Monday, 31 October 2011

In which our hero loses himself to find himself.

The 31st of October is said to be the end of the old Celtic year. I treat it that way and always make some time, on the day, to think about those who have recently passed on or who are long since gone. It's contemplative, but not necessarily solemn.

I also do the same with my writing, making a special effort to review my trusty spreadsheet and to decide whether it's really worth keeping a magazine editor in the active section if she hasn't replied for six months.

Sometimes writers can be so busy trying to fit the niche of a client that we start to forget who we are. And while I'm mindful of the wisdom, 'If you only play to your strengths, they're the only ones you'll ever have,' I'm also acutely aware of the need to choose your projects wisely.

Here then are some of my recent endeavours.

Small Books

Discussions have been held about The Wanderer, resulting in a new title and some planned changes to the tex, with the idea of getting it into ebook form by Christmas. The Silent Hills was published by Musa Publishing as an ebook earlier this month and I'm able to check sales and royalties online. Beyond the Horizon, containing one of my short stories, was published by Bamboccioni Books in the summer, so I look forward to seeing how we are faring. And I'm still seeking a publisher for my satirically slim volume, Man Up (How to Be a Modern man through the Wisdom of Ignorance).

Bigger Books

Standpoint and Covenant are in circulation with agents / publishers. I had a recent rejection from an agent, which gave me a good insight into the state of the industry and what might be required to bring one of the novels up to scratch. The agent recommended an independent publisher to get my work on a bookshelf. Meantime, Scars & Stripes is still a work-in-progress and I'm about a third of the way in.

The lost part

I've been living on Twitter @DerekWriteLines and visiting FB as one would an aunt who lives a long distance. It's a bit of a pain, but once you get there, you're glad you bothered even if you do look forward to leaving. I've also read copiously about the secrets of social media, attended two presentation events and fended off attempts to sell me a high-grade website for my business. In short, I've been swimming in a sea of information and coming up with...well, not much really. I understand that there are some who can convert visitors to sales and also that, for a small consideration, I can buy blocks of 1000 Tweet followers or Facebook friends. But seriously, what is the goal? I first made the decision to float free from the good ship corporate because of a burning desire to see my work in print and to live a different sort of lifestyle. That's what mattered and matters still. Sometimes, when I'm up to my ass in alligators, it's easy to forget that.

The found part

I know what I'm not. I'm not a writer of material that lends itself to syndication. The agency that I approached advised me that, "The most exclusive interviews possible with famous actors, musicians and 'celebrities' is what sells best." Now where do I put Louis Walsh's phone number...

I'm also not a passionate writer of sales copy. True, it pays bills and it's just as valid as any other form of writing, but it's just not for me.

I did discover, quite by accident, that I enjoy a research brief - as long as the remit is well-defined.

Bottom line? Life is too short to waste your time pretending to be someone else. Unless you're Ronnie Ancona or Rory Bremner.

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