Aspiring Authors

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Welcome and Back to 10
* Topic: Aspiring Authors
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.” Larry Correia

Welcome and Back to 10

Welcome to laider7. I hope you find the Journal useful. Glad to have you aboard.

I switched the publication time back to 10 a.m. Adding that hour takes off pressure I don’t need. I should have known this would happen. I tried sending the Journal out earlier before.

Topic: Aspiring Authors

This has almost nothing to do with the Quote of the Day above other than the title. Larry Correia was trying to emphasize both the importance and unimportance of covers. They should grab the reader’s attention; they should not attempt to tell the story of the novel.

But the phrase “aspiring authors” set off something inside me. Here it is:

First, “aspiring authors” is a misnomor. In reality, these folks come in two distinctive flavors: writers and authors. The difference? Writers want to write. Authors want to bask in the glory of Having Written. (Actually, I could end the post here.)

Writers just want to tell stories. Most of them have heard of Heinlein’s Rules, and most of them happily adhere to Rules 1-3, though they often have trouble following Rule 4, the one that says you have to put what you’ve written on the market.

[Commence writer whining] It takes time to submit stories to traditional markets. And if you indie publish, it takes time to find cover art, design a cover, write a promo doc, and physically click the mouse the requisite number of stupid times to upload the stupid manuscript to your stupid ebook aggregator.

And it takes even more time to perform all the exterior and interior layout stuff required for a paper publication. Ugh.

Okay, to be honest these are my people, and I feel for them. We don’t wanna do Heinlein’s Rule 4. We’d rather be writing the next story. Waahhh.

We writers never give a thought to writing being “difficult” because it isn’t. In fact, it’s generally number one on our list of ways to have fun.

Authors believe Writing Fiction is an elevated calling. Therefore it’s special, and therefore it’s something to which they should aspire, and therefore it’s difficult to achieve. And since they themselves received and took on the burden of that very special calling, they too must be very special indeed.

Yawn, stretch, that’s fine. It takes all kinds, or so I’ve been told.

As annoying as Authors can be, they’re easy enough to avoid if you just stay away from online writing groups and “writer boards.” That’s generally where they hang out and impart their wisdom, which really is just the same old BS myths we’ve all heard all our lives. They seldom even bother saying it in their own words.

Here’s the funny thing about Authors, and by “funny” I mean “odd”: Over the years, I’ve noticed that all Authors end up following one of two tendencies:

1. once they’ve convinced themselves of how truly “difficult” (or what “terrible drudgery”) writing is, most would-be Authors stop writing altogether and go find something else to do—something they actually enjoy—or

2. they settle into a comfortable little niche, surround themselves with safety nets, and continue doing the hard labor necessary for them to be able to say they Have Written (cue angelic choir aaah AAAH).

If Authors who continue writing have heard of Heinlein’s Rules at all—and if they haven’t dismissed them completely—unlike writers, they have zero trouble with Rule 4. In fact, Rules 4 and 5 are their favorites. For those, they don’t have to write; they only have to talk about what they’ve already written.

But also unlike writers, they can’t seem to nail down Rules 1-3: you must write, you must finish what you write, and you must not rewrite. Those rules don’t fit in with their safety nets at all.

So writing isn’t fun for them. Theirs is not a creative process, but a mechanical process. Instead of allowing the characters to create the story that they, not the authors, are living, the Authors themselves construct the story, block by block, revision by revision, editing pass by editing pass, rewrite by rewrite.

In terms of quality, the result is what you might expect: Not only are the stories not original, but they’re flat and predictable. At every turn the author “figured out” what would happen next.

The problem is, it’s painfully obvious to the reader. I can usually tell within the first few pages of a novel whether the writer let the characters tell the story or overrode them with an outline, revisions, criticism and rewrites. I don’t go in looking for whether the author figured-out step by step what would happen. Rather, the clunky step by step construction throws me out of the story.

Anyway, as the contemporary saying goes, you do you.

If you invest just a little time in learning to trust your creative subconscious, you can roll off the parapet into the trenches of the story and enjoy racing through them with your characters

Or you can exercise caution and back away. You can do authorial robes, ascend into an ivory tower and control everything from a distance. Because after all, you know better than your characters what their story should be.

Talk with you later.

Of Interest

See “First Blog of 2022” at If you have a problem with your attitude about writing, I strongly suggest you sign up for this young writer’s blog.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 970 words

Writing of (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for August……… 13935
Total fiction words for the year………… 66431
Total nonfiction words for August… 19110
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 125350
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 191781

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 67
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Along with discussing various aspects of the writing craft, I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. WITD is “the only way” to write, but it is by far the easiest, most liberating, and most fun.

4 thoughts on “Aspiring Authors”

  1. Yes to this entire post, Harvey. It only takes two seconds of peeking into the “writing community” on Instagram to realize that nobody’s really in it to actually write stories and enjoy the fun of storytelling. They’re only about taking pretty pictures of them in their authorial robes, alongside a hefty stack of their printed manuscript and a highlighter, with the caption “Time to kill my darlings!” Or something like that. Can you tell Instagram and its “capital-A Authors” get on my nerves? (grin) It’s beyond me why anyone would willingly stay in that awful drudgery prison when the freedom of WITD, Heinlein’s rules, and simply trusting your characters to tell their stories is without a doubt the funnest way to live. I don’t get it. But like you always say, doesn’t affect my bottom line.

    Thanks for the “Of interest”. I haven’t updated my blog in forever. I should put up a new post soon.

    • Thanks, Chynna, and you’re welcome for the post link. Maybe someday you can take over with your blog what I’ve tried to do with the Journal.

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