A Masterpiece Or Is It?Posted: March 31, 2016
A Masterpiece Or Is It?
An Ebook-Size Blog Post
Write Your Way toward Freedom & Independence
Think. Rethink and think again.
Another great horoscope by the master astrologer Rob Brezsny. At least for me. (For links to his sites please visit the previous post, Slavery & Pisces. ) This one published last August (2015) pumped me up. It promised one of the most productive periods in my writing career. I can say with due consideration of my intense Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Sleep disorders and numerous other medical problems it certainly has rivaled some of my most productive years when I used to churn out 20-30K words a day, edit them and send them all off to my editor who published them with few rejections. The works were placed in print from several weeks to a few months after I hammered them out and sent them off. That’s when I got paid, upon publication. In those days writers of such massive volumes of work were often called “hack writers.” or pulp writers. To be clear, I never cared what others thought, (still don’t) often because their negative motivation was generally due to jealously and contempt than for any other reason.
The only thing that matters is rather or not you can pay the light bill at the end of the day.
I can’t write in that kind of volume anymore and certainly, it does not allow for the healthiest of lifestyles. Sitting for long periods of time can actually be harmful to your health. It can even kill you. It is said by medical researchers to be worst, even, than cigarette smoking. If you smoke, too, you are in for some serious trouble. I paid my dues, medically, and I’m still paying for them. This post isn’t about the health problems of writers who sit too long or too much, it’s about horoscopes and productivity.
When we speak of production and writers the first lady who comes to mind is the great, late Miss Barbara Cartland.
I’m not going to splatter this post with a bunch of links. Look her up. Do some research. The following will give you a recap of how dear she was. Master astrologer Rob Brezsny once more hit the nail on the head with two points to consider.
First, he motivated the hell out of me during the days of my birthday of the summer of 2015 with his LEO horoscope comparing the famed Barbara Cartland and predicting I and other LEOs would have such a “Barbara Cartland-type [productive] period.” I happened to be in a slump at the time and although I am seldom ever depressed despite having Empire-State-Building-like obstacles tumble on me and bury me with bull dung, it was a period when I was renewing my efforts. Time-management, self-discipline, decluttering, better organizing, and all that sort of stuff genius writers who are ultra-creative can find themselves buried in and need to learn their way out of. Not to mention mountains of medical problems and life-threatening conditions looming and approaching fast. Mark Twain’s wisdom about breaking complex tasks down to manageable small tasks was in order.
In brief, I needed major renewal if I was going to meet the massive production of the unfinished projects that had accumulated in my computers (I have a series of them) and the boatloads and truckloads of writing notes. Some of those hardcopy manuscripts and notes had been around for 45 years. Some of the writing–of the electronic age–on diskettes over three decades old. And more locked into the subconscious and conscious mind for more than a half a century dreamt up by a little boy with imagination with no possible hope of ever becoming a writer because of, well let’s just say the tools and technology weren’t there at the time that would change that darkness and make the impossible possible. That all arrived decades later. Problem was a thing called work required my time and writing was no longer an option to me fulltime, but only during every moment of escape from a job, relationship, responsibility… (sigh) of which there was not much time.
But when things went horribly bad and swallowed every ounce of time, like when I had to work in a printing shop 16-hour shifts, working my way to the top position right under the owner, it wasn’t so bad after all. I picked up something extremely valuable. An eye for mistakes, typos, grammar, and spelling errors. If I failed to catch those mistakes the company I was now leading would lose thousands of dollars in a matter of hours printing flawed products that would essentially be rejected. With over 40,000 impressions an hour, that was big money. I became the absolute best proofreader in the country. No, the world. I can find mistakes in any published book you give me to proof after teams of professional proofreaders and editors scoured the very same text for mistakes and failed to find them. There was only one problem. I was not nearly as good at finding my own mistakes as I am others. That is why I had someone to proof my work. Had is past tense. (Wink). We are often too close to our work to see our own mistakes, so we at least have to wait a few days and try again. Anyway, as we moved into modern times tools and technology gave me hope that was never there for me before.
There was now a possibility I could become a writer. First, I had to become a sponge. I had to absorb what all the classic writers wrote and memorize how to spell words and how to use correct grammar because when I went to school I never heard much of what the teacher was teaching. I often couldn’t hear. My imagination developed and what some people call daydreaming, I was writing in my mind. Writing stories. I was inventing things. I was building worlds. Big worlds. And a lot of them. I was also building big guillotines. My tools against evil. I built empires to fight the evil empires. Yes, and I received a little red circle around my 65 grade which meant the teacher liked me and thought I was a nice kid and decided to pass me when I really shouldn’t have passed. Although I went to public school and college, that is NOT where I gained my education from. My education came from self-education. I read books. Naturally, I wanted to write to them, too. I learned from books and I wanted to teach from books. I’ve drifted too far into another story for another rainy day, not today. Today is too sunny to wallow in knee-deep water with pollywogs and carp swimming all around unless you are searching for Cattails or Pussy Willow for Mom or Ma (Grandma.)
I might be an oddball when it comes to writers. I might write 100 different stories at a time and they could span over a period of one or two decades and even longer during the writing process of them. I’ve completed full novels in one sitting and others spanned more than four decades. Don’t ask me why? I simply don’t know. All I do know is that I do the Number One thing any good writer should do, I do what WORKS for me and forget the rest. I would have an equal or greater number of nonfiction books, articles, essays and projects. The danger of this kind of writing for nonfiction is things could become outdated and obsolete before they are finished. I also write as I did in my heydays of the 80s and 90s in which I churned out hundreds of books, stories and articles that were penned in dozens of pseudonyms.
Pen names offer great advantages for a number of reasons, one is anonymousness. You can walk down the streets being famous and no one will recognize you. You can be a conservative writing liberal stuff and no one will know. You can be extremely controversial, yet stealth. You can disguise yourself and your writing in all kinds of ways. I’ve written in two entirely different voices, debating the same subject and no one knew both writers were the same. I have been designated a “master” debater. It isn’t which side you are on that matters, what matters is the argument you present for the side you are on. A good writer has to be able to change shoes and switch hats quickly. He has to be able to think like a criminal and be a cop that can penetrate those thoughts and act accordingly. Pen names help reduce confusion for the readers. It also prevents bias. For some reason, probably because someone said so and everybody follows the Piper, that a successful writer can only write good in one genre. Really? In my book, a good storyteller is a good storyteller no matter what story she is telling us about or what genre it is in. Pen names, however, keep peace and critics somewhat at bay. Somewhat because no matter how great someone is, there will always be someone who claims that they are not so great. SIGH!
Pen names are traceable if the author puts the copyright in his own name, but if he assigns it to the publisher he can hide infinitely anonymously. Sometimes. There are different motivations for each of us writers. Some write for money. Some for fame. Some for pleasure. Some to help others. Some to escape. To be a good storyteller and any number of other reasons. I write for humanity/humanitarianism and for storytelling. There is no right or wrong reason for writing. Only a write reason. I could care less about being rich and famous because being rich and famous only means you are making other people rich and famous when you spend your money. And, the more you have the more you have to worry about. I like being poor. There are more stories to life in poverty than anywhere else. Poverty, war and heartbreak–that is the romance during the problem scenes–spin the best stories. Usually. It is the adventure of our characters struggling to get out of those situations or predicaments that make the story. Good vs. evil.
No matter what your motivation for writing is, if you are not making money, then you need to be supported by other means. That other means could be a job, or it could mean relying on someone else to support you while you are pursuing your dreams and well, God-given talent that you can’t always explain. Why are we writers? Why do we write? Where do we get our ideas from? Those are arbitral questions, some of us cannot answer them, others may have various answers or simply escape the demanding inquiries you wish didn’t come with “I dunno.”
Okay, got a little long-winded and sidetrack with that, but that was the first thing Rob Brezsny’s summer of 2015 LEO horoscope did, rekindled my past writing experience and motivated me to retake such an aggressive stance. I’m naturally long-winded as a writer. I’ve never been good at brevity. Nor have I ever apologized for it. My writing doesn’t work for everyone. The other thing Brezsny rekindled was Barbara Cartland’s amazing production level. Like one of my other authoring idols, Harold Robbins, I remember when Ms. Cartland was super productive. The following gives you a brief history of Cartland if you are unfamiliar with her work:
Barbara Cartland is said to have sold an estimated 1 billion books in 38 different languages worldwide. Of the 723 books, 644 were romance novels. Her first book Jigsaw, she wrote at the age of 21. From age 77 to 97 she increased her volume of writing and produced 400 romance novels and by the time she died in 2000 at age 98 she had 160 some books that were still unpublished which her son is publishing and releasing at the rate of one per month. (She is still making millions for her offspring.) She wrote an incredible 23 books a year during some of her most productive years, that’s nearly two books a month. She is the only writer in history to hold the 1 and 2 spot in the B. Dalton bestsellers list at the same time, which she held in 1976. Do you think Barbara Cartland spent months and months rewriting and editing her books? She is considered the most prolific writer in history and comes nearer to the sale of the Holy Bible than any other writer. From 21 to 97 is 76 years. 723 divided by 76 equals an average of 9.5 books a year or almost one book a mouth, every single month for those 76 years. All but one book had happy endings. She received so much feedback from fans voicing negative opinions on that book with an unhappy ending that she rewrote it and gave it a happy ending and she promised her fans she would never write a sad ending ever again, and she never did. Like Harold Robbins’ books, her books are not sold in the penny gallery. They continue to hold their value. $4 for a Kindle copy and more for a paperback. Although she, like Robbins, has been gone for years, her books still bring in gold. Moral of the story, at least from my perspective, don’t waste so much time rewriting, reediting, showing other people what you write. Just write it, edit it with world-class proof reading and get it published.
You can always write a second edition or even rewrite it again if you are unhappy with sales. A close friend of mine published his debut horror story and had lukewarm success, but that first edition gave him money to get the editing help he needed and then the revised edition went on to be listed on the bestseller’s list.
If you are still with me, you have read about two very different writing styles. One form of writing may take months, years, decades to write. Another is churned out like an assembly line with editing, proof reading and any rewrites at a minimum use of time.
I can’t tell you how to write. Or what to write. If you rely on someone else to pay your bills or if you have to leave your writing to go out into the world to earn money to pay your bills so you can have some moments of time to write, then it could take forever to get substantially something published so you can earn an independent income. That is you supporting yourself on your writing without anyone else or any other means other than your writing.
Consider doing both kinds of writing, that is, from start to finished books you can churn out that kind of good writing that is still decent, that can earn you money while you work on those other long-term projects we might one day call a masterpiece.
To break, understand the very article you are reading could have been instead of a blog post, published as a mini-eBook or expanded into a larger ebook or a POD, Print On Demand, paperback. Would it sell? Who knows. Who knows what would be a masterpiece or a flop? Harry Potter? Hunger Games trilogy? Carrie? Lord of Rings? Lord of Flies? Who knows? Nobody does until it hit’s the public. One thing is certain, in most cases out of the BILLIONS of blog post like this one, the writer makes NOT ONE DIME. Not one. At least in the ebook version, the author has a chance to buy herself an ice cream cone and say, “HEY, I’M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR.” and not blink, because it would be the truth.
There are plenty of modern-day Barbara Cartlands in the self-publishing world making moves into some very nice homes and upgrading their lives. They aren’t doing it on the social network pages making other people rich. They are doing it in self-publishing where they earn themselves not only an income, but FREEDOM & INDEPENDENCE.
I am not trying to tell you what to do. I am not attempting to make a decision for you. I am trying to get your thinking up, to help you think so YOU can make a decision. Over the past decade or so, I have read numerous writer’s work which I feel deserve more merit than stuck in some lonely blog post. Just think about giving life a chance. Your life. Your writing life. If you cut out too much for yourself you will not achieve anything great because you’ve spread yourself too thin, made yourself too busy to focus on the one thing you need to do and do well, your writing. You don’t have to stop anything. You don’t have to change anything. You don’t have to get negative. This is a growing experience. I’m suggesting try to focus on a way to free up a little of your time so you can focus your writing on something that will return a little money and with it a whole lot of confidence that can help you be all you can be. Write for life. Tomorrow you may be gone. Everyday people we love leave us because their time here on earth was up. If you are going to be chasing the stars, then by God grab one by the tail and hang on. And show the rest of us in the world just how you (or your characters) did it with a self-published story that puts YOU in the eternal existence of a published author who took a chance.
To be continued…