Archive for June, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Why I’m a Great Writer but a Terrible Author

First, the disclaimer.  When I state that I am a great writer, I mean it more in the I’m-good-at-being-a-writer way versus the my-writing-is-so-great way. But it is. My writing, I mean. It is great. Just ask around.

I’ve been poking about on several social media sites where authors and/or writers tend to lurk and hawk their wares. I’ve paid considerable attention to what they post or tweet about and have come to a conclusion. I am a terrible author. There’s just no getting around it. I totally suck at the author-ness. But on the other hand, I tend to be a pretty good writer (or as I mentioned earlier – a “great” writer). Here’s how I’ve come to these conclusions.

1. I don’t take writing seriously.

It’s true and I admit it without reservation. I don’t map out every plot point in my novels. The most I do is sketch out an outline that becomes completely unusable by the fifth chapter because I have failed to adhere to said outline.  I don’t tirelessly research every aspect of my story. Sometimes I glance at Wikipedia to make sure I’m not making a total fool out of myself, but that’s the extent of my dedication. I don’t worry about character development. I don’t fret about the pacing of the action and I certainly don’t sweat blood and tears to get the story down on paper.

I don’t read books about writing. (All right, honesty time. I’ve read two books about writing in my entire life. Three if you count Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, which I don’t because it was required reading. I’ve read Stephen King’s On Writing and Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, both of which I recommend.)

I don’t belong to a writing group. I don’t do writing exercises. I don’t go to writing workshops. I don’t even belong to a book club – though someday I would like to. The list of things I don’t do that authors do is so long and exhaustive, I’ll stop here. I bet you get the point.

2. I don’t have a set writing schedule.

I have two boys, one medium sized and one small. I’m lucky if I can get a shower in the morning without being interrupted, much less a few hours of time I can sit down and focus solely on putting pen to paper. (Yes, my first draft is still done the ol’ fashioned way.)

I write when I can. Some days I can crank out a couple of chapters, some days only a paragraph. Some days ~gasp~ I write nothing at all. To top it all off, I don’t even feel guilty when a day goes by and nothing has been written. Not even a twinge.

3. I don’t write for my target audience.

I actually do write for a target audience, but it’s not in the traditional sense. I write for myself and my best friend “George.” (Note: All names have been altered to protect the innocent – even my own.) George has been reading my stuff since I was a teenager turning out ridiculous prose to present day when my current self turns out slightly less ridiculous prose. I really want George to like my stuff. If George does, then I consider myself a success.

Oh, and I want to like my stuff. If I can set it aside for a month or two and read it again without cringing, then it’s a job well done and pats on the back all around.

I’m not even sure who my “target audience” is in the traditional sense. I suppose if I were an author, I would know that.

4. I am not dedicated to the process of “branding” myself and my work

Simply, I am not willing to do what is necessary to get my name “out there.” Heck, I’m not even sure if I’m writing for my own amusement or the amusement of others. I hope the two intersect, but if they don’t I don’t feel particularly upset about it.

If I were an author, I would blog, tweet, Facebook, and Goodreads myself into a proper branding tizzy. As it is, I hate blogging as evidenced by the fact this is my third blog post in the 9 months I’ve had this blog. I mainly use Twitter to be silly, only occasionally taking feeble stabs at marketing myself. I set up my author Facebook page but have yet to put anything on it, including my profile pic. And the only reason I even have a Goodreads account (I prefer Shelfari) is because I heard my book was on Goodreads and I wanted to see for myself.

5. I don’t have a cat.

This is perhaps the most damning reason of them all. Though it could be followed closely by I don’t like/drink coffee and I don’t really read books in the genre I’ve chosen to write.

 


So how, you ask with furrowed brow and incredulous glance, can I possibly consider myself a “great” writer? That’s easy. I love writing. I think it’s fun. I love thinking up stories in my head then scratching them out on paper in my less than tidy scrawl. I really get a thrill when others read what I have written and enjoy it.

I can sense you are still skeptical. Like just having me and George enjoy what I write isn’t really enough. Well, I have managed through sheer dumb luck (my favorite kind) to have had my work reviewed on two book blogs: Logical Stress and We All Make Mistakes In Books. Or maybe you’d like to see for yourself whether my claim to great writer-ship has any merit. If so, please check out The Knowledge of Good on Amazon.

Maybe someday I will make the leap from writer to author, but for now I’m just doing it for fun. When it stops being fun… well, what’s the point in doing it?

 

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