I figure whatever the boys can do, a woman can probably do better.
Joking. This won’t be a rehash of the posts Joe and David made. This is a different angle on blogging - Why blog?
It used to be that writers wrote in solitude and produced work, shopped it or sought professional editorial feedback and then began to step into the public sphere as an emerging author.
Now, there are a lot of blogs that seem to be all about the aspiring writer seeking that big break.
I’m not knocking them all carte blanche. I read blogs by aspiring authors who talk about the ups and downs of pursuing their dreams. (I just added Forrest to my list of links.) I blogged before I got my deal too. But now I visit blogs and people talk about giving up on writing a few weeks or months in. No book finished, in some cases nothing produced. I’m not even sure you can be a “novelist” until you’ve finished a manuscript. It’s like calling yourself a lawyer before you complete your degree and pass the bar exam – you aren't - not really.
I understand the need for encouragement BUT does it matter if complete strangers you don’t know from Adam tell you to stick with it? For all you know, they’re complete frauds with beefed-up bios that have IP addresses that go back to the local asylum and they don’t know what they hell they’re talking about. I mean, I’ve seen people on forums impersonate famous authors, so why not on blogs? I tend to trust bloggers with websites just a wee bit quicker, but that’s after seeing some of my favourite authors impersonated elsewhere…
Some of these blogs give me the impression the writer only wants validation.
I’m going to be brutally honest here – and this isn’t because I don’t like encouraging and supporting people. We all need that, and I think most people who will read this know that I’ve tried to support a lot of new writers.
The writing business if tough to crack. It is hard enough to have the perseverance to finish a manuscript. And that’s the easy part.
Don’t believe me? Check out John Connolly’s recent post. I could start a list here – published authors struggle. You want to get published? Read author blogs. Listen and learn from the people who’ve traveled the road you say you want to follow. They know what they’re talking about.
Once you finish the manuscript, there’s editing. Did you know the average is 7 re-writes of a manuscript until it’s marketable, if it ever will be?
Then, if you survive that, there are queries and rejections and the struggle to actually get your work in front of someone. Getting an agent who wants to see a full or partial manuscript isn’t easy. Agents I’ve spoken with speculate 1% of what crosses their desk might be worth considering.
And if you do get an agent and/or publisher, then you get to face the critics.
In short, you’re going to have to toughen up to survive in this business. That doesn’t mean you don’t seek a support group. It doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from encouragement.
But it does mean you might need to be a bit more realistic with your goals.
Exceptionally few authors write their first manuscript and sell it without serious revisions or editing. Odds are, you won’t polish off a manuscript in 6 months and sell it right away. Some of my favourite authors wrote 4 manuscripts before selling book 5… And the other 4 remain in drawers with no deal on them.
The other concern I have is the feeling that the blog is nothing more than an online resume with post to post to post of unpublished work.
It seems as though some think that an agent/publisher/connected person will stumble across their blog and presto! They’ll be getting the call with a 6-figure deal.
Let’s just think about it. How many people blog? Tens of thousands? Probably hundreds of thousands. Maybe millions.
And how many have gotten that big deal through blogging? Oh, you’ll dig up one or two stories, to be sure. But look at the odds. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning.
I visit some blogs and wonder why the person is there. They don’t interact with the commenters. I’ve heard of a few that delete comments from people they don’t know or who raise a slightly different pov. (I only delete promotional spam.) I’ve seen some people who’ve commented be openly insulted.
I once read a comment from an agent that said they wished aspiring authors would get off author’s forums and actually write. Now, they say they wish aspiring authors would actually write and re-write instead of blogging.
I’m not knocking blogging. Don’t jump on that pony and trot off. I’m not even knocking aspiring authors blogging.
But I want to make one point. When I went to Harrogate last year, I attended the panel on “How To Get Published” – a panel filled with industry experts – agents, booksellers, publishers. One thing the agents said was that there were times they’d meet a writer and get a feel for the person and think, “I can work with this person.” The personality mattered.
The person outside of just the sheer storytelling mattered.
And a lot of blogs lack personality.
Now, I’m not saying I’m above anyone else. Not by a long shot. When I first started blogging I had no clue why I was doing it or what I was doing. But I’ve also seen some trends amongst blogs I don’t frequent, because I don’t feel comfortable. Bloggers who acknowledge everyone’s comments but mine. They feel snobby and cliquey.
There are some places I don’t bother going because I know that until I’m a proven success, I’m seen as just a courtyard mutt allowed to nab a few table scraps, and I should be thankful that I don’t get a kick in the ribs for my trouble.
However, there are some blogs that resonate with the personality of the blogger. They sizzle. I start to warm to them, and then I want to read their books. There’s something about them that I connect with in their writing, in their tone, in their approach. It doesn’t have to be storytelling – it can just be a rant on the bird flu.
But the things that keep me going back are the things that make me want to see those people get book deals, or if they’re already published, go out and buy their books. They've sold me on themselves.
It’s about more than just the writing and the validation. It’s also about interacting. I feel like this is part of a community and yes, we support each other, and I’ve appreciated that a lot. But at the end of the day, you still need to be able to sit down alone and write.
And no amount of encouragement is going to make up for it if you can’t bring yourself to do that.
For some, the act of expressing their feelings through their blog is a huge accomplishment, and part of their journey. And I applaud the ones who've been vulnerable and open and honest. I feared making this post because some would assume I meant them - and almost certainly anyone who drops by here isn't someone I'm talking about. If you find something in this that goes to you, that's between you and yourself. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, simply expressing how I feel when I go to some blogs - and why there are plenty I don't go to.
Terrenoire said in the comments, “As for blogging rules, there's only one rule that matters: Don't be boring. That said, I'm still wondering what the hell I'm doing here but I'm happy you're all along for the ride.”
And you know what? Terrenoire’s blog is interesting. It has personality. Through it, I’ve gotten a sense of the person, and this is a person I’d love to buy a drink and chat with in the bar.
I know you want to market your work. I know you want to see some reward for all your efforts.
But don’t forget you’re still a person.
Writing isn’t something that often gives overnight reward from others. There are people who persevere a long time to achieve success in this business.
So make sure you pace yourself for the marathon, because if you think a quick sprint will ensure success, you’re likely going to be in for disappointment.
I tried the quiz twice and changed answers and still got this result. Look out Hollywood… With thanks to fellow blogger and author John Baker for the link.
(Yet another blog worthy of visiting, I might add.)
You Should Be a Film Writer
You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!