Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Newbie Author Tip 2: Develop gator hide. NOW.
Now, for starters, let me clarify. There are two basic kinds of writers: fun and business.
If you're writing for "fun" and don't give a patoot if/when/how you're ever published, or you don't care if you'll make any money, then knock yourself out.
For those of you who want to parlay your writing into earnings, keep listening.
Now, I know I said before that if you're in this to make money, then you're not in this for the right reasons. This is not a contradictory statement. I WANTED to make a living as a writer. But for years, I had to do a lot of other things, along with my writing, to make a living. But I never stopped writing in those time periods. I never stopped honing my craft, never stopped learning, never stopped researching. Making a living is not the ONLY reason I'm writing. Key difference there.
I write because, money or not, I'd STILL be a writer. I'd still be writing.
That said, I want to keep making a living as a writer. That means I had to develop gator hide early on. There are going to be a lot of arrows tossed at you. From critique groups, from editors, agents, readers, publishers, reviewers, and, yes, asshat trolls.
Get over it.
Get the fark over it right now.
You will have to learn what criticism is valid, and what criticism needs to bounce off your hide like one of those damn rubber balls you can buy out of a vending machine for your kids and then spend the next twenty minutes chasing it around a parking lot because they slammed it as hard as they could against the sidewalk and it took off like a missile into parts unknown.
Know what I'm sayin'?
You will have people in critique groups who want to be coddled, babied, told their shit don't stink. And when you try to tell them they formatted ALL their action and dialog tags wrong, they'll go nuclear on you like you threatened their puppy with a Ginsu knife.
You will have relatives who say, "Oh, isn't that cute? You still have that fantasy..."
You'll have Goodreads trolls who, months before your book is even released, will give it 1-star reviews. Why? I don't know, because they're fucking assnuggets who apparently have no quality of life outside of their own narcissistic schemes.
Gators are fucking gators, man.
I'm finally at the point where I can honestly say 99.9% of "negative" reviews don't bother me. Mostly because they look like they were written by meth-addicted five-year-olds with English as their second language, or by their words they obviously think Fifty Shades of Grey is THE definitive statement about BDSM.
Ummm, yeah. Surrrre.
One- and two-starred reviews with no comments? I don't even bother considering those. (Here's a hint: neither do most readers, so ignore them.)
The only reviews that ever get even the slightest bit under my skin anymore are the ones where I can tell the reviewer put a lot of thought, effort, and proper English grammar skills into their post. If I think they made valid points, I might take them into consideration for the next book, or I might not.
You have to write for YOU first. You are your first reader. Doesn't mean you can get away with trying to invent a 66-act narrative structure just because, hey ART, biatches! But it means you have to get to a point where you stop trying to change your story for EVERY single reader, because, hey, guess what? There will ALWAYS be readers who don't like your work. Just ask any Nobel prize winner.
Do you like every book? No.
This means you don't get pissy with people. If you think their advice is valid, take it. If not, ignore it.
HOWEVER, even gators know when to back the fuck down. (I live in Florida, believe me, I KNOW gators. My aunt's ex-husband was a gator hunter, for chrissake.)
You don't get to be Princess McBitchypants when someone points out something to you. Either take the criticism, or leave the area.
Likewise, you don't see gators losing their shit over something they don't perceive as a threat. If someone points something out to you that you don't agree with, smile, nod, and let it go. Let it wash off your back like the mucky swamp water it probably is.
It's very common for people in critique groups to get all up in arms when you dare tell them the facts of life. They have enmeshed themselves in this little fantasy world filled with cotton candy and unicorns and rainbows. Do you know why there are no unicorns left in the world???? DO YOU??
The gators FUCKING ATE THEM.
So, too, shall such "special snowflake" writers be devoured.
Alligators are an ancient species. They just WORK. (Until man nearly hunted them to the brink of extinction.) Their systems are developed for what they do, they're efficient, they're tough.
They. Are. Fucking. GATORS.
You need to be a gator. Patient, economy of motion. Studying your surroundings. Acting only when necessary. Feeding only when necessary. Smartly learning as they observe. Hibernating when the weather is cold, and bellowing like a motherfucker in breeding time.
How does this translate to being a writer?
You need to learn, grown, feed your MIND. Practice your craft. STUDY other writers, both in your chosen genre and elsewhere. And when it's time for your book baby to see the light of day? Announce it. (Not in a spammy way, though, please. Alligators aren't bellowing for horses to come breed with them, soo...)
If you are offended by this post, you're a special snowflake unicorn.
You will be eaten.
And the sad thing is, you could easily be an alligator. But you've opted to stay a unicorn and let yourself get eaten, all the while bemoaning how unfair life is, how horrible readers/reviewers/editors/agents/publishers are, all of that.
Be. A. Fucking. GATOR.