Dear reader and/or writer,
As you may have noticed, my novel, Curse Breaker: Guild Assassin is finally out and I finally breathed a long awaited sigh of relief, four years in the making. During my endless journey through this weird and destructive land known as Art, I’ve ran into more than my fair share of obstacles and setbacks. Although those same obstacles and setbacks have at times pushed me to the breaking point on more than one occasion, I’ve always managed to take a step back, take a deep breath, and get passed them regardless of what they might be.
For a writer, or any kind of artist as a matter of fact, the obstacles come in many shapes and countless forms. Terrible teachers, non encouraging or non inspiring elders, fear of rejection, self doubt, lack of discipline, stubbornness, unwillingness to learn, jobs, families, friends and yes, fear of failure and occasionally, fear of success. When starting something as dubious and as open to anyone’s opinion as art, whether its literary, or musical, or visual, or architectural the art is always available, waiting to be seen, heard, experienced and judged by whoever happens to come to cross it. For many people who sit at a cubicle or crunch numbers or type up spreadsheets only have to worry about making something good enough for their boss or bosses to not love or even like but merely to understand. Artists work for the most difficult boss ever to exist; the entire human race. And not just humans living now, but every human that will exist long after the art is finished and the artist is gone. So may I present you: Berley’s 5 Truth’s of Fiction Writing
1. Write what you care about
You have a better chance of being struck by lightning 100 times in a row and surviving than make a work of art, especially literary art like a novel, and NOT have a couple of bad, if not, terrible reviews. Keep this mind, one person’s 5 star review is another person’s 1 star review. One person’s “I couldn’t put it down” is another person’s “Did Not Finish”. One person’s “it hooked me in” is another person’s “it made me bored”. There’s no pleasing all of them, so don’t! This advice comes from Sci-Fi/ Fantasy author David Gerrold: “Write what you care about most. That way at least one person in the universe loves your story. And if one person loves it, then surely there will be others.”
Keep in mind, J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Heinlein are considered the best of the best of their respective genres, they both died before the Internet went mainstream and BOTH still have 1 star reviews on Amazon.
All artists get bad reviews. Even the dead.
2. No one writes a perfect draft the very first time
That rough draft still collecting dust on your desk or taking up space on your hard drive? (Seeing as how I’m using my iPhone to write this blog, probably the ladder.) Relax. You’re not going to write the perfect novel on the very first try. Chances are you didn’t make your first basket the first time you held a basketball or scored a home run the first time you swung a baseball bat. If you did that would be remarkable. Or you’re Superman. If you’re really that good you should stop wasting time reading my blog and start curing cancer. As for the rest of us mere mortals it takes time and energy just to get anything on paper and/or word processor. (Who am I kidding? If you’re reading this then most likely a word processor). And guess what. It takes more time and more energy to polish it up. New writers find this concept frightening. Veterans find it freeing. To me there’s no better feeling than knowing that I can write complete crap today and my only critic will be me. So spend time today (Not tomorrow when you’re feeling better! TODAY!) getting your story out of the stormy sea of chaotic thoughts that is your brain and onto a processor (or paper). You can waste time polishing it up later when the rough draft is finally done.
3. Don’t be a Critic Pleaser
I say this with love: CRITIC PLEASERS MAKE TERRIBLE WRITERS. And to be honest, terrible artists in general. A Critic Pleaser, for those who don’t know, is an artist who cares more about pleasing a critic (Not The critics but A critic) than pleasing themselves or their fans. I’ve had the fortune of reading great works of fiction by published and unpublished authors alike. I’ve also had the misfortune of reading other books by those same writers who were more interested in pleasing their critics than anyone else. Never mind the many positive reviews and feedback from many people they’ve received. It’s that one review from that ONE person that drives them up the wall. So rather than write another amazing book that pleases the already established fan base, they alienate their fan base in order to please one person. ONE! Or perhaps 2 or 3. But definitely less than the people who liked their work to begin with. Some critics may spout the ultra lie that they speak for everyone in the universe that isn’t you. LIES! The fact that I can find several 1 star reviews for The Lord of the Rings, (a book so awesome it’s been cloned by more writers than most writers have reviewers) should tell you that one person’s option DOESN’T speak for “everyone.” Far from it. If you got a good thing going on that makes you happy, then keep doing it. Anything else is a complete waste of time.
4. Write when you feel like it and you get pages. Write everyday and you have a novel
Discipline and Talent will take you further than just talent alone. Over the years I’ve met far more talented writers who’s books you’ll never read because they never finished writing them.
You wanna finish that hard drive space wasting rough draft?
You want your book out there?
You want writing to get easier?
You want to stop or at least weaken writer’s block?
Once it becomes a routine, like walking and breathing, it becomes easy, like walking and breathing. It only seems harder because people don’t usually pay good money to see an artist walk and breath.
5. HAVE FUN!!!
If you’re not having fun, then you should stop being a writer. Fiction Writing is art ladies and gentlemen. That means it was made to be enjoyed, to be analyzed, to be criticized by EVERYONE! You have no control over who critiques your work anymore than a hot girl in a bikini has control over which guys are checking her out and which guys aren’t. (And trust me, as hot as she is or thinks she is, there will still be guys that aren’t checking her out for one reason or another.) To be an artist is to be judged, loved, hated, worshiped and a slew of other verbs I’m too lazy to list. The best way to deal with harsh criticism that inevitably comes with this line of work is to enjoy it as much as possible. Find joy in the creation, the writing, the world, the characters, the fact you can control where the characters go rather than on the choices of some other writer.
To help with this issue answer this question as honestly as you can: Would you rather be a published author who’s work is available for people to both love AND hate or would you rather be unpublished and therefore unknown writer/dilettante in the writing community? If the idea of having your work judged scares you from writing then you’re not having enough fun. And if you’re not having fun writing, then why are you writing to begin with?
Take care friends and once again, Curse Breaker: Guild Assassin is now available on Kindle and Kobo by Curiosity Quills. Please check it out and if you can, leave a review. Don’t care what it is as long as its honest.
Til next time 😀