Archives for the month of: February, 2014

Homeless-2My publisher has a group email where their authors can post messages. This is one I received recently.

Not sure how many of you if any use Triberr. It is a fabulous way to get
your blog posts out and gain Twitter followers. My tribe “Suspense for the
Romantic Heart” has a reach of about 75K. If there is anyone who would like
to join, it is super easy. Just go to
http://triberr. com/pages/ tribe-details. php?tribe= 23614 , sign up and then
follow my tribe. From there I will add you as a member.
For those who are not familar with Triberr, it is a share for share team. I
share all of your stuff, you share all of mine. The more tribemates, the
more twitter reach, aka the more exposure for you and your books!

Wow! 75,000 people read her tweets about her books! OMG! She must be, like, famous, and selling, thousands of books.

To that I say, LOL

About five years ago, everyone in a writing group I was involved with was fired up about social media. To be a successful writer you needed a “platform”, indeed you should start building it even before you were published. Just what you would say on the “platform” wasn’t clear. Maybe just WIP.

I registered on Facebook and was hungrily “friending” everyone possible – friends of friends of friends …

One day my wife was on the site trying to find a real friend and asked, “Do you know all these people?”

“Of course not.”

“Why are they here then?”

“Because I’m building a “platform”. I post information to them about my books.”

“Are you interested in what they’re posting?”

“Not really.” I mean how could I keep current with all these strangers even if I wanted to?

“Then what makes you think they’re remotely interested in what you’re doing?”

I hate it when she does that, actually makes sense.

With just a minimal amount of research, like asking authors for solid sales results generated by social media, I came to the conclusion it’s all a ponzi scheme for the self-deluded. A few positive responses leads one to believe that there’s riches to be tapped as long as they keep investing in “friends”, tribe members, tweet followers.

But the evidence seems to show nobody’s selling anything through social media. It’s a delusional way to feel good about what you’re doing because the chances of having any real success are infinitesimal.

If you don’t believe this visit your friends’ Facebook sites. If after five minutes you aren’t asking yourself “who cares” you’re probably posting the same boring stuff yourself in hopes someone will “like” it and validate your life.

Hold on, you say. You blog and is that not a form of social media and a platform for self-promotion?

This blog is my rant, to sort out my thoughts, to vent my frustration.  Do I care that someone reads it and clicks the “like” button?

No, emphatically.

For all I know the person that clicked that button hasn’t even read my blog. Someone told them (like my delusional colleague) the way to sell their writing was to respond positively to blogs and sign up as a follower because then those they follow would do the same for them. Get it?

I also blog because I like to talk about writing, even if it’s only too myself, and usually it is. In case your friends haven’t told you, talking about writing is boring to everybody except other writers. Actually, some of them, writers not everybody else, can also be boring, especially the ones that talk about their book – because the conversation is not about product, it’s about process.

So why do I write if the chances of being published are so unlikely? This took awhile to figure out, but finally I know. Ready?

I write to know myself, and the world around me, better. I write because it gives me joy – the existential kind.

So what do I tell my colleague with 75,000 in her tribe?

It’s better to have 75,000 readers rather than 75,000 tribe members.  Spend your time writing. If you’re serious, at least you’ll get to know yourself.

It was tough to kick, but now that I’ve given up hope, I feel a lot better.

~   ~   ~

Visit my publisher’s website for excerpts from, and buy links to, my three novels, Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.

http://devinedestinies.com

Read my current work(s) in progress at

http://wattpad.com/RodRaglin

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

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SnowDrop Buddha-94There seems to be three categories of books written about creative writing.

There’s the traditional books that primarily deal in craft; point of view, story arc, goal/motivation/conflict/showing instead of telling, and so on. These types of books teach you the rules, which you can break once you’ve master them. These are often written by editors possibly with the hope of making their job easier.

Then there’s “how I did it” books by authors. These are often self-serving and self-aggrandizing and though usually more entertaining, not as helpful.

Then there’s the third tier of books written about creative writing, usually by an academic that deals with the more esoteric aspects of writing and creativity. Reading these types of books I often get the feeling I’m a student sitting in on one of their lectures. Come to think, that’s likely not far from the truth since I imagine these books are often compilations of the same lectures they’ve given year after year.

That doesn’t mean that some are not worthwhile.

David Jauss’ book, On Writing Fiction – Rethinking Conventional Wisdom About the Craft, is interesting. Is it going to teach you how to be a better writer? Maybe, if you’re prepared to consider his take on what spawns creativity, which is that not knowing is crucial to art; that without uncertainty the imagination simply does not come into play.

Okay, so how do you go about achieving this?

According to Jauss you use “convention unconventionally”. To do that requires destruction as well as creation, and destruction requires “rejection, negation and contradiction”.

Sounds like suggestions blue-penciled in the margins of the last manuscript I submitted – especially the rejection part.

So once you’ve “destroyed the cliché, the stereotype, the formulaic plot, the predictable rhyme, the potted theme…” how do you go about creating something new?

Jauss says you must “court contradiction, seek out uncertainty”.

Well, all right, since nothing else seems to be working. But isn’t this just a highfalutin (this is actually a word!) way of saying try to make your characters and your plot as interesting and as unusual as possible?

I’ll let you decide.

Jauss also challenges the conventional wisdom about “writing what you know.” His take is the same as Grace Paley’s who said, “You write from what you know into what you don’t know.” Or, to quote Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person”. Jauss suggests that you reveal more about your true self when you imagine the life of others through fiction, or to complete the Wilde quote, “Give him a mask, and he will tell the truth”.

In other words (not quite so highfalutin), writing a memoir or autobiography is not only really boring it’s also a lie.

Which is exactly what I tell my students, though in not quite the same words.

 

Visit my publisher’s website for excerpts from, and buy links to, my three novels, Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.

http://devinedestinies.com

 

Read my current work(s) in progress at

http://wattpad.com/RodRaglin

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

foggyNightTreeThe relentless onslaught of rejections for my latest novel, The Big Picture, oppress me like the leaden January sky. As with these days that never achieve full daylight, they are bleak, cold and brief.

Then a positive response miraculously penetrates the layers of grey and I bask in it like warm spring sun on winter weary shoulders.

Positive? Ambivalent would be more precise, but at least not totally negative.

Okay, they did say “we do not feel the manuscript is ready for consideration…” but they also said I was a “good writer” and it was “potentially a good story” and closed by encouraging me to “Please come back to us when you rewritten and worked with an editor.”

And what was it that they thought needed rewriting and the help of an editor? Just the first 50 pages, because “the first 49 pages are background and backstory–no tension just set-up”.

Am I embarrassed they’ve called me on something I continually warn the participants in the creative writing circles I facilitate about – starting with backstory instead of in media res – the middle of the action?

Yes, but just a second. You need to know the passengers at least a bit before the crash. Well, maybe not fifty pages worth before the crash.

Since there are no takers for the novel in it’s present form what have I got to lose? I mean how difficult can it be to rewrite fifty pages and maybe tweak a few more?

Six weeks later I’m finished. Changing those fifty pages has necessitated changes in the first one hundred and fifty. If you’ve done this you know changing something on page four means what happens on page thirty-two now doesn’t make sense and your character would have to be a time traveller or psychic to refer to it  like he does on page one hundred and twelve.

The opening is rewritten with the inciting incident now taking place on page twenty-six instead of page sixty-one. I’ve used the pages leading up to it to introduce the main character and give the reader some context in an atmosphere of rising tension. At least that’s what I’ve tried to achieve.

However, rather than being the exercise in nitpicking and tweaking I imagined, I not only improved the opening, but now feel there’s a better balance between action and exposition throughout the work.

Furthermore, introducing the inciting incident very early gave me new insight into my main character and provided her with a stronger motivation, which carried through the rest of the story.

My rewrite is likely now sitting in the agent’s slush pile. Hopefully, sometime in the not too distant future, he’ll pick it up, recall his comments and see I have, dutifully and humbly, taken his advice.

Maybe he’ll decide to represent my novel, maybe he won’t. Regardless, his comments have improved my work.

I’m grateful.

Visit my publisher’s website for excerpts from, and buy links to, my three novels, Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.

http://devinedestinies.com

I blog at

https://rodraglin.wordpress.com/

Read my current work(s) in progress at

http://wattpad.com/RodRaglin

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to:

http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

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