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The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists

The general who would be king. Oh! But that’s been done so many times before! Coriolanus. Gladiator…

These were the thoughts ruminating through my head as Bobby walked me around our neighborhood. Thinking thinking thinking about this character, a very important one in my life, who decided to reappear in my mind this morning. I love him, I want to bring him to life. But how?

Beat yet accomplished, Bobby plopped down on the cool tile near the doorway while I prepared a deserved lunch. I checked my Twitter timeline, and @writersdigest had posted ‘The 5 Differences Between Professional and Amateur Novelists,’ which I really enjoyed reading. Each attribute got me thinking about my own journey.

TOOLS

I think about what I need to have in order to be able to write. I’m a typist, a fast one at that, so when I know I want to produce a lengthy scenario, I know I need the keyboard. But, I do like to freestyle write. I recall the beginning of December, I ran out of journal pages and thought I’d be fine with sticking to the keyboard and typing in my thoughts. It didn’t work! For the physical tools of the trade, I do need paper as well as QWERTY.

My takeaway from this paragraph was, ‘The less time you spend thinking about how you write, the more time you spend thinking about what you’re writing’ and it’s true. Not having a journal to work from disrupted my ability to flow. While inspiration wasn’t stymied, the comfort of getting it from spirit to paper was.

PATIENCE

What I am most grateful for in this current mode of existence is the abundance of time I have. Retirement in the proletariat sense has allowed me room to evolve; to slow down, to tend to my ailments, to prioritize who and what matter. The opening sentence of the article includes, ‘the single greatest ally we have is time.’ Tis true.

What’s been interesting in this venture is how much everyone around me is impatient. While I’m happy to spew out a work here or there, the conversation is, when are you going to publish? What are you going to do after that book comes out? When are you going to start a book tour? Are you doing readings??

Yo. Chill out.

I even got an email saying, you have time to submit your book to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award you should do that! Thanks, really. But I’m doing this to experience joy, I’m not vying for Best Joyful Person. Does that make sense? There are literary artists damn near hyperventilating around me when I casually mention I’m publishing one of my works this year. Are you going to submit it for this award? That award? Are you doing contests? How much are you selling it for??

YO. CHILL. OUT.

FOCUS

The reason why I’ve stopped collaborating with groups is because the ones I’ve experienced lack focus. While the group ideology is to support a creative person and develop a creative work environment, it just seems to splinter. I’m a very focused individual, ask the two people who are brave enough to claim me as their friend. Once my mind is on a project, I design it Z to A, and that’s where the project remains. I may have mentioned in a previous blog my short-lived apprenticeship with a screenwriter. When we met to discuss the existing project, she had five – FIVE – different versions of the screenplay printed out, and we’re supposed to start revisions that week! Her sloppiness showed me while she had the ambition, she had no strategy and definitely no focus. Incredibly self-disciplined, organized, focused people are allergic to sloppy, unfocused ones.

HABIT

My habits are thus: I wake up within a certain window of time every morning. I walk the length of the lake, or when Bob completes #1 and #2, whichever is first. I brew coffee as I clean up the kitchen and make my bed. Coffee is brought to wherever I plan to write, and I do two Morning Pages by hand (The Artist’s Way, people, do it, thank me later) whatever’s on my mind. After that, just depends on where my creativity takes me. Currently, I’m balancing marketing time with respite. Not trying to jump on a fresh product yet, so I’m watching movies, reading books, experiencing works other than mine. When I was in the thick of novel production, I did the same morning routine, but then I’d compose well past sunset, sometimes until dawn. Next day, same morning routine. Well stated in the article, ‘The more consistent your habits are – and this ties into having your tools nailed down – the more secure your brain will be to run free and create.’

PRACTICE

The author says it in the article, ‘Practice makes you better.’ It does. I use this blog to practice. I use my Morning Pages to practice. I use my Twitter feed to practice. I’m a writer. I have to practice. Nothing is more saddening than coming across another person who claims to be a writer, but hasn’t touched any writing instrument since childhood. It’s in the actions, not the words, we’ve heard this axiom delivered several ways. If you’re a writer, write. And practice. And do it for you.

To Read Or Not To Read?

Original Post Date May 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM

The author weighs in on the opinion of reading fiction to qualify to write fiction.

“To be a good fiction writer you have to read fiction.”

Is this true? I’ll offer substance for both arguments.

Don’t Read In Order To Write

Many writers’ blogs warn of the death of the book, but I’m not that apocalyptic. Imagination in and of itself is not dead. Video game and movie plots interpreted from novels have evoked so much curiosity that people are investing in the original medium. For example, this past Monday I took myself on an Artist’s Date to watch Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read this work in 7th grade, and then again in 10th grade, and revisited it a week ago. When I watched Baz’s version, I truly enjoyed the story. But one thing didn’t change since 7th grade: I still can’t stand Daisy Buchanan! During Baz’s interview on The Colbert Report, he mentioned there were more sales of the book leading up to his movie’s release than there were sold collectively when the author was alive.

I’m reading Ian Fleming’s 007 series as my summer book challenge. As Fleming wrote Bond, he considered how the character would appear on screen as well as along his pages. Was he reading a whole bunch of mystery novels and collaborating with other authors in the same genre? Not at all. Fleming was writing in one medium, but considering another medium as he typed his words. This was the beginning of the 1950s, y’all. How could this not be applicable in the Twenty Teens?

Read In Order To Write

From an artistic standpoint, this makes sense. During the development phase of I Blew Up Juarez, I read a myriad of works, fiction and non-fiction, as research and to supplement my story presentation. Of course, avoiding abject plagiarism or mimicking. I am my own artist, and my story is delivered with my creative essence. However, there were specific works that I wanted to experience to support the messages I want to convey in my novel.

From a marketing standpoint, this also makes sense. If you’re writing in a certain genre, you’re gonna want to attract the readership of similarly focused authors. So if I want to promote a book that features a strong female protagonist challenged by supernatural beings, I would look up works in a similar vein and read them to get an idea of how those authors present that type of story.

I contend you don’t have to be a book reader to love a good story, and thanks to the imagination and creativity of the digitally-inclined, a good story can be enjoyed in a multimedia format. Such is my business model. I look forward to releasing I Blew Up Juarez as an e-book and a physical paperback. I absolutely see this work in movie format. My editor thinks it could be a video game. My question is: where are we on action figures? Are they still a thing…?

I Am In The Process of Being Published

Original Post Date February 24, 2013 at 06:54 PM

This blog will chronicle the adventures of becoming a published author in Saint Petersburg.

2013-02-20 16.58.28Two years ago I said “toodles” to the workforce, packed up my car and drove from Texas to retire in lovely, coastal Florida.

Six novels later, I am venturing into the realm of publication.  This year I’ll be releasing “Book One” in the hopes that more than two people find my inner musings as entertaining as I do.

Just this past week, I teamed with the amazing Trace Taylorhttp://gulfportareachamberofcommerce.org/professional-services/item/trace-taylor-author of Trace Taylor Publishing.  She’s going to help me achieve my vision of holding a paperback copy of my first fiction work, ISBN number and everything.  Trace is a wonderful source of positive energy and is a persistent mentor; I certainly look forward to leaning on her these next few months.

Do I aspire to be the next JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins?  Um, yeah.  Am I deluded?  Not at all.  I had a genuinely cathartic and, I can’t emphasize enough, entertaining, experience producing the rowdy, misguided ventures of a seasoned criminal coming to grips with her destiny.

Did you say “criminal” and “her” in the same sentence?  Yes.  Yes I did.

“Book One,” not the actual title but will be announced soon, is about a criminal who wreaks supernatural havoc on a military base and drug cartel territory simultaneously, and develops a dysfunctional partnership with a renegade Army criminal investigator.  It’s a fast moving, heavily layered parable that should keep you pleasantly intrigued on the beach, bench or bed you enjoy reading at.

Everyone Stinks And That’s Okay

Original Post Date March 13, 2013 at 12:12 AM

The path to a concise published work is angled in many places. Collaboration and cooperation with a professional works the kinks out. We explore the advantages of editing.

2013-03-11 19.40.28Yesterday was my first meeting with Trace Taylor Publishing since I turned in my manuscript for editing. I had the expected nerves.  After all, this was my first attempt at non-academic, non-technical writing and I really had minimal certainty that I did a proper job of it.

I pulled out my notebook and pen and prepared to take notes. I was ready to receive her input and learn from her critique.  She seemed thrown by my enthusiasm.

Trace mentioned her experiences working with authors who were defensive or straight up distraught after having their works edited. Tissues had to sop up tears on occasions.  I couldn’t understand why.  Like I told Trace, what am I paying you for?  Gold stars?  Smiley faces? We had a good laugh about it.

Eventually we deviated towards a general conversation about expectations from both ends.  I thought I’d note the top takeaways from our talk here:

Axiom 1:  Everyone needs editing

Borrowing from a popular children’s book describing the natural processes of the human body, everybody poops. It has a distinct smell.  There are people we know that will insist their poop doesn’t smell.  But we all know the truth.

It is the editor’s job to present a work for publication that resonates with the intended audience.  An author may use graduate level vocabulary in a book intended for preschoolers. Another author may spend a hundred pages describing how the light hits a coffee mug in the middle of a table in a book intended for fans of fast paced action fiction. We authors can’t tell when we stink. A good editor does that gracefully.  A good editor reminds you, yes, even your poop smells.

Axiom 2:  Critiques are not criticisms

Before you click on the comment balloon, I’m talking contextually here.  A critique is an evaluation of a literary work. It is meant to be objective with the intent of adding value to the development of the work.

Criticism, which I use here contextually to describe abject judgment and faultfinding, is subjective in nature and is intended to degrade or insult the merits of the literary artist.

A good editor is going to support your dreams by ensuring your work can stand alongside other literary works in Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.  They are not out to get you.  They get you; they’re just offering insight that will enhance the readers’ experience.  Which brings me to Axiom 3.

Axiom 3:  Your publisher knows your audience.  Better than you do.

We have an idea of who’s going to read this work as we’re clickclickclacking away, creating the most sublime work known to man.  A good publisher is well informed as to what readers look forward to experiencing.  While you have a clue, your publisher has several clues. So if they suggest something, don’t take it as an affront to your epic opus.  They’re on to something.  Get over yourself, and cooperate.  It’s only going to benefit you.

 

I, Author

Original Post Date March 06, 2013 at 07:50 PM

The definition of author proofed by superhuman attributes.

“And what is your occupation?”2013-03-05 17.05.35 2013-03-05 15.23.22

“I’m an author.”

The words tumbled out of my mouth like house keys in front of the door from an errant hand.  As subconscious as the reflex which captured the keys before they hit the floor.

I am an author.

Granted, I was speaking to someone gathering information to assess an insurance quote, but the exchange held significance.

We are conditioned to announce titles only if bestowed by society.  I am not big on waiting for social acknowledgement.

I write, therefore I am.

If you would have asked me a year ago this month, I would have entered into some haphazard diatribe about a dream deferred and coming out of the darkness and other sad cliches, then have petered out with a disillusioned whimper.  The curse of the shadow artist.  The artist lives, but we’re too afraid to admit it.  Why?

This comes natural to me.

In November 2012, I participated in National Novel Writing Monthhttp://nanowrimo.org/en and won!  The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words – think “The Great Gatsby” – in thirty days.  I did it in nineteen.

I didn’t write poppycock either.  I had colleagues read my rough and their critiques were in the neighborhood of repairable grammar.  Bragging?  Might as well.  I’ve never had an issue producing written works.  Which is why I don’t understand how college students can’t hammer out a simple 200-word essay.  I can be drunk, high, with a hand tied to a foot, and it would be cherry!

Longhand used to be my preferred method, but like most cyborgs, overuse of a particular assembly results in ugly wear and tear.  Adamantium arm in backorder.  Before my hand literally curls shut, I can compose on average twenty pages front and back on college ruled paper, about 5,000 words in one session.

To counter my withering instrument, I work in a sweet wireless setup on my couch opposite a 50″ screen.  This allows me stellar witching hour compositions in my jimmy jams.

As any warrior poet knows, a pen and notebook should always be at the ready, at the waist or to the back.  You never know when inspiration strikes.  This particular entry was drafted under a clear blue Saint Petersburg sky and proofed at Taco Bus.

No, I did not buy that insurance policy.  But she hung up the phone noting she completed a conversation with Ivonne, the author.  She probably slept peacefully that night.

This is my station in life.  I am quite comfortable here.

Blog Under Construction

We’re packing up the digital moving truck and relocating to WordPress! Current blog is at http://stpete.patch.com/blogs/von-simeons-blog so feel free to check out my most recent antics.

Why the move?

  1. Patch.com sucks
  2. I’ve got friends in low (and high) places
  3. My video blogs are just as entertaining

This is where I’ll offer musings, observations, afflictions, cumulatively referred to as “maddenings,” related to the experience of becoming a published author. Grand opening November 1st-ish, crossing fingers. Follow this blog; it’ll change your life!

Image

The Vonster

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