Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week in Review-Preview: Great Links on the Blogosphere

Ah, Sleep!

That busy event cluster I was predicting for the beginning of this week? It crashed me. I ended up taking a sick day at work and staying in bed all Wednesday. I think there may have been a virus involved, but it was one of those little opportunistic viruses which can only hit you when you're down, and a good night's sleep charges your immune system strongly enough to kick it back out again.

So that Plan B where I was going to power through with my read-through? It's gone back to Plan A, where I say "F**k-it" and get some other things done, and ramp up for another major onslaught next weekend.

So I'm going to read, and I'm going to write a lot of very nice blog posts for you (for trickling out over the course of this next dare), and I'll draw.

In the meantime, this was a great week for writing posts on the blog-o-sphere, so see some links below. Also a preview of upcoming posts, and a funny story video.

Preview of This Week's Posts:

Deb Geary suggested I write up a "cheat sheet" for writers who really haven't read much short fiction and don't know where to start. This is a taller order than it sounds. It's like someone saying; "I'd like to get the hang of this 'book' thing. Can you recommend some of those novel thingys so I can see what they're like?" Only worse, because there is a lot more variety in short works than there are in novels.

So I'm going to devote most of this week to a quick cheat sheet as requested, and then start looking at individual authors. And then after this week, I'm going to devote Tuesdays to the Short Form, in all it's glory -- more authors, techniques and types, as well as the broader range of short storytelling, songs and cartoons and anecdotes and jokes and narrative essays, and even poetry.

  • Monday: Covers -- Perry Mason and The Case of the Cozy Thrillers.
  • Tuesday: Short Form -- Short Story Writers Who Have Influenced Me.
  • Wednesday: A Look At P.G. Wodehouse
  • Thursday: A Look At Harlan Ellison
  • Friday: A Look At Agatha Christie (O. Henry postponed until next week)

Hmmm, I may not be able to confine myself to Tuesdays. I've got LOTS of favorite authors and stories coming, but I'll tell you about them on Tuesday.

Links of the Week

Lots of great stuff on the internet this week about what it means to be a writer.

First up, Ron Marz reflects on what he will tell his 10-year-old daughter, who just told him she wanted to be a writer. This is heartfelt and amazing, and covers pretty much everything about the writing life. It is an absolute must-read for every aspiring writer, to know what you're getting yourself into.

Here is one of the 28 or so paragraphs:

I will tell her that if she's lucky enough to actually work full-time as a writer... "full-time" actually means "all the time." Days, nights, weekends, holidays. And even though you work all the time, and often think about work on the rare occasions you're not working... most people will think you don't have a job. And because of that, you're the first one people call when they need help moving, or need a ride to the airport, or want their knitting club newsletter punched up a little.

Next up is Kris Rusch in a bit of a rant, but it's a lovely one. She's just had too many writers come up to her lately who want a pat on the head for selling themselves down river.

It's the end of the post which really gets to me though: she points out that to be a professional is not about getting some publishing to LIKE you. It's about acting professional.

We’re professional writers—emphasis on the word “professional.” And these other published writers? The ones who take the crap deals and do a ridiculous amount of work for no pay?

Those people might be writers, but that’s all they are. They’re certainly not professionals.
I think this got to me because I see so many things reversing themselves in the new era of publishing -- and the irony of this one is that a few years ago, the measure of professionalism was getting published, or to put it another way, to get somebody else to take care of you (and advantage of you). But now the really professional people are jumping ship and learning to take care of themselves.

And lastly, my marketing hero Seth Godin wrote about how we don't suffer from "Talker's Block." If we need to say something, we generally just say it. His thesis is that this is because we talk all the time, so his advice is:
Write like you talk. Often.
I would add something to what he says though. Because it isn't just a matter of mode of communication. Most of us can type just fine without getting blocked. All this stuff I've been saying about short fiction clicked with me and this post of Godin's:

Fiction writing is storytelling. And many of the great short story writers of the last century were newspapermen. They were guys (and gals) who told stories. Who told stories. Great bullshitters who could sit around the bar and talk all night, telling story after story.

So I'm thinking, don't just write like you talk... talk like you write. Tell stories. True ones, false ones, wild and weird.

Video Of The Week:

And speaking of journalists and storytellers, here is Keith Olberman reading a couple of very short fables from James Thurber. I'll talk about Thurber next week -- and how he wrote a whole LOT of different kinds of stories, including regular contemporary fiction, and personal anecdotes and something you might call commentary and satire -- which is what his fables really are....

See you in the funny papers.


Anonymous said...

Hi Camille. Long time lurker, second time commenter.

I just wanted to point out that we do get talkers' block - whenever someone we care about is scrutinizing our every word and judging us by them. Just think about your in-laws. Or public speaking. I think writers' block is pretty much the same thing.

Interesting comments from Ron Marz. I've been working 7 day weeks for 20+ years now, mostly in running businesses and other creative endeavors (which I'm always involved in one way or another). It just feels natural and I wouldn't have it any other way. When the economic downturn kicked in midway through 09, I picked up my writing again. What else you gonna do with your time? (It's 5:30 am Sunday as I write this. I've been up for an hour.)

And yes, I get those calls Marz refers to all the time. You just have to count your blessings, though.

The Daring Novelist said...

Hi, David.

Yeah, Godin sometimes ignores the elephant in the room when he writes up something. (In this case "Talker's Block" is being "Tongue-tied" which is a common thing.) I don't know that I've ever had talker's block, and I suspect that Godin never has. The French have a word for that, "bavard."

But his point is valid: we're good at what we practice daily.

Which is why I pointed out (perhaps not directly enough) that it isn't really the mode of communication (i.e. talking vs. typing) but rather that you have to practice what you're going to say in both cases.

ModWitch said...

It sounded like a simple request when I asked :D.

And I love the "talker's block" idea, even if it doesn't necessarily stand up to harsh scrutiny. Suzuki (of the violin method), used to say, "practice every day that you eat". A similar idea, I think, and one that stuck with me far better than the actual violin lessons.