Sunday, December 27, 2009

One last blog for 2009

The shopping is done, the presents wrapped and unwrapped, the holiday goodies eaten and possibly regretted. Time to turn our thoughts to the new year, to ponder what New Year's Resolutions we will make. Whatever mine turn out to be, some of them will be about writing, of course.

What possible resolutions can one make about writing? You might be surprised. How often do you write? How much time do you spend on it per week or per day? How many times do you plan to rewrite a piece of work? How do you decide where to submit it? How many times do you submit it before you stuff it in the bottom desk drawer and move on with a new story?

And a little less directly connected to writing, but still important – How do you get your name out in front of readers? Do you review other's books, have a website, blog, tweet, give readings, or what?

These past couple days, I heard about a writer who wondered what he was doing wrong in the self-promoting arena. The way I understand it, he blogged a couple hours each day, tweeted about the same, updated his website at the drop of a hat… About this time, I was seriously wondering, When does he write?

In my life, I don't really expect to make a living from writing fiction; very few authors can. That means I have another job to pay the bills. That takes 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus travel time. 6-8 hours per day to sleep, with luck. I also have a house to take care of, personal items to complete (lest I offend my co-workers) and a family who likes to interact with me occasionally. I figure most writers have similar commitments for their time. If I were to spend two hours a day blogging, I'd get a LOT less writing done. I suspect I would get so little writing done, I would have no reason to worry about blogging, tweeting or otherwise promoting myself as a writer.

It's all about priorities. And as a writer, I believe the highest priority has got to be to write. If you don't write, how can you call yourself a writer?

Choose your resolutions carefully. See you next year. Trudy

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disquieting News This Week

A well-known blogger outed himself as a her. She became a 'him' almost by accident; in the midst of trying to make a living as a writer, she used a male pen name, and acceptance of her/his work (and the pay for such) came much easier. So the pen name continued to be used. She was only acknowledging her gender because another writer (also a woman writing as a man) had blown the bugle, so to speak.

This is SO disquieting, on SO many levels.

First, what makes the second writer so superior that she felt she had to 'cast stones' at someone for doing exactly what she was doing?

Second, this completely blows my fervent hope that humans (or at least, those of us who live in supposedly civilized parts of the world) were moving past those prejudices against people based on gender, race, and so on. Apparently not, if women must use a male nom de plume in order to make a decent living as a writer. Bummer.

As I stewed about this turn of events, I wondered if I needed to take a male pen name. Women have been doing it since … forever, practically. Occasionally, a man will take a female pen name, but usually it's the other way around. Writers take a pen name for any number of reasons. There's even instructions in some of my reference books aimed at the beginning writer on how to correctly identify your work and pen name, without confusing the editors.

This particular instance sounded more serious – why would the acceptance and money be any different if the editors/clients had known they were dealing with a woman and not a man? So apparently, she had some way for them to issue checks to her as a man. Now, how did she do that? I've checked with a banker; I can't set up a bank account in a fictitious name. If I sign a check as "Female Name AKA Pen Name", the clients would soon figure out I'm female. (Or maybe not – these days, most banks do not return checks to the initiator like they did in the old days.) About the only thing we could figure out was that the writer needed to set up a business, have the checks made out to that business, and sign the checks as the owner of that business.

Obviously, hiding your gender as a writer is possible, at least for several years. Then what? Pick a new pen name and start again? I just find it so depressing that in this day and age, any of that is necessary. It's the twenty-first century, for crying out loud! Humans have made some wonderful progress in the last two thousand years, even in the last two hundred years. But I like to think 'progress' is not just technology, that it's also a way of thinking. In that respect, we haven't made nearly as much progress as I'd like.

Color me bummed. Trudy

Sunday, December 13, 2009


As has been happening for so many people in these tough economic times, I sometimes feel my world has been crumbling around me. Will I manage to keep my job, will we be able to pay our bills, will we stop sniping at each other long enough to remember we love each other?

I mention this not because I want to veer into my personal life, but because I find myself wondering how all those other people manage to deal with these pressures, when they don't have imaginary universes to retreat to. I have lots of dreamt-up universes, and I visit them regularly. It's my form of 'escaping'.

If I've had a bad day at work, I spend the evening exploring the universe with Kandi, who spent decades trying to figure out why she didn't fit in anywhere before she discovered she was an alien – by finding her parents' abandoned spaceship. Feeling torn about something? Tay slept through centuries and now has to reconcile what she was taught with the universe as it has become. Had a fight with hubby? Visit with Hank and Bob, two young men I've placed in my imaginary version of Belgrade, Nebraska, as they try to figure out how to win the women they've chosen to love.

At times, my husband has turned to me and asked, "Is your main character angry in the scene you're working on?" Why, yes. Yes, she is. How astute he is. He knows that a little bit of me resides in each and every one of my characters, especially the protagonists. It helps me figure out their motives, their fears, their reactions. In some ways, that bond with my imaginary characters is stronger than the bond with my own family.

So many people say that writing is a lonely pursuit. How can it be lonely when I have so many close friends who can understand everything I go through? Maybe they aren't real, but they're mine. Their worlds are the worlds I've made for them. Why wouldn't I want to visit them frequently and often? They make the real world a little easier to take.

See ya next week. Trudy

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Now What Do I Do?

A couple weeks back, one writer's group had a 'mailing party'. Members were given 2 weeks to send out as many submissions as they could. This was my first time joining the party, and I got 6 items sent out. It seemed like a good start.

Some of the partiers have already announced that some of their submissions have sold. Good for them; I'm happy for them.

My own 'luck' has been somewhat less. One item was politely rejected with a form letter. Oh, well, I just picked another market and sent it out again.

A second item was also rejected, but this one garnered a personal letter, complete with the problems that editor saw in my offering, AND an invitation to submit something else! This was more like it! This gave me something to work on, problems to eradicate in my writing, and at the same time, hope for a future with this market. It was ALMOST as good as selling the story! But not quite.

This also wasn't as clear-cut as simply finding a new market and sending my story off again. No, it left me with two things to do. One, I had to rewrite that story before I found a new market and sent it off again. And two, I had to find a story to send back to this market.

And #2 needed to be done first, because it had a deadline, which isn't far off. It didn't take me long to figure out what story to send off to this editor, but when I opened the most recent file, just to give a quick polish – I found it wasn't quite as 'done' as I'd been thinking it was. As long as I was working on it, I might as well tweak the story line a bit, make it fit this market's desires just a bit more. So, with one eye on a fast-approaching deadline, I am (frantically) rewriting, while occasionally looking for a new market for the original story that started this whole thing. Can't complain I have nothing to do!

On another note, did I tell you I've started writing book reviews for It seemed like a natural progression, although I've quickly learned you read a little differently when you are reading as a reviewer than you do as a normal reader. A few weeks ago, I decided to take a break from reading sf and fantasy and picked up a western from the library. It's been a while since I read a western, but I finished it last night, and I'm about to start my next book for I've just been wondering, today, if there was some place that accepts reviews of westerns? I may have to look into that.

See ya next week. Trudy