Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My First Blog

When Vicki asked me if I wanted to join Type M for Murder, my first impulse was to say, “Thanks anyway.” Coincidentally, my publisher had recently suggested that maybe I could put a little something together for AmazonConnect, which is a blog-type space for authors of books listed by Amazon.com. My first impulse was to say, “Thanks anyway.” I was even less enthusiastic when AmazonConnect rather brusquely informed me that my Internet browser (the latest version of Safari for the Macintosh) wasn’t compatible. Screw this, I thought. Like readers really want to know my favourite single malt. (It’s Lagavulin, BTW, just in case you want to buy me a drink at the next Bloody Words).

Remember the Famous Writers School of Westport, Connecticut? Yes, the same outfit that ran the Famous Artists School, the Famous Photographers School, and the Famous Private Detectives School. The idea was that a bunch of “famous writers” taught you via correspondence the secrets of, well, becoming a famous writer. In 1968, around the time I got kicked out of the Royal Canadian Air Force, I decided I wanted to be a writer. My mother, despairing that I would ever amount to anything, enrolled me in the Famous Writers School. I learned how to format a manuscript properly (knowledge that many aspiring writers evidently lack, according to my editor), plus a few other useful things.

But I also learned the two Big Lies of writing. I was young and stupid and didn’t know they were lies, of course, but they were. The first one was that it’s not really you who does the writing. Some muse perched over your shoulder actually dictates the stories to you, you just type. The implication, of course, is that writing isn’t really work. Hah! Anyone who’s written anything longer than a letter to grandma knows writing is hard work. Maybe not real work, as defined by my mother, but hard work nonetheless. And when was the last time a muse wrote a technical manual about how to jack up rail cars?

The second Big Lie perpetrated by the Famous Writers School was that once your book is published, you just sit back and the royalties roll in. Hah! For the royalties to even trickle in, someone has to buy your book. For that, they have to know about it. And counting on your publisher to put a lot of effort - i.e., money - into getting the word out is, to put it politely, unrealistic.

What the Famous Writers School didn’t tell its vic - uh - students was that writing and publishing were just the beginning of the process of becoming even a moderately well-known writer (hell, even a virtually unknown writer). You also have to be your own publicist. You’ve got the promote the hell out of you books, get out and get in people’s faces and shout, “Buy this book!” Hence, my participation in this blog. It’s a way to get in your face and shout, “Buy my books,” without spitting on you.

That’s it for today. For more info about my books, check out my little website. I think there's a link from the main page.

Montreal, Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Happy Independence Day to our American cousins.

5 comments:

Sheldon said...

Oh, I don't know. I quite enjoy having the Muse perched over my shoulder telling me what to write. She writes so much better than I do. Or at least differently. And says things I wouldn't dare to say. Or comes up with twists and turns of the plot that I could never have imagined in my own workaday brain.

Anonymous said...

It is much easier for me to write fiction than to write letters to my grannies... not only do my characters live much more interesting lives than I, but there are so many things - yes, even in my so-called life - that would not phase readers but do require careful spinning and delicate sentence-formulation to pass the old-lady sniff-test.

(if you've never seen the old-lady sniff-test, well.. visit your granny and tell her you're changing jobs semi-voluntarily, and you'll soon see it in action.)

Writing for publication is work; writing for my own enjoyment is a pleasurable hobby.

Jayne

Anonymous said...

Hello
britney

Bye

Anonymous said...
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