Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.
I’ve been a slacker the past couple of nights. Tonight in particular, but that’s because the winner codes for NaNoWriMo were finally released and I bought Scrivener, and I have been so eager to get my hands on it and play with it and see how my novel looks in bulletin-board form.
Last night, I migrated the bulk of posts from an old blog that I had on the now-defunct blogging site called Vox to my Mommy Blog on WordPress. I began with more than 200, and there are now only 17 posts that I need to sort through to make blog-ready, so I think I’ve done a fairly decent job. (And of those remaining 17 posts, most probably won’t make it over to the other site.)
And, of course, as I was migrating my work and even blogging yesterday, I thought of Sherman Alexie’s quote above and cringed. Because, well, he’s absolutely right.
But he also said that I should read a thousand pages for every one that I write, and considering that I finished 193 pages, I owe myself a 200,000-page break. Unless I’m supposed to read and write concurrently, but I’m not sure how I would manage that.
The point is, I know I’ve been a slacker. I know I’ve stalled at the first chapter of my next work, even though I wrote a poem that would be partial song lyrics for the book. But the story has been gestating, I promise! It’s just a matter now of sitting down and actually laying out the plot points to make it work.
I’m not giving up my trust composition book now that I have Scrivener, though. I can’t use Scrivener anywhere but on my laptop, after all, and I tend to have plotting inspiration strike at the oddest moments – like when I’m at a red light and thinking of how my characters’ moms would react to the traffic I encounter each morning.
But once Scrivener is available on my iPad…
I was reading a rather intriguing article today on the Huffington Post site. In it, Steve Gottlieb, a fairly well known player in the music industry, talks about the need for publishers to embrace the digital platform when reaching consumers.
And as I read it, it occurred to me that there is another message within this article, but one meant more for authors.
What do I mean? Well, allow me to explain.
Bands don’t write songs and seek out agents and labels right away. Well, maybe some artists wait for their chance to be on X Factor or American Idol or something, but even factoring in those shows, musicians don’t just put something together and say, “Ooh! I know! Why don’t I find a label to audition for!”
And yet that’s what so many authors do. We write these fantastic books and try to get them out in front of people who can make or break our dreams, often without letting anyone besides friends and family read our work.
Struggling musicians try to find places to perform, seek out that feedback, work hard to build a fan base and interact with anyone and everyone who comes to their early shows because – hey! If that guy liked our show, maybe he’ll tell two of his friends, and they’ll tell two more, and they’ll tell two more, and the next thing you know, you’re filling tiny clubs to capacity and have A&R guys tripping over themselves to see why there’s so much buzz about you.
So, shouldn’t authors do the same?
(Allow me to make a shameless plug now for my own recently completed NaNoWriMo project tentatively called Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?, the second chapter of which is now up on Wattpad for your reading pleasure and feedback.)
I’ve currently sent out four copies of my first draft to friends with another going out this weekend, and I fully expect two of those copies to come back covered with red marks as I’ve sent them to teachers. (It’s feedback – I welcome it.) Two other copies are being read by my target audience and their mothers; I fully expect feedback there, as well. And the fifth is being read by my bestest friend from high school, mostly because she’s awesome like that but also because she’s the mom of middle school boys and can provide some feedback, as well, but from a slightly different perspective. (Note: No family has read this. Yet.)
What’s my point? Well, I’ve written something I think is pretty good, even if it is just a first draft. Yes, it needs some polish. But it’s kind of like a musician writing a new song. Is it going to sound exactly right when you play it for the first time? No. Is the crowd going to love it as soon as they hear it? Maybe, but quite possibly no. But that’s when you welcome criticisms and take them to heart and transform what is pretty good into something amazing.
And those people helping you along the way with criticisms? Maybe they’ll tell two friends that they like your work. And those people will each tell two of their friends. And the next thing you know, you’ve got a book that’s clawing its way up the Barnes & Noble and Amazon charts, and agents and publishers are now tripping over themselves to see what the buzz is about you.
So it’s not just publishers that can learn from the music industry. It’s authors, too. And while I can’t very well stand up and read the entirety of my 195-page novel (still can’t believe I wrote a novel) at an open-mic night, when I’m satisfied that my novel is ready, I can at least share copies in hopes that someone thinks it’s good enough to share with their friends or (gasp!) even post on Facebook about what an awesome book they just read.
Hey – a girl’s gotta dream, right?