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.
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.