Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Notes to a newbie writer

Yes, we all want all our books to be read. . .and loved by everyone. . .but I'm not sure that's possible if one is true to one's own voice.

Think of it as math and subsets.

 There are core fans who will love everything you do, even your failures. There are folks who will like tangents, subsets of your work. Some of it is the way one writes, the stuff one writes about, the genre. My fantasy is well-liked by most, especially my core fans. Some others like my fantasy but hate me being christian. Others just don't like my fantasies but like my bible studies and reviews. So far you have possible fans in these circles: Folks who like true-to-life stories without any pious false bullshittery. Folks who like YA stories. Folks who like Black stories. Folks who like Black YA stories. Folks who like stories about the triumph of human adversity. If there are aspects of your work that complement these different stories, some folks in these circles may like them better or not like them at all.

Think of it as a conversation.

It's like the books in the world are all having conversations. Some are great conversations, some not so much. Our books are our contribution to the conversation. If we repeat what the guy next to us is saying, some folks will like us, some will think we have no voice of our own and are merely copycatting. If we are timid with our voice -- from lack of confidence in our craft or because we are newbies, folks who can recognize that will think we don't believe in what we're saying. If we are asking folks to plunk down their $3.99 for our ebooks (or $14.99) in an important conversation, we should be honest at all cost to us..because the world needs our spin on this great conversation. If we are just playing,then we can play to the restrictions...and restrict ourselves to what folks will buy. I tend to think the world is in crappy shape. I think young black kids need to see fantasy stories with black folks in it. And i also want to heal myself. I tend to think little black girls want to see themselves as sexy and cute and i feel religious books need to be honest because they just are not. So I can't really write without being true to my voice.  But there is always a way to make some money and always a way to get one's book read. They say if one has about 11 books online, one can make a good some a month... so am aiming for this. Will see.

I hope i didn't make you feel that your book should not be bleak. If you want it to be bleak, then go for it. The thing you have to ask yourself is this: Is the book about bleak lives or about a bleak universe? If the characters' lives are emblematic of a world where there is no joy etc, then you don't need to occasionally show other good things...because hopelessness is everywhere. When one writes a story on subsequent drafts, one has to step back and outside of the characters to see if the narration can balance what's happening in the characters' lives. Because if one focuses too tightly on the characters apart from everything else, then there is a claustrophobia and an inability to see past the characters' lives. Which is okay..although that world is enclosed. But if the world is basically good and the characters in it are having a bad life, then there has to be moments in the narration where light shines through...even if the characters themselves don't see the light. The author has to step outside of her identification with the characters' plight..and show that the sun is shining and good is happening, except that the characters are not yet part of that good.

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