Monday, January 31, 2005

Writing = SEX

Writing is like sex. We have to know what we want and what we need (as a writer), but we also need to take care of our partner's (readers) need. We have to think: What does she want and like? What can I do to her to make her happy, while not losing myself in the whole thing? I have to be happy and satisfied, too. But there's also happiness in giving (and not just receiving). We're still in control -- even in a give and take partnership.

Or let me put it this way. A writer is like an experienced, attentive lover and the readers less so (but the readers know, intrincitly, what they want in the "partnership"). So what can the experienced lover (writer) do to make it a mutually exciting and satisfying experience?

Some lovers are more experienced than others. Some like certain things and some others. Some might even be more experienced than the writer/lover.

But you can bet the best lovers in the world are those who know what their partners want, and who know how to give. Their partners would keep coming back, asking for more.

Be that lover in your art of writing.

The difficulty is, unlike with sex, we don't have immediate feedback of what our partners (readers) want. So it's easy for us to become selfish lovers, so to speak.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Slush Pile, Reject

Here's a good link:

I think what she said in the article is so true -- for both the writer and the editor/publisher.

I think that's the biggest gap we have between editors and writers. Writers see their works as their heart and soul and very personal (I mean, even a matter-of-fact nonfiction piece). A writer's byline is going to go with the work, so of course it's personal. The editors, on the other hand, see only words. Are they well written? Is the story interesting? Would anyone want to buy and read it? They're readers' advocates. I mean think about it: When you-the-reader go to a book store, pick up a book and buy it, how often do you wonder: "Hey, what is the author like? Is he or she a good person? How many children she has?..." Not really, right? We, as readers, only care about if the story is interesting. If the book is good, then we would say: "Wow, Hemingway is a good writer." But we still don't know anything or care about Hemingway. Okay, maybe after we become fans (or stalkers) of the author.

Just a thought. I've been on both sides of the fence. It's still not easy for the writer in me to accept that I don't matter to them as a person. But that's just reality in this weird business of publishing, and the editor in me gets it.

Many writers write from the writer's perspective. There's nothing wrong with that. But if we can simply write from the readers' expectations, I think we'll have a much better time getting our words out and a better chance to get them accepted. If being published and selling a lot of books are your goals.

The following quote simply hit the nail in the head:

Thus the reader-mind in action. If you-the-writer can catch that reader’s attention with an intriguing premise, and further seduce them with well-written prose as they go flipping through the pages, there's some chance they'll buy it. If they like the book, next time around you'll be one of the author names they'll be looking for. And if they really like the book, or if they've read and enjoyed two or three of your books, they may begin to wonder about you as a person. But not before.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Writing "crap"?

It's better to write 30, 40 pages of "crap" to see if it's going to take you some place, than to not do it and wonder if that place exists.

Friday, January 7, 2005

Another flash

Prompt: write a short story of 150 or fewer words without using any adjectives or adverbs.

She took the scarf from the closet and closed the door. Tom gave her the scarf, on a day peppered with snow. Made of silk from Indonesia, the scarf caressed her neck as if Tom had touched her. She sighed, then rolled the scarf into a ball the size of her fist.

She slipped into the living room and stared at the fireplace. Tom and she had made love on the throw rug.

"Happy anniversary," she said.

She tossed the scarf in the fire.

"Bastard," she added.

In seconds, the scarf curled and crumpled, settling on the pile of ashes. Next to fragments of Tom's and her sister's bones.