How My Mom’s Kitchen Advice is Hindering Your Writing

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1416846 by Suzanne T http://www.sxc.hu/profile/jaroasInvariably, during every cooking show my mom watches she tells the professional on the screen you shouldn’t crack the eggs right into the dish you’re preparing; what if one of the eggs is bad? You just ruined the whole thing!

Oh, and when you’re done washing the dishes and wiping the table, rinse the dish cloth in cold water. Prevents germs from growing so it doesn’t start to stink.

My mom grew up in a home and a time when eggs could be dodgy and when laundry was done weekly, not daily (or more.)

Those TV chefs? They probably use hand-selected organic custom eggs from their private stock.

The dishcloth? Own 7. Wash in bleach. No smell.

Here are some writing questions I see all the time:

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Year-Long Workshop: Get Your Book Out of the Someday Box in 2014

was this place new when you started your novel?What if I could lead you by the hand and promise that in 2014 you’d finally finish that novel?

What’s more, what if I gave you greatly increased chances that it would be good?

Is that worth paying for?

Details to come.

Authors Dare Greatly

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/860593 by Sebastian Wendowski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/seebitsI want you to write your book. Not the vague generic “you” of the unnamed faces of possible readers of my blog.

I mean you, the specific person reading this right now.

I want you to be a hero.

Have you ever seen a little kid stand up to a bully? Everyone else meekly stands by, angry, but too scared to speak up.

There are bullies who want to frighten you into submission. To prevent you from writing your book. They don’t want to hear what you have to say because they don’t care what you have to say.

Stand up to the bullies. Speak out.

Write your book.

What if you fail? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You won’t die. Your loved ones won’t die.

Trust me, the worst thing that can happen is that your book will writhe in anguished silence on a lonely shelf.

But you won’t die.

Consider the opposite: what if you succeed? What if even one solitary stranger buys your book, trusts your description of it and the cover and the excerpts and all that, and shells out their hard-earned money for your book?

There are few greater glories.

But that’s not the opposite of failing. Whether your book dies on a shelf or gloriously enlivens another human being, there’s something far worse.

What happens if you don’t write your book?

Not “what happens to your book?” because there is no book.

What happens to you?

What happens if you let the bullies out there, or the toughest bully, the one inside your head, intimidate you out of your art?

What happens if you go to your grave with this book unborn?

A miscarriage is a tragic event in part because it’s invisible. We have endured such things, my Best Beloved and I, and it’s not possible to convey the level of hurt to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

If your book is never written, we might never miss the book.

But we’ll see it in your eyes. We’ll hear it in your voice. That dead, flat spot in your soul, where you’d have contentment and peace and a certain amount of joy, if only you’d write that book.

Every time you hear about a new book, every time a friend or distant acquaintance says hey, I wrote a book, every time you look in the mirror, you’ll know:

I have a book dead inside me.

Resurrection. Birth. These are eternal themes in literature for a reason: the acts of creation are Divine gifts that make us human, make us more than animal, only slightly less than gods.

Every single person who has ever written a book has dared greatly, no matter what the proportion of perceived success accrued to them.

Authors dare greatly.

Every author dares greatly.

Dare greatly.

Please.

Write ‘Em All and Let the Market Sort ‘Em Out

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1420666 by Vaughan Willis http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BonganiHere is why anyone is allowed to write a book despite the outcry from traditional publishing. It’s why a market full of substandard books doesn’t destroy anything.

Let’s use something entirely different as an analogy.

Let’s say somebody wants to open a new restaurant in town. The other 10 restaurateurs suspect the new chef doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Does that give them the right to prevent that restaurant from opening? I think not.

Let’s go extreme.

… more … “Write ‘Em All and Let the Market Sort ‘Em Out”

7 Reasons Copyrighting Your Art is a Waste of Time

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/666175 by Daniel Duchon http://elduchon.es/blog/Someone stealing your book seems to be every author’s nightmare.

Let’s think this through:

  • someone finds your book or song
  • they think it’s worth stealing in its entirety
  • they publish it as their own
  • it becomes a big hit and makes them lots of money

For that to happen, we have to get past all this:
… more … “7 Reasons Copyrighting Your Art is a Waste of Time”

What if I Don’t Want to Play by the Rules?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1404388 by Andreas Krappweis http://www.sxc.hu/profile/KrappweisWhen my middle daughter was taking an interest in music, I tried to teach her some piano basics, and a bit about music theory. Nothing elaborate. Things like chord patterns that work well, melodic structure, lyric writing.

She dismissed it all. “I know what I want to do, and I don’t need all that stuff.” To me, her playing sounded like she was just picking two keys at a time, stringing pairs of sounds together, vaguely timed against some clock that didn’t exist.

No lyrics. She was a poet, and I guess the lyrics were going to stay in her head, not come out of her mouth.

Fast forward 5 years. I mentioned that, at the time, it sure seemed like all she wanted was to “let her genius flow unhindered” rather than learning a few basics that could turn her meandering into real songs.

She said, “Yeah, I was just being lazy and pretentious. I need all that stuff. Will you teach me now?”

Her lyrics never fail to make me cry or laugh out loud. Her melodies are mature. She’s a decent piano player. And one of the finest singers I’ve ever known.

Lateral arabesque to a location somewhere in my head.
… more … “What if I Don’t Want to Play by the Rules?”

Critique Groups: Be Afraid?

Trojans. Can't live with 'em, can't burn them at the stake.It’s terrifying, sharing your art with other people for the first time. I remember one of the earliest songs I wrote for my Best Beloved, who practically worships the water I walk on, so a positive response was essentially guaranteed.

Fail. Couldn’t do it. I had to sit in a chair around the corner so I couldn’t see her while I sang. (I’d done pub gigs where I played and sang for 4 hours, so it’s not shyness, believe me.)

How on earth can you ever share your art with a critique group? You know, those people who think you want their feedback?
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Yet Another Frustrating Author Belief: “I Will Get Picked or Die Trying”

I find this attitude so very frustrating.

Do not wait to be picked.

Do not wear rejection slips like badges of honor.

Most of all, sweet merciful heavens, do not go to your grave wishing you’d been allowed to write your book.

You do not need permission. There is no gate, only an open field awaiting all those with the good sense and courage to venture into it.

Don’t let fear dictate to your dreams.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1421658 by Alfred Borchard http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Alfi007

Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1126065 by BarbaraDin http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BarbaraDinA longer diatribe about marketing your self-published book. This is a year-long class, which I’d be glad to give if y’all are interested.

Publishing is in the greatest upheaval since Gutenberg. Supporters of traditional publishing will tell you it’s the only choice, or you’re not a real author.

I’ll take the opposing view: the only rational choice, from both the artistic and commercial perspectives, is to pick yourself, own the process, and reap the rewards. Here’s why:
… more … “Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing”