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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-04-26 19:33
Subject: [writing] Writers live inside-out their heads
Security: Public
Tags:process, writing
matociquala talks about changing the pace of her career, and to a meaningful degree, her life. As she says:

It's interesting to wake up and discover you've stopped being superhuman.


There's this thing that happens when you become a pro. You separate into two people -- the one who's visible to the writing world, and the one who gets up in the morning with bedhead and morning breath. That's true in any public role, politicians, actors, what have you, but unlike most of those careers, many of the qualities that make one a good writer often fail to coincide with the optimum qualities for a public person.

We live inside our heads, and those of us who perform live, in public (as matociquala and I both do) also live inside your heads -- our friends, readers, fans, and critics. People develop expectations, which translate back into the way we look at ourselves.

It becomes a career issue. What many writers, and most publishers, want is to create a franchise, something which will hook and keep readers. Think Wheel of Time or A Song of Fire and Ice. That's readership, income, and steady work. At the same time there's a desire, as matociquala says, not to write the same book over and over again.

Some writers do transcend that problem. Terry Pratchett, for example, has built a tremendous franchise with Discworld, while continuing to explore different avenues. Lois McMaster Bujold managed to write every Miles Vorkosigan book in a different style.

It's one of those things that sounds like complaining about winning the lottery. "Help, I'm published and I don't know what to do next!" One the things about this business is that the insecurities and the fears and the internal challenges never end -- like the problems themselves, they just get traded forward.

The cool thing is you can always write another story, draft another book, and keep going. The hard thing is that the world is watching. Once you hit the market and stick around a while, you've lost the comfortable invisibility.
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Shalanna: Black Kitty in Window
User: shalanna
Date: 2007-04-27 02:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Black Kitty in Window
I've never been comfortable being invisible. You can't get waited on in line. Besides, people keep stepping on my tail.

Ready to move up to the next set of /p/r/o/b/l/e/m/s/ challenges already!
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-04-27 03:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Funny. I think you're reading my mind right now as I've been thinking about keeping from writing the same book over and over.

I'm getting ready to write the third book in a series, but I want this one to be different. The other two were very much tight-third, but either of the options in the series are most definitely different, with multiple viewpoints, longer pacing, and so on.

But then, I have several other books in mind that are completely different from this set of three (or four!) books. Could be interesting.

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Simon Haynes
User: halspacejock
Date: 2007-04-27 05:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm busy trying to establish a franchise series at the moment (now working on book four), and it certainly has its own unique challenges. On the plus side I don't have to invent the principle characters, but I don't want to get repetitive either.

I've kept things fresh by discarding any ideas or scenarios present in the earlier books, and I'm also using different sub-genres in each one. The second book involved exploring an alien environment, the third was espionage and sabotage, and the fourth will involve some police procedure and a touch of whodunnit.

I'm aiming for the feel of a TV series with my books: Regular characters, a couple of guest spots, and all tied up neatly in a self-contained package.
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dinogrl: Nekubasu
User: dinogrl
Date: 2007-04-27 08:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Nekubasu
Ah, interesting perspective coming from your profession. I was once a celebrated "on air personality" in my former residence in the NW, and loved the anonymity of not being recognized. Unless I opened my mouth. There was always someone in the supermarket line that would recognize "the voice". Men were always coming up to my colleagues and asking about how "voluptuous and sexy" I was, and other things that just make me uncomfortable to think about. I had stalkers, and it wasn't fun doing the "listener appreciation" parties (that was over 100 pounds ago, BTW). I did get to meet and network with many cool people, dated musicians (don't hate me), and my crowning achievement was to know that Kenny G feared me.
All that is gone. Alas, I am just a simple skewel marm now.
I can handle it, really.
.
.
.
(sniff)
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2007-04-27 09:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm currently an online personality, although in a very, very niche field not related to fiction. It's gotten me into a load of cool but wierd situations and whilst my personal network isn't that impressive, I know someone who knows someone for a lot of cool and famous people, so my extended network is really good. Although I've since learned that if you've ever met someone famous, talked to them pleasantly for more than 2 minutes, you are allowed to call them a friend.

Weirdest moment was when I was chatting with an industry contact and said "I wonder if anyone famous reads me" to which they gave me a look that seemed to indicate he knew something I didn't and said "You have NO idea". Then of course there was a musician from a worldwide hit band who ended up writing for me.

Unfortunately my industry is going down the tube, the golden days are over, so I'm trying to re-invent myself in fiction (life-long ambition which the online stuff sidetracked) whilst continuing with the online stuff with a plan to try and bring some of my fans with me before the industry implodes. When friends try to helpfully tell me "but maybe your fiction won't be good enough to be published" I just tell them, "Look, that's the least of my worries right now!"
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dinogrl: monkee micky monkey around
User: dinogrl
Date: 2007-04-28 00:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:monkee micky monkey around
Yes, but I am sometimes literally a mom to twenty different kids a year. I am a teacher, (school marm, as they said in the Old West). Yes, karmic exponentially, but my karma ran over my dogma...
As far as walking away, I saw what the new owners wanted, and it was ugly, so I decided since I was a teacher, jeweler, and "radio goddess", to retire from the one job that was giving me the biggest headache at the time. Now I am down to two jobs, and a husband. Rather fancy the trade off. Still, free entertainment was great. CD's, concerts I HAD to MC, movie passes, parties I HAD to go to, interviews I HAD to do, and the satisfaction that Kenny G would shit his pants if he saw me coming. (The best ratings were on my shift, as they were widely known as "Kenny G Free" sets. At least as far as I can figure that was the reason they were a high market share.) But, I digress. Talk about living inside heads, yeah, I don't miss that AT all. Mine is too many voices to deal with now. (hee)
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2007-04-27 08:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's all brand management. The Public you is a brand, but it's mostly about not being a ***hole in front of people and not getting caught up in your own hype. Seriously, friends who tell you "yeah, but it's just science fiction" or "it's not like you've cured cancer" are the best thing in the world when you're a successful public person.

You can always create a new brand (write under a pen name) or as I'm trying to do, in moving to fiction from being very public in a very niche unrelated industry, reinvent your brand. It's not easy (I still don't know if I'll be successful or not, and that's beside the question of whether my fiction is even publishable), and leaves you with a new found but limited understanding of what it must be like being a brand like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie
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experimeditor
User: experimeditor
Date: 2007-04-27 14:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I dunno. Harlan Ellison has done a wonderful job of building his brand by being an a**hole in front of people and getting caught up in his own hype. :)
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User: michaeljasper
Date: 2007-04-27 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Luckily, the world has a short memory. :)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-27 13:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hahaha. Excellent response...
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dinogrl: bookish robot
User: dinogrl
Date: 2007-04-28 00:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bookish robot
oooooooOh. That's a dangerous vision.
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kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2007-04-27 14:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dean Smith gave me an interesting piece of advice a couple of years back, one that I couldn't really internalize at the time, but that makes enormous sense now that I'm working on the 3rd of 4 book in a series that was originally going to be a stand alone. He said (paraphrasing here) you're at the point in your career right before you break the novel mark. Go write something that isn't like anything else you've done, because you may never again have the authorial freedom you have right this second.
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User: pauljessup
Date: 2007-04-30 15:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

We live inside our heads, and those of us who perform live, in public (as [info]matociquala and I both do) also live inside your heads -- our friends, readers, fans, and critics. People develop expectations, which translate back into the way we look at ourselves.


This reminds me of the scene in Shadow of the Torturer, where Severian goes to the whore house, and the whore talks to him about how the lady Thecla who is in his mind is not the same as the real one....
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-30 16:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You get 1000 bonus points for mentioning my favorite book, ever.
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User: pauljessup
Date: 2007-04-30 16:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's mine as well. I just finished rereading for the first time this year. Gets better every time, always something new uncovers with each read.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-30 16:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have you read Lexicon Urthus, by Michael-Andre Driussi?
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User: pauljessup
Date: 2007-04-30 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No! I think I have a book I need to buy now.
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