The last few weeks have given me time to think about a number of things. As a fiction writer and a writer of erotic tales, it’s important that I tell an “entertaining” story and at the same time, not sell out to those who want something so specific it questions my integrity as an independent author. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all of the feedback I get and have never been shy about asking and begging for feedback about my work, but just because someone wants more of “this” or less of “that” doesn’t mean I am simply going to comply. The important thing for me is that I try and reach at least one person – whether they enjoyed the story or not.
While I have some close friends who live near me who have always been supportive and helpful, I get a great deal of feedback from outside the US, which can be exciting knowing that my stories are traveling around the globe, even when it’s a small audience. Over the last few years, I think I have done a great job of being patient when it comes to measuring my success as a writer. I have received quite a bit of feedback related to my work and I am grateful for it. Sometimes I have to beg for feedback, which I really don’t like to do, but I have a few friends who are very helpful and one in particular has been a huge part of my success. I have never met her face to face (not surprising for some of us still in the closet), but her honesty and genuineness has been more than an inspiration to me. She has motivated me without trying. The person I am speaking of is Sally Bend.
I came across Sally’s site via Twitter, where I do most of my book marketing and after reading her reviews of others and having a chance to read her own work, I realized that the style is not important, it’s the interpretation. Sally has reviewed a number of my books and confirmed the direction I was taking with each piece. She is not afraid of giving criticism and at the same time praises authors without spoiling the book.
If you get the chance to visit her site (http://www.sallybend.com) or follower her on Twitter (@bibrary), you won’t be disappointed. Thanks, Sally for your honest and kind words and for reminding me to stay true to who I am… as a writer and as a human being.
Sally was gracious enough to post a web interview with me some time back… Check it out here.
I had a few new readers reach out to me and it was strange that they had questions that were very similar. They asked me about my inspiration and thought process when writing.
Normally, it’s a feeling I think all authors get that triggers the writing “itch” that we all feel the need to scratch. I heard someone I respect say that we are driven by passion, educated by experience and defined by choice. I truly believe this but our passion can sometimes drive us to make rash choices.
It is not always that simple to take a concept and wrap an entire story around it. Writing – especially fiction writing is like a large piece of clay. You mold it and shape it, removing the excess and sometimes filling in gaps after you think you are done. I think some of the best writers equally patient as they are creative.
For many, the “art” of writing can take a very long time. For others, they can visualize the entire story and after it is published, they go back and almost re-write it to add or subtract aspects of the original piece.
I tend to visit both sides of this fence – no pun intended. Sometimes I have a thought that wakes me up and the entire story is encompassed in that thought and the words almost type themselves. In other cases, like now, I found inspiration that is launching a new book series. Each book is being written at the same time, but so far it has been 8 months and not one book is finished. The storylines of each book were easy, but the “meat” of each story has taken a lot longer than any other work I have done. So was the decision to make it a book series instead of one long book.
The important thing is to be true to yourself when you write. If you are telling a story, tell it as you see it not as you think others will receive it. Don’t be afraid to release a work you are proud of. There is no such thing as a “perfect artist.” Someone will always find something wrong – whether it is technical errors or opinions of a reader.
When you are working on a piece… I would consider these aspects…
- Who is going to tell the story? Is it you or someone else? Remember this when you write it – they tend to shift gears during the draft and it can be difficult to spot by the author – so an outside review is always a good idea.
- Are you trying to send a message? If so, what is that message? The message does not have to be in plain view, it can be implied, either through the actions of the characters or the tone of the dialog.
- Be controversial… it can be entertaining. Controversy is a good way to drive the emotions of the reader, but be careful, when you are being controversial in a non-fictional piece – remember you are an extension of your work and readers can sometimes take you too literally.
- “Too many words” is not always entertaining… so is not having enough words in your piece. You want to make sure you have a balance. If you are having character dialog, make sure you can express the character’s mood and mannerisms. If you are narrating, make sure you don’t tell the entire story in that narrative.
- Don’t worry about the feedback. If you like it, that is all that matters. In some cases, you will receive great feedback, in other cases negative feedback and in other cases, no feedback. As I have learned over the last few years, feedback is not why many of us write. It is a good feeling receiving feedback, but it is a greater feeling when you are proud of the work you finished and you can’t wait to get it out to the world.
Good Luck to all of you whether new writers or current writers.
I have been publishing work for a little over a year now and have found it very gratifying. The draw to my work by readers could be better, but when you consider I only advertise on twitter and the web site, the interest is really more than I could have hoped. It did however get me thinking about publishing and why we want to publish.
We publish for different reasons. For some of us it is all about the money. For others its about the message the author wants to convey. Truth be told there are a number of reasons why we write and publish. So why do you write? Is your writing validated by publishing?
That is the tougher question. Validating your work through publishing can increase our confidence and motivate us… but why? Is it just to see your name on the cover? I tend to look at this from the standpoint of the reach my work actually gets. Publishing can definitely boost our confidence and drive us to do more sometimes, but when your work doesn’t draw interest in the form of unit sales, that confidence can turn into a depressed attitude and become more discouraging because your message is either not being heard or no one is really interested in what you want to say.
This was me. I wanted to tell a story… or a number of stories in my case and I started with a memoir that I know wouldn’t sell, but seeing that first copy arrive in the mail was extremely gratifying. I was officially published. It drove me to want more. So much so that I started to watch unit sales hourly for awhile – especially when I wrote a new piece. That is when the frustration set it, because while I saw eBook sales or KENP Pages go up, the unit sales just were not where I wanted.
Now I just received my first copies of all of my printed books and the frustration is still there, but not as much as before, because I notice that the eBook route is a better route than the printed. I realized that a printed copy has more value to me or to a reader who I have impacted enough to want to keep the story closer to them – a moment of sorts. The eBooks are for the story lovers that can’t get enough and who just love to read.
So, think about why you write first, then figure out if you want to share that story – knowing that not everyone will enjoy it, then figure out if it is worth the extra time and effort to publish it.