Fellow writer and friend Jaime Saare alerted me to an awful review she found on GoodReads...not a review of our books, not a review of books by a friend, but of a popular genre author. Jaime has some great thoughts about it posted here. Neither of us are going to point anyone to such a review, but we stumbled upon it in a writer/reader community.
In essence, it started as a negative review--which is FINE, as people are entitled to their opinions--in which the reviewer made her "point" by criticizing the author's appearance. This point was...that "ugly" (according to her) people write bad books, I guess? And from there more and more commenters piled on, mocking and criticizing the writer not for the book she wrote but for what she looks like.
This may come to an utter shock, but writers are people too. The have *gasp* feelings. They are trying to go to work every day, take care of their families, and make a living while trying to deal with as little bullshit as possible.
You don't have to like every book. You don't have to like the author as a person. But for Christ's sake, making fun of her appearance? WTH?
It's a publicly available picture! I can say what I want!
Yes, you *can* say what you want. Doesn't mean you should. If you insist on spending your time and energy tearing someone down for how they look, I absolutely do think you should keep that shit to yourself. Or, actually, share it with your therapist because you obvious need serious help. I hope you're not raising children.
An author doesn't put her photo on the internet to be made fun of; an author puts her photo on her site...well, there could be any number of reasons. I'm relatively certain none of them include, "So cockbite whores on the internet with nothing better to do can make fun of them after not liking their book." (Wondering if some authors do it to humanize themselves? To show there's a real person behind the name? Yeah, I guess THAT didn't work...)
I suppose it's naive to think people ever grow up. That they ever leave high school. In all of us there's that insecure teen who was picked on and just jumps at the chance to attack another person. To spread the hurt. To be a bully.
Here's the thing: You can't judge the content of a person's character by how she looks. Or by the fiction she writes, what her characters do, etc.
But you CAN judge a person on how she treats fellow human beings. And anyone who thinks it's acceptable to use a review platform to gang up on a woman and make fun of her appearance is a fucking waste of space, and I hope such people get leprosy.
Friday night (okay, Saturday morning) I finished my third book of 2010...and I'm ridiculously proud of myself because I didn't write at all for about six months earlier this year. I spent years getting myself in the habit of writing nearly every day and those months off--while ultimately good for me--hurt like you wouldn't believe. Writing is a muscle that has to be worked all the time; it was *so* hard to get back into writing daily after that because I was out of shape.
But after I finished Wounded I swore I wasn't going to start the next book right away. I did, ultimately...about three or four days later. It's been a tough couple of months getting the third done, mostly 'cause I'm always busy. A few weeks went by when I had only the weekend to get any writing done. But I did it.
Which brings me to a couple of points I want to make.
I've written three books this year; three books that, when I started the first one in January, I had no intention of writing. I woke up one morning in January with Abandoned in my head--or at least the plot of a five book series and most of the first in my head--and I just sat down and wrote it.
But I'm not magical. I don't have special powers*. I have no cybernetic parts.
Two links for you tonight, chickadees, 'cause I'm busy busy busy and I've got miles to go before I sleep. (My instinct is always to follow that up with "Did you hear me, Butterfly?" because I've watched Death Proof way too many times.)
WIP Forsaken is at 81K and I'm taking a break before heading into the final stretch. I can't tell if it needs longer to gel in my head 'cause I'm missing something or 'cause I'm avoiding writing the stuff I know I have to write. Either way, I'll get it done eventually.
A few people mentioned on my Twitter feed today disliking the backlash against NaNoWriMo. The article in question raised some excellent points that I've thought about as well--such as the push towards selling to writers instead of readers, and how we should be celebrating readers since they're the reason we can pay the bills and all--but it was wrapped in something that seemed to irk a lot of people. Apparently my F-list at least didn't appreciate their process being criticized, and their sentiment was "who the hell cares if people enjoy NaNo?"
I've talked about advice before when it comes to writing and how to deal with it when everyone contradicts one another. And I'm going to speak about advice again:
Do whatever the fuck you want.
Seriously. And I'm going to take a page from Michelle on this one (because I've already mentioned the parallels to be drawn between becoming a competent eater and using the same skills as a writer). This is the only advice I, or anyone else, is qualified to give writers with regards to their process.
Write words. Ones you like. As many as you want, whenever you want.
NaNo is a great time for writers to come together and just enjoy writing. It's a great way to get in the habit of writing daily. It's a great way to encourage students to jump into the fray and promote literacy.
Yes, it's stupid to submit a NaNo book that hasn't been edited. But you know, stupid people are going to do stupid things regardless of whether or not there's a month dedicated to novel writing--I know this because I work in slush. Yes, people who aren't writers and are never going to be writers are going to try to write a novel during NaNo and it will probably be an unholy travesty that should never see the light of day else it causes the universe to implode. THAT'S OKAY.
What I like about NaNo is that it, IMO, separates writing from publishing. Because those two things ARE separate. Not every book anyone writes, regardless of the month they write it in, should or will be published, even among professional writers. And you know what? Being a writer doesn't mean you have some universal obligation to ever seek publication for your work. I have a few finished NaNo books that were a total blast to write that likely will never be published, but I don't care because they were fun for me. Sometimes, some people *do* need time to celebrate the act of writing and not think about publishing it, not think about who is going to read it.
And other people don't or else they don't want to in November. And...that's cool too. It's okay if the quick bursts of writing aren't your thing. It's okay if you like to go back and revise as you write instead of spitting out a really rough first draft in two weeks.
When it comes to structure, pacing, characters, plot, dialogue--those are all areas where it's good to listen to people to improve your work. And publishing, well, obviously, "Do whatever the fuck you want" isn't going to yield positive results 99% of the time.
But when it comes to process, no one can tell you what is going to work for you. Find out how other writers do it, try everything on for size if you're just starting out, be prepared for your habits to change over the years, but at the end of the day, your process is YOURS and yours alone. Writers, don't ever let anyone make you feel bad if you find a way of producing work that makes you happy and leads to better writing.
So there you have it, chickadees. NaNo if you like. Don't NaNo if you like. Do the hokey pokey for all I care. Don't feel ashamed if other people are telling you you're doing it wrong--as long as you're writing consistently and enjoying yourself, it's all good. Find what works for you, do it, and tell everyone else to fuck off.
Yeah, so remember how I was going to NOT write a single word on the book after Wounded because I know it needs time to gel and stuff in my head for a few months?
Screenshot of my desktop just now:
I have this issue when a new book and new world is hounding me--as soon as I know the narrator's name, I Must Write It. I can't ignore it past that point.
And then there's a point when I don't want to work on something at all, but it's circling my brain again and again, and then suddenly I'm in the scene and I know how it starts...
Yeah, I couldn't not write the words. Total insanity over here--I'm blaming the six hours I spent formatting manuscripts for ebooking today.
I might give the first chapter a shot this weekend, and then I should be so burnt out that I can go onto something else. Incidentally, the song that popped on iTunes when I broke open the file and typed a couple of lines? Syrup and Honey by Duffy. I swear the "Baby, baby, baby, spend your time on...me" part was the MS calling to me.
Yes, I did it. Break out the alcohol, get the parade underway--the book is DED.
R.I.P. Wounded Date: August 23, 2010 Time of Death: 4:14 am EST Final Word Count, Draft One: 102 160 Mourned by: NO ONE
I could have finished earlier, but I took some time to do dishes, bake, etc. For a book I wanted to just die already, I savoured its final, gasping breaths...AND it just feels unnatural to me to end a book before midnight. I did that, once--finished a first draft in the afternoon. I didn't know what to do with myself for the rest of the night. My prime writing time is between 8pm and 3-4am, and I tend to finish a book after a final marathon sprint in the wee hours of the morning. This is a sequel to one I accidentally wrote in the winter; that book, Abandoned, died at around 7am (and no, I hadn't just woken up).
I don't often blog during WIP writing, and certainly not about the process...but I talked about it a bit this time, and figured I could mention a few observations. I guess it's like a memorial and it'll be fun to re-read a few months from now.Read more
Yesterday we had a vet emergency; my furbaby Sophie has seasonal allergies and scratches a lot. Well, I heard a yelp and found out her eye was sore. The vet squeezed us in and I was right--she has a scratched cornea.
So she got a shot of a painkiller and two ointments, and we have another appointment for next Friday to make sure it's okay. I now have to put ointments in her eyes a combined five times a day (three for one, two for another). Have you ever tried to shove something in the eye of a forty pound beagle cross on your own when she's both wise to you and has the upper torso strength of an adult male German Shepherd? Yeah, it's not fun or easy.
Meanwhile, I'm determined to kill the book once and for all this weekend because I'm officially out of clean clothes, bedding, and towels, and I won't be fit to see anyone with only smelly clothes. So: dead book, then laundry. And dishes. Because I can't keep living like a college student.
I'm at 91K words and I had only intended the book to be 75K, like the first. AND I have about four scenes left to write. I think the muse is pushing the word count up on me again (that bitch) by extending a couple of scenes past what I knew would happen. Le sigh.
I'm full into the stage known as "This Book Will Not Die." I got a taste of it around 65K, slogged through, and now at nearly 85K I just want the damn thing dead.
There's no other way to describe this part of the process. You're nearly at the finish line but not quite far enough to breathe with relief yet. It consumes every thought you have from the time you wake up after only five hours of sleep to when you go to bed a few hours after the point when you're exhausted. Eating is a chore, bathing is a chore, chores are...well, chores. You go through the day job like a maniac and keep checking the clock to see if it's quittin' time yet because the book is giving you its Siren Call of Death and you can't ignore. It NEEDS to die already.
I've completed fifteen other novels (and started countless others but we won't go there). I know this process now; I KNOW soon I will be standing over this book's corpse victorious, sweaty, and probably smelly with a bloody knife in my hand. I know it's putting up a fight now, but in those final moments, it'll accept the inevitable and death will be a mercy.
But it just can't come fast enough.
And the end of a book tends to be the most draining; this is where hearts are broken, the stakes are impossibly high, and my heroine just wants to curl up and kick the proverbial bucket. And I almost want to join her because I'm just so damn tired. I'm sitting in that corner with her now, begging for it all to be over...and I know that soon it will be and I'll then I'll have to wind down from the teary exhaustion. Worse still, I'll get that twinge of excitement and dread because I'll do it all again with the third book in a few months (hopefully for NaNo).
Ah, writers. We're a crazy bunch.
Now I'm off again to get day job stuff done and feel vaguely guilty for not getting laundry done and cutting my treadmill time in half. I'll keep my head down, push through while thoughts of the final scenes swirl in my head, then bring in an air strike to try take down the book's defenses tonight.
In the meantime, here's a couple of lines from the WIP that I think best sum it up today:
Clouds above me were blackish-blue, like ugly bruises on an already weary night. We were beaten down, this night and me, and now both of us hid and hoped for morning when the fists would stop pummelling.
I just don't know if I'm the pummelled or the pummeller this time.
Quick hit tonight, bunnies--hopefully I'll be back with something a little more substantial over the weekend.
For now...here are tonight's thoughts.
1. All submissions from June/July were held because I was in the process of moving. Boss dumped the slush on me to sort yesterday so after I reject a whole lot, I'll have to scare up the readers again and get everything caught up (and yes, including from the last open period--we had quit a few that were split down the middle decision-wise and slush got thrown to the side while I moved). Something I noticed this time around...
I'm not looking at the slush with glee, ready to find a few gems and get my snark on at the rest (I know it's bad of me, but I always got *such* a giggle over the truly atrocious books that I kinda looked forward to them). No, it's more...like the life has been sucked right out of me. It's dread, all heavy and hard in the bottom of my gut. Because I know how it'll go: I'll see the same mistakes and keep shaking my head, I'll get angry letters back when I reject... Until you've read hundreds and hundreds of cover letters and manuscripts, you can't fully appreciate how it really starts to mess with your head after awhile.
2. What I DID see among the slush were some in house submissions from authors I adore, so yay! They go on the top of the list.
3. I've been quiet all day (Wed) and probably will be Thurs/Fri too, keeping my head down and working but avoiding most people. Why? Crazy is in the air.
Crazy is always in the air somewhere, but sometimes you see it more than others. The normally fun, eclectic occult blogs and forums that I follow for research have exploded suddenly with this insane drama and clash of occultists. To clarify, it turns out one side is tres crazy--I was a little shocked at what happened. And then of course, yes, when "the death of publishing/every should start vanity publishing" conversation comes up somewhere, things go nuts and we all just mutter "Publishing is dying? Must be Tuesday" but people have gotten really heated the past couple of days. Normally nice, quiet peeps are revealing rather sharp tongues, and I watched a rather entertaining author/reviewer train wreck over the weekend.
It's not the normal crazy--it's kinda like the filter went away and people are either saying what they're thinking or getting really defensive about what others are saying.
Aside from my piracy meltdown, which isn't really out of the ordinary for me, I kinda just threw up my hands and said, "Okay, this would be a good coupla days to just NOT talk to anyone." I tend to breathe conflict without even meaning to so when everyone is going nuts, it's not a good time for me to join in.
4. Normally I love a good fight and would be all over the above, but I've just been kinda sitting here thinking... I'm tired. I'm tired of he said/she said, I'm tired of people arguing over publishing methods with their own agendas and not even listening to each other (or yelling at someone who is mostly fair and agenda-free), I'm tired of the high school social politics and shit among some authors and reviewers, I'm tired of writers and their attitude with my staff...
What I'd kinda love is to just go move to a tiny house out in the country, grow my own food, and keep to myself. Just wave bye-bye to the drama, unplug, and disappear for awhile. And that's not remotely feasible, but it remains my dream.
What I probably need to do is work on constructing a safe space I can retreat to (like I am with food on the advice of my nutritionist, who is now on Facebook so you should "like" her). But I'll continue having my little dream world where I don't have to deal with online...or offline...people for awhile.
5. I hit the This Book Will Not Die stage of writing Wounded--I have maybe 10K or so left to write and I'm actively cleaning the apartment and putting extra kms on the treadmill to avoid it. I'll just keep stabbing away though...I know eventually it'll end.
I also keep stabbing at Chapter Seventeen of CotA but I'm all jumbled around 'cause stuff is happening that I didn't plan for, and now I'm trying to rethink WTF I'm doing. I should have finished the chapter over the weekend but pirates derailed me and now I keep seeing readers on the CotA site looking for the chapter. I alternate between feeling bad and thinking, "WTF? Why does no one just scroll down on the main page where I said 'IT'S NOT DONE YET' rather than refresh the TOC a bunch of times?" Le sigh.
6. I was a little tipsy-while-tweeting a few days ago on Twitter and made a bet with the awesome Heather Petty, who is attempting to finish her WIP this week. Suffice to say, it looks like I'm going to have to go grocery shopping to prepare a meal for someone...
The moral of the story is wine + Twitter = WTF did I get myself into?