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.