Monday, October 26, 2009

You are a Writer, and other positive stuff

Today I was reading Janet Reid's most recent post, Less than Zero, she railed about a person whom she had met at a conference who referenced himself as not being a "real writer" because his novel was published through one of those "book printing mills." I'm not sure if he's referencing self-publishing, vanity publishing or what here, but the point is that because he wasn't published by a larger, traditional publisher, he felt that he didn't qualify as a "real writer" yet, even though he'd written and published a whole novel!

I love Janet's response: "Don't let anyone, particularly some snotty so-called publishing professional, demean this achievement. You've written a novel = you're a writer."

The reason this particular post struck me was because too often the online blogosphere (and real world) devolves into negativity. Writing is TOUGH world; anyone reading this blog knows that. Sometimes, traditionally published writers or publishers will tear down self-published writers as a whole. Because there is a lot of poor writing that gets self-published, they'll stereotype all self-published writers as second-rate writers- even in the midst of this ever-changing publishing world! Sometimes, you'll see people who have written and published a novel saying that you're not really a writer until you've published something in some form.

Here's food-for-thought: Emily Dickinson published NO poems during her lifetime. None. Nada. Nil. She wrote poems for herself, shared some with family or friends, and after she passed away, her neatly-written and bound collections were found, and the world discovered this now canonical writer. Was she a writer before she was published? If a tree falls in the world and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? I say YES!

If you write regularly, whether for private or public consumption, for free or for profit, if you love fluent, concise, florid, creative, or purely functional words, and you try to create your own fluent, concise, florid, creative, or purely functional words, you ARE a writer!

And if someone wants to nitpick with you before you've been published, traditionally published, or met some other goal that hangs menacingly over your head threatening to validate or invalidate your status as a writer, remember Richard Bach's words, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Backword Book Contest Winners

Okay . . . I'm a little late on this one, which is doubly embarrassing since I'm one of the winners- THIS is evidence of how crazy my life's been lately!

The Backword Book Contest winners for blog entries on self-publishing was published Oct. 2nd. There are 13 awesome entries listed. Check them all out, including my original entry if you care to.

Backword Book Contest Winners

Weekend Inspiration

A brief post, yet again, but I am taking time in this crazy schedule to pass on inspiration and advice for writers.

Earlier this week I saw a tweet (I can't even remember who now!) about a fabulous compilation of "best" blogs for writers. The link below contains a top ten list, advice for aspiring writers, fiction writers, poets, those looking for improvement, publishing advice, and more. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thinking is Writing

While planning out assessment for my students' creative writing, I came across a great statement on thinking and writing in the book, Creating Writers by Vicki Spandel. She cites Donald Murray from A Writer Teaches Writing as saying, "The most important writing takes place before there is writing--at least what we usually think of as writing: the production of a running draft. Writers write before they write" (17, 132 in Spandel).

What a true but interesting comment to contemplate. Often, writers lament, "I didn't get to write today" or "I only wrote for this many hours or this many days this week." But what was going on during the time that you were not typing or handwriting away? Were you contemplating what to write next? A new idea or a new chapter? A revision of something you were working on? According to Murray, this is still writing.

Parallels to the above ideas can be made with a variety of writers. Aleksandar Hemon, a National Book Award finalist (2008), finalist for numerous other awards and a Guggenheim recipient (2003) once said at a writers conference that he doesn't literally write every day, but he reads or writes everyday, and to him the reading is a form of writing because reading informs his writing.

Every writer knows that each writer has his or her own way of brainstorming, drafting, revising, writing down a story. John Lacombe, whose debut novel won the 2009 Hollywood Book Award, has said that he brainstormed and drafted the majority of the plot in his head before sitting down to write, and that this is the process that works best for him, whereas other writers will say that they enjoy sitting down to write without knowing where the plot will go- and thinking about the story and characters during or after writing (for revision).

Whatever your personal case, it's important to remember that thinking, and even reading, can be considered part of writing. For those days when we don't make it the computer or paper, instead of mentally punishing ourselves, we can remember that thinking, reading, and experiencing life are all necessary parts of writing, and take joy in the life of a writer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Herta Muller Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

I don't have too much time to comment right now as my work life has been crazy lately, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to note the most recent Nobel Prize in Literature winner: Herta Muller. Check out the Nobel Prize bio for Herta here. Check out an interesting reader response to the current award winner in the New York Times here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Twitter Ghost Story Contest

Just in time for Halloween: The most amazingly fun contest from Stuart Neville, the author of the upcoming (in the US) novel, The Ghosts of Belfast. Write a scary or funny ghost story in 124 characters or less on Twitter. Here are the contest details.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Author Cruise?!

Is this possibly the greatest idea for authors EVER??? Why can't I be the one writing right now instead of my S.O.? Or why can't he have enough money for this (still waiting for the next novel to be written and to gain an agent and an advance)?

Well, I can't partake yet, but Publetariat (the website I plugged a week or so ago) is sponsoring the first INDIE AUTHOR WORKSHOP CRUISE!! And yes, it's tax-deductible as work.

This idea is sick, and I mean that in the contemporary slang way of saying really, really cool.