My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, January 15, 2021

Best Y.A. Book (Or Series) Nominations Still Needed

What is the best Young Adult Book (or series) in the Science Fiction genre? Come join our conversation.

Remember there are no more polls. These days instead of a grudge match, we just have a conversation about some good books. ANY book can end up on our list with just a single nomination. The only thing I do even remotely like "ranking" is to put the books in order by number of "seconds." 

Please don't forget to pop over to the original page to drop that nomination, see what has been nominated and second those you agree with, and brush up on the rules (there are a FEW) if you haven't already. With everything going on in our political landscape, and me trying to plow through the "admin business" of the new year, it might be easy to forget that there's a NOTpoll going on., but please come join in and tell us the books you love and think are either the "best" or just just don't get enough love.

Just a reminder that I'm drawing a distinction here, although I am not making it a hard and fast line, and I will certainly not "police" it. There will be another NOTpoll along shortly for dystopian Y.A. since it is such a pronounced genre of its own with SO many rich and wonderful choices. It absolutely needs its own category. I'm not going to nitpick, and I know there's a lot of overlap between the two, but consider if you think your nominee might be a better fit for dystopia rather than sci-fi. (Hunger Games, for example, did not make enough out of the futuristic tech and/or emphasize sci-fi tropes. It felt much more dystopian to me.) 

Again, please remember to go to the original page to drop your nomination (and familiarize yourself with the rules if you haven't yet). If you put it anywhere else (including a Facebook comment on this post) it will not be counted.

Thank you all for joining in our NOTpoll. I've really loved reading all your comments about the books you treasure and why.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Do You Have to Write Every Day To Be a Writer (F.A.Q.)

The original facepalm.
[Recently I undertook a 20+ hour project to revamp the ENTIRE F.A.Q. for 2021 while at the same time a 25 hour workweek at my other job poised to strike (my usual week of Nannying is closer to 10 or maybe 15). Updating an F.A.Q. may sound boring, but some of the articles within are total barn burners, so given how unexpectedly busy I've been this week, I'm going to post one now to give myself an extra day off blogging this week.]

Short answer:

No, you have to write to be a writer. 

Long answer:

More than any other process claim I make here at Writing About Writing, this one causes spontaneous bowel voiding, and makes people grab their pitchforks and torches and wander around the Bay Area killing people who look like they might be pretentious writers in the hopes that one of them will be me.

The thing is, I have never actually said this. I don't spend my time bequeathing that title on the worthy or denying it of the unworthy. I have more interesting things to do with my precious number of finite breaths — like rearrange my sock drawer.

You are a writer if you "Earn Your ER."

Folks, I know this is a little TL;DR, but please listen. Just this once. Just for shits and giggles. Just so you can put on your hipster glasses and tell people you knew I wasn't really telling people they had to write every day "before it was cool." Just pay attention this one time.
I don't have time to read the history of the Teal Deer!

Write. Don't write. I don't give a fuck. 

I mean I DO give a fuck, but only if you want to write. (It's like the old joke: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but the lightbulb has to want to change.) If you want to not write, I don't want to put some undue pressure on you. I don't want to make demands of your mind and body that are unrealistic. I don't want you to do writing so much that you hate it.

I want you to be fulfilled in life. I want you to get what you want out of the rat race. I want you to succeed.

If you want to be a writer. I give a fuck only in so much as I give a fuck about all of you, and I want to help you make that dream come true. If you fantasize so hard you wet yourself about BEING a writer, I have some pretty good advice for you about how to get there. Because that used to be me, dreaming hard and sitting around not writing — in love with the idea of being a writer.   

But if you don't actually want to write, don't write. There's no glamour in this job. Very little fame. A pittance of fortune. Writers are not rockstars. If we achieve ANY of those things, ever, it will only be after years and years of toiling away without them (and there are easier ways to achieve any of them). There is absolutely no reason to write other than for the sheer love of writing. 

You don't need permission not to write. You don't need absolution. You don't need approval. You might need to get over this idea that you're a writer, or more likely, you ARE a writer, but you might need to get over this idea that you're going to ever do it as a day job. But that's between you and you. You don't need to make excuses that no one believes anyway. All you need is to put down the pen and not write.

Writing is not the kind of activity you should be doing if you don't actually want to be doing it. If you want write "more than anything else in the whole wide world," and you have these fantasies of getting rich and famous because you're the next Stephen King or Danielle Steele, I promise (pinky swear) that it won't happen by sitting around NOT writing.

Seriously, I promise.


What I (actually) tell people is that, like any art, and really any highly technical skill, writing every day is the best way to improve. Musicians practice. Artists sketch. Actors rehearse. And the better the musician/artist/actor, the more they do these things. Only in writing do you find this sense that the artist should sit around and wait until the heavens open up and grant them inspiration, as if it is genius and mere talent rather than work that makes good writers.

The most insidious part of this harmful little narrative about genius is that even if a writer who isn't working regularly should become inspired, they may not have the skill to do anything about it. They were sitting around when they should have been learning the skill and craft of writing. Now they've got a great idea and they really suck at expressing it.

None of us practiced because that would ruin the magic and make it feel like work.
Hope you enjoy the show.

Inspiration is cheap.

Go find someone who doesn't have a book or a movie script in their head.

Go find someone who doesn't have few chapters saved to a zip drive or tucked into a drawer, or even a rough draft — that's actually the more difficult task. Human beings are creative. It's part of what makes us human. The ability to convert an idea into little black marks and have it still be good when someone (who doesn't want to sleep with you) reads it — that is the real trick.

Practice is essential for any skill. Professional athletes don't sit around on the couch waiting to be inspired. And they don't make the major leagues without a zillion hard-ass practice sessions before their big day in front of the talent scout.

The artists we admire, the ones we love, the ones we want to emulate, and who we fantasize that our own careers will follow the trajectory of — they invariably worked very, very hard. I can think of maybe two authors who didn't write like they're running out of time and who had a very small body of works achieve such great success that they basically built an identity as a writer upon them. [F. Scott Fitzgerald and Douglas Adams] Everyone else writes (or wrote) constantly and reads when they're not writing. They didn't play video games and tell people on the chat forums that writing every day makes it feel like work...and then one day they just had a great idea, slapped it down during NaNoWriMo and became rich and famous. 

That's not how any of this works.

So the advice to write every day is for people who really want to improve, those who want to make writing a career, those who want to be published novelists, who possibly even want a following and fans, and certainly those who want to be among the notable fiction writers of a generation.

If that's not you, then do it as much as you want to be doing it and quit when it no longer brings you fulfillment.

Would you like to know more....?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Though sidetracked for a couple of days, we are back on track with our "admin fortnight," and have updated our ENTIRE F.A.Q. (for the blog, not the Facebook one) for 2021. This took nearly a week of behind-the-scenes revision and editing, so please enjoy.

Of course, this is a copy/paste of the tab at the top where our FAQ lives, so that I could make an article of it for everyone who gets posting notifications or emails. 

Q- Question: Do You Really Have to Write Every Day to Be A Writer?

Q- Did [X-event] really happen to you?

Q-Why do you/How can you hate NaNoWriMo?

Q-Why won't you answer my question for the Mailbox?

Q- Will you do freelance writing/editing for me?

Q-How can I get your kind of numbers on MY blog?

Q-Is talent important to a writer?

Q-How do you ACTUALLY start writing?

Q-I want to write a book and not be told that I needed to have been writing every day for the last ten years. Is there advice that ISN'T "Write every day."

Q- How can I support Writing About Writing and its struggling, yet devilishly cute and cuddly author? If I add up all the time spent being marvelously entertained, all the laughter, all the tears, and all the inspiration–as well as having my life and understanding of writing enriched–it would be longer than a directors cut of the Lord of The Rings trilogy....for which I paid $39.99 (even during a sale) at Costco.  How can I give back for all this joy?

Q-Will you post more of your fiction?

Also check out our F.A.Q. specifically for Facebook questions like "Will I promote YOUR work on FB?" "Will I read your story (sent to me through FB)?" or "Can I follow you on social media?" or "Why am I always so political?"

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Quick Note From Chris

Hi everyone, 

We had some "interesting times" in our country, and as is always the case when that happens I put aside the pre-planned schedule and did some impromptu political writing about that. You can go see it here if you are interested in that sort of writing.

That took most of Thursday and Friday to write, and put us behind on our admin-fortnight. I know it's weird, but I just don't feel right about posting a revised update to my answer about why I am ambivalent towards NaNoWriMo while my country is having a coup. I'm just funny that way. After a fraught weekend of following the news and writing in bite sized chunks on my Facebook page (as I am prone to do when "interesting times" crop up), I'm taking today as a sort of refocus and recenter day.

Tomorrow you will get a full revision of the entire F.A.Q., which I have been working on for days (with obvious interruption), so the wait should be worth it as those questions tend to be popular and....um....you know.....frequent. 

Thank you for your patience. I wish I could say this is absolutely the last time before Biden takes office that things are going to be so "interesting" that I have to put the regular schedule on hold, but 1) I am already seeing calls for violence in the next ten days, 2) have you SEEN this world? It's ridiculous how often shit goes sideways here. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Mission Statement

[We continue our admin fortnight with day two.

As is usual for the start of January here at Writing About Writing, there are about to be a lot of admin-flavored posts. This is the time of year I go through all those tabs up at the top of the blog and revise all of them with updated information. If you like seeing under the hood of blogging, you might enjoy.

Today's "bundle" is our mission statement. (I've cleaned up each of the three parts––they each link out to their own quick description.]

This was my original mission statement:

The Mission of this Blog is to provide a place that will facilitate my ability to:

1-Be able to say, “I was just writing about that in my blog” in that really pretentious way that only bloggers can do. Preferably while holding a snifter of brandy and looking at someone through a monocle.

2-Satisfy my writerly exhibitionist need for feedback without the constant irritation of things like letters of rejection.

3-Be able to say, “I’m published” at cocktail parties as long as they don’t press too hard on how exactly I’m using the word “published.”

4-Be passive aggressive towards people who have slighted me in an internationally accessible medium. Also preferably while holding a brandy.

5- Have fans hanging off of me no matter where I go. Bloggers are the new rockstars.  That's what the dude at the Moleskine Journal Store assured me.

But I found this to be just a little bit too honest for most, so I’ll go with my second round of reasons. So here is the new and improved mission statement.

The mission of this Blog is to provide a place where I can (each is its own link):

1-Control What People See When They Search for Me on Google