Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Writing for Audiences

People who have read some of my older posts know that I'm a Stephen King (SK) fan. They also probably know that I have been trying unsuccessfully for some time to get up the mojo to begin writing a novel. I've considered the vanity press and just writing something and paying for it to be published so I can say I'm an author, but that seems like a cheap way out. I want someone to like my stuff enough to actually put their money on the line to take a flyer on the chance it might sell some copies.

And that seems to have bound me up in other questions. You see, those of us who worship Stephen King's every word also read his prefaces and so forth. Mr. King is, I suspect like all successful novelists, a complete and unreconstructed egomaniac. Therefore, he refers to me as "constant reader". I forgive him this because, after all, it accurately describes me. And also because the guy is a friggin' genius at getting inside my head and making me want his next offering even more.

Thing is, it's not lack of talent that has stopped me so far. I know I have a certain facility with words. I know I've hit some homers in this blog. I know I've dropped most of my posts in the sewer. What's more, I usually know the difference between the two, and I'm capable of writing enough bombs and stinkers to be able to pick out the gems and stitch them together into a pretty nice tapestry, if I give myself the time and put in the effort.

And therein lies the problem with writing your very best stuff. You are REALLY stretching yourself out and putting your soul on the line when you decide you're going to write a novel. You're going to go through all the crap that you've spent a month writing, pull out the gems, stitch them together and come up with probably a chapter that you can actually use. You have to do this over and over again, for maybe years, until you get enough stuff that will make an entire book.

And for what? Rejection letters. Often your stuff will never get a serious reading. I don't blame anybody in particular for this and I don't need to be told specifically that it happens. I just picture the poor sap who has to slog through 3 novels a week or whatever for minimum wage, and I understand. Then, in order for your bid for stardom to be successful, your offering has to make it through this poor sap to his superior, and to *that* person's superior and so on until it gets to someone who can actually make the decision to offer this guy a contract. Impossible. Or so it would seem.

SK, after he "became" Stephen King, decided to see if he could do it AGAIN. He decided to write as "Richard Bachman", and attempted to publish some works as this fictional writer. You may recognize such works as "Running Man" (The Schwartzeneggar movie was so far from the original that I suggest you read the short story to get the real taste of it). I'm not sure but I think that "The Long Walk" was also by "Richard Bachman". Also "Thinner". Both of those last two deserve to be made into movies, if they haven't already. Even a SK fan can't keep up with all the SK stuff that has been immortalized in film, it seems.

Anyway, the real thing writing-wise SK gave me was to say in some interview or other that he wrote about 10 pages a day. 10 PAGES A DAY. The way it was presented, I was given to believe that yes, there were editing hassles that took more time, but the original manuscript took about 10 pages per day. WOW. And from what I glean from the same sources, he only spends about 3/4 of the time making a living that I do, MAX. That would be about 6 hours a day or a little more. AND WHAT A LIVING IT IS, hey? This guy probably owns Maine by now.

I can only assume that SK does not share my affliction. He MUST have a better ratio of cream to crap. How does he do it? Don't know. As I actually approach the precipice of actually writing my own stuff targeted at non-blog-readers, I'm scared as hell. You guys are EASY compared to that.

On that note, I should thank Auntie J profusely for actually handing over her stuff to me for proofreading. She wrote an entire novel and gave it to me for some proofreading.

She seemed reluctant. I thought at the time that she was being wimpy. I know now what she was fighting with, and I haven't even had the guts to actually create the product, much less give it to someone else to read. For that, J, I apologize. Almost as much as I apologize for the fact that you haven't gotten a proofread copy back from me since you gave it to me. Hope you don't mind if I change some minor sentence structure issues and so forth. I am actually quite good at some things, though you have no real reason to believe that's true yet. Trust me.

Anyway, I've got writing issues along with fostering and adopting issues. That's all I really had to say, I guess. Sorry it took so many words to say it. The mark of a bad writer? Maybe. But I'm counting on you people to buy copies if and when I actually ever make the leap.

You are now returned to your regularly scheduled program.

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4 Comments:

At 1:34 AM , Anonymous can't stand it said...

Om, "Constant Reader" is an expression from eighteenth and nineteenth century novels. It means "faithful reader," i.e., someone who has stuck with the author thus far.

 
At 6:10 AM , Blogger Dan said...

Hm. Guess I haven't read enough eighteenth and nineteenth century novels. Still, the point about SK being an egomaniac stands. In prefaces and so forth, he's almost (but not quite) as bad as Isaac Asimov. And that's SAYING something. But then again, being an egomaniac is part and parcel of being a writer, IMHO.

 
At 12:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writing has always been my passion and yeah i wanted to give up on it at times. I plunged in with my first typewriter, given to me on my graduation day...that was so long ago..LOL and i dont even know what happend to that first book but it never made it out of the drawr let alone out of the house...This second book has actually made it into the hands of some people and the feedback i have recived so far is favorable.
Am i scared? you bet your behind i am but i want to share that world that lives inside my head and maybe reach some of those troubled souls that Dan and company like to take under their wing.
Writing for me is a hobby and one i love to do..in fact i dont know what i would do if i did not have the ability to write anymore...go mad surly...Anyway, If you want to forgo the editing MR Dan that is ok..i have another friend of mine currently reading it and expressing intrest in editing it but if you wish to help me out then i more than welcome the help and eagerly await your first and subsequent books...

 
At 12:15 PM , Anonymous Auntie J said...

P.S. that was me Auntie J that posted that last...LOL

 

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