Archive for 'in which i am kind of bitchy'
What Stace had to say on Friday, February 11th, 2011
Ah, the internet. It’s such a big place, isn’t it? (Yes, I realize the internet isn’t actually a physical place. Just go with it.) So full of people from all walks of life, all levels of intelligence, all sorts of different opinions and thoughts and advice and knowledge and jobs and…well, all that stuff.
It’s funny how the internet has really become such a go-to place for information. I mean, it’s not funny ha-ha, but funny in that as little as fifteen years ago, nobody really even knew what an internet was. I remember my ex telling me about how somebody showed him this really cool site online called Ebay, where you could actually buy all sorts of stuff from all over the world, and you might get it really cheap!
Anyway. The things that make the internet so great–accessibility,* information, multiple viewpoints, etc. etc.–are the things that make it so dangerous. We all know the stories about women or young girls who’ve gone to meet an internet boyfriend and ended up murdered or raped. We all know about internet stalkers and all of that stuff.
But there’s another danger on the internet, one that’s a bit more…sly. And granted, it’s a lot less dangerous, in that you won’t be raped or murdered. You’ll be robbed, sure, but it’s kind of willingly, so there you go.
Here’s the problem. Anybody can be an expert online. Anybody. All you have to do is call yourself an expert, and people will believe that you’re an expert. This is how writers fall for PublishAmerica’s scam all the time; PA claims it’s a big publisher, look at our happy authors, we publish lots of books, we don’t want your money! So they submit their books (and PA will famously accept anything) and then discover that no, actually, PA does want their money very badly, and will do just about anything to get it (and treat the writers like shit along the way; they don’t even get a reach-around). Why do PA authors fall for it? Because PA has a big website, and pats themselves on the back, and because these writers don’t think to do the single most important thing they could do for research: Go to the bookstore and see if any of that publisher’s books are on the shelves.
This is something I see a lot. I’m sure it’s prevalent in all industries, but of course I see it in the writing community because that’s the one I’m part of and the one I pay attention to. I see all kinds of people shilling their “How to Get Published” guidebooks and classes, their conferences and workshops, their critiques and edits. All for a fee, of course. Often for a pretty high fee. Read the rest of this entry »
What Stace had to say on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
It seems, much to my surprise, that there’s something controversial about saying “Don’t make enemies of people who may be in a position to help you later on in the career you hope to have.” I had no idea that this was something people would disagree with.
(While I’m on the subject, a link in comments led me to this post by Jeanine Frost, a NYT bestseller and very nice person I had the pleasure of meeting once a couple of years ago. I hadn’t seen this post before I posted; I wish I had. Maybe if you don’t want to believe me, you’ll believe her.)
Several people brought up Roger Ebert, I’m not sure why. Roger Ebert is a professional reviewer. He is a good and successful reviewer. I just must have missed the part where Ebert started actively pursuing an acting career. Nobody said you can’t be a reviewer. Just that you should think before you decide to try to be both. When is the last time you saw, say, Sandra Bullock, reviewing a film?
I’ve been referred to as being “scared.” I wanted to clarify this. I am not fucking scared. Ask anyone who knows me; I believe they’ll tell you there’s very little I’m afraid of (and if you read yesterday’s post you’ll see more clarification). I carry two switchblades. Hell, I have “I am not afraid” tattooed on my arm.
Some people are shocked–yes, shocked!–that writers would actually not take time to help out someone who criticized their work in the past. You know what? Writers are people. Just like any other people. When is the last time you took time you couldn’t afford to help a stranger who’d been publicly critical of you in the past? Why does everyone think this is a matter of anger? It’s not. I’m not sure what’s unclear about the fact that my time is extremely limited. If I have two bound mss in front of me, I likely only have time to read one, and that’s with me barely scraping that time from my schedule. Let’s see. I can pick the mss of the person who in the past said they disliked this or that about me or my work, or I can pick up the mss of the person who never said a word about me, or complimented me. You tell me what person you know–who isn’t in the running for sainthood–who’s going to deliberately pick the one of the critical person. It’s not about revenge. It’s not about anger. It’s about practicality.
This isn’t about being nice, either, to be honest. or rather, it is, but only in so much as it’s about not actively being unpleasant to or critical of people who could have an influence on your career. I’m not saying you can’t ever speak out against injustice or rudeness. I think we should do so. I think if you’ve read my blog before you know that; hell, remember what happened in May? I saw another writer–one “above” me, in fact, with whom I was friendly, who I liked as a person, and who was friends with many of my friends–behaving in a manner I found shockingly bad, disgusting, even; aggressive, rude, and unpleasant to readers. I blogged about it. Did that writer see it? I know she did. Do I think she’ll ever help me out with anything? I don’t think she’d piss on me if I were on fire, frankly. Do I think it’s possible she showed my post to her editor, and her editor now thinks I’m a bitch? I know it’s a distinct possibility, yes.
But the fact is it was worth it to me, because it was something I felt very strongly about and believe very strongly in. Do I think writing a review of her book is so important that I’d be willing to alienate her? Fuck, no. It might be worth it to you. Make the choice.
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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
I could have sworn that I’ve blogged about this before, but I just did a search and nothing turned up, so I guess I haven’t. Or maybe I’m searching wrong. Anyway. (No, I did sort of discuss this before, in this 2007 post, but not with the same focus, so I don’t feel as though I’m repeating myself.)
Here’s the thing. Writing involves making up stories. Perhaps you’re a plotter, one of those bizarre creatures who knows exactly what’s going to happen in the story before you open a shiny new Document and follows your path as tidily as a ballerina with months of rehearsal. (In which case I seriously envy you, despite my snottiness. It’s fond, admiring snottiness, I promise.)
Or maybe you’re a pantser like me, and start with a character or two and a premise, and toss them into the document and see what happens. Maybe like me you have a few vague ideas of where the story will go; I tend to have some sort of idea of what the climactic battle will be like, and maybe a scene or two sort of lurking in the back of my mind waiting to be used.
But either way, you need to make up the story. It’s down to YOU; it’s your responsibility. Quite frankly, a fiction writer who cannot make up a story is not a fiction writer. If writing fiction is what you want to do, you need to learn and absorb the skill of Making Shit Up. Period.
Which is why it drives me insane when I see writers–or those who want to be or claim to be writers–asking people what they should do with their story. Should the hero and heroine get together now? Should the villain do this or that? How old should the characters be? Should the villain die at the end? Should the father be the bad guy?
Then there are the secondary questions, what I refer to as the “unfamiliar” questions. I call them that because the questioner is seemingly unfamiliar with either the genre in which they are writing, or with books in general. (They could also be called the “Is it okay” questions, since they tend to start that way. These are questions like, “Is it okay if the hero cusses? Is it okay if the heroine isn’t a virgin? Is it okay if the heroine kills the bad guy? Is it okay if the hero gets drunk? Is it okay if the hero has a kid?” etc. etc.
I’d say the latter annoy me more, but honestly, they both annoy me equally.
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