Monday, May 31, 2010

Replenishing the well...

Replenish might not be the right word for it, but I do feel restored.

Long lazy hours spent doing nothing but reading this weekend. Primarily non-fiction at the moment because biographies and memoirs are less work than fiction. My brain needs the rest. Although I did read Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals at long last. A gorgeous, tough, honest work. Not a new book but new to me. I never seem to read books in their prime. I always have to wait until the dust settles to appreciate them.

Books are dependable allies. A port in a storm. Heather O'Neill describes her very difficult childhood in the readers' notes at the back of Lullabies. She lists the books she loved to read as a kid and as an adult. I get the sense books saved her life. The main character in Lullabies depends heavily on books to get her through. Thinking of all those authors, long-dead some of them, rallying around this kid to guide her to safety and sanity moves me to my core.

Books save lives. I don't think that's overstating it. I used to read Jane Austen whenever I felt like jumping off a bridge. Settled me right down.

Resting on another author's words, absorbing their world view, calms, restores, and rejuvenates. Makes you feel rich and glad to be human. Now how many activities in life can boast a return like that?

I think I'm ready to start the new novel. To paraphrase the brilliant Margaret Laurence: "Get back to work, slob."

Friday, May 28, 2010

To promote or not to promote ...

On day two of This Writer's Life, I waste several hours mulling over the value of book promotion. I don't have the income to support attending conferences. I don't like Facebook and I don't understand Twitter.

There are cheap ways to promote oneself, I suppose. But I'd have to figure out what and how and where. The hours would fly by and I wouldn't get any writing done--the reason for all the promotion in the first place.

I'm not saying book promotion is not worth doing, but how much should a newly published writer devote to it if they have another book to write, kids to feed and money to earn? Some writers can work on planes or cram their writing in small spaces of time. I can't. I have a deep suspicion that the writers who can are very experienced and therefore better skilled. Much like a car mechanic can perform an oil change faster than I can. Experience grows skill.

As a writer once told me, your first book is your loss leader. It's out there, hopefully doing you proud, but it isn't the main event. The next book is. And then the next. The new author's reputation is built on good writing--not on how many bookmarks are handed out at Book Expo.

But don't take my word for it. Visit Donald Maass's site and download a free copy of his book The Career Novelist.

If you like to go to conferences and you have the time and money, enjoy! But if not, don't sweat it. For the new author the value of that investment is debatable in my opinion.

"Publishing is a very mysterious business. It is hard to predict what kind of sale or reception a book will have, and advertising seems to do very little good." Thomas Wolfe

Some writers come out of the gate like thoroughbreds and never look back. Others, not so much. For the newly published writer who is navigating book promotion, writing, money woes, and what happens next, this blog is for you.

I have no advice. We're in the same boat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I am launching...

Today is the first day of my blogging life.

I like this Blog Host whoever they are. This was not stressful.

I had a website but it disappeared. Since I prefer to read what other writers are doing and saying, and how their writing life is going, and as I rarely visit websites anymore, I thought: Hey! A blog might be the thing for me too.

Day One of This Writer's Life went something like this:

Put 300 page manuscript on thumb drive.
Drove to Bureau en Gros to have printed.
One hour and $40 later, picked up mss.
Drove to Canada Post, bought oversized bubble mailer.
$50 later, mss is off to London, England to be perused by agent.
Shell shocked and weak, I drive home to eat salt and vinegar chips
and drink tea. Channelling my inner Brit.

Decide to set up blog to ward off feelings of inadequacy.