authors, life, NaNoWriMo, writing

Camp Update, and an unexpected rant.

Well, it’s now halfway through the month and for the first time in ages, I am on track. Actually, I’m ahead of schedule!

I know, I’m a little shocked myself 😉

My editing muscles are well and truly flexed at this point, seeing as that is mostly what I’ve been spending my writing time on this year. I feel like I’ve fallen into a rhythm with it and this makes me happy, but also nervous. I’m making great progress (and, if I wasn’t studying, or editing for others as well, I would be done my own novella by now, and onto the next), but at the same time I’m wary of the ease… I am not sure I trust myself, and there is an underlying sense that I can’t be doing a good enough job.

I think this is tied into the myth that writers must bleed for their art, they must SUFFER in order to create great stories. I don’t really buy into that belief – after all, so much of the first draft at least feels like I’m riding a rollercoaster and I LOVE rollercoasters. It’s like getting a shot of adrenaline or being able to feel every ounce of the worlds wonder, it’s blissful, intoxicating. Better than almost any other high.

But just because I don’t buy into all those myths about what it takes to be a writer – you must drink a lot of coffee and/or alcohol, you must stay up into the wee hours of the morning bleeding words into your preferred writing tool, you must be crazy/have a muse/talk to yourself/get intense bouts of writers block/spend three days finding the right word to describe a situation, you must struggle with your words, and suffer for your art, you have to be a starving artist, and in general, it seems the belief is that the more you struggle (not just with those words, but with life in general) the more emotion, impact and weight will be present in your story – it doesn’t mean that somewhere under the surface I feel like they might be true.

Because maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

Well, I call bullshit.

Yeah, some writers drink coffee and load up on booze or drugs, but that’s not a prerequisite. Not all writers have muses, or mental health problems, and not all writers are night owls who forsake human contact. Not all writers bleed, or struggle, or live entirely inside their head – hell, I am far too rooted in the real world, in my legit every day problems and getting the kids fed, educated, and geared up for a life following their own passions to possibly indulge (yes, I said it) in the myth of being a writer. While there are some truths in those myths, they are not the foundation, core, or bottom line of being a writer. Yes, sometimes it’s a struggle, but there is always that joy in words, in making things better, in crafting a world and putting it on the page to share with others. I don’t have time to wail about the challenges, or indulge in writers block or adopt a struggling artist persona.

I have time to write.

I put words on a page. I make those words better, and in the near future I will publish those words. And that makes me a writer, not any of the other stuff.

And I’m not going to buy into those myths on any level. Not anymore. I’m doing just fine.

This wasn’t going to be a blog post about writer myths or struggling for your art, it was just going to be a quick update to say – hey, look! I’m actually doing stuff and it’s going really well! As is the case with blog posts though, these things seem to morph.

By all means, enjoy the things you enjoy, struggle with the things you struggle with, but I would kind of like it if people quit buying into this writer mythology, it’s not glamorous to be depressed or to abuse our bodies by consuming too much alcohol/coffee/drugs/depriving it of much needed sleep. It’s not aiding our creation. Wouldn’t it be better if we could be happy, thriving, and loving our work? I know that’s the ideal I’m going to be working towards from now on.

*For the record, I know lots of wonderful writers who don’t buy into the ‘writer’ myth. They are awesome people, and write awesome stories, and they don’t need to have dramatic lives or desperate struggles in order to do so. These people are far more productive than many ‘struggling writer’s because they use their energy to actually do the thing we’re all meant to love so much. Write.

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Dispelling the Indie Myths – Amy Rose Davis

Today I have a guest blogger – Amy Rose Davis. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by 🙂

When I first decided to pursue publication as an independent author, I was met with some… interesting comments. Most of my family and friends thought it was a great plan.Many of my commercial writing cohorts encouraged me as well, seeing it as a natural extension of what I was already doing (freelance commercial writing).

But within the writing community, I got a lot of German Shepherd looks. You know—head tipped to one side, confused, with an ear cocked up, wondering what language I was speaking. “Don’t give up on publication—keep querying. You might be lucky. And what about editing? You need editing. Everyone does. And people don’t buy self-published books. There’s too much crap out there.”

Well…. I’m two months into my indie author journey (almost—my novella Silver Thaw went live on December 15, 2010), and people are… Buying my books. And giving them good reviews. And talking about me and recommending me to their friends.

Huh.

So, in keeping with Cassie’s ABC Challenge this year (I was the “D” on her list), I thought I’d take a moment to try to dispel some of the myths around indie authors.

Myth: Self-publishing is a last resort. Actually, although I made a very few brief attempts at querying last spring, I decided to go the independent route fairly early in my publication journey. I started reading about people like Joe Konrath, Karen McQuestion,Colleen Houck, Zoe Winters, Brian S. Pratt, and the like, and I thought if they could have some success, then I could, too.

Myth: People who self-publish are bitter about publishing in general. No, not really. I’m not bitter. I think the query system is outdated. I think the publishing industry as awhole operates on a largely inefficient and broken business model. I think traditional publishers are slow to adapt. But I’m not bitter. I just made a choice about what I thought was the best route for my own work. There are some bitter authors who self-publish, but there are bitter traditionally published authors, too.

Myth: Self-published authors can’t write. This one is tricky, but it’s a huge generalization based on the work churned out by vanity presses over the years. Yes, itis true that there is a LOT of self-published stuff out there that is very low quality, but that is changing rapidly. There are a lot of very competent writers out there who have chosen to go independent for a huge variety of reasons. Many of these folks have had short stories published in traditional publications. I did. Plus, I worked for several yearsas a freelance commercial writer. I know a lot of indies have experience as marketers, ghostwriters, and other such folk in the writing world.

Myth: Self-published authors just slap up the first piece of junk that exudes from their deluded minds. Let’s call this the corollary to the myth above. I know there is a lot of self-published junk out there, and it’s quite possible that much of that junk is first draft quality from people who have a lot to learn about writing. But, all of the independent authors I know take great pride and care in putting out the best stories they possibly can.They have beta readers, critique partners, and editors. Those folks may be unpaid—probably are—and they may also be unpracticed in craft, but it’s unfair to say that indie authors don’t bother to polish their work.

Myth: People who self-publish spend thousands of dollars to put out their own work. Not true. So far, with a block of 10 ISBNs, a couple of copyright registrations, a few stock images, and a little bit to a brilliant graphic designer, I’ve spent less than$1,000 in out-of-pocket dollars. Far less, in fact. Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes &Noble make it really easy to upload your work. With a little time and a good guide, even the most technically ungifted (like me!) can upload a professional-quality manuscript and begin selling right away.

Myth: Self-publishing is the easy way out. Holy cow, I want this one to die a horrible and painful death! No, no, no—a thousand times, no! The concept that people who self-publish are just looking for an easy path or just want to skip all the “hard stuff” is so false it’s not even funny. The indie authors I know—the ones who are making it—spend huge amounts of time on things that aren’t even related to writing. They see this route as a business that requires marketing, accounting, advertising, branding, managing, sub-contracting, and on and on. Being a serious indie author who is dedicated to success is not for the faint of heart.

Two months into my journey, and I’m not getting rich (yet!). But, Ravenmarked is selling, and it is getting good reviews. So far, no one has said I can’t write and I need an editor. If I were querying, I’d not have sold a single book yet. And my novella? There are very few markets even willing to look at stories of that length anymore. Self-publishing is helping stories of unusual lengths find homes they might not have found otherwise.

Is being an indie author for everyone? Nope. I have a lot of friends who would rather pursue traditional routes to publication, and I’m fine with that. It’s a very personal decision, because going indie is not an easy road. For me, it was a natural fit. I have creative control, I get better royalties, and I feel like I’m driving my own destiny.

Author Bio:

Amy Rose Davis is an independent epic fantasy author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Bryce, and their four children. Bryce provides comic relief, editing, and inspiration, and regularly talks her off the various ledges she climbs onto.

Amy is an unapologetic coffee addict, but her other vices include chocolate, margaritas, and whiskey. She prefers cats to dogs (but houses both), loves the color green, and enjoys the smell of new pencils and crayons. She has eclectic tastes in friends, music, and books, and is as likely to watch 300 as Becoming Jane.

Amy’s books are available in all major e-bookstores.