Friday, March 25, 2011

The Gone is File!

Has it happened to you?  Hard drive crash?  Inadvertent delete?  Laptop stolen?
Fortunately (yeah, right), I've only ever had two of those things happen to me.  It can really mix you up (thus today’s mixed-up title).
Today's blog is more general computer advice, but it applies to writing inasmuch as you don't want to lose all your hard work.
I'm a computer guy by trade, so I know that backups are important.  And yet, I've still had hard drive crashes mess me up.  I have two desktops and a laptop.  I have three external "backup" hard drives.  I have a 4GB thumb drive.  Luckily, I haven't lost any writing projects, but I have lost music and video files that I had for years.  That's what convinced me to shell out the money for an online backup service.  I hope this doesn't sound like a commercial, but even with all of those backup devices, I rarely did the backups myself.  So, to have it automatically done twice a day is a major stress relief.  Plus, we're all busy.  To manually do a backup, even on just our 'super-mega-important' files would take valuable minutes out of every day (or as often as we'd actually do it).
But, if you can't bring yourself to pay for an online backup service, at the very least, backup to another device (thumb drive, external hard drive, CD/DVD Rom) as often as you make major changes.  If your computer dies, you'll be glad you still have your darling poems, short stories, novels, articles, or whatever, and you'll really be saying, "TGIF!"  (Or at least, "Thank Goodness!")
As another word of advice, save, and save often.  I tell people where I work to save every five or ten minutes or after you do a bunch of work (bunch being a very technical term).  If you want to have multiple revisions available to look back upon, use save-as.  But, power fluctuations, hitting the wrong key...many things can happen to your current document.  If you just saved it and something messes it up, close it without saving and open the saved copy.
May your writing be good and your files in good hands.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Good Incidence Fallacy (Yeah...a stretch to get to TGIF, right?) :)

"I've always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there." - Bob Hope

How often have you, or someone you know, said that a writer "got lucky" or "has all the luck?"

Sure, luck may be involved in life, but hard work, preparation, and persistence play a good part as well.  Most successes, in writing and in many other professions, do not happen 'overnight.'  Basketball players do not decide to play basketball one day and join the NBA the next.  CEOs do not decide to start a business one day and be running a multi-billion dollar company the next.  Writers do not decide to write one day, and have a bestseller the next.  The list goes on.  For every person's success, there is usually a story of hard work, dedication, and perseverance behind it.

So, writers need to prepare to be writers:  Read.  Write.  Read books on writing.  Research your subjects.  Write.  Research publishers and agents.  Research the market.  Write.  Revise.

You're not going to be a success overnight, but if you work hard, prepare, and place yourself where you can succeed, someday you will succeed.

I love Bob Hope, thus the quote above.  I also love Shel Silverstein.  Taken a bit out of context, but still somewhat applicable if you think of magic or good luck as success:  "...all the magic I have known I've had to make myself." — Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

Work hard so that success will find you.

Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Goal Is Fulfillment

I've read a great deal about writing.  For more than ten years, I have wanted to be published--and have been actively trying.  I have the 1998 Writer's Market (and others: more Writer's Markets, Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, etc.) that I bought new.  I have some older ones that I bought used.

However, as I mentioned last week, one needs to get it finished.  Reading about writing is fine, but you actually have to do some writing to have a chance to get published.

Anyway, one thing that I have read in many, many places is that, as a writer, you need to be satisfied with the writing itself.

Do I want to sell a million books and be able to quit my day job?  Sure!  Do I want to have millions of people read _my_ words and think I'm brilliant?  Sure!  Do I want my writing to get me that screenplay deal (with supporting role included...another of my passions)?  You bet I do!

But the likelihood of my selling a million copies of a book in either of my two main genres--poetry and picture books--is slim.  Aside from Dr. Seuss and celebrity picture books, how many end up on the NYT Best Sellers list?  And poetry?  I love Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, but most people don't even know Jack!  ;)

So, I still dream of lounging around on piles of cash from the sales of my latest book of children's poems, I Believe in Magic, or the six-figure advance from the sales of my picture book, Rhinoski!, but realistically, I need to write because:  I need to write.

Writing has long been an accepted form of expression.  But despite the fact that there are so many writers out there, it can be a lonely endeavor.  Generally, one person sits at a keyboard or holds a pen and paper and beats out a story, poem, essay, history, thought, rambling, or whatever.  Then that person spends countless hours rereading and/or rewriting it.  I have reread some of my poems hundreds of times.  Sometimes to make sure all the right words are in the right places, but sometimes just because I enjoy my own stuff!  (Have I mentioned how brilliant I am?  I just need someone else to discover that!)

Sharing my work with friends and family has had mixed results.  Some things that I think are brilliant get a so-so reaction from others.  Some things have had a great reception.  Different people have different tastes.  Which does make me think of other advice I've read dozens of times over the years:  When one editor rejects your work, send it to another editor.  Another editor might think it is just fine, or might work with you to make it publishable.

OK.  So where are we?  I love writing.  I'd love to be published (and relaxing in Hawaii surrounded by my hundreds of published books).  But, can I live with my writing if none of it ever gets into a bookstore?  Can I live with myself if the only people who read my writing live with me or are in my writing group?

Yeah.  I can live with that.

But it doesn't mean I stop trying.

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, March 4, 2011

To Get It Finished

In writing, as in life, it is important to finish things.

Finish your homework.  Finish your supper.  Finish school.  Are you gonna finish that eclair?

Finish that manuscript.  Finish that query letter.  Finish revising that manuscript.

Just remember:  You can't submit a manuscript unless it is finished.  I have read a lot about writing on the Internet and in books, but until I actually started finishing (heh) things, I don't really think I could call myself a writer.

I finished the Picture Book Marathon this week (which included finishing two more picture books).

I submitted three things this week:
 - A speculative fiction (SF) poem (finished recently)
 - An SF short story (finished years ago)
 - A children's picture book (finished months ago)

Submission is almost like a is one more step completed toward getting something published.

I feel good.  I feel like this could be a very productive year.

And now...(wait for it)...this week's blog is finished.

Thanks for stopping by.