All writers get the same advice. Read the great writers; study the great works. Learn how seasoned, professional, and successful authors get the job done. All true, but I maintain that it’s also crucial for writers to read crap to learn what not to do.
Leaning over the counter top painting my toenails a deep raisin, I am wishing I were a better writer. You know like the ones who can conjure up an entire world made electric with the sweetness of wicked delicious fantasy. Most people think writing is just about writing but it isn’t. It’s so much more than that. Writing is about coming undone and dying inside over and over. It’s about becoming the person you always knew you could be without the hindrance that is most of the rest of this ridiculous life. It’s about giving a middle finger to the rest of the world because you know they are ignorant to all of your most sacred fears and why they matter so much to you. It’s about fingering your darkest secrets until they flower for you into everything that makes your gums bleed with naked desire; the way you obsess…
I am a real sucker for posts that offer writing tips, publishing tips, and the experiences of other authors and bloggers. I’ve shared a number of them on this blog, because some people have genuinely good advice and share their experiences in a very positive and constructive way.
This response to those kind of posts is quite refreshing in its honesty and in its explanations of why those posts can actually be demotivating for some people. I can totally relate to the feeling of disappointment in myself that I haven’t adopted and implemented more of the great advice given by other Indie authors since beginning my own author journey, and to the sense of “exhaustion” at the number of “You Can Do This If You Follow My Formula” posts out there.
It’s true that those hints and tips for success aren’t “one size fits all”, and nor is success. There are many ways to measure success, and we all have individual goals that determine what our own standards or images of success might be.
It is also fair to say that there is so much advice, so many tips, so many things people tell us to do, that it’s simply not possible to try it all out, and we really do need to remain realistic about what advice we are going to take on at any given time.
I do like Daegan’s points about daily and weekly reviews of what has been done or achieved. I actually do this, and it helps me stay on track because I find achieving small goals and milestones along the way incredibly motivating.
I don’t meditate as such, but I do set time aside for quietness and reflection in my daily routine. I wear a lot of hats in my day-to-day life, so taking even just a few minutes when my brain has nothing to do is a vital means of refreshing and resetting my mind at various stages of the day. As an introvert who is often surrounded by people all day long and again at home, that quietness is also how I recharge my energy, so it’s a crucial thing for me to do.
My “takeaway” from this article is that it’s important for each of us to set our own goals, define what sort of “success” we are hoping to achieve, and find what works for us as individuals.
The one thing we should all do is keep striving to make it happen.
I have read so many articles that have a headline similar to:
“If you want to be successful, adopt these 5 habits right away!”
The problem is, the author is always telling me what I should do to be successful as if my success and their success looks exactly the same.
I get so many of these articles telling me about the habits that I should have or my life is clearly falling apart. I’ll admit, many are good and I have certainly tried them.
But what about the author? Are they using all of those tips? Do they really have all of those habits locked down when they had a post a month ago telling me 12 other success tips? I want to know the person behind the word and if it’s actually worth my time.
Maybe I’m small minded and not wired for success, but…
They say having an email list is crucial for an author. It’s the one sure-fire way to reach your readers.
I am clearly the exception to that rule.
Either I really suck at creating newsletters, or my subscribers signed up for the wrong list. It’s why I am very reluctant to send out newsletters now.
When I send emails with other people’s books in them, my subscribers click through to those books.
Do they click through to mine? Nope.
And sadly, I get as many clicks to unsubscribe as I do on the links in my newsletter.
It really is quite depressing.
Yet I don’t do anything different than any of the dozens of authors whose newsletters I receive. Well, that part isn’t strictly true:
I don’t spam my books repeatedly. I don’t email every week, let alone every day or two, like some do. I don’t use high pressure sales pitches. I don’t beg, and I don’t whine. I don’t even include only my own content. I always share other books and bookish events that readers might be interested in.
I have observed all those things happening in various different authors’ newsletters at different times, and have always tried to avoid doing anything I have found off-putting.
Honestly? I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I appear to be doing it consistently.
I do suspect that maybe newsletter writing is not for me. I’ve given it a fair crack and it hasn’t been at all well received.
The reference to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the title of ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ is blatantly obvious.
The irony is that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is probably my least favourite play from among Shakespeare’s works. As I often explain to my students who think it’s romantic and all about love, it’s really not. It’s a tragedy that demonstrates what happens when people do stupid things on impulse and don’t stop to think about the consequences of their actions.
They’re teenagers. They met on Sunday, and by Thursday, they’re dead.
And, as Shakespeare points out in the epilogue, they end up that way because their families both prioritise their stupid feud over the happiness and the future of their children. How much more like a badly plotted teenage soap opera could it be?
It’s more of an anti-Romance, if you ask me. They’re not in love, they’re infatuated. Romeo really is quite an idiot, and as for fickle… how quickly did he forget his passion for Rosaline the moment he met Juliet? If you ask me, Rosaline dodged a bullet – or a dagger, or a vial of poison, there.
To be fair, the fault isn’t Shakespeare’s. He based his play on an old story that was very popular back in the day, which was a brilliant marketing move. The other factor that made his play such a hit was the beauty of the language with which it is written. There’s nothing at all wrong with the writing: it’s magnificent. Nothing can convince me otherwise. If anyone could give a story about two silly teenagers from equally silly families another 600 years plus in terms of longevity, he was the man for the job.
So, is it odd that I’ve used ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as one of the starting points of my story? Not really, because I wanted my story to be something of an anti-Romance, too.
‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ draws on ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of ‘Rapunzel’ as starting points, then twists and tangles them together to create a mashup of the two stories with a very different ending. Romeo is still an idiot, it still ends in tragedy… but it’s a completely new story. It’s medieval fantasy, laced with faint traces of my subversive sense of humour.
I like to think of it as the story that Shakespeare and the Brothers Grimm never told. But I bet if they’d thought of it, they would have.