IWSG – September, 2013 (second anniversary!)

This was started two years ago by Alex J. Cavanaugh, who runs a tight ship and thinks of good things.  I benefited from it for over a year after I discovered it, and then I jumped in.  Thank you, Alex… 

Months do fly past quickly, don’t they?  I remember thinking “June is coming, and the hot weather will be starting…” and now it’s September and this is my second post in this blog hop.  There’s always so much to read and nod at, to say ‘Hm…  I know where he’s coming from…”

It’s so enjoyable, you (or, at least, I) learn a lot just reading what everyone has to say, and stacking it up against your own conclusions, to see if they still stand. 

A wonderful exercise, valuable both for the insights you have reading others’ work and for the insights you have writing about your own issues…

And yes, I admit it: I’m hedging.  Beating around the bush, delaying the inevitable…

It’s funny: I have had this niggling thought for a long time, but I have never mentioned it to anyone, in all the years I’ve been writing, until two days ago when I confided this reservation to my best friend.  I’m not sure what I thought she’d say, but her pause and then, ‘Well, I could see why that would trouble you,’ somehow made things easier.  In fact.

Ah, heck.  I AM hedging.  I’ll spit it out:


I am afraid that if I show other writers what exactly it is that I produce, if I admit my genre, my way of getting into writing in the first place, my process and my aims with writing now, they will know that I am not a ‘real’ writer. (Well, I said it.  Let’s see if I post it…)

Looking at things dispassionately, I see that what has me buffaloed (or hesitant /shy /nervous /feeling inadequate) is a list of ‘nots’.

I did not:

  •  Major in Fine Arts.  They didn’t have the program for writing at my Alma mater. I wouldn’t have majored in it anyhow.  I majored in Ancient and Medieval History.  (Only ‘real’ writers have a degree in creative writing.  I actually heard someone say that.)
  • Ever attend a writer’s conference (too expensive for me, but ‘real’ writers attend them all the time, don’t they?  I plan to, does that count?)
  • Feel a tremendous, irresistible call to be a writer (I just wrote.  It felt right.  It was me)

Procedures I do not follow:

  • Have a mission.  (I am not seeking to trumpet about a cause, to make people search their inner hearts, to ‘Send a Message’ or expose something urgent.  I write because I tell stories.  Some of the other stuff trickles in, but the storytelling is my primary aim.  It’s what I do.)
  • Start out with a formed plot and a plan of attack.  (I see a picture in my mind.  Most recently, a random act of incredible violence, seen through the eyes of the perpetrator.  I see him turning, seeing a man before him, carrying a big, composite bow, drop to one knee, draw an arrow from a quiver, nock the arrow, draw the bow…Who is the perp?  Who is the archer?  Why is it happening?  And why is the setting what it appears to be in my mental pictures?  I have ideas, and each one, written down and considered within the framework of the story’s perceived setting, reveals the plot.)
  • Have a science. (I do what ‘feels’ right.  If it doesn’t stack up against my inner ‘feeling’ it is wrong and it is adjusted or discarded.  I can explain the ‘feel’ now in terms that jive with ‘science’.  But it was there before the ‘science’ was ever expounded.)
  • Share my writing for beta-reads or critiques.  (There is a reason for this, which I will address in the next section.  It is truly amusing.  I am, actually, working on this, but the next section will explain why I am very slow at it.  I do hire editors.  Now that I have some money.)

Next Section (the ‘Do Nots’)

So… (I think) I can just imagine sending something off for a beta-read and having the person cringe, sigh, skim it and send back a two page somethingorother and voice, later, the comment that people are more willing to purchase and read something that is not unpronounceable and confusing. (With that cycle, I actually tailor the names…)

Just yesterday I was talking with my mother, who was astonished that my Civil War story was selling one tenth as well as those in my Egyptian cycle.  “It just doesn’t make any sense!” (Thank you, Mom.  I still love you.)

None of this interferes with me writing the stories and publishing them and having them edited (not quite in that order) and, perhaps, showing them to understanding friends and, certainly, putting them on my website, advertising and promoting them.  And checking the sales.

…But if I show them to ‘real’ writers, they will look at me funny and I will know that I am not a ‘real’ writer.

I did write this humorously, but like a 300 pound gorilla (or, using a child’s story I’m working on, a Twenty Cubit Crocodile) the Insecurity is right there, right in front of me, and finally admitted.  Just today, responding to a call by a blogger (and a very nice guy) for excerpts he can ‘boil down’ , I sent this email:

There is a problem, though.  I don’t write anything cool like horror, YA, dystopia, apocalyptic, paranormal romance or heroic fantasy, but seem to put out historical fiction.  Sometimes with a mystery in it.  

This is not bad – except that people tend to go glassy-eyed when they learn that one of mine, a series, is set in Egypt.  Just sayin’.  If that sort of thing makes you gag, then I withdraw the query.


 They say once you’re aware of a problem, it’s 2/3 of the way solved.  I hope so.