An article was recently reblogged on http://www.thepassivevoice.com, claiming that half of all independent authors made less than $500 the previous year. It’s outdated, and the numbers have doubtless changed, but the same argument continues. Your chances of making any money as an independent author are very, very slim.
It’s been a while since I posted here, as I’ve spent the last few years having a kid and experiencing some major disruptions in my life, including career changes for both myself and my husband. Surprising everyone among our friends and family–most of all himself, I believe–Jeff has launched a successful career as a writer.
CJ Jessop, one of my writer besties, tagged me in a recent post on her blog, and seeing as I’ve been neglecting my blog in the most dreadful way, I thought I’d give it a go. CJ is inspiring not one but TWO blog posts, as she’s just published a collection of her short fiction, which I’m quite excited about. We’ll get to that in my next post, but for now….
I’ve always been a night owl. 10pm rolls around and suddenly I’m full of ideas and a burning desire to start projects and be creative. This is especially true for my writing, since the late evening is generally the only part of my day that offers any quiet or solitude.
The drawback to this is that when I’m really on a roll with my writing I tend to start keeping vampire hours, writing from 10pm until 3-4am. Sometimes I greet the dawn with bleary eyes before retiring to my coffin. This wreaks havoc with the rest of my life, of course. Responsibilities and commitments suffer, my family never sees me, and the house looks a mess. Make dinner? What do you mean? I just woke up!
I will admit that in almost every case, I will overlook poetry in favor of prose. There are, however, a couple of poets I keep an eye on. One, who I refer to on the blog fairly regularly, is my good friend Ashley Capes. The other is James Hutchings, another Australian poet. Hutchings usually writes
Of all the skills a fiction writer needs to master, I think good dialogue can be the hardest to learn—and (apparently) it’s damn near impossible to teach. The dialogue sections of most writing instruction books I’ve read are very small and usually frustratingly vague.
Write the way people actually talk. Except, don’t. But make it sound like something a person would say.
I’ve started to hypothesize that dialogue is difficult to break down because it’s almost purely instinctive. There aren’t a lot of rules or guidelines that fit across the board, because the variations in the way people communicate are almost endless. Some writers nail it without ever having to think about it, and others have to slave over every wooden, awkward word.
I don’t think this is a ‘you’ve either got it or you don’t’ sort of thing, though. I pretty much hate that concept in any situation, because the thought (to me) that something is unlearnable is horrifying. And, from what I’ve seen of the world, it’s generally untrue.
Shakespeare very likely asked this question as well–though I’m sure he did it with more eloquence.
Lisa Cron wrote a fantastic blog post on Writer Unboxed, outlining three oft-preached and just as oft-misapplied ‘rules’ that can derail an otherwise brilliantly executed story.
Last year I had occasion to read a batch of ten page manuscript submissions in a hurry, one right after the other. What I noticed was startling in its consistency.
All of the writers had clearly spent time learning their craft. All of them had something to say. And all of them, by meticulously following what they’d been taught, had rendered their stories mute in the exact same way.
It was heartbreaking, given the talent in the room.