Mark Terry

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Easy Way

May 24, 2010
I spent 3 hours yesterday at a sanchin-ryu karate workshop (hot as hell in the gym where we worked out). I was working with Master Wolbert along with a bunch of other brown belts and Chief Grand Master Dearman, the man who developed the style, and who has been practicing martial arts for about 55 years (that's not an exaggeration), came over to make some points.

The point he was making that time was that in any art there's really no easy way, no way getting around the hard work, no short cuts. You really can't make it your own until you do the work to learn it as it is.

This resonated with me, because I see it all the time with writers. It's probably the biggest concern about how easy it is for anyone with a completed manuscript to just put it up as a Kindle e-book and slap a $1.99 price on it. (Hey, really, I don't much care what you do as long as it doesn't make my life more difficult. Do what you want to do).

But it's not just that, though. It's everything. We think: if I only change the main character, change the genre, write YA fantasy, that's hot these days, if I change the length, if I change publishers, if I change agents, hell, if I change the FONT, that'll be the ticket.

And once you get published we look for some sort of magic bullet to develop an audience, get our book attention--if I run a contest, give away Amazon gift cards, do book signings, attend Bouchercon, have a website, do a blog tour, run an ad in the New York Times...

Sometimes people get lucky and they slap together a book, the first agent that reads it loves it, a publisher falls in love with it, they throw lots of money at it, word of mouth takes off and the book becomes a phenomenon. Hey, we think, that person took a short cut. That can happen to me.

Maybe it can. People do win the lottery after all.

People also get hit by lightning and survive.

Can you plan for these things?

No, probably not. You have to do the work because there are no (reliable) short cuts.



Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I wrote recently that I realized sometime in the past few years that the closer the act of writing is to actual work, the better I seem to write.

Writing is a slog. So are a million other things. I'd rather slog at writing than the other million.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, a nice succinct way of putting it. Sometimes things go easily and well, other times it feels like I'm shoveling wet cement.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Debra L Martin said...


So true. I totally agree that you need to put the time and effort into doing something so you can do it well. It's been 3 years now since I sent out that first query and I wish I had studied the publishing business a little longer before I mailed that first one. At that time, we came close to getting an agent and it certainly was frustrating when it fell through.

Alas, live and learn and write another day. Agents are still looking for good books to represent. You'll never get an agent if you don't keep trying to write the best book you can.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I think it is a given that sheer luck is a big factor in writing success or lack thereof. Aside from luck, the quality of the writing is, to my mind, by far, the most important factor in writing success. Probably the better you write the less luck you need, although you'll always need some. So, yes, working to improve writing is important.

And that climbing photo give me the chills. I don't like heights. That climber's safety rope is going *down.* I take it that it is attached to the cliff somewhere before it gets to the ground but I don't like the look of it!

10:13 AM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

That's what I always told the kids, LOL: shortcuts don't work. *sigh* But they had to figure it out the hard way.

Although, changing the font does seem to give me a fresh perspective, LOL.

I think the only thing I'd change, so far, is I wish Pseudie had a few manuscripts unsold so I could put them on Kindle. Oh well. Onward and upward!

12:22 PM  

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