You Are Here

Today begins The Author’s Blog, a Monday-thru-Thursday offering on writing, publishing, creativity and life in general, penned by a collection of Author regulars: Brian Mercer, Terry Persun, Megan Chance, Joan Frank, and relative newcomer Noelle Sterne. As editor, I plan to turn these fine writers loose on this broad subject matter, with but this one command: keep it positive.

Why? Because there is much in the world of writing and publishing that we do not know. We do not know who, if anyone, will buy the books and stories we write; we do not know how much money we will make when the books and stories are sold; we do not know if these books will win awards or be well-reviewed; we do not know how many people will attend our readings; we often do not even know how the stories we are writing will end.

And yet, despite all that we do not know, and despite the rapidly changing world of digital publishing, and talk of a smaller publishing pie, and the rate of rejection at literary agencies, and the blockbuster mentality at the largest publishers – despite all this, we do know one thing with absolute certainty: If you are a writer, tomorrow you will wake up and write something with the intention of sharing with your fellow human beings. This is what I will do, and what you will do, and what Sherman Alexie and Stephen King and Toni Morrison will do.

So we must keep it positive. Since we must do this thing, let us do it with as much enthusiasm and optimism and love as we possibly can. The alternative merely makes what we must do harder. Do not talk to me of reality. The only true reality is that we will get up and write. The rest is worry, naming shadows, as if our desire to write were perched upon some shaky tower of praise and financial success that would crumble with enough bad news and send you and it and the whole bright and beautiful and meaningful world smashing into the dust.

So, as the saying goes, write what you know. Know that you are here, that you want to be here, and that you want to fill this here with as many beautiful stories as it can hold.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.

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Being Heard

The volume of websites and blogs that now occupy the internet seems as vast intellectually as the infinity of space. I would understand if a writer looking to expand her readership opted against starting a blog with the reasoning that it would be no more meaningful than the discovery of a faint star in some distant galaxy.

But initially, at least for writers still seeking a regular venue for their work, a blog is a very good place to start, hits and visits aside. If you post it, they will come, whoever and however many They are. And even if They are only five people, you will have a readership, and the blog will be serving its purpose.

Yes, writers both new and established can use a blog to promote themselves, and that’s all to the good, but I feel the blog serves a greater purpose, especially, as I said, if you are not working regularly with a publisher. If you can develop the habit of publishing 400 words four or five times a week on your blog, you may begin to break down a certain self-consciousness or inhibition. Here is one of the best uses for what amounts to self-publishing. By writing regularly for an actual readership, the author must enter again and again that place where they can forget about “will someone want it?” and simply focus on what needs to be said. That is the goal, after all.

Writing is very much a conversation with yourself, at least to start. You must find within your life and imagination that which interests you most. But the translation of these interesting ideas to words on a page that are understandable by another human being is the gift of writing, both for the reader and the writer. What drew you to an idea preceded the language you would use to share it.

It is impossible to know who in the world will understand or appreciate how and what you choose to share, but I do believe it is possible to know the difference between wanting to share and merely wanting to be heard. If you publish yourself often enough, you can get over the need to be heard and move on to the higher and more satisfying calling of offering something useful to someone besides yourself.

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Blog Away

I have become a great proponent of the blog. To blog you must write after all, and writing is writing, however informal. On a purely professional level, the benefits are many. First, it’s free. It’s also easy. Blogger, Google’s free blogging site, is quick. You can be blogging ten minutes after logging on.

If you’ve already got a book you’re promoting, a blog is one way to keep in touch with your readers. Blog about where you’ll be reading, about where you have read, about where you’ve been interviewed. You can have contests to give away free books, and you can interact with your readers through the blog’s message board. Blog’s are also handy if your book has been bought but the publishing date is still a year away. If you start blogging ahead of time, you might be able to generate a little interest in your project before it hits the shelf. I don’t think a blog is going to necessarily make a book a bestseller, but I do think it’s one more valuable tool in a writer’s publicity tool kit.

But I also think the blog is just as important to the unpublished writer. In fact, it may be more important. When you blog you are deciding to be read. It is very important to be read if you want to be a writer, and not just for the paycheck readers generate. I have wanted to be a writer since I was a boy. When I was a teenager, I wrote story after story and showed them to my parents, my teachers, sometimes even my friends. This was a very forgiving audience. I never felt I was trying to communicate something with them. Rather, when I showed them my stories I was merely showing them what I was capable of. They read the stories out of love for me, not the stories themselves.

Then my high school’s principal died during my senior year, and we dedicated our yearbook to him. Since I was editor, it fell to me to write something commemorative to read at the graduation when we presented his widow with a special copy of the yearbook. Suddenly, what I would write would not be for my friends and loved ones—it would be heard by hundreds of strangers. For me, that changed everything. It was like the difference between singing in the shower and singing on a stage. I wrote the best two paragraphs on my young life.

This is what the blog can do for the beginning writer.  By publishing yourself you begin to feel the charge of writing for an actual audience. At first the audience might only be your friends and family, but eventually strangers will find their way to your blog. Because it’s one thing to ask, how do I get published? It is another thing altogether to ask, what would I write if I knew I was going to be read?

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Your Daily Dose

Welcome to the Editor’s Daily Blog. Because writing is a daily discipline, I thought it was time to begin writing to you regularly also. As I sat down to write this I felt a tiny ember of dread that sometimes burns as I head to my desk. Strange that, as if this day would be the one where the well would finally run dry.

But I don’t believe in dry wells. There are wells that can be punctured with self-doubt and self-criticism, but no hole is too wide that cannot be patched with love. I love to write, for instance, and I love to talk to people, and I love telling people this: Everything Will Be Okay.

I’d like that chiseled on my tombstone, now that I think of it. You maybe think hearing, “Everything will be okay,” could get tiring, but you’re wrong. There are never enough ways to say it. The universe is nothing but a million ways to say it, and so I will say it to you again: Everything will be okay.

As for the blog itself, I promise to be a bit more practical. My monthly entries, thus far, have been soaringly impractical. No more, however. There will be talk of editors and agents and writing techniques, plus things I’ve learned listening to the writers I’ve had the pleasure to interview, plus anything else publishing-ish that gets shot across my bow.

And don’t be afraid to chime in yourselves. You can do so below, by clicking on the comments link, or by going to Author Speaks. The boards have been rather quiet so far, but I’m hoping you folks will liven them up now. Plus, if you’re feeling particularly communicative, feel free to drop me a line at with your questions, comments, cranks, or whatever.

Reach out. Write back. Writing is a solitary life—there’s no way around it—and writers are notoriously shy by nature. But that’s why there are magazines like this, and that’s also why there are people like me, writers who love to write to other writers. So reach out—if not today, then someday soon. Don’t worry. Everything will be okay.

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