Thursday, April 22, 2010

Avoiding Work

When there's a lot of work piling up, pretty much anything else seems super entertaining.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

That's My Name There

The first time I ever had a byline was in the local newspaper, The Huntsville Times. It's actually a fairly prestigious paper in the Southeast, and I wrote an entire blurb of my own in order to get that byline. I was a teenager doing an internship at the newspaper, and I was unsure whether I was even going to get a byline for the ridiculous thing that I did. It was the 90's and I wore rayon all the time because it flowed and I thought it made me look thinner. After spending days in the library and the courthouse with various reporters, I put on a pair of black rayon pants with HUGE white polka dots and a blue rayon shirt that didn't match but that flowed. I looked like a low-rent clown with acne and big hair.

So, instead of going to the courthouse to go through records, I was told that I was going to a meet-and-greet with the prince of Belgium. No lie. The prince was super hot and single and gave a short speech, after which he shook my hand. I then shook the hand of the Belgian ambassador of the United States and had zero answer when he asked me who I was. But, I had furiously taken notes throughout the whole affair and was able to put together an entire article. The result was a weird clown with her first actual byline.

Since then I have had hundreds of newspaper articles published, most with bylines. I even had columns in two different papers, complete with my gross picture, big hair and all. It ceased to be a big deal. I stopped caring much whether my name was on something. My happiness was seeing what I had done and knowing that it was awesome.

Enter Web writing. I hate having my name on anything. The only sites that I have my name on are ones that expressly require that your actual name has to be on the articles. I hate that and wish I never had to use my actual name on anything. That's been my reality for the last three or four years, ducking bylines and trying to enjoy a few things that I've done without anyone actually reading it or knowing that I did it.

Again, that is changing. I'm writing a print book and got my first check from the publisher this week. It's an actual payment from an actual publisher, and it is changing a lot of things for me. Every time I send something in to my editor I expect her to send it back with SCREAMING ALL CAPS!!!!! telling me how much it sucks. Apparently, it doesn't. It's tough, it's hard work and I've thought seriously about throwing in the towel, but I really, really want to see my name on a print book. The contract is terrible and the pay is low, but that will be my name right there when people pick up the book. If it sucks, they will know who sucks. I will not hide and I will not pretend that it was all just some crap that I threw together and didn't put any effort into. I tried at something. I put myself into it and it's going to be out there. With my name. For anyone to see.

It's scary.

Monday, April 5, 2010

No. I Am Not on Facebook.

Am I on Facebook? No, I am not. Aren't I on Facebook? I aren't. Have I signed up for Facebook yet? No. Do I have Facebook? I don't think so. I can be found through Facebook, right? Not really.

These are actual questions that I have been asked in the past month. I am not on Facebook, just in case there is any doubt. I suppose I do "have" Facebook, since it's there and it's available if you want it, but I don't.

But how, you may ask, can I be found on Facebook? The answer is pretty simple- I can't.

Twitter lured me in. Wil Wheaton and William Shatner are there. What can you do when you face those odds? You just have to get sucked in and hope your screaming soul isn't viciously and painfully eaten. But Facebook? I will prevail. I don't care how many times I am asked. I don't care what kind of names I am called. I don't mind being ostracized and having to move to my own island where the non-Facebook people have to go to live in shame.

I can't come up with any more excuses though, when one of the real excuses is just pathetic. I don't like pictures of myself and I don't want to make excuses about why there are no pictures. Yes, it's true that I hate trends that are so big that people DEMAND that you join in on them. Yes, there is a point at which something is so big and pervasive that not belonging just feels right. And yes, I do worry about privacy and my potty mouth being found by people who already disapprove of me because my hair is weird and I'm overweight.

But mostly, I don't give a rat's *ss. I don't want to talk to anyone I went to high school with (with two exceptions, and they are awesome). I don't care about what people I went to elementary school with are doing. People I dated long ago can suck it. Anyone else that I've come into contact with that needs to talk to me can pick up a phone.

But, you have to have Facebook to promote your work. Really? So, when people want to read some informational article or bad vampire novel they go to Facebook to find it? They search through Facebook for writing blogs, how-to articles and rude articles about celebrities? I don't think they do.

If the site is fun, then great. Some people report playing games there, but there are games available elsewhere. Mostly what I hear is about people posting their moods and "status." I don't want anyone knowing either one. I don't know that I even know either one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What You Mean to Write When You Write and What You Actually Write

Anytime I try to take on some fiction endeavor, such as my new, cheesy vampire novel that will test the waters of the many online publishers that I write about, the words tend to come off just a little different than they were supposed to. That's been going on with my fiction for longer than I'll admit to, and I'm hoping that it isn't just me.

Here's what I want to say:

Cheesy Vampire is interesting, and is so captivating that Character is drawn into the world of cheesy, small-town vampires.

What the words actually convey:

Cheesy Vampire walks around, talks a little and buys toast.

What I want to say:

Cheesy Vampire is super dangerous and could kick you through a brick wall just for asking him whether he's on Facebook.

What the words actually convey:

Cheesy Vampire says a few menacing things and continues walking around.

What I want to say:

Cheesy Vampire and Assorted Characters are worthy of being published by an online publisher so that I can see how well that does and decide whether it's worth the time to create more cheesy work to make some money to buy a super-rad backyard pond.

What the words actually convey:

Holy crap, another vampire novel. This one isn't Twilight-like. It must be destroyed. Get the flamethrower. The one on the wall! Now! Now!

Foiled yet again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Editors and Editors

I always feel like I am strugling to say something, something that I am not quite saying. No words seem exactly right. When you add editors into the equation, it becomes even worse. I have been through periods when I thought that editors were just frustrated writers who hated people who could actually write. Then there have been periods when I have been glad that they were watching out for my interests and making sure that the typos are gone. But most of the time, I have questioned why they exist and how I could avoid them.

I have one editor that I adore (Suite101's fair Julie), one editor that I hate (I'll never tell!), and many editors that I tolerate as long as they are helpful and not a hindrance to what I am trying to do. It seems as if many of them feel they are above writers, as if they are the watchdogs of writers or somehow babysitters that make sure we aren't inciting riots. Many times I end up having to train them because they seem to have no idea what they are doing. It's annoying and insulting to end up with an editor who thinks she is your boss when she is really just a low-paid proofreader. I actually do have a fairly prestigious editing job, so I know how it feels to see other people's mistakes and wonder why they don't see them. I still don't feel superior, though, so maybe I'm not properly embroiled in editor culture.

Sometimes I wonder how necessary it is to have so many editors out there. Then, I witnessed something that needed an editor so badly that non-writers were telling me how badly the item in question needed to be edited. It wasn't just me. Homegirl needed an editor in the worst possible way. Being a witness to this taught me two things: I don't suck as much as I thought, and an editor is really just a person who comes between what you want to say and what an audience wants to hear. That is actually a great thing to do- to carve an audience-specific work out of one that is just an expression of the authors creativity.

Editing is an important step that is noticed mostly in its absence. If something isn't edited well, it look naked and revealed. If it is, the writer's idea comes across without anything getting in its way. Judging from what I witnessed last week, more people should consider professional editing to avoid people wondering afterward what in the world went wrong.