Hello, dear readers, and welcome to this week's Writer's Wednesday post! I have a post I think will really help authors struggling with the age-old (not really) question: how do I respond, if I respond at all, to negative reviews?
But first, here's a link to the new Crimson Sterling post for today, one guaranteed to make your jaw drop, and get you thinking: E-Book Pricing ~ Don't Undersell Yourself! Also, today is the book birthday of Burn, the second in the Exe Lore series, so pop by for links to grab your copy!
And now, onto the post!
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We've all had one of those days: we wake up, perhaps get some writing done, sit down to answer e-mails, check on our book stats, and...we see it.
The dreaded negative review -- or, perhaps worse, the dreaded negative, nasty review that so many authors seem to get.
We can't believe that this has happened to us. We want to read it, but we don't -- and then we do anyway. We see those nasty words as a personal attack, like someone is punching us in the face, and we get angry, and we may cry, and we may need to take a run or grab the nearest pillow and hit something with it. We can't believe that this person could be so cruel, could misunderstand our masterpiece so much. We can't believe that they hate us to the degree that they do, that they shun everything we are as an author. We can't--
I could go on, but I don't need to, not really. We all know what it feels like to get bad reviews, and if you don't know already, you're bound to find out (I personally look at it as a rite of passage, myself).
My first bad review criticized the (few) spelling errors in the book, and some of the character traits I chose (to note: I went and fixed the errors after that). When I first read it I felt like that person was tearing me down, and I was angry -- of course I was. It really did seem like they didn't understand my story at all.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
My advice is to use the Golden Rule -- not the official, but my own. Many people quote it, it's on books, and shirts, and has many spoofs. There are quite a few forms of it, but the original is simple, and profound, and works for anything in life:
Keep calm and carry on.
Any time I am frustrated, or angry, or ashamed, or saddened, or when my Depression sets in more nastily than usual, I repeat this to myself, and it helps. When you have problems, all you can do is: keep calm and carry on.
Here's a secret that isn't terribly secret, but that most people seem to forget: not everyone is going to like you. Chances are, quite a few people don't like you already -- as a person, as an artist, as a writer, as a parent, as a spouse, as a sibling, as whatever other professional you may be. Not everyone is going to like you; that is just the way life is.
If we look at this directly, it sounds disheartening. You want people to like you, and you want people to like your stories; there isn't anything wrong with that. But, if we look at this truth from another angle, it really is very inspiring: not everyone is going to like you, but if everyone liked everything, then we would all be the same, and wouldn't that be boring?
The reason why we have so many genres in writing is because people have different tastes, and this is a good thing. Imagine there was only Romance, because everyone liked the same thing, and that was it -- there would be no Science-Fiction, no Fantasy, no Westerns, no Mystery or Crime novels, no Paranormal or even Non-Fiction. It would be boring. Not that Romance is bad, but if it were the only thing, we would be missing out.
Not everyone is going to like you, and that is okay -- and the truth is, most of the time it isn't personal, when it comes to books, merely the reader's strong feelings about the subject, or a sense of giddiness at having the power to tear someone down (I mentioned bullying last week, in regards to this, and I'll mention it again; it's wrong). But, you like your story, don't you? And chances are, you have readers who like it, too. If you focus on them, then keeping calm and carrying on doesn't seem so difficult when you get bad reviews.
Jim Henson is quoted as saying:
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."
I believe that this is true, in a sense. I don't think violence is a good idea, and I don't agree with being nasty back to someone who is nasty to you, because that doesn't solve anything. I do, however, think that confronting the root problem you are having -- your doubts in yourself, not the ugly review, or the reviewer -- is a good idea. Look your insecurities, which always make themselves known, more than normal, when you're challenged, in the face, and then give it to them -- give your insecurities a black eye, because the part of you that doubts is that stupid, misinformed beholder that has no place in your creativity.
Carrying on doesn't mean confronting the person, though. I don't think it's ever a good idea to confront a reviewer, because at the end of the day, their opinion really doesn't matter, let's be honest. Are they going to sway the readers who like you? Probably not. Are they going to sway new people from reading your story? Maybe, but if those new, potential readers are swayed by the negative things your reviewer said, they probably have the same likes as that person, and you don't want them reading your stuff anyway then, now do you? Why do you want a reader who is probably not going to like your writing, when you can have a reader who will? Why does it matter if someone doesn't like it, so long as someone else does? -- So long as you, the author, do, because you're the most important part in all of this, the person who has to sit down and write those words, day after day, hour after hour, week after week, and month after month. Writing, as I said last post, begins and ends with you.
But, they insulted your ability! So what? But, they insulted the direction of your story! So what? But, they called you an idiot! So what? But, they called you sexist, or racist, or they didn't like your character's outlandish name! That's unfortunate, but it's not the end. The thing about people having different opinions is that they are going to think well, differently, and will therefore have different opinions as to what is acceptable and what is not, and therefore what is offensive and what is not. So long as you are being as responsible as you can with your writing, and are being true to your beliefs, you should stand firm. You cannot please everybody, and even if you were to be the most politically correct that you could, someone would still dislike you, or get angry.
The bottom line is: you can't control other people's actions, but you can control your own, so act like an adult, and make decisions that you will be proud of yourself for afterwards.
I don't really read reviews anymore because, as I have said, they are terribly distracting for me. This is a personality, (literal) mental issue, not because I don't care. I am extremely grateful that my readers leave reviews, because that helps other readers to discover my work; they are extremely helpful to me in that way. But, I have made a decision as to how I can and cannot operate efficiently. If you legitimately don't feel like reading reviews helps you as an author, then don't read them, but only if it's what helps you, not because you don't want to hear the constructive criticism (I get plenty of that from my overly-analytic BETAs) -- let your readers know that you are grateful, and don't feel shy to ask for reviews, because they really do help, but don't stress yourself. I can assume that a reader who rated my work 3 stars or more liked it, and that is all I need to know. I will also read and reply to e-mails from readers, because that's a bit more personal.
But, if you like to read reviews, and it doesn't distract you, then by all means, read them. However, make sure to keep to your vision when getting advice; take what you can use, not everything -- don't try to make everyone like you. And still, be sure to respond to your readers. Treat them like people, and they will respect you more, because you are showing them respect.
But when it comes to negative things, especially nasty negative things that are only, in my opinion, a form of bullying, not constructive criticism, just remember the golden rule:
Keep calm and carry on -- and be proud of yourself for being the bigger person.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome! I hope your weekend was good, and that your week has been good thus far.
Today I have a somewhat personal post for you, with some (hopefully) good advice for authors, and perhaps for readers alike, but before we get started I wanted to share a link to my other blog at Crimson Sterling, where today I have an interview with new YA author Valerie Day-Sanchez. Please check it out!
And now, onto the post...
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What do you expect from your favorite author, and what do you, as an author, expect from yourself?
This is a timeless question, and I'm sure if the answer was simple then every author who has readers would be majorly successful, because we would then be able to fulfill our reader's desires easily -- but the problem is, even if the answer were simple, there are so many different types of reader, and even your "ideal readers" are going to have different tastes. So, while I can say that readers thoughts are important, when it comes down to it, perhaps the more important question is: what do you, as an author, expect of yourself?
This is not an easy question to answer, so don't answer it easily. Really think about it, get down deep, examine yourself. What do you, as an author, want out of your writing? What does it really mean to you? And, perhaps...what has it stopped meaning to you?
I have said this many times, and I will say it again: writing is difficult. It is so, so difficult. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad for writers, because every job is difficult, no matter how easy it looks, I'm merely putting things into perspective. I will say this again, and again, and again; I will shout it from the rooftops if I have to. No matter how much I love writing, and boy do I, it is not easy, and I don't think it will ever be (though there is that theory that says, if you can get through 15 years of writing, and are still writing, then it will come easily, and I am hoping).
I have issues with the publishing industry, and I've said this before, too. It's always put writers in a box to some degree, but I think that it does so now perhaps more than ever. I've touched on this before, from my blog post Are Books Underpriced?, to my blog post Have Books Lost Their Value In The Eyes Of Readers?, and also recently in Writing Inspired: Stopping The World. It's as frustrating to publish as it is fun and exciting. But at the same time, I can't say I don't go into every story thinking of how it will be viewed, how I can market it, etc.; I try not to think business while I'm writing, because though business isn't bad at all, it's not the same creatively as writing is, but it's difficult not to think about it, with the way writers are programmed now -- to expect everything of ourselves. Writing is more like 10 jobs now, rather than just one, due to all of the expectation placed upon us.
I have issues with the publishing world, and with all of those expectations put upon writers -- write more! Publish more! Publish now! Be on social media! Market that book! Why isn't this finished? When is it coming out? Why isn't it out yet? You're too slow! You'll never make anything of yourself if you don't publish quickly! Where do you plan on putting that weird, sci-fi/dinosaur/vampire/magical romance of yours in the marketplace? You got one 3-star rating, you suck! That reader is in your face because they didn't like your protagonist's name, or their ethnicity, or their religion, or the way they speak, or the last two sentences in your book, you deserve to be yelled at! Your book is priced too high at 5.99! Why are you even writing?
I ask myself that question sometimes: why are you even writing? Why are you putting up with all of this?
Now, you may be sitting back and thinking I'm having a pity party, or you might be thinking that I'm right -- or that I'm being dramatic, maybe. Whatever the case, that is okay. But I can say this honestly: I hear and see these things on a regular basis, and worse. And, again, you may think: well, why do you do it, if it's so bad?
The reason is simple: I am a writer.
I think of the Olympics, when I think of why I still write despite the adversity -- from myself, and from everyone else. As of this writing, athletes are still competing in Sochi, Russia for medals and honor, and when I look at them sometimes, I can't help but wonder: why do you do it? I love the Olympics, and I have great respect for everyone who competes, but I could never do it myself; I don't have the heart or determination, not to mention physical capability. Whenever I see an injury, and all of the training, and the high possibility of "failure" (which isn't really failure at all; you can also read my The Power of Failure post), I can't help but wonder why these people keep coming back to their sports, but always, the answer is simple: because they love it, and couldn't imagine a life without it.
I love writing, and I don't think that will ever change. I have seen authors quit over the pressure of the industry, over nasty readers who for some reason think they have the right to be nasty to another person because they aren't 100% satisfied (I have no problem with constructive criticism, but being mean to be mean is like saying someone is fat to make them feel bad; it's a form of bullying, and it's disrespectful and petty at best), and I have seen authors soar to the bestsellers list with readers under their wings, supporting them; I have also seen authors keep writing, though they make less than the price of a Starbucks coffee each month, because they can't help themselves, and love dearly the readers that they have.
I used to be in ballet, and was slated to venture to the NYCB and perform; I was very good at it. But, once I joined a professional studio, I learned how cut-throat that world can be, and it took most of my love for it away, and I decided that I couldn't continue on without my love of dance being destroyed entirely -- and maybe more importantly, I didn't want to try. I chose a different path, and I believe that in a lot of ways this prepared me for publishing. I can relate to an author who has their spirit broken by the industry, by the pressure to write more, and gain more reviews, and have those five stars, and have that next book underway, and have all of those likes on Facebook, and just -- MORE! I can relate to the writer who has another author stab them in the back, or who has a reader tear them apart because they can, because I've been there with dance, and later on, with theatre, where they don't mind ripping you to shreds, and are often much more cruel than any reader; I've been there with writing, too, because I've been ripped to shreds, and I've been stabbed in the back. It's painful, and it hurts, and at the end of the day, you have nothing else to do but to make the decision of whether or not you're going to stand up again, and keep moving forward, or turn your back, and make something else out of your life.
What do you, as writer, expect of yourself? Not what your readers expect. Not what the media expects. Not what the "experts" expect. Not what other writers expect. Not what your family expects. What do you expect?
Writing begins and ends with you. You have the idea, you sit down, you pour your heart out over it. You get to know your characters better than you know yourself. You spend more time with them than you do with your family. You meticulously piece together their words, their world, their feelings, their story. You spend hours upon hours working on it -- months, years, time you can never get back. You love it, and it loves you. But, what do you expect?
I know I, as a writer and person in general, expect far too much of myself. My grandiose visions are often far more magnificent than what I can achieve in the time I wish to achieve them, and often, it literally breaks my heart, and I have to try and paste the pieces back together. There are many thinks working against me, from physical illness to mental illness, to an industry that constantly changes, and expects me to do things I am simply not capable of because I "should" do them. Over the past year, really trying to find myself in the publishing world, and trying to be the author I "should" be, I have often become angry at myself for not reaching not only my personal, somewhat unrealistic expectations, but also the expectations of my peers, readers, and that entity I like to call "them", who knows everything, and judges how an author should operate.
But I have come to the point where I can honestly say: I'm tired. I think I hinted at it in my Stopping the World post, but here is it: I am tired.
I am tired.
No more. I am tired.
I am tired of killing myself over some publishing ideal, some ideal of what the "successful" author should look like. I am tired of worrying so much over what readers will think that I can't even see my story straight anymore. I am tired of expecting so much of myself that, in the end, I become lost in my vision -- because, even though it's large in scope, it's beautiful, I want it, and I'm capable of it, if I can't focus, chasing after a dream is all for naught. In short: I am tired of being distracted.
What do I expect of myself, as a writer? To focus. I have a goal, things I want to write, things that are important to me, things that are so beautiful I can't even find words to describe them yet, but I can't accomplish them without focus.
Do I care about making money? Sure. This is a career for me, and money is an annoying necessity that I wish I didn't have to have, but I unfortunately do. As Walt Disney said: "You reach a point where you do not work for money". It's not the reason I work, or the reason I will ever work, it's only a vexing means to an end.
Do I care about readers? Of course I do. My readers are the people who love my work, who support it, and I am grateful for that. Writing is best when it is shared. But, even if no one read, I would still write, because I want to find that thing inside of me, and I want to make sense of the world. Readers are people I can share my thoughts with, and that makes them special, because then I am not alone. But I can't constantly be looking at reviews, because I can't have a bunch of other people's voices in my head, because then I have no focus; it's simply my personality, not that I don't care.
Do I care about criticism? I am starting not to. I don't really want to look at reviews anymore, be on social media all of the time, or do any of those things. I am a writer, and there are far too many stories in my head for that; they take time. I like to interact, but I want to interact with the world of my imagination more than anything, and in the end, give the readers I share my thoughts with more to discover.
I read a book recently entitled "One Word Will Change Your Life". I found it in the business section at the local bookstore, and it sort of inspired me. The idea is to receive a single word, which will be your word for the year to inspire and guide you, and then to work on implementing that word into your life. My word word this year?
I am paving my own personal path to being the best author that I can be. I am learning from others, and examining their advice for my own use. I am, in many ways, trying to find myself as an author, like a teenager tries to find themselves as a person. I am still a young author -- and person, for that matter; hint: I'm not yet 25 -- and I'm learning to walk so that I can run. I'm moving on from being a toddler in the writing world. I'm growing, and that's okay. And, chances are, you are growing, too -- and guess what? That is okay, as well.
I think as a creative person, you can't be afraid to take risks, to do things differently, to be who you know you should be, to see your true vision through to the end. Not everyone has a gigantic vision, and that is alright, but everyone has something they want to accomplish, and we all have things we can give the world. Do you want to be that small-time author who writes fun romances for adults? There is nothing wrong with that. Do you have a passion for children's lit, and want to teach kids better vocabulary, to challenge them with your books? That is great, and something I definitely believe is needed (and my best friend, a new teacher, will no doubt agree). Are you drawn to the Tolkien and Lewis-esque Fantasy realm, or the Dune-ish realm of Science-Fiction? I'm all for that, because I love Speculative fiction, so please write on. Do you like simple and tried, or complex and encompassing? Both are fantastic, and both speak to people. Are you okay with having a few readers, or do you want to reach thousands and become the next Stephen King, the next J.K. Rowling? Reach for the stars -- your stars, not someone else's.
I have a vision that cannot be ignored, that extends far beyond myself. It is entrapped in my mind, and constantly shifts and changes to become greater than it last was. It is beautiful and terrifying, and I want to dissect and document it as best I can. It's mine, but I like sharing it with others. At the end of the day, if no one reads I can be satisfied so long as I am focused on it, but I want to share it with others, because I want them to think, to imagine, to understand. My unique view -- and yours -- deserves the time it needs to be created, and deserves the respect to be read.
I am tired of being tired and broken by the market and its expectations, so -- I'm going to stop the world, and break its hold on me. It's not impossible, it's not impractical, and it's not ridiculous. So what if I don't do everything the way "they" say I should? So what if you don't, either. We can break the mold, destroy the cutout, remove the box. We have the power, as Brave's Merida might say, to "change our fate".
The people I admire most were revolutionaries because they didn't fit into societal conventions -- or, they didn't allow themselves to. They had a dream, and they pursued it relentlessly, past the point of no return.
George Lucas was thought weird for his strange drawings, and when Star Wars came out, he had to fight to get it into a cinema -- but look at it now! It's one of the most beloved films of all time, a franchise that has millions of fans, and it's all because he broke the mold. Jim Henson learned about puppetry from books when he saw that a TV studio was hiring a puppeteer, and his odd humor was thought by many to be, well, odd, but his characters are beloved today by many people, and not only entertain, but teach children valuable lessons through programs like Sesame Street. Walt Disney was turned down for a newspaper job because he "had no ideas", lost his first character, Oswald, in a copyright battle, and took a giant financial risk creating Snow White and Seven Dwarves, against pretty much everyone's better judgement, but he created one of the biggest franchises to date, and has not only inspired many people, but changed the world of film forever. Madeleine L'Engle, one of my favorite authors, was criticized for her interest in science and psychology with religion, but she not only wrote some of the best and most interesting books, in my opinion, ever to be published, but is the person of faith I look up and relate to most. J.B. Barrie was in a tight spot when he penned Peter Pan, which was criticized as childish nonsense and insanity, and was thought sure to fail, but Peter Pan is one of the most beloved plays of all time, a classic book, and has certainly inspired me and others a great, great deal.
We don't all want to go down in history as the brightest, the most inventive, the prettiest, or the most charismatic, and that is okay. But I am sure we all want to make the most out of our lives and our talents, and for writers, that talent is writing. Stay true to your passions, and don't allow yourself to become distracted. Creativity is beautiful, but it needs room -- not a box, not constrictions, not others' ideas -- to grow into what it should be.
What do you expect of yourself, as a writer? In order to fulfill your personal vision, whatever it is, you might have to cut some things, remove some distractions, go against whatever "they" are telling you that you "should" do, but don't be afraid to do it. Don't be afraid to take risks, and make mistakes. That isn't to say you shouldn't think through your decisions, because of course logic is important, but in order to be properly creative, you have to make your decisions work for you creatively.
Let go of those fears, and worries, and expectations, and do what you have ascertained will be best for you to continue forward in the direction you wish to go. It won't be easy, and it won't be free of criticism, or debate, or adversity, but you can choose to rise above all of that. Only you can be the author you wish to be, so you should allow yourself to be that person.
In short: let it go.
Book Updates: The Foxfire Chronicles Says Goodbye...
Not to pile information on, but while we're talking about cutting things, I have an official announcement:
I will be un-publishing the Foxfire Chronicles, and therefore taking down the page here on the website, making the first book and consecutive short story out of print; I've begun to do this already. This was a very hard decision I had to make, that I've been debating over for a few years now, and I have finally decided to put this series on the shelf. I hope to one day continue it, but I cannot say for certain if that will happen or not.
I apologize. I have many reasons for pulling this series, but a few main ones are that I want to focus more on the Snowflake Triplet, which is growing bigger and more exciting by the day, and the Phantasmagoria Duet, but also because this story is too closely connected to a very difficult time in my life. I first wrote Shadows of Past Memories (the first book), when I was 16, as a coping mechanism shortly after my brother was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident. Though everything turned out well after much trial, all that story does is remind me of that difficult time, and it's hard to think about, let alone write it right now. My writing career is taking me in a different direction than I thought it would, and though I've been trying to garner the will to write more tales for the series, I haven't been able to. It isn't fair to readers to make them wait, and the pressure of another release is frustrating for me, too. I wrote the short story Bat Wings and Broomsticks in October to see if I could get back into the story, and for a while I was comfortable, but I have found through careful deliberation that if I continue to try and work on this story, I will not do it justice, and again, that is unfair to both myself, and to readers. So, apologizes again, but for the foreseen future, I will not be continuing this series.
Thank you, readers, for understanding.
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I hope your week has been fantastic so far. I have another wonderful blog post for you today! And also, you can visit my Crimson Sterling blog for Writer's Wednesday Inspiration, which today is talking about the dreaded Writer's Block, and what it really is (not what you think!). Also, my newsletter signup has a page of its own now, and when you sign up, you will receive a free copy of Lyrics of the Heart (yay!). My first Newsletter goes out tomorrow, and I'm excited!
But today, I wanted to talk a bit about something a lot of people don't want to speak of often: failure.
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There is both fear and power in that one, smallish word: failure. It can haunt a person, or it can empower them, and I'm here to talk about how failure has empowered me, despite what most people tend to think concerning the word.
I have failed many, many times in my (relatively) short life, and in my so far short career of 3 1/2 years. Just last year, I failed quite a bit: releasing books that were great books, but that were truly not ready to be published yet (my characters have yelled at me for that one, and now I'm working on adding to their stories, and making them not great, but amazing), and losing myself in a publishing experiment. I started things I did not finish, and finished things I didn't need to have started. I was not as good a friend as I could have been, and was not as true to myself as I could have been, either.
In these ways I failed, but--
I also learned, and that knowledge is invaluable.
We, of course, don't want to set out to fail, or to have negative experience. We have many struggles in our lives -- and in writing, besides -- and when it comes to failure, I've learned that it's all in how you look at it. Failure can be something that drags you down, or something that lifts you up, despite its negative connotation.
Last year? Yes, I learned; I learned a great many things. Those books may not have been ready to publish, but from publishing them I learned more about constructing a good series, more about allowing my books time to grow, my creativity time to do its thing, and in turn I learned more about publishing than I ever could have reading a book, or doing things the "right" way. In starting things I didn't finish, I learned that not everything needs to be created -- all ideas can be good, but which ideas do I really want to implement? What will help someone the most, or inspire someone the most, and in which one does my heart lie? I could have perhaps been a better friend, but I learned that often we expect far too much of ourselves, for the friend I thought I could have been more helpful towards thanked me at the end of the year with a tear-jerking letter, saying how much I had helped her through her struggles by simply being honest, and listening when she needed it. And maybe I could have been truer to myself, not worried so much about what everyone expected of me, but then I wouldn't have learned as well how important it is to be true to one's self, and how awful it is to try and be someone you're not.
We all fail, but we all can choose how we look at failure. From a writing perspective, that means that we can choose to move on and write better, write more, or even write about our struggles (such as I'm doing here), to help someone else in the future. From a life perspective, it means we can do better next time, improve, and grow closer to our ultimate goal or to who we want to be, what we want to achieve. We should, of course, learn from other's mistakes, but if we make a mistake of our own, we have the power to view it differently, as an asset rather than a horror.
How do you view failure? Do you want to be cowered, or inspired and empowered by it?
Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I know you haven't heard from me in a little while; I apologize. Things have been very busy, getting the Crimson Sterling website and books set up, but they are evening out now, and it's going wonderfully.
Today I have an interview on the Crimson Sterling blog, but I wanted to share some of my recent writing experience here, some things I have been thinking about, which will hopefully be of help and interest to you (plus some book news, at the bottom of the post!)...
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Have you ever heard the phrase "Stop the world, I want to get off!"? I have felt very much that way lately, and here is what I have learned from it:
Even if you're not a writer, I believe we can all benefit from stopping the world on a regular basis -- and by that, I mean drawing in our focus, reevaluating how we live our lives. As I've undergone creating my pen name, putting up a new website, finding readers, establishing new social media, and all of those things that writers are "supposed" to do to be successful, I've missed out on one thing (a few, but one in particular) lately, and that is: writing.
"How can you call yourself a writer if you don't write?", you may ask, and to that I answer: well, you can't.
It's blunt, and it's true. If you're a writer who doesn't write, then you aren't really a writer, are you? And if you're an artist who does art (sounds odd, but you know what I mean), then you're not really an artist at all, yes? Just as if you're a singer who doesn't sing, or a baseball player who doesn't play baseball. It isn't about the title -- or "image", as Madeleine L'Engle would have said (if you're wondering what I'm talking about, please read this post) -- but about what is missing.
I did not choose to be a writer; I am a writer. Writing is my life, and on the side so is art, because I love it nearly as much as I love writing. This is who I am, not who I have chosen to be. Relating to the Madeleine L'Engle post, I have to write in order to be -- but what have I been doing? Not writing. And what does that equate to? Not living -- there is no ontology; no being.
Life is busy in our age, stupidly busy. There are so many distractions, and most of them are pointless and indulgent, at best. I'm not trying to sound rude, or cynical, but it's true -- true for me, and many others I know; I can't say for everyone. We are constantly told that to be more productive, we have to do more, and that simply isn't true. Perhaps some of us can manage a hundred things at once, but I'm certainly not that talented -- and really, I don't want to be, because it's tiring, and there is no focus.
Focus is one of the most important things in life, I believe, for without it we are left wandering.
So many publishing sites tell you that to succeed in business, you have to spend 5 hours a day on Facebook, and Twitter, and whatever other social media is the flavor of the week -- sometimes, even more time. If you're doing that, plus perhaps a daytime job, and other social media outlets...well, when do you have time to write? When it comes down to it, writing should be the most important thing, but often it isn't.
Why is this? Because we've taken the personal out of relationships, and are trying to make money instead of trying to forge connections with our readers, most of which form through our writing itself. And by trying to do that, we are also erasing what is most important, the thing we've centered our business around in the first place: our passion, our being, what makes us, to put it simply, alive.
I will quote Madeleine again, because I believe she was very sage in this area:
"In the journal I recorded this moment of decision, for that's what it was. I had to write. I had no choice in the matter. It was not up me to say I would stop, because I could not. It didn't matter how small or inadequate my talent. If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing.
I'm glad I made this decision in the moment of failure. It's easy to say you're a writer when things are going well. When the decision is made in the abyss, then it is quite clear that it is not one's own decision at all.
In the moment of failure I knew that the idea of Madeleine, who head to write in order to be, was not image."
Would you still write, if nobody read? Do you equate no social media, internet time -- no retweets, or re-shares, or re-blogs -- with failure? Why is that? Is a tweet really more important than writing, what you're building your business off of, what you're marketing in the first place, what you love? Shouldn't not writing be seen as failure to do what you should, rather than a lost retweet that maybe ten people would have seen in their giant feed?
If you're spending all of your time trying to market things, trying to use those social media tools to their "fullest", then when are you spending time writing, and what are you really doing? I'm not saying social media is bad, but I am saying that I believe it should be more about relationships, and that is should not, even then, be a distraction. What do you think your readers really want: to talk to you 5 hours a day, or to read your next book? And more than that, what do you as a writer want: to spend those 5 hours browsing pictures on Pintrest, reading through the book spam on Twitter, seeing everyone's updates on Facebook about how they hate said restaurant, or writing?
I sincerely hope you answered writing.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of trying to use the internet everyone else's way to do business: shoving tweets in faces, and posting book links constantly. That isn't establishing a relationship, which is really what social networks (should) be for. I want to spend my time writing, and writing, and creating artwork, and writing, and immersing myself in what I love, because what is life without the things that you love? That's not to say I want to ignore my readers, because I love my readers, they are fantastic, but if I spend 5 minutes on Twitter every day, and 5 hours writing, then I will be a lot happier, and so will my readers. Or if I write more blog posts than tweets (something I enjoy), and share my knowledge of writing instead of trudging through everyone's spam, then I will be happier -- and so will my readers.
"Stop the world, I want to get off!" is true. There's no reason to be so cloudy-minded, to not be able to focus on writing, what your business is built around. There's no reason to be consuming so much information (half of which you can't remember later), posting so many things, until you can't even recall where you were in your plot, and have to re-read, wasting more time. There's no reason you can't make marketing -- not an evil, as some think, if used correctly -- fit to you. Do you like posting on Facebook? Fine, do it, but connect with your readers genuinely, instead of posting links and spam, and limit your time. Do you dislike social media, as I do? Fine, then use it sparingly, to get out information and write some quips, and do blogging instead -- or newsletters, or podcasts, or whatever suits your fancy. Pull what you love into your marketing, but market how you can market, and still have the world spinning slowly. Don't put so much on your shoulders that you're bogged down.
Sometimes, in order to gain focus, you have to stop the world completely, and that is okay. Sometimes, everything has to stop, in order for things to begin revolving properly: with you, your computer, your keyboard, and that lovely story in your mind. That point should be fulfilling your purpose?
Don't succumb to what "should be done" -- bulldoze it down, and pave your own path, instead. Be you, not someone else.
Stop the world -- and tell it to shut up.
~ Book News ~
Fear not, readers! I am still working on Alexandra Lanc books, don't worry. I've got some tricks up my sleeve...mainly for this Holiday season (shhh, don't tell).
Right now, I'm compiling boxed sets for both the Phantasmagoria Duet books, and books from the Snowflake Triplet. That means you'll be able to save over 66% on the ebook price, and also on the paperback price, with the books boxed together into one! More info is to come, but for now, here's a look at what the boxed sets will include:
Phantasmagoria Duet Collection: Books 1-2 (The Beginning and The Ending), in ebook and omnibus paperback edition.
The Snowflake Triplet: Collection 1 ~ Includes Clara Claus, The Christmas Wish, Sugar Plum Dreams, and Christmas In July, plus the Christmas 2013 short, Tales of Christmas Yet To Come, in ebook and omnibus paperback edition.
Also in progress is The Foxfire Chronicles: Shadows at Midnight editing! More info, including release date, to come.