Monday, June 30, 2014

Cognitive Recalibration

AKA "I hit you really hard in the head."

So Dr. Dina has been very busy this year. The majority of my posts have been recycled material when I remember it's my day to post (I've been averaging one post a month, and that will not do), and that's not really fair to you, the readers.

It does, however, make for good material for this blog.

I'm going to rant a little on a subject that's been discussed on my own blog, our Bitchstress Dreamkiller's blog, this blog, and countless others. It's been discussed many times in many different ways, but I'm going to bring it up again because it's still an issue.

In case you're new around here, the Evil League of Evil Writers' form of motivational speaking/inspiration involves pointy or blunt objects, depending on the poster's preference. (I prefer pointy, but blunt has its uses.) Today I'm going to go with a baseball bat, because some of you writers out there need a good beating.

"What is it?!" you cry as you run clumsily away from the serial-killer-stalkery of Dina-with-a-clue-bat, looking over your shoulder to see if I'm getting closer despite your running and my walking. (Hint: I am, because that's how the Serial Killer Stalk works – you run, I walk, I get ahead of you and bludgeon the shit out of you. Seriously. Watch any of the Friday the 13th films.)

Today's "it" is having time to write.

I hear it all the time (and it sends me into orbit) –

"I'd love to write, but I don't have time!"

"I have so much to do, I can't waste time writing!"

"You're so lucky! You have so much time to write!"

"It must be so nice to have time to write!" (This one is my favorite because it's said passive-aggressively in a "Wow, you have so much free time to sit on your ass! Some of us have actual lives and can't devote time to cute leisure activities!" way.)

Excuse. The Fuck. Out of you. Asshole.

Listen to me very, very carefully:

NO ONE "HAS TIME" TO WRITE.

NO ONE.

NO, NOT EVEN THEM.

Everyone, from unpublished writers to bestselling authors, has lives. Laundry. Dishes. Kids. Health issues. Financial issues. Family issues. Issues in general.

"Yes, but Big Name Author has a housekeeper/assistant/ *insert excuse here* and I'm just little me! I can't-"

STOP.

Stop right there.

You see what you did there? See that? Look at that sentence again. What's the word at the end there? Come on…you're a writer! You know words!

"Can't."

See that? That word? There's your problem, right there.

It's not that you "can't." The problem is you "won't."

Think about that for a minute. Go on. I'll wait.

*knits a row on her latest project*

Finished?

Did you understand the sentence? Really understand it? Because that's really what this whole thing is about.

You can write. You probably have. I don't care if it's three words on a napkin at lunch, or fifteen pages at 3AM before you shower for your 5AM shift.

You "want to write?" Fuck you. You don't "want to" write. You either write or you don't. You make time, you don't find it. Time isn't hiding behind the couch, waiting for you to find it. And again-

NO ONE "HAS TIME" TO WRITE.

They write. Period. Whether that's before the kids get up from school or after they're in bed at night, between loads of laundry, on your lunch break, on your smoke break, ten minutes while dinner is cooking…they're writing.

I hear you over there. "Dina, that just doesn't work for me! If I can't have a chunk of quiet time in which to write, I'm just not able to do it!"

Well then, it sucks to be you. I refer you to the above statement about "can't" versus "won't." You can adapt. You can make it work. You can change your attitude and learn to work with what you've got, if you really want to. The problem is you. You're not willing to change your behavior, make the time, make the adjustments, then shut the fuck up about how you "want to write" because you clearly don't want it badly enough.

As I said, everyone has lives, and everyone has issues. The difference between "wanting to write" and being a writer is making with the words.

So go make them. You can. You just have to make it happen. Get up ten minutes earlier. Go to bed twenty minutes later. And this applies to everything in your life, from unfucking your habitat to starting that exercise thing you said you were going to do this year. You can do it. Whether you will do it is up to you, and that's really it.

It's all about what you want and how badly you want it.

More than that, it's about your attitude. That old 80s movie The Last Starfighter says it perfectly:

Main Character Alex: "Come on, Centauri, I'm just a kid from a trailer park-"

Centauri: *points at him, punctuating each word with a gesture* "If that's what you think, then that's all you'll ever be!"

And that's really it. If you think you don't have time for writing, then you don't, and you never will. It's total bullshit, but that's what it comes down to. There will never be time. It will never be "the right time." You'll never have time when you're inspired to write, and inspiration will never come to you when you finally decide you have the time.

You fucking write. That's it. That is it, and that is all.

Adjust your attitude. Change your perspective.

Run faster.

How's that for motivation?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Repetition isn't always the greatest. Repetition isn't always the greatest.

As Adrienne posted a couple weeks ago, we just have some pet peeves. Hers was winking.

For me, it's not so much any particular thing like that, but repetition. Noticeable repetition. Let me give you an example. An author whose books I really enjoy (and will remain nameless) uses some variation of this phrase at least once per novel and quite often more than that: "He popped his jaw."

And every single time, it throws me out of the story, as I wonder at that. I'm pretty sure I know what she's talking about, but frankly, describing it that way sounds painful and awkward and absolutely prevents me from absorbing that and going on with the story.

What you want is to keep your readers happy in their blissful little reader bubble, where they don't question the words on the page, but stay engrossed in the story you're creating around them.

And for me, repetition of certain words and phrases doesn't do that for me.

This is something that a critique partner can point out for you. For instance, I like to use "headed." He headed to the store, she headed outside, they headed out to lunch. Apparently, that rings better to me when I'm writing than walked, moved, went, etc. I never noticed just how often I used it until a critique partner pointed it out.

Make sure you figure out what words and phrases you're overusing and start using the "Find" function in your manuscript to search them out and destroy them. Mindless repetition is not your friend. If you're using repetition on purpose for a point, then go for it.

But for the love of all that is evil, please don't pop your jaw while you're doing it - someone could get hurt!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Writer Qualification Checklist - Do You Make the Cut?

It appears to be stupidity week.

It started with the American exchange student who got so thoroughly trapped in a giant sculpture of a vagina in Germany that he had to be rescued. Seriously. This misadventure required the time and energy of a whole bunch of fire fighters and rescue personnel. But hey, I'm sure they had nothing more important to do. 

Who does this shit? And why? It's not like the dude was six and still fascinated by being able to say poopy head. I hope. Because if it was kindergarten exchange his host family should have been watching him better.



Meanwhile, some idiot at GQ magazine decided that a hot actress can't play a writer:
"[Olivia Wilde's] supposed to be a writer too, but your belief in that won't outlast Wilde scampering naked through hotel corridors once Neeson playfully locks her out of his room. With that tush, who'd need to be literate? Who'd want to?"

I'll tell you who. Me. Not that there's any danger of me ever being considered too hot to be a writer, but where is it written that pretty people can't be smart, or creative, or whatever? Is there a writer application form you have to fill out to see if you fit criteria for the job? 

If so, I think it should look more like this:

In possession of pen, paper, typewriter, computer, or other word receptacle
Ability to put words together in some sort of rational order
Ability to reorganize said words, repeatedly, until they actually tell a story
Ability to endure rejection, self doubt, discouragement, frustration, and the dashing of hopes, while still maintaining professionalism and a positive attitude
A cat, or some other pet, who can sit on keyboards, get in the way, or otherwise obstruct the process (optional, but preferred)
A strong stubborn streak
Creativity
Sensitivity (to give the rejection and dashing of hopes a little extra twist)
Irrational optimism
Physical attributes irrelevant, but penchant for sweat pants preferred

As far as I can see, that's about it. If you have anything to add, please feel free. The comments belong to you.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not Feeling So Evil

There have been studies upon studies that show a correlation between people who work in creative fields and those who suffer from things such as depression. (I'd have to look up what all the mental health issues are that are common in creative types, and I'm not feeling evil enough to have a go at google tonight.) Of course there's no causal arrangement determined there. Are we creative because we're depressed or depressed because we're creative?

Alone it's interesting, but when coupled with the reality of creative pursuits it becomes downright confusing. Authors, musicians, actors.... ALL creative types suffer rejection--most even after they've "made it." (Unless they've made it HUGE, in which case, you'll have to ask someone else :P) Why would people who already have mental health issues put themselves through that sort of "punishment"? It's basically like saying "Hey, I'm already depressed, world, you can't make it worse..."

Or maybe it's exactly like that.

As a writer with depression, I can tell you've I've had days where I've gotten rejection letters and said that EXACT thing to my computer. "Is that the best you've got, universe? Pfft."

It's as if, at a certain point, the rejection becomes our way of dealing with the depression. Because it's something that is pretty much custom designed to hurt/sting/pick-your-pain. And when we're caught in the spiraling doom of an episode, it doesn't matter. It's like throwing a bucket of water on someone who is standing in a deluge.

And you know what?

Sometimes it works.

In case you haven't been told, you should never say to someone with depression (or other mental health issues) to "Smile" or that "It'll get better" or to "Cheer up." Because generally speaking if that worked, we'd all be doing it. But sometimes (for someone who has a modicum of control of their mental health problems), being able to tell the universe that it can suck it is enough to jolt us out of the spiral.

"Hey, you just flipped the universe the bird. What are you going to do next?"
*blink*
"I think I'm going to get out of bed, shower, and leave the house today. And I might even write."

So, yeah. I'm not feeling so evil of late. The spiral is looming overhead, and I've been telling the universe to fuck off as often as possible, hoping to scare the doom away. And you know what? Some days, I truly believe I might just be more powerful than the depression.

I'm hoping today is one of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Baby Evil Writers 101: Writing for a Living

Baby Evil Writers 101: Writing for a Living

Julie Butcher

I don’t think I’ve ever met a writer who doesn’t want to quit working, stay home and make their living from writing. Quitting the day job is the ultimate dream. The problem is making your dreams into reality. Those pesky children seem to want food every single day and then you need a roof, and electricity to run your laptop, and heat in the winter is a necessity and not a luxury. If this is a serious goal, you need to have a plan.

First of all, you have to sell some books. To live in a modicum of comfort, you need to have three books on the shelf for each and every member of your family. For most people this means that their career needs to be firmly established for ten years or more before they gain their freedom. During those ten years, you need to figure out some things.

1.      Where will the health insurance come from? If you are the working person who provides this necessity, you need to plan on paying for it yourself. It isn’t cheap. Unless you have a few hundred thousand dollars tucked away, this isn’t optional.

2.    Make a budget and learn to stick to it. An author gets paid twice yearly and that is a long time between paychecks. Ramen is good but it’s not that good. Also it will make you fat so there you go.

3.      Will any of your children be going to college when you plan to work at home? If so, add another book on the shelf for each child in college. Even scholarship students have expenses not covered by grants and loans
.
4.      Pay off anything you can before you quit working outside of the home. You get bonus points for no mortgage and a decent, paid-for car that won’t need immediate repairs.

5.      Include in your budget traveling expenses for conferences and conventions. You’ll need the exposure and unless you’re a big time author, you won’t get your plane tickets paid for you
.
6.      Don’t forget to set money aside for promotional items. Also don’t go nuts with these. It is kind of dumb to give away something that costs more than you make by selling a copy of your book.

Most of all you need to get into the habit of setting aside writing time each and every day and sticking to your schedule.  Working from home is still working. No work, no food. Easy-peasy.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Why

I've been thinking a lot lately about the story goal. Not the goal of the book, which is a completely different ball of cheese, but the goal of the story, the why behind the plot, the burning desire that drives the characters, always, to the next step along the way. What do they want to accomplish? What, in the end, is the one thing that matters?

This is why people turn pages and keep reading, to find out if the goal is reached. Because of this, it is important to establish the goal early, strongly, and with enough sense of urgency that the story goal becomes the reader's goal.

They invest. Investing is very, very good.

I've read some books that do this amazingly well, and I find that they are impossible to put down. I have also, unfortunately read books where the story goal is not clearly defined, or not emphasized enough, or early enough to really come to the forefront.

If I'm reading chapter six and I'm not sure what the characters want, I might be in trouble.

I think (not an expert here, this is all opinion, right?) that a lot of new writers get very lost in world building. They spend a good amount of time on character creation, getting to know the cast, understanding them and making them real. This is all good. But I think sometimes the bones of a story can get lost in the volume of material that may or may not be necessary.

As authors, we love our worlds, we make friends (or enemies) with our characters. We're already invested. So there is a danger of getting too attached to these aspects, of loving spending time with them so much that we assume a reader will love just hanging out with them too. Wandering through our world meeting cool characters is great, but without a strong, established story goal right out of the gate, the story gets boring fast.

There's no sense of urgency. And that, a sense of having to go on or else, is what makes the story gripping. No matter how cool everything else is. It is the story goal, not the trappings and cast, that make tension, conflict and pace. Because even if we wander aimlessly through a cool world at a dead run, the story will still feel slow if we aren't being chased by something dastardly, or running toward something we will die without.

The story goal.
The stakes, the conflict, the tension, all come from the one thing, the core desire, that we've convinced our reader must happen or else all is lost.

This is why the characters do everything they do. It's why the world turns, why the page turns. There's a real skill to getting the bones right, and I wish I could say that I didn't still have a lot to learn. Maybe that's why I've been thinking about it so much.

Time to practice.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Celebrate the little things (and the big things)

I think it's important to remember to celebrate things. A lot of people get so wrapped up in achieving things that it's hard to take a moment to enjoy the things that you've already achieved.

Not me. I freaking love celebrating stuff. Whether it's my birthday, my half-birthday, the fact that it's Friday, our anniversary (which it is today - happy 5 years, honey!), or just a particularly good hair day, I like to take the time to appreciate it. And eat dessert :)

So I think you should apply this theory to your writing. Yes, obviously celebrate selling your book to an editor or making the New York Times bestseller's list, but you don't need to wait for those monumental milestones to congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Some days, that's finishing a book. Some days, it's just getting 5 minutes worth of writing time that didn't suck. Some days it's thinking up a brilliant title for the next book that you haven't even plotted out yet. Some days it might be just thinking up a particularly witty tweet - or having a NY Times bestselling author tweet you back.

Writing can be solitary and it can be lonely and it can be HARD. So if you aren't finding the joy in just sitting down to write (which, some days you won't), then find the joy in anything at all. And celebrate it.

You're worth it! Because, gosh darn it, you're a writer. And the world needs more of those (and fewer reality TV show stars!) So that alone is worth celebrating (unless you are a reality TV star, in which case celebrate your 15 minutes of fame).

So go have a cookie on me! You deserve it!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

May All Writers Be Well

I had it in mind to write a a bit of a rant last night. Seems like all sorts of writing and publishing related things have been irritating me the last couple of weeks and I had a whole train of thought that seemed like a good idea to put on the page.

But I went to yoga before I wrote it, and when I came home my entire message had shifted to this:

Take lots of naps and love all the people and all the things.

Which would have made for a very short blog post. Maybe you would have liked that, and if so, feel free to make that your take away message.

What I was going to rant about was the proliferation of pigeonhole boxes and the judgyness in the literary world. For a field involving creativity, there is an awful lot of judgement going on about who is allowed to write - and read - which types of books. (And yes, judgyness is a word, because I said so. You know what it means.)

This week what got me was the bit about how adults should be embarrassed to read young adult books. And there was another bit about how romance writers aren't real writers, or some such. J.K. Rowland is supposed to stop writing books, or write a different kind of books, depending on who you talk to. Apparently some authors write only for women, or only for men, and readers who step outside of those boxes are two headed monsters. We should self publish. Or we should traditionally publish. Which thing we should do or not do varies, of course, depending on who is doing the talking.

My original response to all of this is rage. I hate boxes, particularly when I'm expected to be in one. I'll read what I want, thank you very much. As for writing? Don't call me a woman writer or even label me as an Urban Fantasy writer, just because my first published novels are in that genre. I write stories. I'd like for human creatures to read them. I don't care about their age or gender. Hell, if your cat or dog admits to their ability to read and they like my stuff - please, have at it.

I'd like to believe that our right to free speech is also a right to free reading and writing.

Which brings me back to yoga.

At the end of every yoga class, my instructor repeats a blessing that goes very much like this:

May all beings be peaceful.   
May all beings be happy.   
May all beings be well.   
May all beings be safe.   
May all beings be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering.

As writers (and as human beings in general) we can all learn a lot from yoga. It's about paying attention and being mindful, accepting the limitations of your body and soul with kindness, and then gently encouraging and teaching the muscles to do things that once seemed impossible.

This is hard. It's even harder to extend the acceptance and love to all of the other beings around you, who are obviously doing things wrong.

I'm challenging myself to move away from anger and drama and into a place of love and acceptance - for all the writers, and all the readers.

May all writers be peaceful.
May all writers be happy.
May all writers be well.
May all writers be safe.
May all writers be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering.

Namaste.






Friday, June 6, 2014

Nudge nudge, wink wink

Those of us who read a lot all have our pet peeves. I don't have that many, but lately it's winking. Yes, winking. Seems like a minor thing, and I suppose it is, but why are characters constantly winking at each other in books?

They wink when they're being flirty, they wink when they're being funny, or passing on a secret. They wink during sex...like multiple times. Winky winky winky.

And it drives me bananas. I know it's tough to weave visual cues into action and dialog. Believe me, I am far, far from perfect, I use too many shrugs and frowns and head nods. But in my meager defense, these are things people actually DO with some regularity, out here in real life land. But in my personal experience, the only people who wink a lot are creepy old men in baggy polyester pants that smell like whiskey and urine. Winking isn't charming or sexy. Winking is strange and kind of icky, especially when someone does it so often I wonder if they have some kind of seizure disorder.

Or maybe I just haven't met all these winkers out there. Maybe eyes are blinking in bedrooms and bordellos and on streets all over the world as we speak, and I just haven't been exposed to it enough. But it can't possibly be as rampant as it is in some books I've read recently, where there's a wink in every other paragraph. So please. If your character is not an old man with whiskey pants or Jessica Rabbit, please keep your winks to a minimum. Thanks. *wink*


Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Huge Thank You for Evil in the World

I always thought that there was no evil in the world—not the kind that I’ve found here at the Evil League of Evil Writers. This is a special evil that I thought was nowhere else.

You proved me wrong.

You’re probably tired of hearing about how my husband (aka Dances with Chainsaws) was attacked by a rogue chainsaw fought off a grizzly bear with his bare hands. But this is an important part of the story so it has to be here. By the time he was in his third surgery, I was in a royal panic about the bills and the Evil League had stepped in with their fundraising super-powers and began #EvilforJulie

Yes, we had Insurance of Doom like every other self-employed person, but that was only enough to save the house if we lived on Ramen for a few years. I’m good with a noodle diet but for my kids—not so much.

Evil showed up from cities and countries that I've never visited. It appeared from people that I've never met or only talked with briefly at conferences. Wonderful gifts of time and books and amazing knitted things poured in. I was awed.

Then evil came from readers and writers. And while Dances with Chainsaws was stuck in bed watching PBS and planning future BBQ’s, the hospital, doctors, and physical therapy bills were miraculously paid.

Because of these special people:

1.      My kids can go back to college next fall.
2.      We have a house and a roof and power.
3.      There is healthy food for my kids.
4.      We can sleep at night safe.
5.      I see the world as a magical place and will be forever grateful.

You all made a huge difference in the way our lives will be. You are amazing.

DwC paying off the hospital bill

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stopping to Re-fuel

We talk a lot about the myth of writer's block, that if you want to be a writer, then you write. Sometimes, the words flow easily and sometimes you work at it, but not buying into any sort of rubbish about blocks and elusive muses goes a long way toward keeping a solid work ethic. It also gets the books done. 

But tapping into that well of creativity with such force and frequency, can still have side effects. Whether all our ideas branch from three inevitable conflicts, (man v somebody) or whether we reach into the collective unconscious to spawn our ideas, or pluck them unceremoniously from our navel, they still have a source, and that source can get  a little dry from time to time. 

Recently, the flow of creativity from my little wellspring, slowed dramatically. It went from a flood to a trickle to a big old dust bowl in no time flat. 

To be fair, I still had a lot of ideas. I just didn't really have the energy to write them. I poked and prodded at the words, but my output was pathetic at best. Oddly enough, all kinds of other creative endeavors sprang to mind. Weaving, painting, singing Opera (very badly) everything I wanted to do was  art, but it was nothing to do with the art that was on my to-do list. 

I was out of gas. It wasn't writer's block at all. I'd just forgotten to refuel. I'd spent more than I took in, and my engine stalled.

Then a friend brought me a copy of a book that I've been dying to read. I couldn't resist it. It was written by my all time favorite author, Christopher Moore, and it was about my favorite topic to boot. I realized, as I cracked the book and sank into one of my favorite wordsmith's worlds, that I missed reading. In all my rush to make stories, I'd forgotten to read them....again. 

You have to read. 

So I devoured, Sacre Bleu, and then I kept going. I read two more books, three more. I devoured all the things that had been waiting for me to have time to read them. I fell in love with other people's stories again, an so I remembered why I wanted to write in the first place. The wellspring, not surprisingly, filled up again. Almost by magic. 

I didn't have to fight writer's block, because it went away. I didn't have to force myself to write because I wanted to again. The tank was full. 

I know we're supposed to read to learn our genre, to study story theory and structure and the things that are happening in fiction around us, but if you ask me, a better reason, (certainly, a more fun reason) is just to remember how much you like it. It felt like a vacation, reading, and dang it, we all deserve vacations. 

That's something writers tend to forget too. I know, I usually see ANY free time as a great chance to work. Next time, just maybe, I'll remember reading a good book (or four) is a nice alternative. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Retro Evil - A Reintroduction

Here we are...six months into 2014. It's been a wild ride already! The whole month of April we here at the ELEW were raising funds to help our dear Senior Pie Coordinator and Clubhouse Keeper, Julie Butcher, with the monumental medical bills incurred while her husband took on a chainsaw-wielding grizzly bear. And you know what, evildoers?

We did it.

WE FUCKING DID IT!

May was spent making sure all the perks were going out, and so on and so forth. There have been other posts on this blog detailing exactly what we've done, so I won't rehash. The ELEW is often up to no good...it's part of what makes us evil. Our efforts have garnered us a few new followers curious about who we are and what the Evil League of Evil Writers is.

Today's post is going to be about that very thing - what makes a writer evil? What's interesting about this entry is that it is a reprint of my very first post for this blog...over three years ago! The ELEW was founded April 1, 2011 by me (Dina) and our lovely Bitchstress Dreamkiller, Skyla Dawn Cameron. Though we are the founders, this organization could not function without our members. It takes a special type of person to be an evil writer, and membership in our esteemed organization is something we take very seriously.

Let me explain.

(Previously published April 2011 on the old ELEW site. It has been resurrected for today.)

Evil is not to be confused with "mean." There is a vast difference between being mean and being evil. For example, being mean is setting people up to fail just to amuse you. Being evil is taking pleasure in their failure when they've set themselves up to fail despite your repeated warnings/attempts at educating them.

The Germans have a word for this concept – "schadenfreude."

I am not mean. I am evil. Mostly.

Why am I an evil writer? Because I have no patience, tolerance, or compassion. I have absolutely NO sympathy for self-inflicted wounds.

Note that. Self-inflicted wounds.

Being a writer is torture. It's hard on the writer, it's hard on the reader, and it's devastation to the characters and worlds involved. Not everyone is cut out to handle the kind of collateral damage that a writer endures - physical, mental, and emotional. It's a rough life, and like anything that isn't easy, there are always people who want to claim the achievement without having to endure the hard work.

These people take shortcuts, generally make asses of themselves to everyone, everywhere, shove their "hard work/success" in the faces of those they've longed to impress, do the "I told you so" dance…

…then whine because not only is their work not selling, they're not accepted by the writing community as either a professional or a writer.

I have no sympathy for these people.

There's an icon someone created (I have it credited as made by the LJ user tuuli-chan) that I sometimes use(d) on my Livejournal that says "easy reading is damned hard writing." (ETA: I have now become aware that this is a Maya Angelou quote.)

That says it all. Writing is hard. It's not just "put words on the page." There's a bit more to it than that.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I'm about to rip the whiners a new orifice. Those sitting in the first five rows would do well to raise their plastic sheeting about now.

As stated above, I have no sympathy for self-inflicted wounds. I have absolutely NO PATIENCE for people who whine about how they were ripped off by this "publishing company"*, or about how hard writing is, or how they're suffering from writer's block, or they want to write but don't have time, or about the bad review of their work they read, or about how no one but their mom believes in them, or they don't have a support group, or whatever.

Shut. The fuck. Up.

If you want to be a writer – a PROFESSIONAL writer – then you're going to have to learn to take a hit. Like a boxer, you're going to have to work hard and train and hurt and bleed and then train some more WHILE you're hurting and bleeding. There is no training montage song provided. You have to come up with that on your own, and it's going to take a little more than two minutes of "You're The Best Around" or "Eye of the Tiger" to make you into a professional.

You want to get in the ring, you're going to get hit, and I've got no sympathy for you if you're going to whine about it when you do. You were warned. There's a lot of absolutely free information out there from people who know what they're talking about. Author blogs, agent blogs, writer's resources – it's all there if anyone bothers to look.

Real, professional writers do their research, and they don't whine about it.

Writer's block? Here: http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/journal/writers-block/ (updated link as the old one was eaten by trolls)

And that's just one example. Fear of rejection? Covered. How to deal with rejection? Check. What to do once you've finished a manuscript? Also covered. Finding time to write? Plenty of info out there on that one. Tempting your Muse with chocolate?

I'd be careful with that one. You'll probably end up on a porn site.

Actually, you'll probably end up on a porn site regardless of what you search for, so please use your brain and remember that if anyone anywhere on the internet asks you for your money/credit card before you can access anything, LOOK ELSEWHERE.

Now that we've got that established, let's continue.

Any question you have can be answered by the ALMIGHTY GOOGLE, so I'm not about to sympathize with any excuse as to why you can't act like the professional you're claiming to be (or trying to be). Somewhere, someone has had the same question as you, and they cope just fine.

Which brings me to another point. My fellow ELEW member, Bitchstress Dreamkiller Skyla Dawn Cameron, said it best: "Writers these days really have no excuse to be ignorant."

I have no sympathy for those writers who could have known better with a FIVE MINUTE GOOGLE SEARCH on whether or not what they were doing was appropriate.

I also have no sympathy for people who behave badly, in person or online, especially writers.

If you're trying to be a professional anything, it's probably a good idea to learn how the professionals got to be that way and…I don't know…emulate them?

Now, we've all made mistakes. We've all been n00bs at some point and we all start somewhere. We've all made blunders. If you don't learn from those mistakes, or aren't embarrassed by them once you learn you've made it (and apologize for it if appropriate), then you shouldn't be trying to attain a level of professionalism you're never going to make.

My point here is, I have no patience or sympathy for those who don't bother to learn the game they're trying to play.

I certainly have no sympathy for those who whine about something they've CHOSEN to do being "too hard," or they want to write and don't have time,** or that their shortcut didn't work out the way they thought it would. Many writers would argue that writing isn't a "choice," but rather who they are, and they would be correct.

But becoming a professional is a choice. You want to write? Fine. Write. Write away. Be fruitful and multiply and all that.

You want to be a professional writer?

Learn to write well.

There are no shortcuts. You want to be a professional writer, you work hard, and you don't whine about how hard it is. There's a reason my alter ego on Twitter is #gunnyjames; an R. Lee Ermey-style encouragement-via-humiliation-and-degradation motivator. (ETA: I haven't done #gunnyjames in awhile, but she's still out there...beware....)

If you act like an ass, I'll treat you like an ass. If you act like a professional, I'll treat you like a professional.

If you act like a candy-assed, cotton-wrapped, sheltered little wannabe writer whiner, I'll simply point you back to the hole you crawled out of, because you don't belong here with the rest of us. I will also bitch-slap you if you deign to compare your whiny ass to me. I've worked hard and know what I'm talking about. You don't.

That's what makes me an evil writer. I know the rules, I know how to play, and I'll kick your ass up one side and down the other if you try and take me on with your unprofessional bullshit.

I'm also evil because I enjoy making people cry.

Are you crying?

Yes?

My work here is done.

No?

Come here for a second….

* Hi, yeah, that was a vanity press, if you'd bothered to research them like, I don't know, I TOLD YOU TO DO, maybe that wouldn't have happened.

** This one seriously annoys the fuck out of me – you either want to write or you don't. If you really wanted to write, you'd make the time, not excuses.


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