Writerly Advice

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I have been writing for quite a few years now but im still new to this idea of making a go of it professionally.  Naturally, i tend to scour the internet in search of all the advice that i can get my hands on.  I’ve read everything from the big spills about how to build your email list to the simplest and basest of things such as to write what you know.  Both avenues can be considered correct and with advice there is no wrong answer, but neither are they universal -with the possible exception of something such as “you can’t write if you don’t make the time to sit down and write.”  However, there is bad advice.  Even if not necessarily wrong, it is bad -at least in my opinion.  The thing about bad advice is that it is just as plentiful as the good, and it doesn’t sound bad either.

The string of words that got me started on this rant was located while sleuthing through some online forums seeking the input of other indie writers that i could realistically apply to my own journey.  Instead, i found -based on the phrasing and general tone of the message- a bitter bunch of spittle typed out by someone who was soured due to their own lack of success.

The advice that they gave was, in short, to write what was selling and not bother with pouring out what was inside of you otherwise you would not be successful.  Now, from a business standpoint this might not look to be bad advice, but we are dealing with an art form.  And, while this could be a successful tactic, it cheapens the art, brings down the whole idea of writing, in the end costing both the readers and writers.  If someone has a passion that happens to fall in the subject that is selling, then great, there is a better chance that we can all benefit from a great book.  But forcing it, jamming yourself into something that you don’t necessarily care about, will be painful to the writer and often painful for the reader as well.  There are some writers that can pull this off, great writers that could be successful in any subject, but this advice was directed to the profession as a whole and, as we have all seen from Hollywood, this formula doesn’t produce the best products.

In closing, i hope that anyone who may stumble on this thread will realize that it is better to focus where you would actually like to focus, write what you know -which should be an ever-expanding realm, we can always know more so this idea is actually unlimited- but most importantly write what you are passionate about.

Author Interview: J.L. Hoyt

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My first author interview. Thanks Jessica.

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar

33006819The world is full of suffering, sometimes it’s just easier to hide…

He had not always been such a lost cause. Not long before life was consumed by the poisonous chemicals that pumped through an addict’s body, He was an active participant in what was considered society; with a beautiful wife, a home, a decent career. To an outside observer, life seemed perfect. But this story isn’t a happily-ever-after fairy tale. It’s the darkest parts of life, an internal battle of demons and, maybe, redemption.

Want to learn more about Walking Through Quicksand? Stick around. Author J.L. Hoyt is with us.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was raised in an agricultural community out west then after getting a degree in history came out to the upper Midwest for work. I bounced around in college, starting out in drafting, then went into engineering before I finally…

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Living of Two Minds

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My dad read my book just a few days ago then called me with a few questions about the subject matter. He asked the first few merely to try and delicately steer the conversation to the question that he actually wanted to be answered. Basically I had to reassure him that I didn’t have a drug problem. After the phone call I realized that my dad didn’t really know both halves of me. I had had this same thought before, but it was fleeting. This was the first time that I really reflected on it. You see, the book, while it is about drugs and addiction, is also about anxiety and depression. I have now, just within the last few days, allowed myself to freely admit that I suffer from anxiety.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with what an anxiety condition actually is, its more than being nervous or worried; it’s a roller coaster of emotions, often without reason; its quick mood swings that can be shifted by the most menial of things; its disparaging yourself, your decisions, everything that you have ever done; it’s the highs and lows of that roller coaster. The deep troughs are usually only seen by close family and maybe some close friends, but my dad had only really ever seen the top half of the coaster. My parents had divorced a long time ago so it wasn’t hard to keep that half of me from being seen by him and I have grown quite adept in hiding that part of my life from the world. My mom, brother, sister, and now, my wife all know it well but not really anyone else. They know the balance that I have struck and witnessed the steep drops followed by the steep climb back up the other side. But, like I said, the lulls are reserved to be viewed by only a few people in my life. Most see what my dad sees, the normal, above ground, highs and lows.

It is less like there are two halves of me than there are two minds. Each has its own perspective. They battle for control of thought, one a motivator, the other an oppressor. The motivator drives life forward, encouraging and hopeful. Even when life requires a reevaluation due to a bad direction of poor choices, the motivator moves in a positive direction.

The oppressor can accomplish the same end of examining poor choices and direction but does so by self-deprecation. It pushes one back into a small, loathsome corner by reliving past regrets and poisoning confidence with self-doubt.

Once the two start battle, the oppressor usually wins out, it is far more aggressive. The motivator can win on its own from time to time but more often than not it will need some assistance. The trick is to find some form of relief to fall back on, something that can vent out some of the oppressor’s steam so that it has less power to wield. That relief could be anything and will vary for everyone; something as simple as sitting outside to watch the trees blow or be much more complex like solving differential equations, for me that has been writing, and recently, sharing my thoughts. I let the oppressor’s ideas soak into paper which takes away some of its aggression, not all but enough that I can feel like I am in more control. All the while I pass through the world with a select few individuals ever knowing both of the minds that battle within me.

19 Self-editing Tips

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I found a lot of good editing tips in this blog post.

WordDreams...

Help! Help!

Now that I’ve published my first novel, To Hunt a Sub, I can say from experience that writing it and editing it took equally long periods of time (and marketing is just as involved). After finishing the final rough draft (yeah, sure) and before emailing it to an editor, I wanted it as clean possible. I searched through a wide collection of self-editing books like these:

The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall

…and came up with a list of fixes that I felt would not only clean up grammar and editing, but the voice and pacing that seemed to bog my story down. Here are ideas you might like:

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The Cost of Money

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Yesterday was the first Thanksgiving that my wife and I had spent apart from our families, even last year we were not able to make it home but we still had a few family members that were willing and able to make it to us.  It was a decent day, a good meal, my wife is good company, we entertained ourselves just as we would have if we had headed home.  But the absence of any of our family, the long distance separating us from them, cast a bit of a gloom over the holiday.  Not to mention the start of the dreary days of a long winter here in the upper Midwest which always make me homesick anyway.  All of this made me reflect on the reasons for our being apart.

There is more than one contributing factor, as there always is.  First off, the reason that we were unable to make the trip out west was that we have a newborn son and such a long trip would not be an easy one for him.  By no means is he any sort of burden, he is a blessing, we tried and failed for several years to have children before he came.  We also had to consider the travel time and how much that would cost in vacation hours which we are trying to save for a trip out at Christmas time.  These are all some of the contributing factors but there is a single driving factor that led to the others.

What it really comes down to is money.  The cost of money is what I have really been thinking about the past couple of days.  I, like many people, moved away from home and from my family for a better job, for more money.  But ever since I got here there has been the nagging thought, ever-increasing with time, is it really worth it?  I have concluded, (several times actually, as I go back and forth within my own tormented mind) that, for me at least, it is not.  Family is everything to me, it always has been and why i moved here to begin with is a little bit of a mystery.  It was probably the allure of a larger salary, new career, new challenges, these are all good changes, all good things.  But again, is it really worth it?

I’ve spent much of my time scheming on how to get back but many of those ideas hit hard at the wallet.  So it again comes down to the cost of money.  Had I not ever taken the new job, gotten used to the larger salary, then it would not play such a large role in moving back.  But I did and now that has to be considered.  All in all, i believe that the costs in attaining more money are greater than its value and it is only a matter of time before i let these reflections motivate me to move on to what is much more important.

We seek more money so that we can buy things that we think we need, what we are told that we need.  When really thinking about it we can figure out what is an actual need and what is an illusion that just drives us to seek out more money and that seems like something that we should all be doing on this Black Friday.  So that is what I have spent my Thanksgiving and Black Friday doing; staying home, not shopping for anything and thinking about how I can get back to my family without sacrificing too much of our livelihood.

Today is going to be a good day.

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Today is going to be a good day.

Even after our reckless hopes were crushed again and again; today is going to be a good day.

Even with all the positive pregnancy tests then the heartbeats we lost; today is going to be a good day.

Even after all the mental and physical pain was relived with each loss; today is going to be a good day.

Even with 1500 miles separating us from our home and our families; today is going to be a good day.

Even though over the past three and a half years I have watched you endure five miscarriages; today is going to be a good day.

Even with all of the doctor appointments and inconclusive infertility consultations; today is going to be a good day.

Even after long days following sleepless nights running well past 4 a.m.; today is going to be a good day.

Even though I am too exhausted to think and to tell you how much I love you; today is going to be a good day.

Even with the recurring rounds of inconsolable newborn cries; today is going to be a good day.

Because we have just realized our dream of our little family when you brought our baby boy into the world; today is going to be a good day.