Tag Archives: Mary W. Walters

Death Valley

Extreme-Heat-Death-ValleyEvery artist who has successfully created works other people enjoyed is a slave to the creative muse. Each artist endures those horrible moments when they question their choice of career–they have a series of bad days and inspiration is far from their grasp. Every note they play, every word they write, every picture painted is dead and dull. Forcing it doesn’t help, and indeed drives it further away.  These are the moments when we are walking in the Death Valley of creativity.

I have no magic bullet, no super-human powers of creativity to bestow upon you.  For me, the joy of creativity in music, art, and writing is the rebellious feeling of stealing the time to do it. I make music, I do graphics, and I write, doing each whenever the muse strikes me.

In the old days I would come home from work with a small notebook full of ideas and after I had fed the masses, everything else would fall by the way while I put those ideas to paper. Even when you must earn a living, creativity must be allowed to flow when you feel it, because it is a finite commodity.

But I will tell you this: You Are Not Alone. Margaret Mitchell only published one book: Gone With The Wind.

gone with the wind 2Quoted from the fount of all knowledge,  WikipediaMargaret Munnerlyn Mitchell (November 8, 1900 – August 16, 1949) was an American author and journalist. One novel by Mitchell was published during her lifetime, the American Civil War-era novel, Gone with the Wind, for which she won the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936[1] and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. In more recent years, a collection of Mitchell’s girlhood writings and a novella she wrote as a teenager, Lost Laysen, have been published. A collection of articles written by Mitchell for The Atlanta Journal was republished in book form.

And did you know that Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde each only wrote one novel in their careers?  I am assuming this was because they suffered from long periods of having nothing they thought was worthy to show the world.

Poe understood the value of writing the short story. While he is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, his body of work consisted of–wait–how many short stories did he write? “Almost eighty” it says on page 373 of the official volume of the Big Read. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore says the number is sixty-nine – counting “both short fiction and novels.” This appears to be the most widely published number.
So how many short stories did Edgar Allan write? By all reports he was a troubled man, and it’s possible that not even he knew for sure.

Poe is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. Are we surprised? I don’t think so.

narrative of arthur gordon pym edgar allen poeBut though he is considered by many to be the most famous of our American authors, he only published one novel: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) is the only complete novel written by our famous man, Edgar Allan Poe. The work relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym, who stows away aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus. Various adventures and misadventures befall the protagonist, Pym, including shipwreck, mutiny, and cannibalism, before he is rescued by the crew of the Jane Guy.

Indie author Mary W. Walters has written a wonderful blogpost on the subject of turning writers block into building blocks, available here.

So even if you feel the stream of creativity has run dry, it’s frustrating, yes–but nothing to get to worried about. At some point, when it is least convenient, that muse will strike again. You will once again feel that divine energy, that spark of madness that is the breath of life for a poem, a song, a novel or a painting. When you feel it, go with it.

 

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The Bitter Pill

Advanced Notice from Amazon re Merceds Lackey's new bookOne of the most confusing things about being an indie author is pricing your book. Quite honestly, if you price it too high–I probably won’t buy it unless you are my dear friend (don’t worry Tad Williams, I will sell my car to get your next book.)

For me, anything over $4.99 is too high, and $2.99 is the perfect spot. I love those $0.99 books too!

I am sorry, Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory–your publisher has priced you out of the ballpark for me–I read four to six books each week and will not be able to pre-order The House of Four Winds for my Kindle. In fact, at that price, I will have to wait until the paperback turns up at my local second-hand book store.

Don ValienteIn a recent post discussing Hugh Howey‘s report, Author Earnings: the Report, on her excellent blog, The Militant Writer, Mary Walters  boiled it down to manageable chunks and made a great many good points. One in particular is of great interest to those of us trying to choose a publishing path, and who may be wavering between going indie, or remaining on a traditional path. She writes:

  • Readers are not buying traditionally published e-books as frequently as they are indie published e-books, because indie-published books cost less. Therefore, traditionally published authors are getting read less often, and are making less money per book sold than indie authors are.

This is important news for traditionally published authors.

It is also important news for major publishers, who are going to lose their authors if they don’t smarten up.

We won’t go into the impact all this is having on good literature, but Howey believes that the data suggests that “even stellar manuscripts are better off self-published.”

Speaking as an author this is sad, because I am like everyone who writes a book, secretly hoping to get picked up by a big publisher. On so many levels that would be a great honor, to have my work recognized by an industry I have always respected. But when I look at this conundrum as a reasonable human being, no one wants to be tied the wheel and sold into eternal serfdom for the rest of their writing career. No one wants to be forced to write stale sequel after sequel, just because the first book rocked and now the series brand is a guaranteed sale for the publisher. Where is the joy of creativity in that?

wool by hugh howeyThis is where each author must make a key decision regarding what we will commit our energy to: Will we court the favor of an industry that has much to offer us, but expects to be paid in more than their pound of flesh? Or will we soldier on, trying to find that sweet-spot that Hugh Howey has found, and perhaps hit the big time through our own efforts?

I choose to follow in Mr. Howey’s footsteps. I haven’t been that successful yet, but what I earn is mine. I am the captain of my ship, and if I fail to navigate the shark-infested waters of publishing, at least I have given it my best effort. I will continue to price my books as reasonably as I can, and hope that with persistent efforts on my part, their sales will gain ground.

The harsh truth is that the big publishers are rushing to publish manuscripts by big name authors that are just as poorly edited and just as abysmally plotted as those in the $0.99 bin at Amazon.com. How many paperbacks have you bought, gotten halfway through them, and said, “This is s**t!”… ?

I would rather pay less than $12.99 for that privilege, thank you.

George R.R.Martin formatting issue 3 via book blog page views, margaret ebyI find that traditionally published books are fraught with problems just as frequently as not, and it pisses me off, because the big publishers LOUDLY proclaim their quality is superior, when time has proven it is not necessarily so. This is why I go to the secondhand bookstore for the traditionally published books, and haunt the Kindle store, looking  for the indies.

There is gold out there in those inexpensive Kindle books, and I am vindicated every time I read a true gem.  This is why I blog about the books I love on my Best in Fantasy blog–an attempt to bring attention to the many amazing books that entertain me.

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