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Well, here we are. A brand new year brimming with squishy possibilities. Once that shiny ball in Times Square dropped it was like the last 365 days of
waiting for the world to end living day to day were wiped clean. Gone. New slate.
So this is the time we make resolutions. Sure, we’ll break most of them in the first month, but that’s ok because now—right now—is a special time when the world is bright and full of possibility.
It’s with that spirit in mind that I present the nine things that we should, definitely, assuredly, absolutely avoid in 2013. Resolutions? More like persecution, right? RIGHT?
9 Writing Resolutions to Avoid in 2013
1. Only Write When Inspired.
I’m guilty of this as much as anyone. Sure, I should be writing to today but I’m just so…blah. There’s nothing in the tank. Nothing stirring in the down under. What’s the point?
The point, dear friends, is writing waits for no man. Your next great story is sitting there, right down in your kidney, bursting to be set free (I recommend going to the bathroom first), and if you’re not going to force yourself to hit that keyboard it’s going to fester and die. If you’re waiting for your muse to show up and kick you in the crotch, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time (and really, why are you waiting to get kicked in the crotch anyway?).
2. Write the Great American Novel
This is all Salinger’s fault. He went and wrote the elusive ”great american novel” on his first try. Consequently, there’s a whole generation of wordsmiths sitting at their computer, hot chocolate in hand, gearing up to write the seminal work of fiction. The one that changes it all. The one that inspires a new generation of writers. The next century’s “Finding Forester.”
Sure, Catcher in the Rye was Salinger’s first novel, and it wasn’t half bad. But it’s easy to forget that he had a dozen short stories under his belt before he decided to write a book.
Now days it’s easier than ever to sling that word-crack; you don’t have to be a novelist to be a successful writer. Before you (and I, dear friends. And I) lock ourselves in a room and break our brains on a book, dammit, try something short first.
Short stories are a lot easier to burn than novels.
3. Only Share My Work with Family
The publishing world is a cold, dark place filled with soulless agents and blood-sucking ad-men looking to steal my word-cash. Even worse, they’re sitting out there just waiting to reject me.
You know who doesn’t reject me? My mom. She loves my writing. You know who else? My dog. Hell, my four-year-old may not understand all the words, but she still thinks I’m the greatest human being to walk the earth (as long as Mom isn’t awake. I always lose to Mom). And as long as I let them take first stab at my writing I’ll always be filled with sweet, sweet acceptance.
Sure, I’ll never publish, but that’s over-rated anyway.
4. Read Nothing But My Genre
The New Year is a great time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Something scary. Something like Women’s Literary Fiction. Or Urban Crime Thrillers. Maybe even Cat Detectives (how can you resist? They’re so darn furry).
Anything but your brand of choice.
Hey, I know—it’s great to focus on your novel genre. You need to know the giants in your field, right? But writer beware, because if you swim too long in your own genre pool you’ll eventually get some stunted word babies (and prune fingers).
And no one likes typing with prune fingers.
5. Watch More Movies
I had a baby this year (my wife was involved in some way, but it was mostly me) and missed out on some sweet movies consequently. I had to catch the Avengers six months after theater release like some kind of savage.
Not this year, baby. Never again.
Now, I could use the time to write instead. I could. It’s possible. I live in that universe. But what’s more important, really? Finishing the first draft of my novel, or standing in line for three hours to see Iron Man 3 on release day?
I think we all know who wins that fight.
6. Quit My Job and Follow My Passion
Wow, this is a loaded one.
On the one had, you have Julia Roberts. She quit her job being a famous, awesome journalist, and look how it worked out? She traveled the globe for a year scarfing down spaghetti and frolicking with oiled-up French Men.
Now, on the other had you have reality. Cold, hard, the-IRS-is-watching, reality. Sure, we’d all love to spend a vacation with Javier Bardem, but is quitting your job to become a writer the smartest move right now? Reality suggests otherwise. Reality suggests that instead of dining on rich Italian food you’re more likely to consume a dangerous quantity of Ramen Noodles.
Instead of lounging on the beach, drinking mojitos and watching your novel break the Amazon top five, you’re probably going to be at Starbucks, stuffed in the corner, balancing your laptop and your soy latte on one knee while a nanny tries to wrangle five ADHD children into ordering their drinks.
And lets not forget healthcare. That’s a whole other blog.
7. Write in Marathon Sessions
I can hear what you’re thinking: “But I did eight hour writing sessions during NaNoWriMo and I came out just fine!”
No. Trust me. You didn’t.
Yes, you (and I, my good friend. Always I) spent some heady days during the month of November locking ourselves in a bedroom with nothing but a bowl of M&Ms and way too much French Roast. Only to emerge a day later, word-count triumphantly in hand, reeking of stale chocolate and burnt coffee.
But November is one month. We’re talking about a whole year of resolutions. It’s not practical (or healthy) to write in eight hour increments. It might feel great at the time, but more likely than not you’ll find yourself drained the next week and unable to look at a computer without getting the caffeine shakes.
It’s best to stick to the old adage: “An hour a day keeps the word-ghouls away.”
8. Buy That New Laptop
As a rule, writer’s are easily dis—
Writer’s are like children at DisneyWorld. Overexcited and in need of a nap every four hours. We especially like shiny things. The newer the better. And we can’t write without them.
I need that new laptop. My book will finally be perfect if I get the fastest processor. Sure, I can technically write on my current computer, but it doesn’t have face unlock technology. I know I’ll be inspired if I get the new Inspiron.
Well, you’re never going to quit that day job and travel with Julia Roberts if you keep wasting your money on frivolities. So close that NewEgg tab and just say no.
There’ll be a better one next month.
9. Stop Querying. It’s a Waste of Time
Ah, here we go. My favorite.
This year we should all just stop querying agents and publishers. I mean, look at all the time involved. I have to look up each agent, follow each crazy, Draconian submission guideline, then I have to wait two weeks to hear back.
If an agent doesn’t respond to my query within the first day with a reasoned, thoughtful letter showing they read my full three chapters and took the time to appreciate the novel’s imagery and ground-breaking characters, I’m going to cross them off my list. Sorry, Mr. Agent. You don’t get to appreciate my genius any more.
That’ll teach them.
“Happy New Year 2013“ Creative Commons via ell brown
“Dark Knight Line“ Creative Commons via ste3ve
All other images courtesy of stock.xchang
Today I’m visiting Clare Davidson, author of Trinity, on her blog for a special guest post called “Fight the Power: Writing Advice That Should Be Ignored.” Here’s a little snippet (for the rest of the post head on over to claredavidson.com).
Fight the Power: Writing Advice That Should be Ignored
If you’re a writer there are two things you are guaranteed to receive through the course of your career: rejection, and more writing advice than you can shake a stick at.
Now, rejection we can learn to handle. It stings, sure, but like a case of childhood chicken pox it only makes you stronger in the end (As well as itchy…but I digress). Writing advice, on the other hand, is an insidious little bugger that harms as often as it helps, paralyzes as much as it frees, itches as much as it…uh…makes things un-itch. (I don’t know, I’m a writer not a doctor).
You must remain ever-vigilant against these writing commandments, alert against the totalitarian writer’s cabal that says “Things should always be this way.”
In other words, fight the power.
Over the years I’ve heard some doozies, but here are the three worst pieces of writing advice I’ve ever received… [read the rest]
Now that I’ve fully recovered from the
hangover experience of WorldCon, I wanted to take a second and jot down a few thoughts.
Since I’ve returned from my Rumspringa to Chicago I’ve had a few people ask if it was worthwhile (it was) and if they should consider going to a con in the future (they should). But since I can’t stop at a simple answer, I figured I’d throw down a few pros and cons for ya’. Cause, you know, why not?
And hey, you know, WorldCon might not be your thing. Maybe you’re not into Science Fiction and Fantasy (I don’t understand you people, but I’m told you’re out there), maybe Thrillers are your thing. Or Romance! Or Furry Sleuth! I’m not here to judge.
There’s a con for everyone. So consider this list genre-blind.
PRO: There are others like you.
If you’re a book nerd chances are you endured some ridicule in your tender, formative years. People aren’t kind to the kid who brings a book to the high school football game. You might have thought you were alone, that there were no others like you…
Surprise! There’s a crap-ton of people like you. And they all go to cons.
One of the best reasons to attend a conference is to meet other book-lovers; fellow nerds who’ve navigated the gauntlet of literary adolescence and come out the other side, mature (sometimes) and ready to discuss whether Dumbledore would beat Rand Al’Thor in a Cagematch.
Cons are like the Gathering from Highlander; we’re all there.
CON: These people are…odd.
Alright, so there’s a downside to meeting other people like you. See, we have a tendency to downplay our idiosyncrasies when we’re alone. It’s easy to ignore our own personal weirdness and scoff at others.
Just take a look at Venice.
But when you’re face to face with a peer at your favorite con, the similarities can be a little overwhelming. I mean, sure, you talk about the parallels between Battlestar Galactica and the Spanish Civil War when you’re home alone, just you and your rubber ducky, Sylvester. But the first time you hear the same argument coming from the lips of another thinking, reasoning human being…it sounds crazy.
The first Con is often a bitter pill.
PRO: Authors are people!
Holy crap! That’s David Brin in the next urinal! Do I shake his hand? Would that be weird? Maybe I’ll just tell him I like what he does. (This is unfortunately a true story. And yes, I did compliment him while he was doing his…uh…business. It was awkward for everyone.)
When you sit in your basement reading your favorite novel, it’s easy to forget this story wasn’t spun from the ether like Kronos and Rhea. The author isn’t some distant god sitting on a pile of money with brilliant insights cavorting at his feet like errant children.
This is another living, human being. And you get to meet them at cons!
And not just in the bathroom.
CON: Your favorite author is a dick.
Yeah, sometimes that hero-worship goes another way. Sometimes the author you’ve worshiped for the last ten years turns out to be a jerk.
Yup. It sucks.
And it’ll happen, guaranteed.
The good news is these ass-rags are few and far between. Most authors are considerate, kind people who are more than happy to pose for a picture or give an autograph.
But there are some that will stab you in the eye for asking. I recommend bringing face protection.
PRO: You learn, and then you’re educated with the learning that just happened, and, uh…LEARNING!
The best part about cons? Panels.
If you’re a writer, this is like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Festivus all rolled into one. You get to hear from legends in the field, and they’re all discussing your craft. Ever wonder what it takes to break into the short story market? There’s a panel for that, with editors. Do you need help on getting past the second page? There are panels on plotting run by New York Times Bestselling authors.
Do you need to know the history of Filk? There’s an app for that.
You’ll leave a con full of so much knowledge it’ll feel like your head is going to burst. And best of all? You’ll be inspired.
CON: They open panels to questions
This shouldn’t be a bad thing. Questions are good, right?
People shouldn’t be allowed to ask questions. Or, at the very least they should be required to write down a question in advance and have it reviewed by at least three peers before it’s even presented to a panelist.
On my third day of WorldCon there was an article in the daily newspaper (Yeah, they have their own newspapers. It’s awesome) on how to ask a proper question. Among the suggestions were: 1). Keep it to a single sentence. 2). Make sure your voice goes up at the end of the sentence. That’s how you know it’s a question.
I wish I could tell you this article was humorous in nature, but that would be a dirty, dirty lie. And before you think I’m being mean to my fellow con-goers, I know people can get passionate and a question can end up rambling. I’ve been there. But lest you think I exaggerate, let me leave you with an example.
This is one of the questions I heard from an audience member. I present it for your pleasure in its entirety.
I killed my main character half-way through my novel. People really hate it and say the book is awful, and I shouldn’t kill my character. I’m going to kill him anyway, because I think he wants to die, and all my other characters hate him.
This question was asked at a panel called “Sex in Genre Fiction.” I rest my case.
There are a lot of parties at these cons. A. Lot. And the authors tend to go to these parties because authors drink and the booze is free, so…
Do I need to really sell you on this one?
So there you have it, folks, the pros and cons. I hope the con part didn’t scare you off, because the pros more than make up for the strangeness that goes on at genre conventions. And strangeness is a good thing, anyway. We’re all a little strange, so let’s be strange together. At a con.
Personally, I plan on going to many, many more, and I want to see all of you there.
What experiences have you had at cons? Which ones are you planning on attending in the future?