For Goodness Sake Make Time!

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I forget how many times I have told people, especially new writers, to pace themselves. I was having a conversation on Facebook with one of my female writer friends yesterday. She has bought copies of five of my eBooks, which I am eternally grateful to her for. Three of them are short novellas, averaging 168 pages. I don’t know about you but I can read a novella in an afternoon, or a morning. For instance, if I start reading at twelve noon, I will have finished it by seven in the evening, barring interruptions and calls of nature. When I read a full length novel (150 – 200,000 words) it takes me the best part of three twelve hour days.

As writers, if we are going to do justice to our own writing, there is nothing more stimulating than spending hours reading other people’s books. From them we glean those ideas that hadn’t necessarily occured to us. With every book I write comes endless reading beforehand. Its called research. The writer in question makes me laugh. She claims that she has no time to read. When I told her about my reading a novella in seven hours, she assumed that what I’m doing is speed reading. Sorry to disagree with you my dear friend but it isn’t. It’s just a normal reading pace. She seriously needs to make time to read. In other words, she needs to pace herself.

I’ve seen photographs of her with a library of books in the background. I’m assuming that given her profession, the library is her own. Maybe not. If, as she claims, she has no time to read, why does she have access to one, if not to read the books? in my case my own library is divided up into actual physical books in my five shelf bookcase, as well as eBooks and PDF files on this laptop. I’ve read every single one of them at least five times. Some like Graham Hancock’s epic work Fingerprints of the Gods, several dozen times. In that case it will usually take me a week, simply because its seven hundred and nineteen pages are jam packed with information…

Currently I have one hundred and seventy three eBooks and one hundred and twenty physical books. I also have one hundred and forty-two PDF files which I constantly refer to when I’m in research mode.

How many books do you have? Have you read them all?

A lot of people buy books, millions of us in fact. But how many can truthfully say that they have read every book in their possession? Some people like to kid themselves that by having a large physical library in their home, it will impress their visitors, by creating the illusion that they are well read, and therefore intelligent.

If you want to impress the hell out of your visitors; read the damned books in your personal library to become fully conversant with the content of each of them! That way when your visitors ask you about a certain book you won’t be caught out in a lie.

Despite what some idiots believe, books are not for decoration, even though the multicolours of the jacket’s spine undoubtedly creates a splash of colour.  Every one of them contains the end product of a writer’s accumulated knowledge and hard work. They are meant to be read, not just looked at!!!

PS – I will admit that since I became a fulltime writer, I no longer read for pleasure. Plus, these days when I read a book, the editor in me is constantly on the lookout for poor grammer, spelling and punctuation.

That is the one major drawback with full-time writing; the end of spending hours simply reading for pleasure…

😉

Writing – Passion or Obsession?

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If you are a writer, what we do becomes one of two things, either a passion or an obsession. Some new writers simply can’t, or won’t, take the time to pace themselves. It appears that they are driven by an impossible dream – to become famous at any cost!

As we progress, we all learn our craft. We all make mistakes along the way, and hopefully, we learn from them. With some of the obsessives, they either don’t care, or they ignore all of their mistakes and errors in their quest for fame and fortune. All that matters to them is quantity, not quality.

Because of the obsessive’s attitude towards writing, no matter that we are either conventional or Indie writers, we are all lumped in with them when it comes to the increasing amount of criticism we all encounter each time we produce a book for publication. It doesn’t help that the review system of many publishing outlets has degenerated to the point where it is no longer a place to find fair, unbiased opinions on a book, written by normal people with no grudge to bear towards the author of the book being demonized by the self appointed armchair critics and pedants that frequent all review sites today.

It’s bad enough that writers are constantly being taken to task by grammar nazis over something like a split infinitive, without armchair critics and other assorted self-appointed guardians of literature, or as I prefer to think of them, stick-in-the-muds trapped in a timewarp of their own making, chipping in with their often totally wrong so-called ‘reviews’.

So what is to be done? Simple! Take a long hard look at why it is you write. If your are an obssesive, wanting to become an overnight success – forget it! Most so-called overnight success stories in writing took decades of practice to achieve. If you can’t pace yourself and learn, then may I suggest you find some other craft to destroy in your attempt to become one?

Leave writing to those of us who are prepared to learn through experience, taking the tried and true long route…

When will I Ever Learn?

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There was a time when like most people earning a wage I did just what was required of me and no more, merely to stay employed. Then back in nineteen seventy five I secured a job as a lab technician in a leading New Zealand university. I absolutely loved being there. Barely a year had passed before I changed my attitude regarding the employee/employer relationship. Yes I was still receiving a weekly wage. But the benefits of working there changed me forever. From that day forward I have continued to give, give, give to the detriment of my sanity and wellbeing.

Back then as an emerging writer, being able to pick the brains of certain among the academics within the School of Science where I worked was an absolute godsend as far as I was concerned. In appreciation, whenever any of them wanted something from me, I gave them two hundred percent of my time and energy. Five years before I finally quit in two thousand, after twenty-five years loyal service, I was hospitalized after suffering the first of two major breakdowns. There is only so much stress an individual can cope with before your system shuts down to protect itself, and you.

In two thousand and three, I quit my job here in the UK to return to New Zealand with one aim in mind, to concentrate on writing the Science Fiction Space Opera which by then had completely taken me over. I just had to get it done! To say I was obsessed would be a major understatement. Nothing else mattered.

Why head back there? Because If I had remained here, either I must buckle down and carry on working in a dead end occupation working as a labourer on a building site in Hampshire (the only job available to me at the time), or pursue my dream. I needed the peace and tranquility that New Zealand offered, and still does…

You would have thought that the fact it almost finished me off would have slowed me down. It hasn’t. Because of the level of stress and anxiety, when I returned to the UK, I had another episode far worse than the first. This time what triggered it was the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness over the endless rejection letters each time I sought a publisher for my first novel which added to the usual stress I had become accustomed to.

Yesterday, after gathering together a raft of research material for my next novel, I began ravenously devouring the information like there was no tomorrow. Then the old familiar alarm bells rang in my head.

Ease up you idiot!

At one point I even imagined that I heard the famous line from the nineteen sixty-six song by Jerry Samuels aka Napolean XIV – “They’re coming to take me away, Ha Haa” in my mind. You would have thought that after almost sixty-seven years, I would have learned to pace myself by now. When will I ever learn? Probably never.

More fool me…

😀

Click On The Link Below To See The Song Being Performed

http://youtu.be/hnzHtm1jhL4

Writers, Believe in Yourselves – Stand On Your Own Two Feet

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A comment on my blog post yesterday about obsessive writers, editing and layout errors got me thinking. The commentator said she had used the services of one of the thousands of Vanity Press publishers out there, waiting for the next sucker to fleece. She found out that after publication the end product had spelling errors. Despite them reassuring her that it would be taken care of, it wasn’t. Why do people still fall for the unmitigated BS that all Vanity Press continue to spew out I wonder? If you want my advice, don’t go there.

Sad to say but in the independent editing fraternity, there are some individuals only too willing to relieve you of your hard earned money, often leaving you with a shoddy product.

Far to many ‘wet behind the ears’ new writers these days think that they should pass their manuscript on to an expert. So they simply find the independent editor whose financial package suits their budget and hope for the best, assuming that he or she is qualified, and from your point of view as a new writer – unbiased. Remember this; even if your editor is the best available, he or she is just another human being, not a machine. Therefore the way they edit your work will be coloured by their own opinions about how your manuscript should read. They’re not infallible. If you let them have their way exclusively, chances are you won’t recognise the end product. Remember this also, not all independent editors out there are what they profess to be by any stretch of the imagination. Buyer beware!

Believe me when I say that the best editor for you is one you know personally, and more importantly, the editor who believes in you.

Even so, why not do what I have done and learn how to lay out a page. Then learn how to edit as well as grammar and spell check using your dictionary and thesaurus, not forgetting how to punctuate as well as publishing your work for yourselves. And while you’re at it, learn how to produce a cover. All of the above isn’t that difficult to master. Like most things in life it just takes application and perseverance on your part, and time to learn.

Even if you have parted with a considerable amount of money to have your manuscript edited, plus having it set up for publication and paying for the best possible cover, there is still no guarantee that your book will sell. So why shell out money you can ill afford when you are just starting out. It makes absolutely no sense at all.

There is one other consideration that you should take into account; before you even begin to show a profit, first you have to sell enough copies of your book to recoup your initial outlay. Whereas if you do it all yourselves, the only cost to you is your time. In other words you are in profit right from the start with that first sale.

All I’m asking you to do is think about it before you make a move…