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

Friday, January 29, 2021

I Get By With A Little (Lot) of Help From My Friends (Muses)

There is one more bit of business before we can truly proceed into 2021. And protocols demand that it 1- must not be put off a moment longer, and 2- must be done on the earmarked day of the "meaty" post. 

Because it is vitally important.

There are a few people who literally make what I do possible. Without any one of them my life would be considerably different. Without all of them, I'd be lost.

I can try to sing their praises, but it will never quite be enough. Their name is not hyperbole, for they really do inspire me sometimes from the dredges of apathy and the very edge of giving up on this whole "blog thing." I have flumped my ass out of bed because "the patron muses deserve me at my best."

One showed up to a convention event with their entire family dressed in Writing About Writing t-shirts and believed in me back when no one else did. Many have donated non-trivial amounts on Patreon month after month. Some have dropped a donation on me that is so huge I learned that the cliché of mouths going dry was actually a thing. One simply helps my social media proliferation by liking and sharing a lot of my work and posting an algorithm-boosting GIF to just about every damn thing I post. A few years back, one found me through my writing and was a source of remarkable emotional support. One provides professional editing at no charge, and makes everything I write sound SO much better than it has any right to.

These are the folks who I think of when the writing gets hard. They are the ones who, when "the going" gets really tough, I realize I can't let down.

Right now there are 15 patron muses, but "there's always room for one more" (or 12 more….or fifty more….). Julia, Margaret, John, Anna, Ginger, Kelly, Chris, Alisha, Stephanie, Hélène, Amy, TM Caldwell, Alex, another––more different––Alex and two Anonymouses.   

I salute you all, and thank you so so much for making this fantastic journey possible.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Flip Side: I'll See You On It

"Ground control to Major Chris…."

Hi everyone, 

No official post today because I'm taking part in a podcast, but when that goes live to the public, I will link it here, of course, so you can see what I've been up to instead of writing….about writing. 

I head back to my other job next week, but I've had a nice quarantine-ication (after a dental appointment) and I will try to keep the hits coming before I make an appeals post*, so you see what I can do on the writing front when I'm not working 20-30+ hours at another job.

Of course, if you just want to support me without hearing all the reasons why and how desperate I am and all that shit, my Patreon or Paypal are always open. I'm down again this month (the economy is hurting!) and even though I'm going to have more nanny hours than I can handle until the vaccine is a LOT more rolled out, keeping a baseline of writing income is going be crucial to going back to full-time writing in a few more months.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Best Y.A. Science Fiction (Book or Series) [NOTpoll results]

What is the best young adult book (or series) in the science-fiction genre? 

The results are in! I don't normally post on Wednesdays, but this is just a quick results thing, so I should still be on track for the rest of the week. 

From your nominations and recommendations have come these two lists. One of the best titles in the genre. The other titles that are not "best" but are great, but tragically less well known. Come get some great suggestions for your To Be Read™ list or journey over to the nomination page to see people singing the specific praises of each title and having a great conversation.

Thank you all so much for participating. I hope we get a little more engagement once folks sort of see how it works.

We also now have TWO of these results pages, so I need to get cracking creating a top level menu page where all the various results are posted and linked.

The Best (one nomination each)*

Machine - E. Bear

Thunder and Lightning (series) - J. Varley

Dingilliad (series) - D. Gerrold

Succession (split into two volumes by the publisher) - S. Westerfield

Karen Memory - E. Bear

Matthew Looney and the Space Pirates (series) - Jr. J. Beatty

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel - R. A. Heinlein

Raybearer - J. Ifueko

Animorphs - K. A. Applegate 

Undersung Heroes

Foundations - I. Asimov

Epic - C. Kostick

*There's an author/book missing. There's a reason it's missing. Its nomination comment has been erased. I will gladly explain if someone is curious, but the short version is that I have to draw the line somewhere on something that could promote the work of a living artist who is being actively and directly harmful to marginalized communities.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Best Y.A. Book (or Series) [Last Chance to Nominate or Give Seconds]

What is the best young adult science fiction book (or series)? Come join our conversation.

This is the last call for nominations (or seconds of existing nominations) that will go on our compilation page. Even though I don't normally post anything on Wednesdays, tomorrow I will compile the results. 

Remember there are no more polls. We just have a conversation about some good books. On Friday I will publish two lists: one of "undersung heroes," the books that aren't the best but that you love and want to see more people know about. And the BEST, which will have no ranking other than being listed in order of which got the most seconds.

Keep in mind that even though I am not making it a hard and fast line, or rejecting nominations, there will be another NOTpoll along shortly for dystopian Y.A. since it is such a pronounced genre of its own. It absolutely needs its own category. I know there's a lot of overlap, but Hunger Games or Divergent will have its day.

ALSO 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 your input. I've really loved reading all your comments about the books you treasure and why.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Get Ready to Spend a Good Quarter of the Time NOT Writing (Personal/Meta)

The good news is, I mostly finished the admin fortnight. The bad news is, it took three weeks.

Now if you've been around for a while, you know that, for me, that's actually The Flash on Speed™ when it comes to my usual ability to get anything done in roughly the same time frame that I think I will. (Skyrim article, anyone?) And we definitely lost a couple of days to insurrection, attempted coup, and the subsequent writing I did around that. I'm really not THAT far off schedule. 

And yet here we are, and January is almost over. 

There are a couple of other admin posts coming. The best of 2020 and the adjusted best-by-month lists still need to be figured out. And there are a few people to thank. But everyone has been patient enough with me revising and posting the old tabs, so I think I'm going to dribble the rest in.

I've got some good stuff this week. Enough that I might even put a quick post up on Wednesday even though I just got through telling you that would never ever happen. There's a Facebook compilation post. I've got a great Mailbox question. And a good guest post is in the hopper for Friday. I'm going to really try to give you the ol' Razzle Dazzle for a couple of weeks. I prefer to kind of nail a good run of content before I pass the hat, but I lost a lot of Patrons over the last month, and I sure could use some financial support, so I'm going to be trying extra hard to show you what this baby can do when I'm flush in food and rent (and don't need that other job). 

But it brings up a good point about being a capital W "Writer." And I'm nothing if not here to wring a ham-fisted writing lesson out of my personal life. When you write for fun, you get to just write as much as you want. You never have to do anything but sit down and let the magic flow. You can involve yourself in the pixie dust and the fairy farts and never have to spend one day fixing the layout of your blog because you can't see the "Subscribe" button anymore, or two weeks carefully revising your various "standing posts" to make sure they accurately reflect both logistical truth and an evolving worldview. (Do you have ANY idea how many groupie threesome jokes I used to make when they were just absurdist jokes that could never really happen?)

However, when you make that transition from "this is fun" to "this is work" and particularly to "this is my DAY job, you're going to spend an ungodly chunk of time doing stuff that isn't writing. Just like in any job where you have to deal with admin or fill out TPS reports or sit in meetings that could have been emails or do staff development days or what-the-fuck-ever that isn't the actual job, writing isn't going to always be about writing––certainly not all about the parts of the creative process that you love.

I mean, I got to revise those articles (and some of that involved some creative effort and rewriting chunks of text), but I've spent almost 1/12 of the year now just dealing with blog stuff that didn't really FEEL much like creative writing. And when you add in how many hours a week I spend posting memes and things on FB so there's an audience for my work (or the unexpected days lost to managing the comments periodically when shit gets out of control) the ACTUALLY writing time shrinks further. Or replying to emails. Or how often I have to deal with Patreon. Or the three or four DAYS I spend rounding up receipts for all the weird income streams I have, so that I can do my freelancer taxes. Or even things like losing data, fixing formatting problems, trying to figure out enough HTML to be able to fix glaring errors like the background color of text. Or or or….

And you don't duck this beast just because you want to be traditionally published (or self-published without being laughed at). This isn't just a "blog thing." You're not just going to write all day and then pick up those sweet royalty checks from the mailbox. There's a lot of editing that isn't creative at all––just going back into your work with the suggested edits and just adding or subtracting commas. Or if I weren't promoting on FB, I might be walking up and down the streets trying to put my books on consignment. Or I might be doing literary events. Even if I were a household name, I might be doing junkets or book signings that last hours.

All in all, rough estimate….I'd say if you want to cross the divide between contented hobbyist who maybe makes enough to go out an extra time or buy a game for Switch each month and a working writer (even part time) who makes a significant portion of their income through wordsmithing, you should be absolutely prepared to lose about a quarter of your time to NOT writing. Some days are better than others, but then again sometimes you have an entire month where it seems like all you've done is polish your F.A.Q. and move around some commas.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Follow Writing About Writing (Or Chris Brecheen)

Interested in following Writing About Writing? Or Chris Brecheen as a writer?

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing (or if you are trying to follow ME as a writer), it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways I am online and what goes where.

Writing About Writing is on several social media, but each medium is updated a little bit differently. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where most days I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see old posts they may have missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics).

Some social media have different signal-to-noise. Some I update in other capacities. Some are fire and forget. In some, I post my writing that is not "about writing," like the blog NOT Writing About Writing. Other places, more strictly ABOUT writing, pretty much keep it to this blog and it's updates along with macros, puns, and "You should be writing" memes.

Here are a few questions I get a lot:

What should you follow if you want to see everything I write? 

You want My Public Facebook Page. Follow it (or friend it if you check out the guidelines below). Though be warned that it can sometimes be like drinking from a fire hose. I will post everything I write, including reruns, but I ALSO post navel gazing, proto-posts, Jack-Handy-caliber deep thoughts, amateur political punditry, social justice thoughts, macros, silliness, and geekery. 

What should you follow if you basically want all the official posts I write, but not a bunch of crap about politics, video games, my day, or social justice?

You want My Twitter. Every post from every blog plus the reruns, but no other posts because A) I cross post everything I write to Twitter, but B) I don't really use Twitter at all except to cross post. So it is perfect noise-to-signal if you only want to see my finalized writing.

What should you follow if you basically want the Writing About Writing blog, but almost nothing else. 

You want the Writing About Writing Group. TWO posts most days (one new and one rerun). There is one meme (but only one) that is the prior day's best from the page. I almost never post from my other writing, and I almost never post more than one meme.

What should you follow if you basically want memes, puns, articles, and "you should be writing" reminders and don't really care about reading my blog?

Okay, that's cool. No no. It's fine. Really. While I put some aloe on this burn, you want the Writing About Writing page. Lots of memes, macros, puns, and comics and it's easy to scroll past the occasional post from my blog.

What should I do if I want all of these things? 

Follow the Writing About Writing Facebook PageThe Writing About Writing Facebook Group, and my Public Facebook Page. Then go to the following button on the page and set your preferences to "See First." I will warn you that you may see some repeat posts, but this if you want to miss the fewest things I post, this is the way.

All nearby Mandalorians in unison:
"This is the way"

The "Join this site" button on the left, toward the bottom of this (and every) page. 

Following Writing About Writing through Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through Gmail.) You will be notified when I write a new post.

Pros- Shows all updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from any other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up.

R.S.S. Feed (Feedly, Feedburner) 

If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button AT THE BOTTOM of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, NewsFire, RSSOwl and more. 
Here to burn your feed!
"Wait, what?"

Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.

Cons- RSS feed does not include reruns (even the Greatest Hits I like to cycle through). No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the images. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, catching up feels Sisyphean and knowing the next update is coming feels like the sword of Damocles. (Gotta get my Greek metaphors on.)

Email Notification 

At the bottom of the right side of the page, there is an option to put your email into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through email notifications. Every time I post an update, you will be sent an email notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Easy peasy lemon squeezy

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You probably already get ten billion emails a day.

(That heading is the link to my twitter--just click on it) 

I was off Twitter for a while when they were making excuses for not banning Nazis. They seem to have pulled back from that position and are now basically as horrible as most other social media, and sometimes outdistance even FB in not sucking ass, so I opened a new account. It's JUST a tweet of my blog posts (and reruns). That's it.

Pros- Gets all posts (reruns, new, other blogs, everything).

Cons- Gets nothing else.

(That heading is a link)

W.A.W.'s Facebook page is its whole own thing.

In order to build an audience on Facebook, I spend a lot of time posting memes, macros, "you should be writing" reminders, inspirational messages, videos, and whatever thing about writing I find interesting and want to share.

This may seem counterintuitive, but I actually try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. The audience I've spent years carefully cultivating will not stick around if things get spammy. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross-posting.

You can increase your chances of seeing posts by setting the page to "see first," but you'll never see everything……because Zucc.

Click "See first" to see more. 
But because FB wants page admins paying money
nothing you do will ever get you everything I post.
(You have to visit the page periodically and go through our history for that.)

Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. 

Cons- Lots of other stuff going on which. Also the FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Not a good place to get all the blog updates if you want them. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the Antichrist.

(The heading is a link)

I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling. Then Tumblr started doing it too and THEN they axed LGBTQIA+ content because of overkill compliance with Fosta/Sesta. These days I'll post all my blog stuff (reruns too) including from the non-writing blog, AND the daily BEST OF meme (very similar to my FB group except sometimes I share other Tumblrs that are social justice-y). 

Pros- Blog posts from all locations. Best meme of the day. 

Cons- Limited presence on Tumblr. And I share other Tumblr posts about social issues from time to time.

(The heading is a link)

Different from the FB page, the Facebook GROUP will only have the blog posts (usually two a day) and a single macro/meme/infographic that is kind of like "The prior day's best."

Pros- Mostly just blog cross posts. (Reruns and current.) Once-a-day "best of" macro/meme.

Cons- Nothing else.

(The heading is a link) 

My Public FB profile is a melange of personal updates, posts about politics and social issues, geekery, things I find about non-monogamy, introversion, and pop culture. But it will also include some "behind-the-scene" thoughts about writing, running a page, and the creative process. If you wish there were more "Social Justice Bard" posts, this is a place where you can read the proto-versions of some of them as well as the ones that never make it to the blog.

You might want to follow for a while and decide IF you want to send me a friend request. I'm definitely not everyone's cup of tea with the geekery and the social justice stuff. 99.9% of my posts are public, so you really wouldn't be missing anything except the ability to comment.

If you don't care for my (very) occasional social issues post on other social media, you will like my profile even less. I write about that stuff almost daily. I can be a bit much for people. I post a lot. 

I have a Commenting Policy for this profile. You should read it before charging in. ESPECIALLY before charging into a contentious post. 

If you do want to "FRIEND" me, send me a PM with your request. (Don't worry, I check my "Message Requests" inbox at least once a day.) That account gets around 100-200 friend requests a week. I reject most of them because I don't know if they're there to try and rent my page or just pick a fight in the comments. So send me a message along with the request.

Pros- See more of "me." Get "behind the scene" updates. See "alpha" versions of posts and thoughts that never quite make it.

Cons- I post a LOT. I am not shy about my liberalism/leftism. 

(The heading is a link)

Yes, I even have an Instagram. It gets the "best of" meme each day, a very occasional link to my blog on some super relevant picture, and the occasional selfie (although self-promotion demands that I point out my Patreon selfie tier is still the best way to get those (and pictures I take with my snazzy camera).

(The heading is a link)

Though Patreon is less of a social medium, my patrons do get pictures and content through various tiers that are not available to anyone else. Newsletters, early access to posts, and the occasional post about what's going on that my regular readers aren't privy to. 


I would love if something could replace Facebook. Anything. Right now, though, I am fettered there. For all its throttling and trying to squeeze blood from my stones, Facebook is what has made it possible for me to be a working writer.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Will I Do Your Podcast/Panel/Class/Lecture/Interview?

Short answer, I'd probably love to.

First of all, let me do the sad but necessary disclaimer that while we're still dealing with Covid, I am more comfortable online or in small, open-space venues with good vaccine and/or masking culture. Expect some pointed questions about the venue if you want an in-person appearance.

But I do enjoy these things. They are usually a hoot, and as much as I love blogging, mixing things up once in a blue moon is awfully fun. They make for a fun post here about what I'm up to other than "Write, write, and a bit of writing after I write." And I have to tell you…if you've never had a room full of people really interested in what YOU have to say about something, it can be pretty rad.

I also have a decade and change of experience in front of a classroom, so I've no trouble with public speaking or teaching or even keeping my presentations interesting. And I have experience modifying my messages in complexity and irreverence with everyone from MFA cohorts to middle schoolers. 

Here are just a few disclaimers and guidelines (some assuming a post-covid world) so we don't waste each other's time.

  • I will not, under any circumstances, speak on things that would be classified as "out of my lane." If you want to know about linguistics, get a linguist. (My interest is hobby-level at best.) If you want to know about traditional publishing, you should find a published (traditionally published) author. If you want to talk about anti-racism in writing, you should be talking to a BIPOC. If you want to talk about portraying trans issues well, you should put trans folks on your panels/podcasts/etc. I can touch on subjects dear to my heart, and I can talk about my journey and how I think other people from privileged backgrounds might proceed, but I'm not the person to talk to about what is a problem or how to address it. When it comes to that shit, I listen. 
  • Now, if you want to talk about how to build up an audience, or how to run a Facebook page, or how to keep writing when politics on social media is a distraction, or the craft of fiction and how it relates to video games, or even a postcolonial/psychoanalytical analysis of Supernatural, I'm certainly up for those conversations. 
  • I don't necessarily require pay, but I can travel about an hour by car before I need something to take care of travel expenses. Further, of course, might mean accommodations as well including room and board. And naturally, I don't want to come to a convention or event and have to buy a ticket to actually stick around and enjoy the thing. If an honorarium would cover all those things, I don't require extra, but I am on a shoestring budget. Of course, I'm always thrilled if it happens to be more-than-a-break-even situation….
  • I will want to make some sort of A/V recording of the event into a post if that is possible. I will post it here (along with all pertinent links that might get you some traffic).
  • My schedule is pretty busy. Not that I can't move stuff around, but last-minute events or something that could get moved at the last minute aren't likely to work. And if it does get moved, I might not be able to come along.
  • If you're going to feed me, let me know what. I am not a picky eater, but I might want to bring a granola bar or a soda. (I once did a panel, and all they had was LaCroix or wine. They didn't even have water. I don't really drink, so it was LaCroix. I know people like LaCroix but to me it is a bit like a contraband soda from a parallel dimension where flavor has been outlawed. I wanted a Dr. Pepper so bad.)
  • If this is your first one of these, let me know. I've had to figure things out before with a group that didn't know that I was going to need a host/greeter/ambassador type assigned to me from the minute I hit the parking lot. I didn't know where to go or what to do until the coordinator themselves, tears in their eyes with minutes to go, thought to text me through my Facebook page, and found out that I was just chilling on the nearby mezzanine with a sandwich waiting to hear from…anyone about where to go next. Great bunch, but if I'd known, I could have just told them what I was going to need from them
  • Give me some idea how to dress. If you've never done one of these, it's more important than you think. Otherwise my casual-ass self will be in a "Social Justice Bard" t-shirt and rainbow-seamed track pants while everyone around me is in cocktail attire. Also I don't have a jacket or a blazer. 
  • I can reliably be "on" for about five…MAAAAAYBE six hours. That's whatever combination of social time, presentations, speaking, mingling, before, after, whatever. If I'm not back at my car or the hotel room (or whatever) or at least tucked away in a quiet space and having a deep conversation with just one or two people, I'm going to get really moody, really fast. (I don't get cranky. I just get really really quiet because I'm out of batteries.) If you want more out of me, I'll need a long rest. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Do You Want Me As a Guest Blogger?

[Everything in italics will disappear soon. I'm currently having a formatting issue that has required me to rewrite and repost this entire article instead of just revise the existing one. 

This is article two of today's admin fortnight "bundle." You can go read article one, about blogging for ME, here.

IMPORTANT: This is a tab at the top of the page that usually goes unseen and un-responded-to for months at a time. I usually don't get asked to do blogging very often, and I am currently balls-to-the-walls busy, so I may not be able to take on extra work right now. If you ask in the next couple of weeks, I am likely to be very, very picky.]

You know, they say the best way for a blogger to get new readers is to have and do guest blogging. You expose yourselves to that writer's audience, who may then come to check you out. By the same token, any blogger writing on YOUR blog will likely bring several of their readers over to check you out. It's a little bit like those old chicken-pox parties––except with fewer awkward moments of parents trying to force the kids to play Twister.

"They" also say that guest blogging is so last year, and that today it's just about spammy spammers. I suspect that it remains useful to actual writers and less so to people trying to scam the internet for hits.

So we should totally try to poach each other's readers come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. I would love to have the chance to shamelessly steal provide another blog your readers might enjoy reading instead of as well as yours.

Though I currently maintain Writing About Writing, and have a second job wrangling smol children that kicks my ASS, with enough advanced notice I would love to do a guest post. If I'm unfamiliar with your blog, I'll probably want to check it out to make sure it's a blog I wouldn't mind associating my name with.

Here are some guidelines so we don't waste each other's time:

  • You should check out Not Writing About Writing if you want to see me flex my subject muscles a little. 
  • If you're big enough to pay your writers, but offering me only "exposure," you can kindly fuck off. Look around: I do enough free work as it is. I'd rather put in some unpaid hours improving my numbers than yours.
  • I do not do web content. Don't ask.
  • If you're too small to pay any writers, that might be okay depending on your exact situation. But I'm going to ask to be able to put one or two of self-promoting links in my article so that I can abscond with expose your readers to my work. And it will very much be on a case-by-case basis what I will be willing to do pro bono. (I totally work for trade though––see below.)
  • I hate to sound like a readership snob, but I'm clearing 50k page views a month, so if I'm mostly scratching your back, I'm basically doing work to promote you, and we'll have to noodle out some details that at least get me a scritch or two in that spot I can't reach. For example, if you have a much smaller readership, perhaps we can work out some sort of featured article where I post on both your blog and mine, but give you a few days head start.
  • If I can't really get behind your blog's philosophy, I'll probably take a pass. I don't have a hard rubric for this. I've guiltlessly written for publications with full nudity with a philosophy of enthusiastic consent, and I've turned down, without regret, opportunities to write for major national mainstream magazines because I don't like the beauty/fashion industry's promotion of unattainable beauty standards. If you think I'd probably absolutely appreciate your subversive take on the world, I probably will. If you think I'd probably definitely consider writing for you to be selling out, I probably will. If you think I will be impressed by how much of an edgelord you are, you're probably wrong. If you're in the gray area, ask.
  • I do not fucking do web content.
  • My writing is MINE (unless you pay a lovely fee which we can negotiate, but I freelance at $60/hr so it's not going to be couch cushion change). I understand SEO and content writing and that this is not an average request. I'm not going to undermine your blog by turning around and reposting a guest post somewhere else (including here), but I'm also not going to sign away the rights to my creative efforts unless you are paying me….just a SHIT-TON of money. 
  • I will tuck a copy of my work away. If your blog goes down or you just stop linking out my article because of age, I will repost it here. (I've learned this one from experience.)
  • I lied. I will totally do web content. You pay me a dollar a word, and I will write any web content you want. But unless you're ready to pay me a small fortune, seriously, I don't fucking do fucking web content!
  • You probably want to copy edit my work. I won't send you a rough draft or anything, but if I've taught you nothing in this blog, let it be that every writer needs an editor, and I personally am extra imperfect when it comes to my ability to proof my own copy. I'm getting better, but your blog's reputation will probably want you to at least make a pass for missing commas and homophones.
  • Whether you're paying me or you're "paying me" (cash, Funko Pops, favor exchange, lewds, whatever), I've been burned one too many times by "store credit." I don't necessarily need it all up front, but I won't do more than an hour of work before we set up some kind of first payment. 
  • I wasn't kidding about the web content thing.
  • If you've cruised around Writing About Writing and Not Writing About Writing, you probably already have a sense of the topics I would be excited about and which ones I'd scrunch my face up like you just told me the chips I was eating were made of beetle dung. I'm probably not going to be someone you want writing about SEO or typewriter maintenance, but if you want my take on literary analysis of a video game, how to set up social media for a modern writing career without feeling like you're spending too much time NOT WRITING, or how to find time to write with an infant in the house, I'm totes your guy.
  • And of course, I'd be happy to tweak something I've already written to fit into your blog if you want a slightly different take on an existing article.
  • Just please don't tell me not to use colorful language. I profane with all the colors of the wind.

Of course, if you have a print medium and you are interested in soliciting an article, all of this applies equally to print media. I just mostly exist in the e-pub world.

Guest Bloggers Wanted

Got something to say about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading...or possibly cheese?

Got something that writers or book lovers REALLY need to see?

Want to respond to something I've written, even if it's to completely disagree with me and tell me I smell like soup? And not that I smell like the good kind of soup that reminds you of childhood winters, but something with weird goat cheese, too much salt, and seasonings that make you wonder if it hasn't gone a little off.

Want to take advantage of my (currently) 40,00-60,000+ page views per month and advertise your own online endeavors in a thinly veiled self-promote-a-thon wrapped in the "sheep's clothing" of an article? (For which I will only demand a shoutout in return.)

Want to put an article or three out in the world, be read by lots of readers, but without having to start your own blog and do all that self-promotion? Or just want to try your own hand at blogging a few times before you start one of your own?

Want to even make a couple of bucks? (Oh yes. I said it. No just "exposure," here!)

Then I want you!

Hey, I gotta get a book written, and right now I'm working 30 hours most weeks at another job because I'm the only nanny who can join my immunocompromised clients' pod without bringing in any additional exposure risk. My schedule is more unforgiving than almost any clock-punchers. I need a day every week or two where someone else can do some of the heavy lifting.

So bring it!  

Read this whole page––and trust me that I'll know if you didn't.

Then drop me an e-mail. (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) As long as what you want to write is mostly coherent, at least obliquely about writing, no more than 82% horribly offensive to cishet white males, non-abusive to demographics typically pushed to the margins of our society, doesn't make me cry (except in the good way), contains at least one vulgarity, innuendo, salvo of F-Bombs, or in some way maintains the steadfast and unswerving lack of decorum I maintain around here, I will consider your article.

Now, paying people and having the traffic I do does mean that I usually get about two hundred or so replies to a post like this, and I get to be a little picky, so please put on your Sunday best and read everything very, VERY carefully. It's not really much of a day off if I have to spend it digging through two hundred articles.

I'm obviously not going to host anything that is utterly shitty to me or some kind of elitist skidmark about who deserves the label of "writer" and who is a "total poseur." Miss me with that shit. More importantly, miss my readers. 

Also, if you write an article on why I'm totes wrong in my Wrongface about something (like writing every day or reading a lot), I can't promise that I won't write some kind of rebuttal, but all opinions on writing are welcomeeven ones antithetical to mine. (I do reserve the right to refuse a post for any reason, but I promise that reason won't simply be because you disagree with me about daily writing or you think NaNo is unambiguously awesome or whatever.)

And...if you're one of my regular guest bloggers, I'll even give you your own link on The Reliquary (unless you'd rather I didn't) and let you post links to your own fiction. The magic number is FIVE regular articles to open up those privileges. (And then we'll talk ratios.)

Here are some guidelines so we don't waste each other's time. If you don't at least get through them, this isn't going to go well (and like I said above, I have a way of knowing):

  • If you send me offers to do web content, I'll mark your mail address as spam and I'll never see anything from that account again. I know when I'm looking at a legitimate offer for a guest blog.
  • If you are a robot, I will mark you as spam. Unless you can do dishes. Robots that do dishes are welcome.
  • If you can't figure out what this blog is about, and offer to do articles about steam roofing or tantric sex techniques or something, I'll mark your mail as spam. I'm not just spewing web content and yeeting it into the world here; this blog has a theme and everything.
  • Please read the paragraph below the bullet points very, very, very carefully.
  • Your writing is yours. I'm going to ask that you let the post run on my page for a while before you cross-post it, but ultimately I respect that, as the generator of the creative effort, your writing is yours. If you ask me to remove it, I will. If you repost it somewhere else, that's okay. IT IS YOURS!
  • There are no author passwords to Writing About Writing–you'll submit your articles to me via email. I will post them if they are good enough to post.
  • The more formatting your post needs (italics, bold, underlining, bullet points, pull quotes, double tab paragraphs), the more likely it is I'm just going to copy and paste it and it will come out looking STRANGE on Blogger. I honestly don't know why this happens, but the font ends up being small no matter how many times I try to fix it. It's much better if you need only a few formatting changes and I can start with fresh text and do them myself. But I'm not going to spend as much time as I would writing my own article trying to format yours from scratch.
  • If you skipped all that dull text up above, this blog is about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading, and maybe cheese. Don't skip the paragraph below, though.
  • Right now I'm not publishing fiction other than my own. I would be willing to publish fiction of any of our regular guest bloggers, but getting that distinction takes some doing. (Five regular articles.) If you have something more creative (like someone mentioned poems about writing), run it past me. I might be up for something like that.
  • I will be as liberal as I can about gatekeeping beyond holding you to the submission rules, but you do have to be able to write a little, and there is competition for only a few slots. I am going to get a lot of responses. I'd love to publish them all, but I will (at most) be picking one every week or two. An incoherent rant about the tyranny of grammar or something you slapped together in ten minutes probably won't be make it. Write your best shit (you should never submit less anyway), meticulously follow all the submission guidelines (you should always do this), and let loose. But don't get too nervous about whether it means you're a good writer or not. It just means there's competition, and maybe some other topic fit better, or you'll nail it in a year with practice. I mean, I can't write that well, and I post all my stuff. I'm not going to demand you be Faulkner.
  • You don't have to agree with me, particularly about writing stuff, but I'm not going to post wildly divergent social positions, humor that punches down, or deeply problematic phrasing. Anything I post here isn't an "I agree with this 100%!" endorsement, but if I hit "publish" on it, I'm going to be the one to answer for it when I get pissed off readers in my comments or emails asking how could I. If you want to write about how the PC police are agents of "the libs," and they won't let you even use the word "tard" anymore, go start your own fucking blog, so I can never read it.
  • I won't make any content changes to your writing, but I may make some copy edits. If a proofreading change might change your meaning, I will run it by you.
  • Please fucking read the paragraph below.
  • When I say, "I will make some edits," I want you to understand that I'm not a copy editor and wouldn't be good at it even if I wanted to be. I'm not here to fix up from scratch a post that you didn't have time to proofread. Clean it up. 
  • You may link out as much as you want (even self-promotional links) within reason, but I'm going to check them all–if they go to spammy shit, I won't publish your article. I don't have a rubric for "within reason."  If your post is more links than articles, no. If it has two dozen solid citations for the point you're making, we're still totally golden. If you have linked to six separate self-published books on your Amazon page about sex with dinosaurs..........well, it better be one great fucking article…preferably about sex with dinosaurs.
  • Please, for the love of all that is holy, and in the name of Poseidon's left nipple, read the goddamned fucking paragraph below.
  • If your post is a giant-ass commercial for some product, then you need to be paying me for advertising space. (I offer very reasonable rates.) And if your product isn't awesome and something I totally believe in, that's not going to happen anyway since W.A.W. is generally ad free. Thinly veiled self-promotion under the auspices of something that at least resembles an article is totally okay, though–just know that it might not get a lot of hits. I only get about 200 views on articles that aren't liked or reshared through some social media. If my readers don't like something, it does NOT do very well. If they do well, they know where the like and share buttons are, and it quickly goes viral. This blog has the foundational audience to do well if I strike a nerve. It is not guaranteed eyeballs.
  • Be aware of–and at least passingly comfortable with–my politics and social justice posts. I absolutely do not require guest bloggers to agree with me–certainly not about every issue. However, there is nothing more desperately unprofessional than writers so happy to be published anywhere that they turn around and are shocked to see their own platform throw out a social position they can't abide by. Also, include the word sparklefuzz in your email's subject line if you want any sort of reply from me at all. This shows me how you've actually taken the time to read the guidelines, and gives me an easy way to search for them when I get buried in emails, which is all the time.
  • Seriously, read the paragraph below.

The very important paragraph:

W.A.W. isn't making very much money article per article. I can't offer more than a couple of dollars (currently $10 for an article that does on average as well as the ones I write, and more if it does better). Most guest bloggers ask to fold their payment back into W.A.W. as a donation, but that's never expected, and I'm happy to pay you for your writing. If your article brings in heavy traffic, we will figure out something extra, so I'm not taking the hard work of a writer with nothing but the promise of "exposure." Plus of course, if someone sends me a donation earmarked for a guest blogger, I will pass the money onto them and even cover the Paypal fee–that's for them, not me. It may not add up to much (unless you get millions of hits or write for me a lot), but if it came from your work, I'll make sure I'm not taking advantage of you.

Less important paragraphs, but you probably should keep paying attention if you don't want to be frustrated:

THIS PROCESS WILL TAKE TIME BECAUSE I AM A WRITER (with a full time nanny second job that I can't get out until the pandemic is over, even if I want to), NOT A MANAGING EDITOR. When you email me in the appropriate way, I star the email as "important," and it may take me a week to ten days (or more) to get to it. Everyone who didn't spam or pich steam roofing articles will receive a "form" reply with the next step (which involves either a sample of your writing if you're pitching an article or the article you'd like considered if it's already written*). I usually never get a response to the second email. This process can take a month or more, so if you're in a terrible hurry, you may need to throw down a rope and swear on the soul of your father, Domingo Montoya, that I will clear out my email cache alive. Honestly, most people just ghost me after not getting a reply immediately. If you aren't ready to be patient…..well really you shouldn't be doing submissions anyway––just go self-publish.

*This is the better option unless your samples are really, really good.

Of those who send me something they want published, about 10% actually make it to the blog. Now, just so you know, while I do get submissions that aren't ready for publication yet, it's actually far less common than just submissions where folks don't follow the directions. I'm not even talking about anal retentive directions that you get from most publishers, like single spaced or page numbers. I mean they don't reply to the first email. Or they link me something and never tell me if that's their sample or if that's what they want me to publish. Or I ask about a biography and a pic and never hear back. Or they send me six emails in a row wondering if they can write ten to fifteen articles a day.

I know it seems like hoops and an assembly line and, believe me, on this end it's ten times worse because there are hundreds of you, but trust me that once we're done with the hoopla, the rapport will be very informal and friendly, and unless your posts get really off topic or weird, I'll give them a lot more latitude than the first one–it will be a much less stressful process once you're "in."

Also.....most of the writers who do get all the way to the publication point send me between two and four articles and then lose enthusiasm. Maybe it's just not the insta-fame they were hoping for, or it turns out it's harder work than they thought to keep cranking out posts every week or two. So if you're serious about this, the best thing you can do is read everything carefully (like this post and the e-mails I send you), and stick with it.

Just like writing itself.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Celebrating a Radical Communist; Back Tomorrow

You can follow this link to some words on MLK I wrote a few years back

These days, we take bank holidays off around here*. Not from writing, but from blogging (since far fewer folks are online reading anyway). 

This week, we will be finishing up our admin posts so we can finally move into 2021 with updated admin information (everything from how to follow us to our mission statement) and all our 2020 "best of" menus on display. 

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to read, I highly encourage folks who haven't to read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in total instead of cherry picking a few of the warmer and fuzzier quotes and weaponizing them––out of context––against folks who are understandably upset at injustice.

*Other than this, of course

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?"