The Journal: General Tidbits

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* The quote of the day…
* This is the year you’ll finish your book
* I was glancing over
* If I May
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“Publishers can’t publish without writers.” Dan Baldwin in “Son of Why Is This A Good Idea?” (see “Of Interest”)

The quote of the day is a massive UmYup, a solid statement of fact, and one that is empowering for writers. From early school, we are taught that our creative subconscious (and ourselves and whatever we’ve learned) are inadequate to tell a good story. They never actually say we aren’t good enough, but that is the implication.

We are taught that we must outline, plot and plan instead of simply trusting the characters to tell the story that they, not we, are living. And we’re taught that after we’ve written, we must revise, rewrite, and polish, not only with our own critical mind but with input from the critical minds of others.

And it’s all BS. All of it. As Dan wrote above, “Publishers can’t publish without writers.” Which means you, the writer, have the power.

I’ve told this story before, but as I used to ask writers at conferences, usually in the presence of at least one acquisitions editor from a “big” publishing house, “Don’t you know how important you are?”

The acquisitions editor frowns slightly, a half-grin on his face.

The writer shakes her head.

Me to the writer. “Okay, so tell me, what would writers do if there were no editors or publishers?”

The writer, nervous, grins, shrugs, glances at the acquisitions editor. “Write?”

Me. “Exactly. Even with no editors or publishers, writers would write. But do you know what editors and publishers would do if there were no writers?”

The writer cants her head and smiles slightly. Maybe something good is coming. “I don’t know.”

The acquisitions editor grimaces. And he should.

I grin. “Want fries with that?”

And today we have indie publishing.

Today, with just a little time investment and almost no monetary investment, a writer can learn to design professional covers, write professional sales copy, and publish.

For your efforts, you’ll keep 70 or 80 percent of the royalties instead of the 12 to 15 percent usually paid by traditional publishers. And much more importantly, you retain all rights to your intellectual property. Seriously, it’s all good.

I was glancing over a blog digest and a list of upcoming online classes when I noticed this class title: “This Is the Year You’ll Finish Your Book.”

Let me clarify: Umm, no, it isn’t. If you’re interested in taking this class, this will probably be yet one more year of talking about writing, thinking about writing, taking classes on writing, and even occasionally considering writing, none of which are actually writing.

So no, it won’t be the year you’ll finish your book. You’ll be far too busy doing all those other things to actually write. And to finish a book, you must write.

If I May

Yesterday I read a comment on another post that opened with, “I’m a practicing writer who hasn’t published anything, but—”

I don’t know what she wrote after that because I stopped reading.

If I may offer some advice on offering advice, if you want others to take you seriously, never start with, “I have zero experience at what you folks are talking about, but I think….”

If you have zero experience at the topic of discussion but the topic is something you are interested in or want to learn, I suggest reading and listening rather than writing or talking. Just sayin’.

But the opening of her comment did raise a valid question:

What exactly is a “practicing writer who hasn’t published anything”?

Does she really mean she practices writing (i.e., constantly puts new words on the page)?

Or does she mean she writes a bit, then practices hovering as she goes over and over and over what she’s written with revisions, “editing passes,” rewrites, and eventual polishing?

I didn’t ask her.

But if it’s the former, I hope she will develop a little belief in herself and publish what she’s written so readers can see whether or not they like it. If she does, she will almost certainly be be pleasantly surprised.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Midwest Mugshots: Police Records in Nebraska Yield Arresting Images of 19th Century Criminals” at Possible criminal types for fiction.

See “Thoughts on Publishing in 2022” at Just in case you find something of interest in the post. I did not.

See “The Challenges of Policing in the Rain” at

See “A Hapless Car Thief…” at

See “Son of Why Is This A Good Idea?” at

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

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