean world of publishing. So, for your new year's enjoyment, and in no particular order, here we go!

1. You have to keep writing, no matter what.

Umn, duh? You think to yourself, this is your first tip for becoming an author? Actually, yes...this is one of the most important things I can ever express. You see, no matter how many classes you take, no matter what others tell you about your work, or how many degrees you hold. You will only get better at writing in one way, practice. More writing you do? The better it will get.

2. When you have finished a work, no matter what size it is, put it away for some time.

But again, wait! I want to submit a query, get that agent and start earning all that money I heard writers make...Well here is some more news you don't want to hear. Your work is much like a fine wine, the longer you let it sit the better it will become. After you let it sit, and then give it an edit, you use eyes that don't already know what the words are supposed to be. I am speaking from learned experience on this one. You see, I made this mistake. I typed in THE END and started looking for my agent. It was a vast mistake; I didn't know the level of work needed to clean up my "finished" work. It wasn't even close to finished and I only burned a few bridges that might have been useful to save for later. Let your work sit. I can't say it enough.

3. Let people read it.

Yes, I am the king of the obvious. Yet so many people guard their work and hold it so close, scared that their perfect idea will be so appealing to others they must protect it for all it's worth. Well, to be honest, it probably isn't. Even the ideas I thought were so original, so unheard of, that I must protect them like gold turned out to be done by others years ago. I have never heard of the writers, or read their works, but the ideas were close enough to be a bit odd sometimes. Get yourself a group of people whom you trust to be honest, and get them to tear into your work, literally. The feedback you can get from a good reader is worth more than money, and to ignore that avenue will cost you even more in the long run.

4. Social Media can be your friend, but don't overdo it.

For ever person trying to become an author, there are 100's of others out there just like you. Seriously, when I started out a few years back I really had no idea the pool of talent that is available in the writing world. I started following pretty much anyone on twitter that was a writer and tried to glean any useful information I could from them. Often they would be very helpful, while sometimes others would be cold, in the end I found out that some of the ones I held up high on a pedestal, were really just beginners like myself, and some of the meek people who stayed back from the front lines, were the ones with the most information, and often the nicest. There are a lot of people out there willing to help new writers. Find them and your writing will be better for it.

5. Don't expect to get rich.

Yep, of the literally 1000's of writers and authors I know, very...VERY...few make much money at it. If you have a day job, keep it. Write in your spare time if it is what you love. Cram it in when you have the free minutes; carry a notepad to write your thoughts down. If you are like me they will come to you at the oddest moments. I have been trapped without a notepad before, and resorted to texting myself, or my wife, the information so I could remember it later. However, there comes a time when you do have to take a chance. Don't be afraid to stick your neck out when you have to.

6. Be true to yourself.

Yes, in the end, it is all up to you. Trust in yourself and your writing. If you are writing for you, than the only opinion that really matters is yours. If you are writing in the hopes of making money, trust that your skills are there and you can always learn more about your craft. When you stop learning, you stop living. (Yes I stole that quote, 10 points if you know whom it is from, without google )

Thanks for letting me drag you along the rough road that can be my blog this last year. I am looking forward to the next year, and new even weirder posts, with you all.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Survival of the human race.

I had a discussion with a friend on twitter last night about how many people might survive should the economy/world structure as we know it end. I had a much grimmer outlook and thought maybe 2% of the world would be able to make it more than a couple days without their coffees or shopping malls. @LianaBrooks on the other hand figured that number might be a touch higher. Turns out she lives in Gator/Snake land and they are both good eating with the right recipes. (Yes she has those too)
My wife and I might not be what you would call survivalists, but we are in touch with what would be necessary to survive in the wild for an indefinite time. I have my own small solar system for back up power, I can build a generator station from a creek or river and could build a home in the woods given some basic tools.
This summer past, my wife and I decided to try and light a fire in the back yard without anything other than a few sticks. It did take quite some time, but in the end we had a small flame going on.

We live up here in the frozen north, aka : Canada, and it does get mighty cold up here. Today we were out on a walk through the snow with kids in tow, and I asked my wife if she brought her flint. (Yes, she has a flint striker, was a Christmas present from last year.) She answered in the positive. (of course)
With a little scavenging around for grasses, and something to use as a decent tinder, (harder to find than you might think sometimes) we had a small blaze going in about 15 minutes. It wasn't much and it did take a little time to find the right material to get the fire going. In the end however we had a small blaze capable of being more. We didn't need the fire for any reason other than the practice so with a few kicks of snow it was all but out.
It was a nice little feeling to know that should the need be there, and the easier methods of making fire be unavailable for any reason, we could have a fire for the night, cooking, safety or whatever else we might want it for.

I do know this, should everything in society go in the dumps, my family will at least have a fighting chance of survival.
So what do you think your chances would be to survive if you were given only the barest of essentials?
The clothes you could carry, a basic knife and whatever you could drum up from around you...

Oddly enough it is this same thought that often starts the stories in my head, and on that note...back to my writing!

Oh, in case you didn't notice dear readers. If you look up on the left and right of this window, you will see a new link for my latest short story as well as a new progress bar for the next one. It is already going way faster than the last! Bad guys (and girls) can be very fun to write.

Merry Christmas all and see you after the holiday!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Late to the party

So I have been sending out the queries, hitting up the agents. Doing the grunt work that is always necessary to get ones work published, and it dawned on me. What if I am already late for the party? When I started writing my 2nd book I really didn't have any ideas in mind as to what it should be about. I just wrote a story and let the characters tell me what they were going to do next. Mix in a few disasters and some really bad luck and viola! A story! But now that it is finished I have found myself stewing with a few thousand (or even more than that) other people who have all written stories like mine. (Yes mine is original, in more ways than one, but they still use a lot of characters overpopulating books these days, werewolves for instance, and yes one vampire...sorta.) So the question has once again come up. Do I sit on this story for years waiting for the market to flush itself out and allow a story like this to come around again, or do I self publish it, in the hopes of sales now on the tale end of the parade. The more I think about it the more I think it is time to put it up for self publishing. I have two short stories up for sale now and the third is over half done. The forth is itching at me to get moving since I have it already planned out. It won't be hard to finish it and get it up there. The fifth and final of the series will take a little longer.
After all, this isn't the last book I am going to write, in fact the more I think about it the more I really want to pick up that first book I stared on, fix it, finish it, and send it off for publication attempts. The story I had started (50k in) and outlined almost to the end, is unlike anything I have read (yet) and it has memorable, lovable and relate-able characters. The odds of it doing better in a field of books where people are looking for something fresh and new are much higher.
So that being said, it is time to get back to the editing work. Regardless of the end decision, I need to finish cleaning up my grammar and punctuation. If I don't do that, no one will want to read these stories no matter how interesting they are.
As a completely different side note, I have a friend helping me work on a "trademark" for my writing. A button that others can have on their sites that will link back to me and my writing. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. Right now I am thinking a different twist on the old phrase the pen is mightier than the sword. Suggestions? Let me know in the comments.