Today’s thoughts are all about writing using any method or style. I am learning about transitioning and advancing into the age of the millennials. I am creating new pathways to my brain and learning to be young again with a new keyboard and machine.
I just bought a Microsoft Surface Pro4 Tablet, with a keyboard (and no, I don’t get paid by them to advertise—I wish!), and it is certainly different than what I have been used to. I transitioned to a laptop a long time ago, but this change was not as much of a brain freeze as I thought it would be. Tablets, smart phones, and eReaders are very similar in how they work. With a few bumps and zig zags, you can master one of them, and then it’s a matter of simple iterations for the rest of them. I have decided that as a writer, I must embrace these changes without becoming OCD about it. I believe new technology can make my life different, and hopefully, easier. Once I have mastered the Zen of this change, I can then turn to the creation of text. Will a tablet choice be the right choice? I’m not sure, yet, but the portability is simply amazing. Now, instead of lots of little notes on scrap pieces of paper, I can whip out the tablet and type my thoughts.
In the old days, writers had to write until their hands cramped, with pen and ink, or pencil. Then, they had to, or someone had to, type it up into a manuscript. Then, an agent had to be found so they could submit the author’s work to a publishing house. Today, writers are the master and commander of their universe. With On Demand publishing, you can write what you want and publish what you want. You may or may not sell as many books as others, because you don’t have a huge marketing department. Big publishing houses want to make money off of you, so they select only what they think will sell big. They set the price and you are lucky if you get 5% of sales. Less than 1%, or something small like that, of new authors gets selected for publishing in those big houses. So, you may never get selected using the old traditional way. Instead, it will sit on desks throughout the publishing house, waiting behind thousands of other books or thousands of celebrities who have submitted ghostwritten books. Sad, isn’t it?
What is convention anyway and why do we need it? I don’t want to read boring plot lines from the 22nd book someone famous has published. It gets old. I love series but sometimes you have to let the character die. I write weird, I write less conventionally. I take a risk, and sell it on Amazon and Create Space. Before I even think about pushing that publish button, I go through a long series of editing and rewrites, and let a few readers in for comments, and then I re-edit and rewrite once again. Once I am satisfied with its contents, I format and send it on its way. I am not fast, but I am proud of my work and whether sales are good or bad, I own my book and all of its contents. It will never go out of print. It is my contribution to the world. I am writing not formulaic, but what I love.
So, throw convention out the window, and take a leap of faith. Research well. Don’t be afraid to contact the sheriff’s or coroner’s office (my new mystery has murders and gory bits). They won’t think you’re too crazy, well maybe a little, but they actually enjoy talking to you. Describe scenes simply and beautifully. I recently took a class where the speaker talked about describing colors and their meanings to the characters, especially in film. Cool, huh? Keep in mind that you have the whole story in your head, so try to be coherent with the questions you have. I confused an evidence tech the first time I talked to him because he didn’t know the story (of course!) when I was asking about evidence retention techniques, especially in multi-jurisdictional cases. Remember, they are giving you details based on cases they know. Write plausible plots, and have fun with it.
So, buy a cool machine, learn some cool software, (or have your nerdy friend help you learn it) and jump in. Don’t be afraid of it. A book is as good as what you make it. It must be enjoyable or thought-provoking to the reader no matter what publishing choice you make.