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Artists are Weird, but Writers are Crazy: The Dark Side

Please note that this series is written in fun. If you don’t like hints of sarcasm and hyperbole don’t read this series. If you find the title offensive, don’t read this series. However, if you understand that this is a great time to be a writer of fiction and feel like a lone happy person in a tsunami of fear, read on.

“Every time you think you’ve been screwed by publishers in every possible way, you meet one who has read the Kama Sutra.” Cathy Crimmins

Writers have opinions—especially about other writers.  Some like Michael Stackpole  in his various posts think of them as “house slaves”,  Sarah Hoyt compares them to abused wives as in the post “He Beats Me But He’s My Publisher”  while Dean Wesley Smith just think they’re stupid (but he’s doing his best to help).

You already know what I think. I think writers are crazy. And in this group, some seem to be confusing themselves with ladies of the night.

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for the money.” Moliere

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Artists are Weird, but Writers are Crazy: Tortoise versus Hare

Please note that this series is written in fun. If you don’t like hints of sarcasm and hyperbole don’t read this series. If you find the title offensive, don’t read this series. However, if you understand that this is a great time to be a writer of fiction and feel like a lone happy person in a tsunami of fear, read on.

In a previous post I described how many writers have been brainwashed into thinking that the pace in which they produce their work matters. Today I’ll talk about a different type of pace: Sales! Many writers have been brainwashed into thinking that fast sales mean a book is good, while slow sales mean a books bad. So:

Crazy Lesson #4

Artists create and sell at their own pace. Writers believe they have to write slow, but sell fast.

Velocity is a publishing buzz word and a critical component in the traditional publishing model, which has to deal with limited shelf space in brick and mortar stores. Velocity sales equal books that sell fast within the first several weeks. Selling fast means a book has a chance to hit a bestseller’s list (which focuses on the short term life of a book, not the long term), or helps convince a book store to keep a particular title stocked. In traditional publishing, fast sales have been translated to mean that a book is alive and worthy of attention and support; slows sales mean that a book will be pulled from the shelves and remaindered or destroyed and, worst yet, the author is dropped if they produce too many slow selling books.

In traditional publishing, books are looked at as perishable products like milk and yogurt, with sell by dates. This thinking forced authors to believe that their books could spoil if they didn’t sell at a certain pace.

Gone are the days when an author could grow their audience and skill. Gone are stories of authors like Jack Higgins who wrote twenty-some books before hitting it big with The Eagle Has Landed or Nora Roberts who wrote nearly 60 romance novels over 10 years before hitting the New York Times list.

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Artists are Weird, but Writers are Crazy: Ready–Fire–Aim!

Please note that this series is written in fun. If you don’t like hints of sarcasm and hyperbole don’t read this. If you find the title offensive, don’t read this. However, if you understand that this is a great time to be a writer of fiction and feel like a lone happy person in a tsunami of fear, read on.

Are you sitting on the fence about an idea you want to pursue? Then this post is for you.

I recently had a conversation with a fellow writer that went something like this:

“Hey Dara, I’ve got a great idea for a new book.” (Precedes to tell me the idea)

“Wonderful,” I say knowing that ideas, like dust, are everywhere. “Get started.”

“I can’t. There’s a problem.”

“What? Is your system down? Then use a pen and paper or talk into a recorder or…”

“No, it’s not that. It’s so different from what I usually write.”

“So?” I say. “Write it anyway.”

“I’m under contract to write my usual work.”

“Write it on the side.”

“I’m not sure my agent will like it. She says that I should focus on writing (current trend).”

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Artists are Weird, but Writers are Crazy: A Mistaken Mystique

Please note that this series is written in fun. If you don’t like hints of sarcasm and hyperbole don’t read this series. If you find the title offensive, don’t read this series. However, if you understand that this is a great time to be a writer of fiction and feel like a lone happy person in a tsunami of fear, read on.

I recently spoke to an agent interested in a general fiction book I’d written who wanted me to spend five years revising it. Not five weeks or five months, but five YEARS. I thought she was insane. She thought I wasn’t committed to excellence and told me of another client of hers who spent that amount of time on one book and became an Oprah magazine book pick.

I like Oprah, but there’s no way I’m going to spend my creative energy trying to rewrite something just to please the sensibilities of someone else. The problem with the agent’s suggestion was that she was completely clueless as to how stories are created. Many writers fall into this trap. I’ve met numerous writers who will spend months polishing three chapters to enter into a contest or others who’ve spent ten to twenty years on one ‘masterpiece’ because writing is supposed to be  painful,

“Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out.” Charles Bukowski

a struggle,

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Red Smith

or difficult.

“I’d never encourage anyone to be a writer. It’s too hard.” Eudora Welty

(Cue in ominous music and the voice of Vincent Price) Discouragement, pain, heartbreak, obscurity, that’s the writer’s lot so be FOREWARNED. Most of this is baloney because the one thing many people forget is that great writers know how to lie (they’re storytellers remember?) And it serves a purpose because writers need to feel important, which leads me to:

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