Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mind Your Own Business

The quote below made me think once again about trying to write for a specific audience or an editor, maybe an agent.  I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s worth writing about again.

You can’t write what you can’t read.  I could never write a science fiction novel because I don’t care to read them.  The same goes for spy novels.  I’m sure you have your own genres you can’t read.  If so, don’t try to write one.  It won’t work.

Don’t try to second guess who will like what.  It’s impossible.  I’ve been reading some writer’s blogs where the author wonders if he/she should put a romance at the beginning or start with the weather.  Should the protagonist be sympathetic?  If she/he is angry will that put an editor off?

Does a woman have to have sex appeal?  Does a man have to be macho?

Will the agent like it better if I start with place or person?

How will readers feel about a woman killer?  Should I throw in a dog or cat?

Does it have to be resolved by the end?

Thinking this way would drive me crazy…and I’m sure it drives the people asking these questions, crazy.  It has to.  How creative can this be if you’re trying to tailor your work for X, Y or Z?

Years ago I tried writing a Judith Krantz-type novel.  Some of you probably don’t know who she is.  In the 70s and 80s she wrote sagas about glamorous women looking for love or losing love in various countries with gorgeous men.  I think almost all her books were made into TV specials.

Now, really, does that sound like a novel I could or would write?  But I wanted to make some money and it seemed so easy.  I did have to read one of the novels and it was agony.  My writing partner and I mapped out the characters lives, the men, the conflicts, etc. all on a big white board.  We alternated chapters and rewrote each other’s work.  We stayed friends but what we came up with in the end died on the page.  Still, we didn’t know that until our agent told us.

Then there was the spy novel and the romance novel and who remembers?  What I didn’t realize is that the people who write these novels are good at what they do.  They believe in their work.  One has to, to make it live. 

We were trying to write for a particular audience and there was no way we could do that and have it be any good.

But even if you’re writing in a genre you like (crime) you can’t decide to start the novel with action because you think an agent will like it better. And on and on.

You have to start it where you want to start it.  Where you think it should begin because that’s how you hear it in your head.  Characters have to sing to your tune and not to the tune of some imaginary editor.

Believe in your story, your setting, your protagonist.  If you do you might have a chance of writing a good book.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it;
write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for

Jesse Stuart

Thursday, February 07, 2008

For the Record

I appreciate everyone who’s left me comments and suggested ways and means to get going again.

First, I’m not depressed. Am I a depressive? Yes. But I take medication for that and I’ve been fine for quite a long time now.

Second, it’s not about me having to be happy when I write. I’m sorry if I gave that impression.

This is what it’s about. I don’t want to write anything. Not stories, letters, lists. I can post to this blog and I can write email but that’s it. I don’t want to write fiction or nonfiction. Not articles or poems. Nothing. And guess what? I find myself perfectly content not writing.

That may change. Who knows? But for now I’m delighted to read, do things on my computer, watch movies, meet someone for coffee or sit quietly and think.

I’ve been writing for over 50 years…yes, I’m a geezer…and I’m tired. I’ve been lucky to be published and sometimes paid handsomely. And during my career I’ve gotten respect, good and bad reviews and all the things that are a bonus to a writer.

Yes, that was in the early part of my career. As I’ve said before, publishing has changed. I’m glad I had the experiences I did before the change, like flowers from an editor on publication day.

I admit this change in the way things are done may have contributed to my present state. But that part I better get over.

So, I don’t want to write anything and I’m not depressed. But thanks for caring.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Could This Be It?

Someone sent me this:

“Writer's block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity.”

It never occurred to me that I might be experiencing writer’s block. I’ve had it before but it came in an entirely different form, so I didn’t recognize it this time. Of course, it may not be that at all. It may be what I wrote in the last post.

However, I perked up at the word “temporary” so that tells me something.

Although I won’t be posting my daily writing trials, I will be posting my writing thoughts, just as the name of this blog says.