Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quotable moments

It occurs to me that if anyone ever thinks they don't have anything to be doing, they're forgetting something. Yesterday started the second week of my vacation, and after some meditating (read: sitting around going over my mental lists) I realized I'm rather behind. The first round of the ebook judging has started and I still have three more books to read before the 7th. I have my own book to be looking into also so I can start writing its sequel. There's also notes needing to be prepared for the Decatur Book Festival, where I will hopefully not embarrass myself. And last night, I found myself joining a critique group, which means even more reading. Sometimes I wonder how I can be so careful and so surprised all the time.

But the bright side is that I'm working. Last night at the guild meeting, the group discussed impediments to writing, and what success is to each of us in regards to the process. I heard from people with families, businesses, and other distractions and I sympathized. If I had any of those things, it would probably be hard for me, too. A while back I realized that I might as well be prolific because I have no real excuse not to be. And while the critique group is more work, it's also more opportunity. So we'll try to make the best of it, come what may.

On the dark side, I read a rather disturbing email on one of the lists I subscribe to. The author had been publishing digitally for years, and went on to report that music had gone electronic far before books, and that musicians report regularly that they don't make enough money from album sales to make a living, from pirating and such. They, the artists say, make their money from concerts and appearances, which led the doomsaying author to predict an apocalypse of authorship, citing that piracy was killing books the same way, and that there would be no saving grace from public appearances because authors lacked the same appeal musicians could garner from things like concerts. As usual, I didn't have enough information to rebut then, and I still don't. I've heard some things to the contrary, but at the end of the day I have to believe that a laudable contribution to life has the potential for reasonable, fiscal rewards. And that good writing gets appreciated. That, I think, is what I never got to say during all the discussion last night: if you're going to be a writer, then write. Write until its good, until its acknowledged. Or don't.

And I have to admit that I've done that with less care than I previously planned. Editing is something that's been brought up more than once about my book. Universally, thus far it's been regarded as terrible, and while I had two editors, I also saw every copy passed to and fro from those workers, and was even presented with a final galley before it was printed. I have to take some of the blame, and that responsibility has helped me a great deal, but I do wonder when it will stop helping and start hurting. Months ago, I posited a curiosity over how some authors could agonize over their first publication to the point of regretting it. I understand it better now, because I think for anyone who treats it seriously, they cannot help but learn, and improve, as their career matures. So, compared to something published ten years later, that first, mistake-laden disaster will always be their maiden voyage.

Seems like the perfect place for a platitude, a bit of advice I was supposed to have taken to the meeting, and forgot to. "Write it all down before you realize it sucks." That's from my mentor, and it's served me well. "Write with fire and edit with ice." That got said during the meeting, which I remember for a variety of reasons.

"Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money." Jules Renard.

"Do what you love, but no one has to love you for it." Me.

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