Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writing for Real Now - No More Updates

Detcon had an effect on me that I'm not sure I can express without writing a dissertation on it.  But I will give you a shorter, if inexact version:

Detcon was a catalyst for all the threads in my life right now. 

It was partly what happened (giving me a glimpse of the kind of reader-writer culture I haven't seen in a while, a reminder of what all this is about) and partly when it happened (summer, when I'm usually shaking things up and hatching some changes).

The thing that was drumming in my head from the moment I walked into the con and felt the atmosphere was: Shut Up And Write.

Nobody at the con actually said that in my hearing.  It wasn't even a subtext of anything I heard or saw.  And, even more odd, the cool element in the con that made me think that phrase was not about shutting up and writing: it was about talking. About talking between readers and writers and fans.

It was a reminder of what was important, and that was the sharing of story between writer and reader.

I will talk about this in the near future, but right now I want to tell you what a week of thinking about this has changed -- which is my relationship with the internet.

No More Updates

The first big change is that I know what this blog has to be now.  And it ain't a place where I post word counts.  It's a place for serious, if informal, discussion of story.  That may involve talk about the writing life and business and personal issues -- but only in the service of talking about story.  Life begets stories, stories inform life.

The main thing is, though, that I consider this blog to be a part of my body of work.  When someone who knows nothing about me happens upon my blog, I want them to be presented with something of value.  Something worth their time.

Which means that, although I might want to post a funny story about getting lost in the Renaissance Center while at Detcon, it really can't involve things like, "!204 words today. Not bad.  I wanted to do better, but I made my goals...."

Not that there is anything wrong with posting that sort of thing on a blog, but for me, that stuff belongs on Twitter.  Twitter is ideal for the mundane hatchmarks of life that won't matter to me a week from now.  And one of the reasons why is because Twitter limits me to 140 characters.  Some people may be able to handle quick informal reporting -- I can't.  No matter what I vow to do, I end up fussing over it and spending three hours on it, then trashing it an writing it up anew.

I realize that this may be the explanation as to why self-discipline doesn't work for me... because I get all geeked out about the record keeping and go chasing after that rather than what I should be doing.

So... What Next?

Well, I'm dropping out of ROW80 except on Twitter and encouragement of other participants.  And that 175 Day Not-Really-Blogging experiment is, well, changed.  I'm not going to post any more junk posts -- and I may remove at least some of the update posts I did this summer -- but I may not post anything else until the end of that time either. 

Right now my instinct is to start posting again in September, and even then, post slowly.  I might post some of my reports from Detcon before then. 

In the meantime I'm continuing to work on the WIPs, and also write short fiction for the paying magazine market.  I am determined to break into Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  I'll be marking my progress on Twitter.  You can find me there at @camillelaguire.

And, as always...

I'll see you in the funny papers.


JR Holmes said...

I certainly can't argue with make The Daring Novelist more focused directly on story. It is the reason that I added it to my RSS feeds and keep up on your posts here on a daily basis.

However, I wouldn't discount keeping a record of your Twitter posts in a subdirectory on the site and making that available as an RSS as well. Since Twitter took away the easy collection of tweets by RSS, it's nice to retain a record of those elsewhere. There are a number of tools that can automate such a collection.

The Daring Novelist said...

Glad you like the content here!

As for Twitter: the whole reason for putting that stuff on Twitter is to NOT keep a record. Keeping a record makes it too important.

Lee McAulay said...

I like the regularity that ROW forces upon us to provide updates, but over a year ago I made the same decision not to post for ROW any more. I still have the logo on my blog, still drop by occasionally to see what others are up to, but I realised I wanted my own site to be much more than just a set of updates.
My aims for my own site are similar to yours. I want it to be a place where someone interested in my work comes to discover more.
In June, for example, I posted a series of fairly detailed essays and articles which tied into my latest novel. Thirty linked posts that I'd planned since February. I'm still recovering.
But anyone who reads the novel (Shadowbox) and wants to know more can visit my blog and find a page with the whole set of posts indexed, linked and cross-referenced. Anyone who's just passing by via a random link can do the same. And the posts hopefully all feed into Google algorithms, adding to my blog's search-friendliness.
What I like about YOUR blog are the posts where you examine old, favourite films in detail; when you talk about characters who mean something to you, either personally or in terms of shaping your fiction; and when you post things I wouldn't otherwise discover, like your recent post featuring the Diego Rivera artwork (that was AWESOME).
Looking forward to the 'new' Daring!

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Lee.

Yes, you've really nailed it -- a blog can be like Facebook, where your friends can keep track of what you're up to, but I get a lot of SEO traffic, and a lot of relative strangers checking the blog out.

I'd like this place to be a treasure trove.

And I'm glad you like the movie and character analysis posts -- and Diego Rivera. That's what I'll be doing more of again. (Likely starting with Rivera, along with Octavia Butler, who was a major subject of Detcon. Two artists who believed that imagination actually matters in the world. And the world matters in imagination.)