Craft, Feedback, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Goals, Novel, Query, Rejection, Short story, Writing

A Year’s Worth of Writing

Have you reviewed your writing progress in 2010? In this and another post or two in the next two weeks, Ill take a look back at the highlights of mine. When I looked back at all the posts for this year, I was surprised at how many twists and turns I took.

At the beginning of the year, I thought I had a finished novel in query status, so I turned my attention to short stories. I wrote a post, Writing vs. Crafting, in which I vowed to not only read more short stories, but to write and submit for publication some of my own. Nothing to report on my stories, but I did read more of those written by others, including fabulous debut collections from Robin Black and Tracy Winn.

Next, I jumped out of the box and started my year of living dangerously. (Even though I lost sight of that along the way, it may explain the way my writing year will end. Stay tuned.) But back then, I dared myself again by trying a writing challenge: a micro flash story. And I wrote it from a prompt, which is something I hadn’t done for decades. It was so much fun I invited my readers to take the challenge too. 

And then, I fell apart. Rejection spawned dejection and in barged the Blue Muse. From the bottom there’s no way but up, so I went into warrior mode and wrote a new query letter and opening paragraph for my novel; entered two contests; and dissected a Flannery O’Connor story for a discussion group.

The decision to edit my novel again reminded me of a good beating and then, continuing with new experiences, my novel spoke aloud. I discovered frigid fiction, but soon I became blinded by the words. To my rescue came the fabulous Kayla Olson who volunteered to read and critique for me.

Again I needed to be reminded to wait for the words. Before long I had reason to panic over platform, but as the end of the first quarter of 2010 came to a close, I was riding the train of eternal optimism.

Your turn: Have you charted your writing progress this year? How did you fair?

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Advice, Agent, Editor, Fiction, Marketing, Publish, Tips, Writing

Without a platform to stand on …

In a recent blog post, Kirsten Lesko wrote about platform. She said, in part, that she learned at a recent conference that writers should spend 50% of their time building a platform. My first thought was this does not really apply to fiction writers. Then yesterday, I read this post by editor Helen Ginger in which she said:

Another way the meaning of the term platform has morphed is that it now applies to fiction, as well as nonfiction. Agents and editors now look to see if fiction writers have a platform. They want good writing, a genre that will sell, and a new and interesting twist to the book – all the things they’ve always wanted. But now they also expect the author to have that third part of the equation – a ready-made audience.

She goes on to say that in order to get published nowadays, you need to be a national celebrity or, at least, a local one; or be giving speeches and directing workshops; or have daily blog hits in the hundreds, if not thousands; or be involved in enough organizations and groups that you’re certain of big sales.

She adds:

Agents will tell you they only care about the writing. They say they look at the pages and whether it hooks them. The hard truth is publishers – and agents – look at the bottom line – will this book sell.

Wow! And wow! I’m trying hard not to panic. This time, I can’t tell myself Ms. Ginger is not referring to fiction writers. She is. And I am one—without any sort of platform!

I’m not a celebrity, past or present, national or local. I’m not qualified to give speeches or direct workshops. This blog, on its absolute best days, gets 100-plus hits. And I, being the hermit I am, belong to NO, zero, zilch groups or organizations. I don’t work outside the home, so I can’t even hawk my book to coworkers. I think I could guilt a few relatives and badger my fellow writer friends into buying a copy. Do you think the prospect of fifty sales will get me an agent?

What shall I do? What are you doing to build your platform, fellow fiction writers?

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Social Media, Sunday Stew, Writing

Grab a spoon and a hunk of bread!

Today I’m serving up another Sunday Stew, which I guess is a strange dish for Sunday … at least the way I was raised. We always had a nice big Sunday dinner. But today I’m just blogging about a few things I’ve been thinking about lately, a mixture of things, so stew it is.

If you’re a regular visitor here, you know I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. After my last post about it, I decided maybe I just wasn’t being aggressive enough. Soooo … I’ve spent the last three weeks doing my best to tweet, retweet, and respond to others tweets—including loads of people who don’t follow me—you know, being sociable. And yes, I have twelve new followers, but only a few of those actually followed me because of my experiment, and of those few “strangers” only two have any connection with writing. Seriously, one of my new followers tweets about surfing!? For me, what Twitter does best is waste a lot of my time.

In my ongoing quest to write publishable stories, I’ve been reading how-to books. So far, I haven’t found any secret to success. I’ve realized the rules for writing a story are basically the same as for writing a novel. Because of the differences in length, you just have to get to the point quicker, make every word count even more, and there’s less room for character development and description. Am I missing something? I submitted a flash and two horror stories to my critique group. The verdict: two good, one not so much. I’m learning.

I think I have a “platform” disadvantage. Or for fiction writers, I guess that’s called a readymade base … or something like that. In other words, I don’t already have a large group of people likely to buy my novel when it’s published. Some of you do. Either you write genre or you belong to a social, religious, or special interest group that supports its own. I write mainstream fiction, which usually is sold on name recognition. I don’t think tweeting is going to do it, people.

Finally, I think email sent in June must have traveled through a black hole or something. In the last couple weeks, I have twice received the same email sent by a friend in June, another email sent by my son in June, and three different blog posts from June! It would seem weirdness is afoot.