Mark Terry

Friday, July 23, 2010

What Do You Want?

July 23, 2010
Aside, from, say, the airbrushed Cameron Diaz I posted a couple days ago, what do you want from blog posts like mine?

What motivated this is an excellent post by Tobias S. Buckell today about advice for the mid-career writer.

The audience changes. For one, the aspiring authors, whether they realize it or mean to do it, start pushing back. If you start thinking out loud about problems they wish they had, there gets to be a certain tension. I full on encountered this when I had just finished my first novel. At a con a dear friend (and to this day still a dear friend and someone I respect a great deal) had asked what the toughest part writing this novel was. I’d responded that I’d just become noticed enough that halfway through I got asked to write two short stories, and paused the book to do so. My friend responded, ‘wow, I wish I had that kind of problem.’
Been there. Many times on this blog. As I posted:

On my own blog I often contemplate the difficulties of staying in the business of novel-writing and the ups-and-downs and moodiness that can come with it (at least for me) and I do realize there are a lot of unpublished, aspiring writers reading it who probably think I’m whining. I try to write about the writing life in as unvarnished a fashion as possible, but it’s clear that a lot of people just want you to be inspiring and tell them that if they just persist they’ll be the next JK Rowling, that you shouldn’t ever be a “Debby Downer” and suggest that, “Hey, dudes, this is a bitchin’ hard industry to make a living in and I don’t know the freakin’ secret handshake either.”

So I wonder, which would you prefer? I can talk nuts-and-bolts. I'm also trying to keep the creeping doubt issues out in general, because that crap's like weeds, they take root and grow if you're not careful. At the same time, I'm not good at the pollyanna "let's all hold hangs and put on a smiley face and we'll all be successful novelists" stuff either. It's a tough business and if there's one thing I've discovered, it's that "shit happens."

Anyway, read Tobias's piece and the piece he links to. Food for thought.


Blogger Alan Orloff said...

Speaking for myself (and, really, who else would want me speak for them?), one of the best things about your blog is your candidness. Keep telling it like it is! If we want sugarcoating, there are plenty of other places to go.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

I like your no-bullshit take on the industry. And boy was that picture airbrushed, all right. It took me a minute to figure out who she was.

7:19 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks, said...

First off, I've gotten a lot of emails and messages thanking me for posting your post to our loop. So you're doing something right. :)

I don't find you to bitch about problems I wish I had, really. Our careers are what we make it. I especially like your no bs approach and I like that your inspiration comes more from hard work and dreaming big than from mooning around waiting to get "noticed."

My son already wants to be a pro drummer. I keep impressing on him that it's all about the work you put in, not about the parties and recognition, etc.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Harvey Chapman said...

There's so much BS on the net (I particularly hate the "it's easy to write a novel in 30 days" line) that honest voices are essential.

Keep on doing what you do.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Being more or less published as I am I much prefer to hear you telling like it is. Having said that, if I had known exactly how difficult the publishing industry is before Mary and I had sold anything I might have been too intimidated (or realistic) to bother rolling the dice. So I don't know. You don't want to give aspiring writers unrealistic expectations but, on the other hand, looked at realistically writing is a stupid thing to attempt.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, that particular shot of Cameron Diaz is so airbrushed she's barely recognizable as a human being. A very sexy mannequin, yes, but not a human being.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, but I think our willingness to ignore common sense is probably why we made it in the industry. I suspect that in any business and/or artistic endeavor (maybe any endeavor), there are usually more reasons to not try than to give it a shot.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Is it really a one way or the other thing? You can say "My first novel got an advance of $2,000 and I gave $400 to my agent, $400 to the government, $1,000 on marketing, and I took my family out to dinner."

You don't have to add "It's very hard to make a living in this business."

10:57 AM  
Blogger Debra L Martin said...

I prefer your "tell it like it is" posts. I get very tired of all this sugar coating that you find everywhere.

When I was a kid, not everyone made the team, too bad, suck it up. Made you work harder the next year.

Well not everyone can be a published author either. You need to keep working at it if you want to accomplish your dreams.


10:59 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I think you're very honest . . . you also provide invaluable information (your freelance writing series--THAT should go on the Kindle, dude). And you know, while I appreciate what Tobias is saying . . . the fact is it's human nature for many people to think "I wish I had that problem." If it's not writing, then it would be if you got a new car, or your house is nicer or x or y. I mean, right NOW, I could read your FB posts about 25-mile bike rides in the heat and think, "Well, Jeez, I'd like that problem"--since I can't WALK at the moment, LOL!

6:41 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

You have my total sympathy, Erica. I was telling Leanne that this year you've managed to have your appendix out, rotator cuff surgery, rampant Crohn's, and now a ruptured tendon. You deserve a serious break, babe. Seriously. The universe needs to reward you with something major, like a Spielberg film option on Magickeepers.

As for the Freelance Writing For A Living series, I actually AM in the process of organizing it for the Kindle. I got sidetracked for a bit, but thanks for nudging me back on it.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Kath Calarco said...

Honesty is always best.

I believe roads to success are filled with potholes as well as great scenery. It's what one makes of the trip that matters.

1:13 PM  

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