My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Absent Brilliance

Brilliance isn’t something you can buy for yourself. You can only receive it as a gift. Some writers – I’d call them The Lucky Ones except for the fact that their brilliance is usually accompanied by a corresponding (and non-returnable) insanity – are granted the gift by the gods. Or The God. Or the universe. Or fate. (Pick one.) They’re born with it. They can’t deny it. They can’t escape it. It is woven into their being. Tell them to write something bad, they’ll try, and brilliance will whisper in the words they choose to leave out. The naturally brilliant…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Saturation Point

Sit down, we need to talk. Recently I’ve been observing some rather disturbing patterns in your behavior. It all started out innocently enough. You had an idea, then a dream, then a plan. You were going to be a writer. In the beginning, you wrote. And verily, your writing was crap. So you started hanging out in a dimly-lit bookstore, trying to look casual leaning against the shelf while stealing secrets from books on writing. You fully intended to buy one or two. Eventually. But books are expensive and you weren’t a wealthy author yet. Did you notice the stares from…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Listen

A good writer is always listening. She listens to the voices of the long-dead, straining to hear writerly wisdom that only time and tide can reveal. She leans a little closer to Hemingway to discover the curious power of understatement and word economy. She plops down next to Dostoyevsky with her moral compass in hand and looks for truth in the floating needle that only points north when Fyodor tells it to. She listens to the voices of the successful. Stephen King raises an eyebrow in reply when she removes a dozen sharp objects from her purse and asks, “which…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Something About Success

Maybe you’re like many aspiring writers. Maybe articles like this one by Amanda Hocking (or the revelation that she recently signed a publishing deal with St. Martin’s Press) simply inspire you. Perhaps this sort of news taps you on the shoulder, offers a sly smile and whispers, “you’re next.” If so, you don’t need this post. Go write a bestseller. I don’t mean that sarcastically. I mean it sincerely. Be encouraged and write brilliantly and sell a squillion books (e- or otherwise). The rest of you? Have a seat on the floor. I’d offer the couch, but it’s much too…

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My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

10 Reasons Someone Else’s Novel Shouldn’t Have Been Published

Admit it. You’ve stared, slack-jawed at an open book in Barnes & Noble, stunned by the horribleness of the writing. You’ve whispered your frustration to the universe, a few choice obscenities that brought an audible “harrumph” from a blue-haired woman browsing the nearby Christian Inspiration section. How is it possible this hack of a writer got a publishing deal and your (almost brilliant) novel can’t even get a literary agent’s attention? The universe isn’t fair. You accept that. But really? I mean really? This book is utter crap. Except you don’t say “crap.” You say “shit.” And you almost never…

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General, My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

Do the Best You Can With What You Have

There’s little need for a post here. If you’re pressed for time, just read the title again, let it inspire some brilliant application for your writing life, then jet off to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun. (Yes, I’m talking to you.) Of course, if you want to spend a few more minutes in this space (and who wouldn’t; don’t you love how the gray header matches the cloud of uncertainty that’s giving your muse black lung?), feel free. It’s your dime. Here’s the thing (and by “thing” I mean premise for this post): writers have a…

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My Thoughts, The Publishing Process, The Writer's Life

Give Up Your Publishing Dreams

If title of this post makes you nervous, you probably shouldn’t read it. Or maybe you should. Before we go any further, I’m going to have to ask you to place your publishing dreams in the box marked “misc” at the back of the room. Be sure to leave all your unfinished queries and How to Get Published books & blogs and all those publishing-related inspirational quotes you taped to your bathroom mirror. Yes, even the quote that says J. K. Rowling was rejected twelve million times before becoming a kajillionaire. Now pick up a blank notebook and a pen.…

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