Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chapter 4 Complete

The first draft of chapter 4 (which will really be chapter 7) has been completed. It's close to 25% bigger than the previous chapters so there may be a bit to cut out on the rewrite but I covered what I wanted to. I also had to shift some of the plot I'd outlined for this chapter into chapter 5 (which will become chapter 9). Looking at what I had planned, I think I can streamline a fair bit of it and include the last few bits of this chapter without it blowing out. We'll see. I do like where chapter 7 finished though and it had some good conflict in it--even managed a little humour (well I chuckled but we'll see if it stays the journey). Moving along nicely.

Finished off the last touches on the AHWA market pages today and told the President he may announce their opening to the masses (at least to the membership masses). I'm going to do a competitions page as well. As per my current little list on the sidebar, it will only be for competitions that are free to enter or a worthwhile membership makes it free.

What makes a membership worthwhile?

I'm glad you asked: value for your hard earned. When I first started looking around at trying to earn a dollar at this writing caper, I found so many "helpful" souls on the net, I was amazed I'd never decided to try this before. For a minor membership fee, I could gain access to all sorts of things to help me rake in the freelance dollars. Bloody scam the lot of them, and I got burnt by a couple real slick ones. Not a huge amount of money but I didn't appreciate being ripped off or lied to either. Now I live by the mantra that "Money flows to the writer" - apart from a lovely thought, all that cash flowing like a river of wealth into my pocket, it is the only way it should be, and it should come with a large warning label - "But you will need to work damn hard to obtain even a fraction of it" - coupled with "Don't give up your day job"!!!! :c)

Agents and publishers should pay you, but it takes a huge amount of work on your part to convince them you're worth the risk. There are plenty of competitions out there that cost nothing to enter, but read the fine print (and the guidelines), be sure you know what you're entering. Lots of big prestigious competitions are free.

Back to value for dosh: the actual membership fee shouldn't be big. You should always double check what you're getting for your buck. The good one's usually have savings (worthwhile savings) bigger than the membership fee. No point forking out $20 bucks and gaining 10% off your golf cart hire if you don't like playing golf.

It should be a proactive organisation. Nothing worse than paying money to sit around doing very little. Worse if you have to drive any activity. If it has an active membership, willing to try new things for it's members, willing to step out on a limb to organise things and then advertise to its membership about that thing coming up you are onto a good deal. It should be doing things for you. It's fine to volunteer, get involved, network, but in the end, without your aid, you should benefit from paying your money.

Membership should be growing and it should be easy for you to find out real numbers if this is true. Good word of mouth is also important but only listen to those that you trust, not those that look trustworthy. Get onto the writers forums (the free ones) and ask what others think if you're not sure. Absolute Write, Fiction Factor, Southern Horror Writers, there are heaps of them out there.

Writing is a lonely enough occupation without sitting at the keyboard and refusing to reach out. Try it. Apart from possibly finding a whole new group of friends you may never have to clean up after (you may never meet them face-to-face), you'll find outlets for other writers to give feedback on your work (a must), learn about what is coming and what has gone before. You'll learn how to improve your craft. You'll increase the amount of enjoyment you get from something you already love. Now you can't beat that.

Most of all, you'll only grow in your craft by learning from others. You need to read - alot, and widely - you need to be able to ask questions, even stupid ones. You need feedback and you need support for when those rejection slips roll in. You don't need huge amounts of any of these, except the reading bit, but you do need some of all of them. Even Stephen King was an English teacher and still uses beta readers for feedback today. Nobody does it totally without help.

But most of all, you'll only improve from practise. You take in all you can from your surroundings, what you learn from others and your reading, and you practise.

Writers write. Never a truer two words spoken. Just write. It doesn't matter if it's dribble to start with. That dribble can become a drabble very quickly. A drabble becomes a flash, flash to short to novella to novel. It's only words. If you can tell a story, you can learn the rest. Nobody is born a writer, it's a learned skill.

As my favourite King quote states: "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

There are plenty of inspiring quotes and sayings out there. Find one you're happy with, which inspires you, or make up your own. Wrestle with the concept of Muse versus "men in the basement" until you like whatever concept allows you to create new ideas, and then just write. And submit the results to critique groups and then out to markets after it has been suitably sweated over and polished. Wear your rejections proudly - there are plenty of failed writers who can't submit. Push yourself, become a published author.

Good luck



  1. you put forward a good case, sir, and have convinced me to extract a digit and join the AHWA :-)

    (next payday)

  2. Glad to hear it Jason. I look forward to seeing you around the place--after next payday ;c)