In the past few years I’ve decided to take my Being A Writer in a different direction. Writing is such a solitary pursuit and my life has been chock full of enforced solitude for eight years or so. And thus I decided that it could be a good thing to interact with other writers, and I followed the rabbit trail from my anchorite world over to places like Mike Duran’s blog, NaNoWriMo and various author forums. I’ve friended a lot of authors on Facebook and while it does “eat into my writing time” it also does a lot to demystify the process. For so long I looked at writing as this thing I could never do because it was so very hallowed and Jo Marchish. Jo was my writing hero, and how was I–sans garrett, sans Civil War, sans sister’s untimely demise–going to be that?
But now I know a lot of writers and I see them write and see them live through query letters, rejection letters, publishing and book tours. It’s been good.
There is one awkward part, and that would be that writers enjoy having their work read. I enjoy reading. So where is the problem? The problem, as you may know having read me before or joined me at a Thai restaurant for conversation or received an email or three dozen, is that I am a picky reader. A VERY picky reader.
And, as Jill Domschot politely says, I’m “direct”. Other people say “blunt” and still other people say “rude”. More than once I’ve been called an assh—e and recently was even promoted to “dick”. (That cracked me up because the people who called me a dick seemed to be overly fond of their own penises and so I really ended up wondering if they meant it as a reverential title.) I’ve been called these things enough to be aware that they point to a real potential failing. So in these years of being reclusive I’ve also worked very hard on tempering my temper and finding ways to be direct–I’ll never not be–while still being considerate of the humanity of the people I’m talking to.
I hope it’s working. It better be working because I am beta-reading about a dozen things right now and I really want to be able to provide good feedback without killing the authors. Authors are fragile and I know better than most how very PERSONAL it is to have someone read what you’ve written. I’d rather walk naked to the mailbox than let someone read my fiction. But when I do let someones read my fiction I WANT them to tell me exactly what they think. Because I want to be good. But I’m still sure that when someone says “please read my book” they don’t want to hear “you suck at this and all the time you’ve spent on it is wasted effort.” That’s why I don’t offer or agree to read some people’s stuff at all. If I agree to read your work it’s because I’ve liked what I’ve seen of your writing skill thus far and I feel like I can honestly assess your fiction without having to break your spirit. At least I hope so.
Anyway, I’m prattling on about this because I just finally read a friend’s YA Fantasy novel and the review is now live on Amazon. I have one copy to lend for Kindle if you’d like to read it.