Have a laugh – read your earliest writing

I’m cleaning house, otherwise known as getting rid of junk, and ran across some early writing.  I won’t say in which decade I wrote them, but I’m taking the stand it was before I could vote.  Grade school maybe.  I think they were written in crayon.  Yeah, they’re that bad.  They predate finding my “voice” and clearly show the influence of the authors I read at the time.  If those authors were angst-ridden masochists who were fond of including the character’s first name in EVERY LINE OF DIALOGUE.

Here’s a sample:

“How many men did you have after me, Lisa?  How well did you satisfy your hunger after you whetted your appetite with me?”

“Nick – ”

“My successors, Lisa,” he commanded.  “How many were there?  Who were they?”

****

As you can see, Nick was extremely fond of quotation marks.  He also shook Lisa a lot, yelled at her and wasn’t a very nice guy.  The anti-hero.  He had no character arc.  None of the characters did.

These tragic pieces are going in the trash.  I don’t need validation of how much my writing has matured.  I think I’ll find my humor in other areas from now on.

How bad is your early writing?  Do you still have samples tucked in a drawer?

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Writing Amnesia

I recently decided to edit a book I was soooo certain I’d abandoned two thirds of the way through.  I have a couple of books like that – or half books, left on the side of the road when something brighter and shinier appeared.  It’s a bad habit, letting good books die for no reason other than they’d dragged on for too long.  Or I’d been lazy and didn’t give them the attention they deserved.  I’m convinced I write better and finish more projects when I’m in a NaNo/Book of the Month frame of mind.

Which I must have been with this particular book.  You know what?  I’d finished it.  Oh, the corners were rough and there were a lot of xxxx’s that needed to be filled in, but the book was done.  “The End” was typed.  Finished.

Except –

I don’t remember writing it.  The last twenty pages are a blank in my mind.  My critique partner, Mary, says I was in the groove, and I must have been.  I’ve read it again and still have no recollection of typing those words.

This has happened before, but on a much smaller scale.  I’ve run across a phrase, a joke, a bit of brilliant dialogue and thought “That’s pretty damn good”, but I don’t remember not remembering writing a whole chapter or more.

It’s disconcerting.  I think I have writing amnesia.

Is there a cure?

Best to you,

Cheryl

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The publishing decision you need to make

I attended our monthly writers’ group meeting today.  As always, I returned home in total awe of our members.  They are a fantastic group and never take no as an answer.

It’s easy to forget between meetings, when you’re sitting in the basement staring at a blank screen, that there are others just like you.  As Emily, our newest member said, “Writing a book is hard.”  Yes, it is, but we keep plugging away, writing, critiquing, editing, submitting and hoping for publication.

But boys and girls, the road to publication is no longer a small trail with a select group of tollgate keepers deciding who gets to progress forward.  The publishing industry is in the midst of turmoil.  Those cart tracks have expanded to four-lane super highways.  Anyone who wants to be published nowadays can be.

Is that a problem?  Will junk and dreck clog the choices we have?  Probably.  But think about that for a moment.  How many people actually write a book?  As Emily noted, it’s hard.  Damn hard.  Your competition will remain the same.  If xxxx people finished a manuscript in 2006 b.k. (before Kindle), a similar amount will write a book in 2011.  The only difference is that more of them will become available to readers.

How many of your fellow authors are really, really good, on the cusp of being accepted for publication but have never quite got the nod from New York?  I can tell you, their chances lessen more and more.  Publishers can’t scramble fast enough to keep up with the minute-to-minute changes in the industry.  They hang on to their best selling authors, squeeze the mid-list and don’t take chances on newcomers.

How are you going to get a break if you don’t make your own?

Yes, there’s something to be said for traditional publishing.  I’ll always love the feel of a book in my hand.  I miss being able to thumb through the pages to the part I want to re-read (2/3 through the book on the left hand side.)  But, I can carry dozens of books in my purse on an e-reader.  (which will be super handy during my upcoming eight hour flight).  I can have what I want to read available within seconds instead of ordering it through the mail or hunting through library lists.

Ebooks have their drawbacks, but, at Amazon, they’ve already surpassed sales of paperbacks.  The Kindle (I’m using it as the standard of all ereaders) is not even four years old. Wait until the price drops below $99. Do you not think everyone will be using ereaders?

Traditional publishing might not go away, but do you want to miss out on the greatest opportunity that has ever happened to the industry?  The industry you’re so desperate to break into?

Think about alternative ways to offer your book to your readers.  That’s all I ask.  Think about it.

I know I am.

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