Smart Things From Aug 4/5 2009

2014 ETA: I don’t normally reblog Smart Things posts, preferring to just add them to the Smart Things Page but this one has considerable commentary.

Nola J. Moore saying smart things about collaboration.

Michael Damian Thomas saying smart things about in-group slapfights, a post triggered by this smart post on the same subject by Cristalia.

John Scalzi saying smart things about making the time to write. I’m not wholly in agreement with him on this one, but I think his is one good way to look at the issue.

Justine Larbalestier saying smart things about how you judge your own success. She picked up the topic from Maureen Johnson’s excellent post on not judging your success by the numbers.

This last pair hits a tender spot for me right at the moment in that I’m feeling a little bit stalled as I wrap up WebMage without yet having sold any of the other books that I’ve written. I have high hopes for several of the series I’ve got out on submission at the moment, including the one that I hope will be continuing my relationship with Ace and Penguin, but none of that has happened yet and books that I was sure would have sold years ago are still hanging in space. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with the quality of work I’m doing for WebMage and simply having books in print and the opportunity to write more is a huge privilege, but some days I still feel that I’m hitting a wall. I’ve written several books now that are simply better than the ones I’ve currently got in print and it’s sometimes very frustrating to know that they haven’t yet seen the light of day in any significant way.

Of course, hitting a wall and then hitting it again and again as many times as it takes until it falls is a pretty good description of how this business works in general. It’s just that sometimes the bruises that generates weigh more heavily on the mind, and for me this is one of those times. Which makes what Justine and Maureen have to say all the more important for me personally at the moment.

2014 ETA and August 5th as well:

First the smart things follow up: By coincidence* there are a bunch of folks talking about time and persistence and writing and sacrifice this week, not just Scalzi. Via Jay lake**: calendula_witch on practice, the Boston Globe’s article on Grit, and one of Jay’s own older posts on psychotic persistence. Also, over at the Death Pixies, Robbie Knutson on procrastination.

Next up, J. Steven York with a very smart post on agents.

Dean Wesley Smith has a smart new entry in his life without series on the catastrophic results that would follow the sudden*** destruction of copyright.

Finally, Agent Kristin Nelson has an interesting post on treating writing as a business, that I find to be both good advice on some levels and something I violently disagree with on some levels. The discussion in the comments is something I want to watch, which is a good part of why I’m linking it here. In particular, the poster who points out how very little control a writer has over the big things and in their career and the people arguing with them on the basis of believing the myth**** of self-promotion as panacea for success.

*It’s actually probably the case that given the size of the internet and the number of writers out there blogging that there are always quite a few talking about this and the coincidence comes in at people I’m aware of talking about this level.

**Who talks about it as well.

***Big emphasis on the sudden there.

****And yes, I do think it’s a myth that self-promotion***** can have that much impact. I know too many stories of self-promotion that failed and of books that were not self-promoted that did fantastically. I’d love to know how much self-promotion J.K. Rowling did on the Harry Potter books in the first year or two, and especially whether her publisher did a big promotion push before they started to hit or only really pushed her out on the interview and signing trail once they got going.

*****As opposed to publisher driven promotion, which is a very different animal that with a budget and publicist attached.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog Aug 4 and Aug 5, 2009 and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)