3.15.2012

I COULDN'T COME UP WITH A CLEVER TITLE

have you ever had so much to do that you decided to just lie facedown on the floor and mumble British witticisms into the carpet? 

this is not a rhetorical question, guys. this isn't like the opening of an unfortunately-structured query letter ("Have you ever wondered what would happen if your hands and feet switched places?" "What would you do if your teeth talked back to you?"), or the kind of question i ask when i think i'm being a real charmer. this is, in fact, a fairly accurate depiction of what has happened to my brain.

you might not believe me if i told you i'd forgotten i had a blog.

i was tinkering with my website, trying to update my appearances for 2012 etc etc, and only then did i really notice the hyperlink to my blog. i blinked a little, squinting at my computer screen as i struggled to remember this long ago time when i would actually update this thing every day (EVERY DAY, GUYS! that is so impressive! i am not impressive anymore) and then i don't know what happened, but now i am here. in my absence i have, of course, been preoccupied with the doing of the Things! all manner of things, actually, things like staring at a blinking cursor in an open document for days at a time, and things like sharpie-tatooing PEETA4EVA onto my elbow. also i might've written a couple of books at some point.

the books thing has gotten a little easier since my last post about the weirdness of being published, especially since i've now learned to stop saying things like "PSH, WHAT, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY MY BOOK, THAT'S JUST, I MEAN, WHY WOULD YOU EVEN DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT" because only full-time writers who want to live in a box on skid row say things like that. but here is a brand-new thing that is happening! EMAILS! i get a lot of these, but i'm getting a surprising amount from writers seeking writerly advice. and this is surprising for a couple of reasons. first, that i'm certain i'm not qualified to answer these questions, and second, that i have no idea who's reading my blog anymore. (well that's not entirely true, because let's be honest: 95% of my traffic is coming from my mom's house.) but i always thought i had a pretty good grasp on my target audience for this blog. i always thought the other 5% of my readers shared two main qualities: 1) that they were unrelated to me, and 2) that they were aspiring writers tapped into the publishing industry. people who, for the most part, already knew the basic components of publishing, the steps involved, the agony of the query-trenches, etc.

but now i'm getting emails from readers and writers who are completely new to this stuff. they're eager and excited and nervous and have no idea where to start. and they remind me so much of myself when i first entered the crazy scary-seeming world of publishing. i had no clue what i was supposed to do, where to search, how to filter the good info from the bad. i googled and googled and googled until google was all HEYYYY, slow down, we don't even know each other that well, and i harrumphed and probably made an unflattering comment about search engines. but i didn't know about the trials and tribulations of query letters; i never knew the odds or just how many buckets of blood, sweat, and tears it would take.

but now i know. now i know all the numbers and the chances and the craziness and the agony. i know the beauty of the writing community and just how much it helps to have friends to hold your hand through the craziness. but the thing is -- and here's the important part -- being a published writer doesn't actually mean i know anything absolute about writing books; all it really means is that i know what it's like to suffer.

so when i get these emails, i really do understand. i know what it's like to toil along, waking up every day with a hope and a prayer and a world of imaginary people in your head. and it hits me hard, sometimes, those emails. the ones asking for help and guidance. i feel bad that the only thing i really know how to say is "read. and write. and keep doing that over and over again." but the truth is, if i've learned anything at all as i've ventured into this world, it's that i know nothing. there really is no one way to write a book. there is no hard and fast rule to creating a fictional world. i can only ever tell you how i write a book, and that might not even work for you. and if you write differently, that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. it means you're doing what's right for you.

my point is this: i read so many different things about writing a novel. everyone had a different method, or everyone seemed to agree on a similar system, or there were tons of pro/con stuff on outlining and not-outlining and etc etc etc. but hell, if your book has a plot, you're already ten steps ahead of everyone else. so i think you should do whatever works for you. however! if all of this non-advice has only frustrated you, here is a step by step tutorial on how to write a novel that i wrote a long time ago. i still think it's incredibly relevant to today. 

hee hee.

bottom line: i've written a lot (in the past) about publishing and the steps it takes to get there, but if you're new to this world and are looking for the absolute best place to start learning? i would direct you first and foremost to the amazing Nathan Bransford's blog. his site is a gold mine for aspiring writers.

in other news: i think you are awesome.

happy Thursday, everyone.

HEARTS

17 comments:

Ava Jae said...

Love this post! Well, I love all of your posts, really, but you hit the nail on the head (again). When it's something as subjective as writing, there is no right way to do it. It varies per writer per book per chapter per whatever mood you're in.

I also love the rhetorical question unfortunate query examples. Very funny. :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Wonderful post (oh, and hi!). You're so right. There's no "one and only guaranteed perfection" way to write. But yes, read, write, repeat is definitely a good basis.

Ikhlas said...

Great post, Tahereh!

I was sort of wondering where your blog had gone, but then I 'see' you around Twitter all the time, so I didn't notice as much.

Hehe ^_^

Danielle Behr said...

I hope nobody's too hard on you for not giving constant, concrete advice. For one thing, you're not a writing teacher. There are lots of those. For another, I read a lot of writers' blogs, writers whose books, quite frankly, weren't as good as yours, and they sometimes go on and on as if publishing one book (sometimes just getting an agent!) has made them an expert. It's rather unattractive, that lack of humility. I LIKE hearing that published authors like yourself essentially know nothing because I also know nothing and it's nice to know I'm not alone :-) *Cheers to Socrates!*

Lexie said...

I have a secret. I think you're awesome, too.

This is a really great post. The fact is, there is not and never will be just one way to write. No one will have the exact same process, the exact same techniques; one thing may work for one and not work for another. There are certainly general writing tips to follow, but in the end, you determine how you write your novel, because that process is yours and only yours.

Valia Lind said...

You're nuts my dear but I adore you to pieces :-D *HUGS*

BP said...

This was amazing! There really is NO ONE WAY to write a book. Seriously, did Austen and Dickens and DOYLE have writing coaches? Hm? No? Probably not? The only thing I really miss is your hilarious posts that humanize search engines (wait - there is nothing wrong with that, ok?) and make me smile! Write on and suffer little!

Trisha said...

Yeah, when I was asking a fellow writer about appropriate chapter lengths, she said, "Well, how long is a piece of string?" ;)

Sarah Allen said...

You are wonderful and hilarious and please don't ever stop. Thank you for being so honest and thoughtful. Since I'm on the beginning end of the spectrum I really needed to hear this.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

kristy1504 said...

When I saw the first line asking if we ever had so much to do that we decided to just lie facedown on the floor and mumble British witticisms into the carpet, I nodded my head and said yes. Yes I have done that. Multiple times. :D

Also, thank you for this post! It made me smile and is a lot more encouraging/helpful than other author-advice posts I have read!

Liza said...

I know why people ask. You are a stunning writer.

BookLuvr Mindy said...

Hahaha! I love that you say that the majority of your blog traffic comes from your mom. That's awesome! I have stopped by Nathan's blog since I met him in SF and you recommended him...and I made sure I grabbed an ARC copy of his book at NCIBA. But I'm not really looking to write...EVER. So I'm not sure his blog really helps. LoL

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Love this Tahereh. You are helpful, and witty and fun and you just don't really know it. This, of course, is also why your blog is so appealing:) Have a great Tuesday!

Sherre said...

Love this. I just wrote my first full page of my book. In my head it's awesome, but if anyone asks, it sucks. I'm just not confident enough until i write it all and review it all at least a billion times. No outlining for me. Just notes on stickey notes and thats it. Ha!

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Cupcakes and Tea said...

Hi! I am designing a pair of riding breeches for a design contest, and would love for you to help me come up with a title! The breeches are light pink, and have a riding bit design at the bottom. I was thinking "pretty in pink" or "bits n pieces"… your ideas?

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