The Business Rusch: Rapid Change (Changing Times Part Twelve) | Kristine Kathryn Rusch

If you haven’t already been watching this series as it unfolds, I recommend you take a look. Food for thought for any writer, whether traditional or self-pubbed.  Rusch has a finger on the pulse of publishing, and her series is not to be missed.

In case you were actually enjoying your holiday instead of watching business trends, let me tell you what happened over the normally quiet holiday break. (Besides half of you getting stuck in airports.)

First, the sale of e-readers was higher than anyone expected. We expected e-reader sales to soar, but we didn’t expect them to explode. And what’s more, no one (including me) made the connection between the sale of e-readers and the increased e-book sales volume on Christmas weekend.

Yes, we all expected the new e-reader purchasers to order books. We didn’t expect these folks to crash the Barnes & Noble website twice that I know of, maybe even more often. Borders website, which doesn’t have the volume of B&N, also crashed over the holiday weekend. Even Amazon.com, which did plan better for the volume than the others did, ran so slow over the holiday weekend that people had to wait more than 30 seconds for the site to load. (I know, I know. We complain about the strangest things these days.)

via The Business Rusch: Rapid Change (Changing Times Part Twelve) | Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Dean Wesley Smith » Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing is Hard

2) Discipline is hard. Just carving out time to write is hard. Really hard, actually. Especially in the early years when the feedback loop is so negative. Simply finding time to get to the computer is hard when day job, kids, and bills get in the way. That’s hard and very hard work. The fun starts when you get to the chair with some time ahead, but getting there is hard work early on.

via Dean Wesley Smith » Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing is Hard.

Plot is not story

Plot is not story. Plot is what is behind the story. The story is a progression of scenes. The plot may be interesting, but if your scenes are repetitive and dull, you’ll still have a shit piece of work.

Well said, Patty (via mikandra: it’s easy).

Also:

Recognising the difference between plot and story is a fundamental skill for writers, especially when writing extended pieces (novels or novellas) and yet I keep seeing aspiring writers churning out hundreds of thousands of words of plot with very little story. Not just aspiring writers, but highly paid professionals as well (William Gibson, I’m looking at YOU).

Read the entire article.  It’s an oldie but a goodie (via Ruzkin on Writing – Plot vs Story – Christopher Ruz – Designer & Author).

Authors talking about editors

My own method of dealing with editorial criticism is a multi-step process: 1) I allow myself to get angry or bitchy or annoyed that the editor didn’t understand what should be perfectly obvious, and to steam about it for a few hours; 2) I reconsider the comment a day or so later and decide that maybe she has a point; after all she’s very smart and she wouldn’t have bought the book if she didn’t love it (and she wants it to succeed as much as I do); 3) I make a genuine attempt to address the issue without sacrificing anything I consider integral to the book. (I should mention here that in our first meeting, she said nothing that made me worry about this kind of foundational upheaval, e.g., she didn’t say, “no gay sex” or “no stray-kitten subplots,” both of which were important to me and cut against the grain of conventional publishing wisdom, at least as I perceived it; and to her credit, I never felt anything but secure in my overarching vision for the book.) – Matthew Gallaway.

Camilla sent me to this page via twitter and it’s a real eye opener for any writer trying to break into publishing.  Read, be amused, but also learn.

Also, Parsec Ink has the submission details up for their Last Contact anthology – this is a great market, well worth your time.

So you want to write? What’s stopping you?

Here are two posts you really should read.

Want is a Vector by Graham Storrs

Consider the mother of young children who desperately wants to be a writer. She’s running a business from home, she’s looking after her family, she’s taking courses for professional qualifications – and she’s writing in her spare time. Some people might say, “If writing is what she really wants to do, she should completely reorganise her life so that she can do it. Nothing else will make her truly happy.” Which, of course, is rubbish. It almost certainly wouldn’t make her happy to neglect her children. It probably wouldn’t make her happy to be poor.

Thank you, Graham, for saying this.  I came to the conclusion a while ago, that my family and my job are more important than writing, and that writing will always come third.  That took a lot of pressure off.  Does it mean I don’t write?  Of course not.  Because writing is firmly above such things as television, socialising and (unfortunately) health. It’s important, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of my life.

Writing: Find the time or don’t by John Scalzi

If you spend your free time after work watching TV, turn off the TV and write. If you prefer to spend time with your family when you get home, write a bit after the kids are in bed and before you turn in yourself. If your work makes you too tired to think straight when you get home, wake up early and write a little in the morning before you head off. If you can’t do that (I’m not a morning person myself) then you have your weekend — weekends being what I used when I wrote Agent to the Stars.

In other words, there really is no excuse.  Everyone is busy, everyone has commitments.  If you want to write, you will.  Otherwise, stop forcing yourself and go do something you enjoy.

It’s the end of the year, and this is traditionally the time to take stock of your life.  Where will you be focusing your energies in 2011?

Writing is hard

Writing doesn’t come easily to me. Let me clarify what I mean by that. I love to write, and I have a fair amount of confidence in my skill with prose. I think I can write a nice sentence, and a nice paragraph, and a nice chapter, etc. And, I’m proud of my imagination, too. I love the ideas that come to me, and I love nurturing them along and spinning them into outlines and synopses. So on the one hand I love coming up with ideas. On the other hand, I love playing with language.

It seems like those two components should be all I need to write along in a dreamy, blissful fugue, spinning stories off my fingertips left and right. Right?

Wrong.

I am also afflicted with perfectionism. Sometimes I feel like Perfectionism should have its own entry in the DSM — it feels like a diagnosable psychological disorder to me! I get so very stuck sometimes. I become aware that a sentence or chapter is not rolling along as well as ever it possibly could, and that awareness sort of rears up and blocks out everything else. I become distressed and distracted by the imperfections to the extent I have to sort them out before I move forward with the story.

- Laini Taylor, Not For Robots

These could be my words.  And I could not write them better, so I am posting them as they fell from the lips of someone who has a really good handle on what writing really is.  The truth, as opposed to those fantasy pictures of the writer happily typing away in a garret somewhere, pulling out the final sheet with ‘The End’ written on it and merrily boxing the whole thing up and sending it to their publisher.

I’m posting this to remind myself, and any of you who might be struggling, that writing is hard.  And that some days it just sucks.  And that perseverance and stubbornness are some of your best buddies when you are facing the black hole that is your story.

But I love it.  Even on the bad days, I love it.  I complain sometimes about stopping, but I honestly don’t think I could.  There’s nothing else in the world that satisfies me more than writing.

No, not even chocolate.

Handy tools for #NaNoWriMo

I’m not participating this year, but I thought I’d put up a quick list of handy tools to help you make it through the month.

1. WikiMindMap

No time to research!  But if you need to find fast answers, Wikipedia is the way to go.  And the way to read Wikipedia is through WikiMindMap.  From the site:

WikiMindMap is a tool to browse easily and efficiently in Wiki content, inspired by the mindmap technique. Wiki pages in large public wiki’s, such as wikipedia, have become rich and complex documents. Thus, it is not allways straight forward to find the information you are really looking for. This tool aims to support users to get a good structured and easy understandable overview of the topic you are looking for.

For example, say your story is set in Paris.  You’re writing away frantically, and need a location.  But your character has already been to Eiffel Tower.  Where else can he go?  Pop Paris into the WikiMindMap search box, and voila! Click on ‘cityscape’ and you have many wonderful locations for a chance meeting between two star-crossed lovers.  Or click on ‘transportation’ to find out how your main character gets to the docks in time to stop the villain from escaping.  Click on ‘cuisine’ to find out what dish the ambassador is eating when the terrorists burst through the glass doors, guns blazing.

2. Astrodienst

Need some fast character motivations and goals?  The folks at Astrodienst have a number of horoscopes which can help.  Choose a personal portrait for a character overview, entering your characters name, birth city, DOB etc.  For quick inspiration, choose a daily horoscope to see what’s influencing their actions in the scene.  Or use the Short Report Forecast to see where your character is headed.

3. NaNoWriMo word tracker spreadsheet

Get the NaNoWriMo Tracking Spreadsheet from Nidonocu and keep a careful eye on your progress and look at all the pretty graphs of your progress.

Or, if you want a more functional (but more complicated) spreadsheet that shows you how much you need to write each day to make your goal, get the Zotuku spreadsheet instead.

4. Liquid Story Binder for NaNoWriMo

Liquid Story Binder is also a great tool for NaNo, as demonstrated by Ann-Kat at Today I Read.

5. Random Generators

No NaNo event would be complete without random generators.  Names, towns, ideas, organisations; all created at the click of a button.  You can choose from a number of great sites offering a range of generators; Seventh Sanctum, Feath’s Bookcase, Namator, SkyEye (for star names), Serendipity, the Story Idea GeneratorCallihoo and The Speculative Fiction Muse.  If you can’t find what you need from that list, time to hang up your pen.

Good luck!