Monday, December 16, 2013

Eight Myths About Novelists

(1) Authors Pay To Get Published

This one makes me want to hurt people. Readers pay publishers and publishers pay authors. If the author pays the publisher, nobody needs readers, so they don't get them. If some jerkwad wants you to pay to be published, go to any library or bookstore and try to find any of their books. You won't. Not even one. They can piss off.

(2) The Time You Spend On Facebook Makes You Write Better

No, you're not getting inspiration from Facebook and Twitter. You're goofing off. Acceptable and even recommended in small doses. It's a marathon not a sprint, and you need short breaks. I find Solitaire more relaxing - only one game, win or lose, then get back to work.

(3) You Too Can Be A Happy Member of the "Writing Culture"

Oh yeah, read all the books and magazines and spend hours getting drunk with your fellow authors in restaurants. That's not writing, folks. Writing is something you do alone. If that's a problem, you're not a writer, no matter how black your beret and cigarettes.

(4) Novelists Are Rich

Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.

(5) Novelists Can Sleep As Late As They Want

Not entirely mythical, but the whole "lazy undisciplined lifestyle" is mythical. If you're sleeping late, you'd better be working late. While you are free to make your own schedule, it must consist largely of parking your butt in a chair and writing. However, the full-time author with no other source of income is rarer than you think, so you've probably got to get up early anyway, to go to your paying job. Writing novels is how you stop the pressures of that paying job from making you kill yourself.

(6) Just Steal From Your Friends' Lives and Your Novels Will All But Write Themselves

Well, the truth is you can steal from anybody. If you find it interesting, steal it and rework it and make it your own. Family, friends, your inner self, strangers on the bus, movies, TV, magazines, newspapers, other novels, whatever. But that freedom to steal doesn't mean you're not doing about 95% of the work.

(7) Drugs and Alcohol Make You Write Better

They don't make you a better plumber, engineer, teacher, juggler, or bus driver. What counter-intuitive self-deception makes you think they improve your writing? You know that's not right, even if you're telling yourself it is. Listen to your gut on this one, just like you listen to your gut about what is and isn't good writing.

If I feel the need to go find some of that magic mythical magic that some call inspiration, I get it from a bike ride. Notepad and pen in pocket, always. You might find it somewhere else. But I can guarantee you it won't be from the needle, the pipe, the spoon, the bottle, or the tinny. Sorry to bear the bad tidings.

(8) You Don't Need Pants

That one's true. Yay!

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