Saturday, April 11, 2009

Writers, unblock!

I've been a living, semi-breathing Mucinex commercial recently. That isn't a very good excuse for not updating, unfortunately, since I wasn't sick when the entry was due. At the time, I suffered from a lesser recognized form of block where the writer has too many ideas. My head overflowed to the point where I could not settle on one thing and go with it. And, of course, all that excess pushed out the simple thought to write it all down for the days when I come up with zip.

Stupid block.

Unblocking in that case would have been stepping up and having the sense to (a) pick something and (b) take notes on the rest for later.

I'm having the same problem in reverse with fiction. In the middle of revisions, I came upon a bit of dialogue that has me stuck. But like many people who lack the wisdom to give up on the dream of being among the handful out of tens of thousands who "make it", I don't write because I want to; I write because I have to. While two characters from my Work in Progress are stuck between words, new characters are being born, old characters are pointing out what was missing from their original stories, and entire chapters are being written on the pages in my mind.

Thank goodness for MicroSoft OneNote. All these would-be rabbit holes are mapped and waiting for a more appropriate time to be addressed.

There's another form of block that's been on my mind recently. The creator of Queryfail has moved from defending that educational snark fest to plugging anything against Agentfail, which if you somehow managed to miss it, was the official writer reaction. It was angsty, true. But among the silly ("You agents should be responding to my brilliant prose instead of blogging and tweeting!") were some valid points ("If you don't want us e-mailing a dozen times to find out if you've gotten the query, let us know you got the friggin' query!"). Why acknowledge the valid when you don't have to?

The tweet that got me babbling at you read: The Guardian UK on Agentfail Day: Venomous, sad & desperate: Link (Hey, I didn't say it - THEY did.) Though the words venomous, sad, and desperate were indeed in the text, that's not quite how the writer was describing the whole thing. More interesting than the twisting of words was the link at the end of the article for "beating the system". What? We shouldn't anonymously air angry at agents laundry in public; we should self-publish!

It's an idea for some. Those of us who have puttered around the outer fringes of publishing know that self-publishing is the kiss of death. People in the industry won't take you seriously; maybe you've written a great piece of work that just wasn't commercial enough for a traditional house, but more likely, in their minds at least, your work wasn't good enough to get an agent. Readers will hesitate for the same reason, plus the fear that the binding won't even hold up with use.

And yet...Is it possible to own a television in the U.S. and to have not heard about the new ABC show "In The Motherhood"? The publishers Melinda Roberts took her book to told her it wouldn't appeal to mainstream audiences. Somehow, it still got her a show of her own and a spot on Oprah. I recall hearing that Chicken Soup For The Soul had been rejected hundreds of times before the author self-published it, and how much of a mega-seller is that? The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans was rejected, but word of mouth from the mere 20 copies he self-published was so great that Simon & Schuster bought the rights for a reported $4.2 million! (Imagine the faces of the rejecting agents upon learning they missed out on 15% of that.)

The list goes on. Sadly, no matter how long a list I make, the fact remains that an even smaller percentage of self-published authors than those who go the traditional route will make a living off their work, let alone millions. Yet there are reasons for why it's worth thinking about. More babble on the subject to come!

1 comment:

Julie said...

I've had several people (non writers, not involved in the industry) encourage me to self publish. They say similar things to "beat the system." They don't get it when I say that I'm going to do it the right way because I know I can. I'm not going to settle for self publishing. Then they get confused.

Oh well.

And yeah, having too many ideas is almost as bad as having none at all.