Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why do journalists use such crappy cliches all the time?

I saw an article titled "Wayward sister 'nun the wiser' about baby boy" it was about a Nun who somehow got pregnant. I read it and I rolled my eyes so hard I'm surprised they did not fall out of my head. Growing up I was told repeatedly to AVOID cliches as much as possible by the older, wiser writers I chatted with online. Why is it then that journalists go out of their way to use the most cringe worthiest cliches ever in their headlines? for laughs? It's not funny. It's stupid. It's bad writing. Please, for the love of God, STOP. Just tell the stupid story without trying to be clever. I mean come on. You have one job. Report the story. People used to tell me all the time to go into journalism when I told them I liked to write. I'm glad I never did. A creative writer is not the same thing as a journalist. When I see the front covers of some of the more raggy magazines that have lies on the front about the rich and famous that are not even close to being believable I think to myself "Is the person who wrote the story happy with themselves? All those years studying journalism to end up writing rubbish that most people will probably only read in a doctor's waiting room?" I feel bad for them.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Writing is not a good way to make money

I think most if not all writers have dreams of breaking it big at one point in their lives. We want to be the next J.K Rowling. We want to be successful enough that we can spend our days at our computer in our undies writing stories for a living. We want to be able to rake in millions and go to book signings and sit in bookshops surrounded by readers wanting to ask us questions. The reality is for most of us we will never achieve any of that. Writing is not a good career choice if you are coming into it to make money. Most earning little to nothing. There is a reason why the number one rule in writing is DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. If you can earn enough from writing that you end up with a little extra in your wallet every fortnight congratulations you are doing better than most writers. The truth is most writers do not earn a living wage. Even fewer earn millions. Being a writer is not like working in a regular 9-5 job. You do not get a steady pay check. You spend hundreds of hours working on a book and then you throw it into a sea infested with sharks and hope to hell it does not get ripped to bits.

Success in writing depends too much on chance: What have you written? have you published it at the right time? what are people reading? is this the best book you could've written? could it have been better? What is trending right now? And so on and so on and so on. It is foolish to think that writing is a simple way to make money and it is wrong to tell others that it is a get rich quick scheme. The truth is if you make any money at all chances are it will be enough for a cup of coffee. Instead of having sky high dreams of being the next big author megastar my advice to writers would be to aim for something a bit more realistic: keep your day job but try and earn enough from writing so it can give you some extra pocket money whether that is a couple of bucks a week or a couple of grand a year.

Personally, I do not want to be super successful anymore. I think it would be too much pressure. I once read that JK Rowling was under so much pressure to finish the fourth Harry Potter book she considered breaking her arm to give herself a break. Yeah, that's fucked up. I don't want to be so successful that I cease to be a person and just become a cog in a machine that prints money. I mean it would be nice to make some money but I will settle for positive reviews online instead if I had to choose.

It is a long road toward success so enjoy the journey

Some people think that writing is easy. I mean it does sound simple. You sit down and write a story. How hard can that be? Surely it cannot take THAT long. But it does. People do not realize how long it takes to write a book or even a short story. You have to learn how to craft a story, how to make a character come alive, how to make a plot, how to create tension, how to edit, the correct use of grammer, and then you have to do the actual writing part. And once you've finished the story YOU have to edit it not someone else. Do NOT pay for a professional editor. As a writer you should be able to edit your own work. You need to learn how to do it. Paying for a professional editor is cheating. It would be like paying for a professional painter. Why do that when you can buy some paint and some brushes and do it yourself?

I've been writing for a long time and have yet to "have my big break" I am not a best selling author, my books are not available in the shops, and no one knows my name. Apparently, according to some, I should give up. I've been writing for longer than five years. Shouldn't I have been successful by now? Since I haven't does that mean something is wrong with me? Am I talentless? Am I wasting my time on books no one will ever read? Are my books boring? Are my characters dead? Is the problem me?

I don't believe in this idea of a "timeline for success" in fact I find it offensive. What people are saying is that I should give up. Firstly define success for me. Should I give up because I do not earn a living wage from writing? because I have not won an award? or because my books are not available in brick and mortar shops? I am only self-published. Is that not successful enough for you? Should I put down my pen because I do not have hundreds of followers on Twitter?

Publication is not a sign of talent and publishers are not Gods who know for certain what books are going to be successful and what books aren't. There are lots of writers who spend their entire lives working on one book that will become their lasting legacy. Others will publish half a dozen that will fail to take off and then they will publish one more and THAT one will be successful. And then there are those who are successful right out of the gate. Others might publish a book and it could languish on the shelves for decades before finally being embraced by readers.

What I am saying is just because I have not been successful yet does not mean that it is never going to happen for me. My next short story or novel could be the one that really strikes a cord with readers. Or it could be something I will write ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. I just don't know. I am not going to stop writing because it has not happened for me yet. I have faith in myself and my talent will only continue to grow and improve the more I write. I refuse to think that I am talentless because I've been in this game for over five years and have not struck it big. I am constantly learning, evolving, and improving. I am in this game for the love of writing not for the money. You would have to be nuts to think that writing is a good way to earn lots and lots of cash. I could earn more standing in the streets playing my husband's guitar.