In today’s Journal
* Memorial Day
* Topic: Just for Fun, Part 2
* Of Interest
I hope you will have a safe and happy but thoughtful Memorial Day. I hope you will consider all we still have in this once-great nation and on whose sacrifices we stand.
Topic: Just for Fun, Part 2
Matt P. emailed this morning to ask how I would respond to writers “who claims that getting critiques helped them improve their writing and that if they hadn’t, they never would have gotten better.”
Note: This topic, including this sentence, is delivered tongue-in-cheek. However, if you take it seriously, you probably should.
I love hypothetical questions. They allow me to play. And this particular one evoked nostalgia, caused me to harken back to the time when I presented sessions at several writers’ conferences per year.
Between sessions at those conference, I didn’t disappear into my room. I made myself available in the lobby or the bar to talk with other writers and answer questions. So with that frame of reference, here are my responses:
1. If I were attending a conference and some writer said that to me in person, I probably would smile and nod and move on to whatever I was going to do next.
Which is what I do with most statements that indicate the speaker is hopelessly mired in the myths. Because frankly, of those who would make such a statement, what most of them want is validation, not reason, and anything short of validation will be wasted on them.
2. If something about the writer made me sense that s/he might actually want to learn, I migh try to evoke an argument via personal insult. In that case, I would nod sagely, cup my right elbow in my left palm, tap my bearded chin with my right index finger, and say, “Y’know, I think that’s easily the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day.”
Which would cause 99.99% of them to turn away in a huff and leave me alone with my Beam or Jameson & Sons (either of which give me a really good buzz but no hangover).
But for the .001% who proved themselves worthy by hanging around to argue, I would take the time to explain WITD, Heinlein’s Rules, and that confidence in one’s self comes from within, not from extorting attaboys from other unpublished or barely published writers in what is basically a mutual admiration society.
Nor can you learn anything about the craft by allowing other writers to tell you how they would have written your work. And seriously, if you don’t even care how the characters who are actually living the story would convey it, why would you care how some other writer would write it?
Intermission: Do you know why you can’t find Stage 4 or 5 writers in critique groups? They’re too busy writing. (ta bump dump, tssshhh)
But seriously, folks, good writers assume self-confidence in writers. Thus, they assume that their opinion would matter to you about as much as your opinion matters to them.
And 3. If I was feeling nasty or was tired of being accosted by morons, I might smirk and say, “Oh, how very special you are, writing a book by committee! Congratulations! And I do understand, you poor dear. Not all of us are confident enough even to tie our own shoelaces, are we? Who ties yours? And you’re what, 35? 40? Do you go potty all by yourself or do you have a group for that too?”
In other words, I’m probably not the right guy to ask, but I’m sure someone on the writer boards (whatever they are) will have the answer those writers are looking for. (grin)
I meant to insert this ad my wife created a couple days ago for my two Mobster Tales short story collections.
A reader of this Journal provided the catalyst for the ad when he saw on Facebook that we had ordered the DVDs of The Sopranos. In that posting, my wife joked that ironically, one season of the show was stuck in New Jersey. (grin)
The reader responded with, “I didn’t know you were interested in mafia type stuff.” Which is what caused my wife to do a little marketing.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Promote Your Book with Your Values” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/promote-your-book-with-your-values/. Also see PG’s take.
See “Two New Workshops and Sale!” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/two-new-workshops-and-sale/. I honestly can’t imagine even a 6-week workshop on Heinlein’s Rules being better than his $75 lecture by the same name.
See “Can I Quote Song Lyrics in My Novel?” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/05/can-i-quote-song-lyrics-in-my-novel.html. I posted this long-winded explanation primarily for his link to song lyrics that are now in the public domain, like Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
See “Memorial Day” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/memorial-day-3/.
See “AAP StatShot…” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/aap-statshot-us-market-up-slightly-year-to-date-march-down-4-2-percent/. See PG’s take.
The Journal…………………………………… 820 words
Writing of Blackwell Ops 8 (tentative title, novel)
Day 1…… 2371 words. Total words to date…… 2371
Day 2…… 1305 words. Total words to date…… 3676
Day 3…… 1107 words. Total words to date…… 4783
Total fiction words for May……… 4783
Total fiction words for the year………… 10576
Total nonfiction words for May… 18580
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 78230
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 88806
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
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.