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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My pet peeve: lazy-ass writers. #writetip #writerslife

Yo, you need to get something through your head.

Writing is WORK. Writing is not a hobby, a game, or "the love of your life." It is not a person, or a way for you to hang out with your imaginary best friends without owning up to the fact that you're a grown-ass person with imaginary best friends. (Dude, just play pretend in the open air like all the other kids do. I do it. #noshame)

Writing is a calling, and a calling requires WORK.

That means that when someone says your story could be better, and in your logical brain you know there's a really specific way you can make that better happen, and it requires rewriting an entire chapter or even rewriting the whole book from scratch, you don't settle for good enough. You say YES MA'AM and you drop and give twenty--twenty thousand words! Forty! Eighty! However many it takes! When you revise, don't just read your thing--retype your thing in a new blank document while you read it! Print it out and read it aloud! Break down the plot points into index cards and throw them around your room until you find order! Write your outline, fix it, write it again! Yeah, that's a lot of work, but do you really think you can coast by on "good enough" in a day and age when everyone and their pet cat is writing a book?

Work means that when you know something's wrong with your characterization, and you can't figure it out, you sit down and break out the thirty questions to ask your character. Then write other interviews with your character. With her friends, and family. Then you write a short story about your character, totally separate from the novel. Write and write until you figure out what's wrong, and then bring that fully-fleshed, living person back into your novel. Yeah, I'm saying that sometimes you might have to write several tens of thousands of words that don't even make it into your novel in order to make a person. It took all-powerful God seven days to get around to making one dude, and he started with the dude's settings, the dude's job (animals and plants), and the dude's timeline (stars, molecules, everything that would ever impact nature vs. nurture) before even touching the dude himself. And before that, God sat on eternity conceptualizing the dude! You, not almighty, can take a few extra days to make your imaginary dudes better.

And finally, when your publisher sends you ARCs, I want to see you promoting that shit with all your heart and soul. Yes, that's your job! It's your job to make sure your shit gets read! And no, not spammy auto-tweets forever with your cover, because that's not work any more than spraying your pee is work. Any animal can mark its territory with speed-droppings. Actual work? That's researching reviewers and contacting them individually with cover letters geared towards their individual interests--no, no NO, stop trying to find a way out! You cannot send a mass e-mail to all reviewers ever! Each reviewer gets his or her name at the top of the cover letter, each reviewer gets digital copies according to their format preferences, and each reviewer gets at least one line that about their own preferences. "Because you like science fiction where bunnies murder anthropomorphic cyborg carrots..."

Yes, you have to do your homework!

Why? Because it pisses me off if you don't. 

(Geez Jen, is this all about you?) Ha, slowing down here now, yeah, a little bit. Sorry about that, friend. You know how we hate in other people what we've seen in ourselves? I have to confess, I really missed out in my earlier writing life because of laziness. I really hope you can do better. That would be awesome! And I really don't ever want to work with you if you're lazy like I was (am), because great works don't come into being like that, and because we need to promote together if we want people to read what we write. When it comes down to it, do we really want our epitaphs to say, "Just good enough"?

Or do you want it to say "Burned out in a flame of blood and hope creating the most awesome works ever known to man and elf"?

I know what I'm aiming for.

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