Old Moon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One, Two, Three...?

Did you ever notice the tendency of events to happen in clusters? You know the old saw about bad things happening in threes...and you get a new car, and suddenly you see a dozen of the same model on the road in the next three days...you get a wedding announcement, and then at least one more before you have a chance to respond to the first one, and we won't mention how one pregnancy seems to lead to another...

Today was one of those days. A couple of months ago, I was asked to do a written interview to be posted on a blog on June 28. I was flattered and gratified, and I did. It was posted, as promised, today. Here's the link: http://wwwthouhtfulreflections.blogspot.com/2011/06/poet-novelists-and-short-story-author.html. It's an interesting place to read about interesting people.

A week or so ago, someone else asked if I'd write a blog post for her to use on one of her websites. She's been a good friend for several years now, and again, I was flattered to be asked, and so I did it. It, too, was posted today. So here's another link: www.profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com.

Now, if I can just get a release date for Peripheral Vision, maybe these will generate some interest in it?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's a Writer to Do?

It seems presumptuous and even foolish to be writing a blog about writing. No one who would bother to read it would have missed the mantras that are supposed to help us "get published." You know: write every day, submit, enter contests, write a blog, network, don't give up, write what you know, enter contests, don't just write what you know, you always need a "hook," enter contests...on and on. If those instructions were all it takes to see your work (and I do mean "work") in print, there would be an even bigger glut of e-books and print books and screen plays and poetry than there is now.

Some day there's going to be somebody who will honestly want to know why you write. Maybe it's worth considering what your answer will be--worth thinking seriously about it. My guess is that a survey would reveal a relatively small number of answers.

Then there's the entering contests question. Of course, if you should happen to win one, there's the satisfaction of a small success (unless, of course, you just won a nationwide  one with a big monetary prize and publication by Random House). Do you enter contests depending on who runs them, on the size of the entry fee, on who is familiar to you who has won it before, in hopes an agent or publisher will notice you? Or do you do it because it's on the list of things every wannabe has to do?

There's a pretty interesting website on which a book on how to win writing contests is regularly advertised. I admit to being tempted. Then it occurs to me that unless you have some knowledge of the judge(s), or are just plain clairvoyant, your entry is in the same category as weekly lottery tickets. Maybe the odds aren't quite as long, but pretty nearly. The author of the book on how to win must be willing and able to be a chameleon. Either you have a voice of your own or you don't, or you're able to imitate someone else's voice. Here I'm using that word the way literary critics like to: meaning the diction and themes that distinguish you and your work from others'. Even if you write so-called "genre" material, we all know it will be better than the run-of-the-mill if only you could have written it, and a reader can spot that right away.

Whether it's contests or just getting published without paying for it, you're up against fashion, the difficulty of reaching the right audience, and, let's face it: how good you are at what you do. It's certain that not enough writers who are exceptionally good ever get the audience they deserve. So that part of the list of "Dos" for writers that says "Never Give Up" is the hardest one to remember.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Tell the Truth

If a writer feels it necessary to trudge ahead regardless of past performance, or especially past recognition--or more likely the lack of it, the notion of an advanced degree, presumably an MFA, is bound to have surfaced. There was a time when I was sure one day I'd have a chance to enroll in some  program that would fill out my talent (if there were any) and lend some credibility to whatever I might write.

One of the things that is apt to take over when one is attempting to become--whatever the goal is--is that the aspirant looks to others who have reached it to provide instruction. Never mind how many scores of dollars I may have spent over the years on correspondence courses and books, the few that have been of real benefit wouldn't crowd a single shelf. A course in the history of criticism was one of the best aids to literary decision making for myself, along with only half a dozen of the many books I have bought and read. Now I'm a bit like a donkey with blinders on; I just keep plodding on.

Then, just today, a humble (well, maybe not so humble) blog once more put into a small space the most important lessons I've been able to take away from all those who have had the temerity to write about writing. It has to do with reality--with the absolute necessity--of putting out the truth regardless of its appeal or power to horrify. All writing is political, just as nearly all politics is economics. A writer who can face this at the fundamental level may turn out to be a good writer.

This is a pathetic distillation of a complex imperative, but if it interests you, stop by and read mfainabox@aweber.com.