How many of you hated the English class growing up? or if there was a difference the literature class? I personally, though I enjoyed the ease of the literature class, was often frustrated by it and more often than not didn't like the books they wanted me to read. There were some though that while I didn't mind the initial reading of it I groaned at the analysis to follow. Why do we feel the need to do this? There are a lot of writers that like to put deeper meaning into their works but they(whoever designed the course) try to assign meaning to everything! It happens in the art world as well (the bird in this corner represents the freedom the subject is wishing for...no the bird is there because that spot on the canvas looked a bit blank.)
Why do we do this? is it because we are trying to justify our choice of reading it? perhaps we are afraid that we are just reading for entertainment and want to do something with more meaning to it. While it is great to be self aware and to be conscious of what is going on around us and what we put in our heads it can also be as dangerous to assign meaning where there wasn't intended to be anything and I would even go so far as to say that doing so robs authors of the joy of just being able to entertain us.
As an example, I am currently at the time of this writing working on a rewrite/alternate reality sequel for Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. For this project I have done research on the book, read the book a few times, and researched the time in which it was written and most likely set in. For the most part Jane Austen was writing to entertain, but this project, and particularly this book has introduced me rather suddenly to the community of over-analysis of literature. I see posts on every side of every issue possibly hinted at (and some not present at all in the original material) all with 'support and examples of how they understood the authors true meaning'.
Perhaps it comes a bit from being a writer who writes more for the enjoyment of writing and telling a story than necessarily making a point that I see Miss Austen this way but...just wow.
Is this doing any favors to the author? is it expanding our own knowledge? Where meaning is intended there is clever insight to be learned but when it is projected from the reader's mind are they really learning anything new? My view point is that this can be harmful to all parties in question, the reader since it may be solidifying a faulty viewpoint and to the author since if someone tells me a book is either pro- or anti- something I believe very strongly about then I am less likely to read it and that may rob me of the experience of the book and it may rob the author of an expanded audience.
This is one thing that seems to have no consistency between people when asked, my personal view is if you write for fun and recreation you are a writer, if you are published go ahead and call yourself an author. I go into talking with someone about this definition and they asked if I thought you had to have the writing posted/ accessible to people before calling yourself a writer.
Well, technically, if your work is posted in an online form that makes it possible for people to see it, regardless of if those people are related, part of a club, etc. you are web published. The only caution I would suggest it to make sure you have a copyright on that page somewhere. That is one reason I like writing.com so much, they automatically put a copyright on the bottom of the page when you first post it. There are also a large number of sites where you can get it made into a basic form ebook for cheep or even free (though with many of these you have to arrange your own ISBN number and marketing as it won't automatically be on platforms where it can be purchased). So it really depends on who much you want to get out there combined with how much you want to make money you want to make off of it.
The better question is of course, why does it matter?
Well, people love labels. Why else would we have more complicated names for teams then a simply numeric system, or give our countries different names, bands, occupations...anything really. Why do we call a mutt that is a maltese crossed with a poodle a maltipoo as opposed to just a mutt. We like the definition, it makes us feel important. It is also practical. If I tell you I am an author, it tells you something about me, what I like, some of what I value. Labels save time explaining some things while opening doors to communicate about more interesting ideas that delve more into why the definition is there, but it is a starting point.
You can call yourself whatever you like, I do recommend saving "published author" until you are actually published but it you have work available for the public to read I say go ahead and use author, if you just like to write for fun you can say that. It depends on you and how you want to present yourself.
I'm sure you've either heard a horror story or perhaps ran one through your mind a few too many times of someone asking you what you do and you answer that you are a writer. The asker then laughs and says "ok" in a condescending way and then asks what you do for a living. We then answer with something else.
It is a night mare scenario and one that, reassuringly, I have never encountered. When people find out that I write the general result is interest and often the person will open up about their own dream, be that writing or something else.
But what about our mythical insensitive asker? Unfortunately, this is one fantasy with some grounds in reality. Thankfully it is more often than not responded to in this way out of apathy or ignorance rather than maliciousness. Yes, I know I like to use obscure words.
It can be from apathy when the person was asking more out of interest in themselves and leading the conversation around to them. If this is the case it will show up rather quickly in the course of conversation. They are not trying to hurt you, perhaps they feel starved for attention at their job and so it wouldn't really matter what you said.
Ignorance is the most common by far from what I have been told by author friends and others that have encountered these people. There is a cloud of misconceptions around what it takes and who can be an author. With the emerging self publishing industry it is becoming more likely that you will run into another author and at the same time also tends to magnify how little people, even authors, know about what it truly takes to be a writer. We won't get into your successes or not at this point, and really as we will explore in another post it is more to do with how you measure than what others think.
You can take the time to correct some of their misconceptions but try to keep it in your mind that they rarely mean anything hurtful by it. I will do another post at a latter time dealing with the ones that are. Realizing that they are not doing this on purpose and it is not meant as an attack on your craft can be very freeing. Try your best to let comments like this slide off.
Christmas is fast approaching. Cookies need baking, present want to be wrapped, and I'm sure we all know at least one person that hasn't decorated anything yet. Throw in visiting family or planned trips away somewhere and you don't get that much time left for something as non essential as writing. Right?
Maybe not. Writing does have a lot to do with habit. Just coming out of November as we are many find that they are into a kind of routine that allows them to get writing faster as opposed to sitting in front of their writing medium for twenty minutes trying to stop themselves from playing solitaire or doodling all over their page. This does have some important ramifications for the busy season.
The first is to try to make a time period, any length even if it is just five minutes to write in consistently. Put it at the beginning of the day or the end, make a lunch date with yourself and stick to it as best you can. Even such a relatively small gesture can work wonders for you when the busyness ends and then it is simply a matter of lengthening the time you already spend doing it instead of trying to form an entirely new habit.
The other option is to have a notebook and pen or pencil on your person at all times. Any time you get some moment to yourself you can whip it out and put something down. Only get a page down? that's great. Only half a page? that's still great. So long as you find some time to do something.
Now where do these mythical times show up? One that a lot of people don't even notice is the dinner prep lull. This is when you have your vegetables in a pot the chicken is in the oven and you are waiting for your water for noodles or potatoes to boil. Depending on the size of what you are making this can be anywhere from five minutes all the way up to nearly half an hour. Just came in to warm up from snow shoveling before going back out? that's another opportunity.
Basically anytime you can be twiddling your thumbs is time you can be writing even if it is only a while.
But won't people think you are neglecting them?
Surprisingly, no they don't. More often than not they will ask you what you are doing, if not at that moment then later on. This may mean having to put in a few boundaries and learning to let ignorant comments slide off but that is the subject of another post.
Well here we are, ready to regale you wit bad grammar and spelling mistakes...no I wouldn't do that, but I will welcome you to the first post on my new (and only) website. I will attempt to post regularly.
Write now I am coming off of a bit of a high. As some of you will know NaNoWriMo just ended and I have my 50,000 words to show for my effort for the month. It is a very rewarding, all be it daunting, experience but once you work your way past the fear it is not as bad as you thought it was and often we are surprised about how sustainable it is.
And if you didn't get the full word count down...well you still got down what you did get down and there is no law that you can only attempt the nano number in November.
I'm still debating about if I should start a twitter page or not. I'm kinda thinking not as I'm not sure how much I'll be able to sustain yet. I guess we shall see.
I just wanted to put down something quick for now and I'll come back to give some hopefully encouraging babble soon enough.