1. People Don’t Read Anymore
Oh,so much writing! Blogging here,blogging there,communicating via Instant Messenger with friends and coworkers all day long,email –I sure do cobble together a lot of typed words in the course of a day,considering the oft-stated,“People don’t READ anymore.”If people don’t READ,then what the frack am I doing,writing so much? And why is the internet so popular? With a few obvious exceptions,the internet is mostly words.
You could translate the statement to mean “People don’t purchase books anymore.”I suppose this could be true,but then how do you explain Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code phenomenons? (Phenomena? Phenomenii? Forgive me,it’s early. I need more coffee.) Not to mention icons like Neil Gaiman and Stephanie Pearl McPhee,both of which are juggernauts in their own way.
Mostly,I think “People don’t READ anymore”should be translated as “I am a pompous ass.”People read plenty, believe me.
2. Flash Fiction
Escape Pod (“The science fiction podcast magazine”) publishes flash fiction on their blog. “Flash fiction”is a bite-sized story of 300 words or less. I’ve been browsing through these little niblets of fiction this morning,and I am astounded. I can barely write about how I had a sandwich for lunch in 300 words or less,never mind telling an entire story,fer crying out loud.
Given that people don’t READ –but they do –but they have short attention spans –I think there’s a real future for flash fiction. For one thing,flash fiction is perfectly suited for reading on a cellphone,smartphone,or other WAP browser. One could also subscribe to a flash fiction service,and receive a flash fiction story emailed to your account a few times a week. If I was both retired and wealthy,I would attempt to set up something like this. Since I am neither,I release these ideas into the ether. Go,little ideas –fly free,with my blessing!
If you’re interested in writing flash fiction,Escape Pod is also running a flash fiction contest,with a $100 first prize. I don’t like to make the people in my life uncomfterbuls by talking about them here,so I’ll just say that “a friend of mine”has submitted his story to the contest,and at last report,it was doing quite well.
Here,I would instruct you to set up an account on their forums and vote for “friend of mine”‘s story. Except the contest entries are posted anonymously,and I neglected to ask him which one was his. So instead,I instruct you to think winning thoughts in his general direction. Thanks.
I think that for the most part,advice on writing –like advice on losing weight –is futile. There are some solid general rules (write every day –eat less and exercise more) but ultimately,each person has to find their own path. Just because one person was successful with method A,doesn’t mean it’s going to work for person B.
One thing I believe should be a general rule is NOT “write what you KNOW.”I tell people,“write what you FEEL.”Keep experimenting with different types and formats of writing,and don’t be judgmental. There are a LOT of different ways to make money off your writing,but you’re only going to get to that money-making point if you’re giving people something that you felt passion for.
Okay,that’s a little convoluted.
I think every writer has it in their mind that a big book sale is what’s going to make them successful. So they try like the dickens to write a Big Book. When they’re not writing The Big Book,they’re pounding out a shocking volume of words somewhere else –be it blogging,non-fiction pieces,song lyrics,product reviews,what have you. To an outside observer,it’s clear that their passion lies with The Other Writing,but lordy,just try to point this out to them.
Their Other Writing is fantastic –because they have a passion for it. I love reading anything that was written with this passion,no matter how boring or abstract the actual topic is. (That’s why people subscribe to the New Yorker, no?) However,their Big Book sucks,now and forever. They will ultimately finish their Big Book,shop it around to publishers,get a ton of rejection slips,and get their heart broken so badly that it will never really be whole again.
Don’t be that person. Set aside all judgment,listen to yourself,look at what you enjoy writing,and write the hell out of it. You’ll find a way to make money off it,believe me. I understand there are some people who get paid to blog,and have developed a huge audience of kind,thoughtful,and loving readers –all because of one little knitting blog,fer crying out loud.
This rule could also be summed up as “write the path of least resistance.”
Blah blah writing advice is futile. Lately I’ve been enjoying two podcasts:
* Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing,billed as “A podcast by a wanna-be writer for wanna-be writers.”Writing advice and analysis,interviews with successful authors,and blog-style updates on Mur herself.
* Tony and Ciaran’s Starship Sofa,or as I like to think of it,Staaship Sewfer (it’s the accents,you see). Each podcast is a biography of a successful science fiction writer,one writer per episode,including episodes on two of my personal favorites (Neil Gaiman and Iain M. Banks).
And if you’re having trouble coming up with character names,I found a website that uses a cute little trick to display a semi-random list of names. The Baby Name Guide Phonetics Search has you put in the first names of each of the parents –or heck,just two regular words,it’s not picky –and uses these to compile a list of names that include elements of both. The resulting list is both exhaustive and inventive.
For example,if you put in,say,“Erika”and “Jack” (tee hee!) you get about 50 names. You get your “interesting names I wouldn’t have thought of”(Jasper,Emerson,Fergus,Akasuki). And you also get your “that name is unspeakably funny”(Everhard,Justice,Pegasus,Worcester). It’s fun for all ages!
5. On Scarves
When not writing my brains out,I managed to finish my Malabrigo scarf. Here it is,being blocked on my wicked cool blocking board:
Yarn:Malabrigo Merino Worsted,one skein,color “Roanoke”
Needles:OMG I totally forget. Sorry! I’m pretty sure I used the size that the ball band suggests. Unfortunately,I can’t find the ball band.
Pattern:Yarn Harlot’s One-Row Handspun Scarf. I cast on 24 stitches –the amount called for,plus two,for the slipped-stitch edge. LOVE THIS PATTERN.
I’ll be wearing it to Madrona today. I haven’t yet decided if it complements or clashes horribly with the plum-colored fleece jacket I’ve been wearing lately. If you run into me at Madrona,you can weigh in on the topic. I think it depends on the lighting –sometimes I look down and think “Pretty!”other times I look down and think “Ugh!”
Speaking of Madrona,I should be showering. Ta!