Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Writing Books is Hard – Duh!

Agatha Cristie - London
After you have been doing this book-writing gig for a few years, you come to many truths:

It is extremely easy to procrastinate
This is especially true if you are a self-publishing author. There are a hundred others things that need doing. There’s blogging, editing, cover design, ebook development, editing again, contacting web sites for marketing, bookkeeping, CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Amazon, Smashwords, BookBub, BookBaby – this list of distractions is very, very long.

Developing stories is difficult
You will live with this stream of connected incidents and actions for months, at some point you just put your head down and say WTF am I doing – but it gets done and is often very good. But still, the process is miraculous.

Getting an agent is impossible
Sure there will always be one out there you can bare your soul to, but really, is it worth all the drama? Probably not. At some point the selling will be on you and only you. No one wants success more than you, (except maybe your mother). An agent can help, but to find one takes longer than writing the book. We all work in our own interests, agents included. Any agents out there reading this, send me an email.

Writing is like drugs – at some point you can’t stop
On an hourly basis most writers would make more per hour as a fry-boy at In-N-Out Burger. Why go through it? Money, fame, a good-looking girlfriend like that Castle guy on TV, mansions like James Patterson—yeh right. At some point you hope you will be able to supplement your social check and provide a reason for the write-offs of those research trips to England and New Orleans. Tom Clancy said writing is the hardest thing you can do – and he died at 67. So yes, writing is like drugs, it can put you away early. But we will still get those hours in.

7,000 word days are a delusion.
The very successful author, Russell Blake, says that he often get in days of 5,000 to 7,000 words. At that pace the blisters and blood on his fingers would make seeing the keys impossible. Not saying he can do it – but there are a lot of 50 word days in between. Days of research, travel, signings, marketing, replacing cartridges in the printer, all the other stuff take up the days between the 7,000 word days. I hope to get in three 1,500 days a week – now that’s a successful week.

Writer’s workshops and conventions are fun and a waste of time
We need to have contacts and associates in this business, but thinking this is where your market is for books – forget it. While the classes are interesting, after the fifth or sixth three-day event, all the classes are the same. It’s the people, that one idea that may get you to the next story, the chance meeting with someone who actually wants to help you. Other than that, chose wisely.

Read your genre
Most successful writers tell you to read, read, read – it’s the best way to understand and learn. And they right, but unless you are an Evelyn Wood Speed Reading graduate (remember them), you will always be fifty books behind. My shelves are stacked with books, my phone has twenty audiobooks ready for the gym, and my iPad is chockablock full of the latest and greatest books of the day (in Nook, Kindle, and iBook formats). So either I read or write – it is damn hard to do both well, so as above, chose wisely. BTW, I figure that Russell Blake, who brags of his writing 20 books in 23 months, is at least 200 books behind the rest of us.

Being a writer impresses people
It sure as hell does. At our various stages of life we hope to do things: run marathons, get married, have children, learn to fly an airplane, take a cruise around the world, get that bucket list down to three items—lots of hopes and goals. But nothing impresses like writing a book, and someday being able to say you’ve written ten or twenty of the things. I had the fortune to meet Anne Perry the wonderful writer of English historical mysteries – she’s written more than 80 books. Put that under your hat (and she has to be at least 1000 books behind). There are writers that even impress writers. But around a table of people at a charity event, when you say you are a writer – well, that next hour makes it all worth it.

More later . . . . . . .  

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