Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"When you're a writer people say the damnedest things!" OR "Not everyone likes chocolate" I had title trouble today...

Art by Zachary Viola
From: "The Steel Road" an rpg source book

When you set out to write and self-publish, you will find that many of your friends will have questions and opinions about your endeavors.  You are likely to hear both negative and positive responses, even from dearest friends and relatives.  I believe this is not unusual, as I've experienced both and I've spoken to a number of other authors who have  experienced the same phenomena.

So lets take a look at some opinions I've heard, and I'll tell you my thoughts on each.  To get them out of the way, we'll start with the negative or dissuasive things I've been told.  For our purposes here today, I'll call them "Pessimistic" opinions

Pessimistic Opinions:

1)  You'll never make any money ~  I have heard this more than once.  You may hear this from people for a number of reasons.  Some people are trying to be kind and curtail what they perceive as unrealistic expectations.  People may have their own baggage that is coloring their judgement (maybe they are frustrated writers themselves).  Still others are simply envious of your daring to put yourself and your talent on display.  Regardless of the motivation, lets take a look the argument on it's face.

What people are usually saying when they make this argument is that you won't make a living as a writer.  They don't believe, or don't want you to believe, that you can earn money to sustain yourself by writing out your ideas for the consumption of others.  While, for many people, it is true that they do not earn enough money from their publications to support themselves, it is certainly not true of all authors.  I firmly believe it is no one's place to decide whether you will make enough money writing to make it your career, other than you.  I'm not going to tell you "You can't do it".  You may have the next 'Harry Potter' series on your desk for all I know.  I'm also not going to tell you 'Quit your day job and write all day', because that may do horrific harm to you.

What I am going to say, is that you, and really ONLY you, can make that determination.  Write well and often, do your due diligence in whether you want to seek out a publisher or self-publish. In other words, write because you want to and because you believe you can.  It doesn't matter if you've found your premiere, break-out story yet.  It matters that you are writing and developing your skill, and that you aren't giving up.

2)  You're not a good writer ~ I think every writer has had this happen.  I think the best thing to remember when someone decries your writing, your stories, or your capabilities is to realize that not everyone in the world likes chocolate.  Its true.  I work with a lady who doesn't like chocolate and it amazes me.  The same is true with writers. Not everyone likes Jim Butcher, or Charles Stross, or Tolkien; but MANY people derive great enjoyment from the works those authors have produced.  So take it with a grain of salt, and when someone says "You suck.... your work is terrible.... your plot has huge holes in it..." or whatever else that may be hurtful to hear; remember that 'not everyone likes chocolate'.  The next thing you should do is take a look at what they say, analyze your work critically and see if you need to improve.

3)  There are too many writers out there and no original ideas ~ I've heard people who claim they want to be writers make this lamentable statement.  They are wrong. There isn't a lot of ambiguity here.  People who argue this point are simply mistaken.  Maybe they haven't been able to find an idea they want to write and conclude that no original ideas remain.  While that is terribly sad, it should shine light on the fact that what they are going through is a drought of ideas. Work to inspire these people by example.  Write what you may, and prove them wrong.  Who knows, you may inspire greatness in them.

4)  Being an author isn't easy ~  This is true.  Its not easy.  It is, in point of fact, a great deal of work.  It is even more labor intensive when you don't have the benefit of an established publisher to market your work for you, to see to printing, schedule promotions/book signings, edit your work, and bring the finished product to market.  Each of the tasks listed above, are done by people.  As a person yourself, you can learn to do each.  It is a great deal of work, but writing the book is just the first step.  To get people to read it you have to make them aware of it, and convince them to read it.

5)  When will you find time to write? ~  A question begs an answer, and this is a simple question with an equally simple answer.  You find time to write when you can.  For me, its on my phone at work while I'm taking a break, or at home after the kids go to sleep or before they wake up in the morning.  You can make time for you to write in.  You simply have to willing to.  So rather than watch a television show or Youtube and lose track of your day, put pen to paper or fingers to keys and write.  You will surprised at how much work you can accomplish by writing even a small amount each day.

There are uncounted additional reasons people may throw at your to dissuade you from writing.  The five above are simply the ones I've most commonly encountered or have discussed with other writers.  The rationale to keep writing remains the same, however, because if you ever stop writing you may lose years before you decide to take up the pen again.  That is what happened to me.  I wish I had continued to write, even if it means I was writing badly the entirety of the time, rather than having stopped.  I lost many stories that I never got to tell because I stopped writing.  Save yourself the regret, and keep writing.

As for positive responses, we'll call these items "affirmative" for purposes of this discussion.   Don't let kind words over inflate your ego, or let your commitment to excellence lapse.The following are some of the common things you may or will soon encounter.

1)  You're such a good writer ~ Fans are awesome.  Don't let it go to your head.  I've been remarkably fortunate with my first two published adventure modules, to have had people tell me those books were fantastic.  I've also had the joy of people telling me they intend to follow each book I write.  Those are high compliments.  Don't let them get in the way of your best work.  You should want to earn your reader's respect and loyalty with each book you write.  A book is never really "good enough" for you as a writer.  It should either be done to the best of your ability, or not done yet.  There really should not be room in your creation process for 'good enough'.

2) I bet you'll make lots of money ~ Great thought.  I've not accomplished that, but you very well may.  I know writers who make enough from their publications to supplement their income nicely, and I know of several who make a modest living from their books alone.  Don't count on making lots of money, until that money is in your custody (I.E. its in the bank).  There also needs to be more to motivate you aside from monetary gain.  If all you are wanting to do is chase money, there are much more reliable avenues for you to explore. If you should make lots of money, I will be very happy for you.

3)  I wish I could write like you ~ That person probably can.  Let them know that.  There are a lot of inspirational and flowery ways to say it, but talent thrives when it is cultivated.  Encourage people to try.  They can only succeed if they will make the effort.


Shameless self-promotion:

The art above was created by Zachary Viola for a coming project of mine "The Steel Road".  That book will be coming to KickStarter for funding once fulfillment for Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock has been fulfilled.

"The Steel Road" is an rpg weapon source book filled with fifty (50) exotic weapons from around the world.  Each weapon entry also details an enchanted version, to provide new and exciting magical weapons for your campaign.  Zachary Viola has illustrated each weapon in a sketch book style, reflecting the theme of the book.

"The Steel Road" will be released for 5th edition game mechanic as well as in a Pathfinder Compatible version.

Spoiler: For the first 72 hours of the KickStarter campaign I will be offering PDF copies and Print on demand codes (to print at costs + shipping) for Drivethrurpg.com at a sweet rate of $8. I'm hoping to reach 1000 backers or more for this campaign and I hope you'll join me, share the link, and pledge your support to bring "The Steel Road" to gaming tables around the world.


Thank you for joining me on my adventure into writing, self-publishing, and game design.  I hope I'll see you here next time.

W.S. Quinton

*Edit* I just realized this marks the 70th entry on this blog... hard to believe how quickly they piled up.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.