First Cup of Coffee – November 11, 2022

I’m back to regular (mostly) podcasting, catching you all up on my activities, talking a bit about voice – how to recognize it and what it means – and asking for input on this midwinter holiday fantasy romance novella.

First Cup of Coffee – October 7, 2022

Some straight talk about group anthologies: what works, what doesn’t, why doing it for that USAT Bestseller badge isn’t worth it, and something I didn’t know before. Also, the perils of survivorship bias and how to transcend it.

First Cup of Coffee – August 12, 2022

On writing the thing you believe in, how inspiration and survivorship bias play into the tales we share about doing this, along with thoughts on the Women Who Rock documentary (excellent!) and taking control of your own career.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

Delicious. Ah today is sit it with me Friday Woo Woo woo August Twelfth Eight Twelve Twenty Twenty Two so end of another week. Hello mosquito. Ha so here. We are I’ve I’ve had a good week. Um I am um within striking distance of oh I didn’t open it yet. Of my 10,000 words for the week which makes me happy because I’m happy. Um, yeah and I met a little shy of 54,000 words on the book. 8085 this week. So ah I have no wood to knock on does a great vine count? Um I think I should hit 10,000 for the week which is good because I’m traveling the next four weekends in a row. Which hopefully will not disrupt my productivity but we’ll see we’ll see she’ll be in good shape. Um I have committed to the release date did the cover reveal. For shadow wizard yesterday woo. So I’m putting it on the show notes today. It will be everywhere now I was experimenting with the Nine Square grid on Instagram and it looks really cool now that it’s all assembled. I did the gradual release like little bits at a time on Instagram and I think I don’t think that did anything ah very few likes throughout the day. Lots of likes overnight once the whole thing was assembled. So yeah. towhee agrees. Ah, you know, maybe you know like the bits and pieces are just not that interesting besides which Instagram only wants reals these days. So ah. I’m not sure I would do it that same way again. But I do like how the cover looks on the Nine Square grid it means that I have to be really careful. What I post to Instagram now because if I do one, it’ll like shift it and break it up so I have to do like three or nothing so that it stays.

Ah, the travails. But yeah, ah it was fun to see people immediately start pre-ordering. Thank you! Ah excited for you all to read this book. It’s all good and tomorrow morning we are. Flying to Las Vegas Nevada not driving an hour north to Las Vegas New Mexico and um we’re going to go see Celeste Barber very excited and going with good friends Megan and Charlie so it should be. Ah, good party. We should have a great time low party weekend so there will not be a podcast on Monday morning. Sorry mom because we’ll be flying back that morning I suppose I could do like a super sleepy. From the Las Vegas airport podcast but let’s face it. We know I’m not going to so the big challenge for me will be to see if I can get 2000 words on that Monday that’s my. Personal challenge I hope that I can I might try on the airplane to at least get it started maybe at the airport to sort of get it rolling I’m definitely noticing a pattern lately. You know I get most of my words in that third hour some days it’s pretty even the 3 hours but especially this week like my first hour will be pretty crappy and then the second hour a little better and then I’ll get like 1200 words in the third hour so so it goes but I’m I’m happy with the results of going for 2000 words a day instead of 3,000 words a day I am out I kicked my legs up and sort of hit the under circle in the table. Ouch who? ah. When I was doing 3,000 words a day I would definitely notice the mental drain at the end of the day and I would or at the end of writing and I wouldn’t have bandwidth for much else. So 2000 words a day gives me reasonable bandwidth for.

Dealing with business dealing with ah SFWA stuff. We did our business meeting yesterday and it was I think it went well seemed to go well, it was funny because we’re doing it on Zoom and so the board is on chat with each other reminding each other of things and so forth and. Somebody pointed out that we have the eternal ah ah difference of whether people say sifwa or sefwa I tended to be more of a sefwa person until someone commented on it I said I thought that’s what it was supposed to be but we can’t agree and I said well at least it’s not an argument like Gif versus Gif which of course then immediately started. The I cannot believe that there are people out there who want to pronounce it Gif and director at large Monica Valentinelli said. Well did you know that the creator came out and said it’s supposed to be pronounced chiff and I said yes, but he’s wrong which she was like well what do you mean? I’m like he’s just wrong. It’s it’s not it’s graphics interchange format. You don’t suddenly change the graph part to jiff. Very rarely is a leading g pronounced with a ju sound instead of a good sound so and besides Jif is already a peanut butter but executive director Kate Baker says that she is a jif kind of girl. I just can’t even so I was thinking about something ah amazingly enough I’ve just finished reading a book by Brigid Kemmerer. Think she says Brigid with a hard g we’re going to go with that since theme of this episode and she could be bridgegitte. But I think it’s Brigid Kemmerer. Ah, and I read her book a curse so dark and lonely which is ah why a fantasy romance kind. There’s not a lot of romance and it’s the one that I alluded to yesterday when I was saying that you don’t have to have hot sex. Um, in fact, there’s no sex on or off page in this book. Um, the closest it gets is a kiss and ah. Yeah, so which normally is kind of a deal breaker for me twilight was an exception because there was so much sexual tension there while it was perfectly chased and I really enjoyed that about it. Um, this one.

I just really enjoyed the book I thought it was um, a really interesting take on beauty and the beast and I totally enjoyed the story. So and I read it because ah Brigand was at Apollycon and a few tables down for me. And she was a ticketed author because she had so many people wanting to get their books signed. Ah so she had pretty much you know nonstop line and I didn’t get to meet her that was one thing. Several people asked me about Apollycon. If. We um, you know like if I talked to such and so were meant so such and so on I was like you know we didn’t really have opportunities to mingle. Ah, when the authors were all present in a place we were doing the signings and you. Really couldn’t leave your table for long because there were so many people wanting to come which was great. Ah, and then there weren’t any events that were just for the authors which I am going to suggest that they add I hope that they will. Yeah I was just thinking that David asked for our feedback for but they may not want our feedback I might just um, have to message. So. Ah I also think that they’re not getting some of my emails because I send from that email which tends to go to spam. It’s one of the things about having your own domain. That’s a spammo spmoific. So I was just thinking about I should give them my super secret email address. For people I actually want to hear from anyway. Ah so yeah, I was you know like oh I’ve never heard of Brigid Kemmerer and Jennifer Estep next to me said because we would chat during our lulls our rare lulls. She said how can you have not heard of her she was like Kensington at the same time we were and I was like oh know and she said well that she’d really like this book a curse so dark and lonely and it it was great. It was really good. So um, and I’m now reading the sequel a heart so fierce and broken. Interested to see how that goes there was a love triangle in the first book and it’s kind of being carried into the next book and I’m I’m actually good with this one I don’t usually like love triangles. But I like this one anyway in the acknowledgements Brigid says. Ah.

That she wrote this book because her husband said to her. It was a real dark point in her life. She’d been depressed and her husband asked her when was the last time that she wrote something um that was just for her that she enjoyed and. And she and you know that she wasn’t under contract to write and and she realized it been a long time so she wrote this book just for her and then it’s really has been the thing that launched her this has made her famous. Which great for her and it’s interesting because of course Apollycon is belongs to Jennifer L Armentrout oh here comes Isabelle affectionately known as JLA which is much easier and. She did this you know fantasy romance series recently? Um, which I always forget the name because now there’s so many Knockoffs but you know heart of blood and ash or whatever it is um, you all know right vampires and werewolves ah that traditional publishing wouldn’t take then. Said that they didn’t see at a point to it and now she’s done it with um the girls who do 1001 dark nights. So it’s sort of like a little startup press. Ah, it’s like one step different from self-publishing which is interesting. You know that we’ve got all these sort of. Phases of you know it’s no longer just traditional publishing or vanity press. There’s all of these different um levels of publishing self publishing and assisted publishing. Um, so um.

Jennifer has spoken a number of times about how she really wanted to write this series and traditional publishing didn’t want it and she wanted to write it anyway. So she did and how much it meant her and now it’s been phenomenally successful. So. And these are interesting stories to tell ourselves and it’s funny I’d already written down a note to talk about this when David told me a story just as I was making my coffee to come out here. He said that um this gal in a. Group that he follows that like does is into online gambling stuff and he said how that she woke up from a dream that she won a jackpot of $1000000 and so she got up and she went and played $40 on 1 of the online slots games. And so so there’s a correlation here right? We we love to tell these stories. Ah, you know she woke up from the dream that she won the jackpot she went and played $40 and she won the jackpot. Um. Brigid and JLA ah wrote the book of their heart. They wrote wrote the thing that they really wanted to write there was Isabella in the background rooting around oh and actually peeing sorry but she loves a little al fresco. Opportunity I’m glad she is at least discreetly shrouded by the vegetation Isabel fell. there’s ah there’s a lot of um, gritty reality here at first cup of coffee. So and and I feel like she’s ruined my my carefully assembled story right? Oh now she’s okay hold on it turned out. She was prepping her spot and so I spared you all the actual display. You’re welcome at least if you’re on video. So the thing is these are all examples of survivorship bias because we never tell the reverse story. Um, we do not tell the story. If the woman woke up in the middle of the night from a dream that she won a jackpot went and played her $40 and lost it all. She does not get online and told this story because it’s a non story right? same is true for writing that book.

That we long to write. That’s the book of our heart or that you know everybody says oh we don’t know what we’re going to do with it. We write that book. We love that book. We decide to self-publish it and it goes nowhere. It’s not a story. The exception being. The gal that I talked about yesterday who shared online how her self-publishing experience did not go well that she spent yeah $10000 and made about $750 and how that is. Ah, thing that happens so at that point it becomes a story but it’s not the story. We want to hear right? We love a story like Brigid Kemmerer or jla where they persevered wrote the thing that they wanted to write that. Well. Brigid soldiers to traditional publishing so that’s a different tale right? But you know and then it does really well and we love that we love that vindication. The triumph of the thing that no one wanted and then it does really really well and ah, it’s It’s a wonderful kind of story it and it inspires us and it keeps us going which is something that we need and do not get me wrong because I love hearing Jennifer talk about that story I’ve heard her give the speech a couple of different times. And it is it came for me at a time when I really needed to hear it. Um I don’t know why I’m a little horse this morning but a horse is a horse of course of course. Ah, um, yeah. The first time I heard it came at a time when I needed to hear that and and it helped me put dark wizard out there which definitely was a story for me that way where it was slightly different for those of you who haven’t heard me talk about it before. Dark wizard was a story that I had been mulling for a very long time. Um I mostly just hadn’t gotten around to writing it. However, because I was busy with other things and I also wasn’t sure how I was going to execute it when I told my agent about the idea she loved it. Ah, when I showed her initial pages. She loved it and then when I finished writing the book. She no longer loved it and she did not want to take it out on submission because she said she didn’t know any editor that would want to buy it.

And but the difference for me. There was is I had lots of other people who did love it everybody else who read it frickin love this book and including people you know who will tell me the truth. So. And then it did very well when I self-published it and it helped to hear Jennifer’s story and then I heard it again me because I asked her to give the same talk to my local Rw a chapter and and I enjoyed hearing it again then because it does. Help to hear these stories of people persevering of writing the thing that they want to write. It’s a difficult business if you’re not writing the thing you want to write. It’s perilously close to not being worth it. But. There are lots and lots of times that we write the thing we want to write and it does not do phenomenally well and that doesn’t make it any less worth it because we still have to write the thing we want to write that’s. Part of being creative. Um, and I’m getting low on time but I still want to touch on this. We watch this four part documentary on Amazon prime called women who rock highly Highly. Recommend. This documentary It’s incredibly well done. It really traces the history of women and rock as built starting from you know like Gospel and the girl bands of the 50 s and sixty s all the way up to present. And by the time they get to ah more recent times. There’s just way too many to touch on but they have interviews with lots of women some are throughout the whole thing like Nancy Wilson from heart Pat Benatar and they talk about how difficult it. Difficult it was in the beginning and there’s this. It’s wonderfully put together because there’s this chain of people reflecting on their influences so you have the people coming up and talking about listening to Nancy and Anne Wilson or listening to Pat Benatar and practicing the chords listening to those women and being inspired by them and then the older women talking about seeing the younger ones coming up and it’s wonderful with the connectedness and the women helping women and talking about how difficult it was in the industry show crow is in it.

Bunch of people are in Shania Twain Chakka Khan ah, other ones I was not familiar with Mavis just Mavis I can’t think of what her last name is from the old Gospel days. Um, and one theme that emerges. And David and I – I think I’ve mentioned before that watching stories about musicians is a great Venn diagram will overlap for both of us because he loves music and musicians and I love the creative aspects so we love it when we can find shows like this but I was pointing out to him and he was agreeing because I’m right. Over and over they would mention having to take control of their own careers having to that you can’t rely on anyone else to do this thing for you that you have to take control of your own career and make it be the thing you want. And I think that’s very true of all creative enterprises that as I often say nobody will ever love your book as much as you do and it’s um I think it’s probably true of of all creative enterprises that. You are the one who will care about it most and if you don’t care about it then it’s not worth it. So on that note I will leave you looking forward to seeing Celeste Barber Standup act tomorrow night and I will talk to you all on. Tuesday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – June 24, 2022

A firedrill from my agent had me going back through really old writing files, so I’m reflecting on what I observed – how my file organization has changed, how my writing has changed, and how what I once thought was SO CLEVER… isn’t.

Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

Ah, delicious. Um today is oh you know what today is say it with me friday! June Twenty Fourth one more week left in June then we’re halfway through the year how did this happen to mystery.

Um, so um, yeah, things are going well here today’s an exciting day for me taking my friends Charlie and Megan to Santa Fe airport to go on their trip to Italy lucky them and picking them up at 11 so I’ll have a little bit of a strange morning. Not quite my full writing day. But it’s a special occasion and then I pick up. It’s funny because their plane goes out and. My friends playing come in Alyx Dellamonica and who is also L.X. Beckett and Kelly Robson ah arrive at um, like 11:45 in Santa Se a very small airport. Um, so um, it’s it’s exciting. What’s funny is is they’re going to do the same thing on the return departure. Um, so I’m beginning to wonder if maybe they’re like. Superhero alter egos of each other that they can’t be in the same place at the same time. And um, probably take Alex and Kelly out to lunch because I think they’re not going to have time to eat. They got up very very early toronto time Kelly messaged me a good morning at one thirty my time so three thirty Eastern time but they were at the airport and left at um 7 my time the plane departed they have a pretty tight connection in Denver and then it’s just a real short hop from Denver to Santa Fe so I suspect they will not have eaten except for airplane food which probably doesn’t count remember when they used to like serve you full meals on the airplane like you’d get those kind of like what was even before microwaves so it was like I don’t know how they did it like steam. Heat or something that it was um yeah like those sort of Tv dinners. It was like being microwaved but you’d get the meal on the plane is that dating myself this last time flying it was um.

It was a bit more like normal times it was um, you know you could get alcohol on the plane you could drink and it was um it was american. And both of them were fairly short flights so we just got like cookies, cookies or pencils. Um, I wonder if they will go back to offering things like the you know the box lunches and that sort of thing in July I am flying to um, um, to to Reagan national airport. Via atlanta I think on delta so I’ll be interesting to see um, all it some resuming travel again seeing people right? kind of cool. So um, it’s a pretty morning here. We’re supposed to have a relatively sunny day and then more rain coming in tomorrow. My allergies. You can hear um my allergies are going crazy with the um desert. Pollen kicking into bloom it’s the ah the up and downsides of monsoon love to get that rain? Um, but then the grass pollen really kicks him.

Was trying to get this to pause but it won’t I have weird connectivity this morning I was just going to clear my throat a little bit so you guys didn’t have to hear it. There. That’s better.

Ah, all right? So um I made progress on shadow wizard yesterday I’m nearly at the end of scene one. It’s a lot of banter. But ah, but there’s adventures to adventures plus banter. Can’t go wrong there right? Um, judgment jeron is pretty hunted and tormented I haven’t quite figured out what all his deal is but yeah and I got to do a scene that um. I’ve never gotten to write before and it’s it’s a somewhat cliche scene we’ve seen it in various movies. Um, and I asked to rinda I said this is this too cliche the scene I just wrote and she’s like no I love it and I’m like It’s a classic for a reason right? and she said yes, absolutely.

So um, the other thing that happened yesterday was I got a message from agent Sarah on a quick turnarounding seriously quick. Um, quick like she needs this from me next week and I don’t normally I try not to check my email but everyone’s well I check it on my phone because I only get one kind of email on my phone. It’s one email address and it’s um. Only some people have it and it’s it’s for important stuff like that. So I saw the email from Sarah saying quick turnaround so I went ahead and read it. Um, and it’s kind of a cool opportunity. Course I cannot tell you about it? Um, but it’s um, yeah, it’s a work for hire thing and I needed to pull a pitch together for her and it involved going through like a lot of old material. So that was really interesting. It had been a long time since I have gone back through the dregs of um, it’s not the drugs. The archives doesn’t the archives sound happier the archives of when I was a baby writer I mean we’re talking. Mid late 90 s people people is also a good alternative to you guys? Um, so um so yeah it’s funny because. Back in the day. Um it the way that I organized my files on the computer and this is someone who you know I’ve been using computers most of my life I started learning how to program and dos when I was a sophomore. And high school I think so on ah those little boxy mac computers and we could program the pixels you know pixel by pixel to create graphics. Um, it was really um, it was terrific experience. I learned a lot about. Computer logic and how to assemble a program. Um, in some ways I really miss I mean I know I can still go to dos command but there were ways that we could manipulate the computer then that windows actively prevents us from doing now.

Um, so I am ah oh well, the way that these files were organized because my um I worked for my career type job right? Sorry I’m coughing so much. I did take an at homeme covid test and it came out negative I think this is just allergies I don’t have a um I don’t have a fever or anything like that. It’s just just a little croupy. So for a whole lot of my early writing career I also had my environmental consulting career and I would use the same computer for both um later I got my own computer. But especially because um, well we’re all aware of you know, like the ah the day job subsidy on your ah passion career right? Where you you know you send in reply to emails. During the workday and during slow times at the day job I would do writing stuff but I was very careful to keep those files separate and so I had um you know like ah. It’s funny because I created um a folder that was called like work file only I called it a work file so it would be at the top of the sort because back in the day you couldn’t do like reverse alphabetical sort so it was called a work file. And that was where I kept all of my personal files and then I had jeffie personal and within Jeffie personal was writing and within writing I had subfolders and it’s. Funny to see this now because of course now I have things organized by by like series. So my current file organization is you know, like generally by series. Um. And then I have subfolders for the various books and now I have for editions. Um, so like for covenant of thorns I have the 2022 editions because we’re going to be releasing them I think I’ll put the rogues pawn cover on today’s

Show notes I think I haven’t yet. Um I’ve been having fun making reels though I’m getting closer to to Tik to land. It’s fun to choose the music for Them. So. Then I thought of things differently and it’s interesting to me to see the shift in how I thought about my work So back then I had these folders that were like um. Have to think of what they are now they were drafts.

Published and ping pong were the 3 main folders published is obvious as soon as something got published I would move that subfolder into the published folder. Um drafts had a couple of subfolders that were um. In progress and finished so finished were the ones that I’d actually completed it whereas the inprogres were fragments or things that I felt like I needed significant work on and then ping pong. Which I’ve talked to a lot of mentees about and I’ve probably mentioned on here was I got this advice very early on with sending stuff out was to treat it like a game of ping-pong so you ah send out a query or a submission and when it came back and this was. Days of snail mail very much later and and then it merged there was this sort of transition where there was some via email and then it moved entirely to email but there were like still a few holdouts. There were still some places that would only take place things by snail mail they’re all gone now they dive out with the dinosaurs. Deservedly so um, but. The the way that ping pong worked was it. It took away that um, playing going by. It took away that onus of or the it’s not really an onus. It was. I don’t know that burden that terrifying burden of like having to send stuff out again. You know it’s like oh my god I got rejected instead. You treat it like they fired the ball back you got a volley it back and so I would have things ready to go. So. A lot of things in the ping pong folder are were never published. They were finished and never published so when I went back through all of this old stuff I I belatedly thought to look for ping pong because there was one night that I was thinking I know I have this somewhere and I remembered what it was called and it was ah an essay that was a series called grooming lessons that was actually a series of poems which one of the few poems um that I wrote professionally you’re like.

Since my angsty high school poems but it they won me a poetry fellowship from wyoming arts council which I always found kind of ironic. Um I never won the fellowship for my essays or my fiction. It was for these poems. And I only wrote these as poems because I’d been trying to write them as an essay for so long and I couldn’t get them to work and a friend of mine who was a poet um Paisley rectall who’s kind of famous now. Paisley and I were having coffee and she suggested trying to write them as a poem instead and it it worked. I mean yeah, it worked so but they were never published. So now I would like what I’m going to do is take them and break them apart and turn them into something fiction because it was one of the ideas that Sarah liked so it was funny. You know like I went back to these to that drafts folder and and I’ve got multiple iterations one of these days in my spare time I need to go back through I’ve got everything in Dropbox and I’ve got to go back through Dropbox because I have things. Repeated like I have that writing folder in like Jeffy personalel and I have it in other subfolders because I was so paranoid about losing stuff, especially when I finally left the day job and everything was going to be on my computer and I no longer had access to. You know, like the well I used to do like those tape backups remember those things before the cloud. Um so i. And sorry got all distracted thinking about the ah ah, it’s such a monumental effort I just and ah, who knows maybe I will never do it I just go ahead and pay my twenty bucks a month to Dropbox to keep multiple copies of all of my files forever. But they came in handy at this time. Um, yeah so I’d gone back and I’d found like the in-progress stuff and the fragments and I have multiple different places where I have like story ideas and so I put all of these down into a document for Sarah and she went through and. Picked out some stuff so it’s kind of kind of cool to resurrect some of these things. It was funny to read some of my early stuff from the mid 90 s um, there was one set of.

It was like these 3 pieces of of flash and I don’t remember if we called it flash then maybe we did but the idea they’re just like 350 words each 3 of them and I thought maybe this would work for this project that I could tweak and expand. Because I always liked it. I remember it having a very fond great fondness for this and it was called um 3 fairy tales showing a morbid fascination with feet I have my themes so it it was funny to see that I was thinking about this stuff even then it was the red shoes. The Twelve dancing princesses and Cinderella. And I remember them as being very witty and snarky and they are kind of snarky um, almost unpleasantly so and I was not nearly so witty as I thought my self ah not nearly so clever as I wanted to believe. And kind of read these and I’m like I thought that these were I’m like at last I can resurrect these things that I you know I was ahead of my time and said all these very interesting things about misogyny and fairy tales and how women are punished punished for their feet and um I don’t know. Maybe the kernel of the ideas there but these were not the jewels that I recall them being alas, so um, but there were some some jewels and it was very interesting to read these things from when I was. Trying out my voice when I was experimenting with different prose styles um trying to show different things. Um, yeah. Yeah, so I’m glad I have multiple versions of all these old files. Um I will be no harper lee where they dig out the manuscripts to publish after I am gone in a brazen attempt to cash in on my reputation. Perhaps someone will but you guys these things are not going to to rake in many um I just don’t see it so anyway. Um I got that back from Sarah and so this morning I need to punch them up a bit I can do it over the weekend but it’s gonna be kind of a. Busy, fun-filled weekend. So I may not have a lot of time. So I’m gonna do that this morning and um at least get them started so that I can go back and punch them up some and also work on shadow wizard. But then.

I’m out of here go doing airport runs and fetching friends so it was actually a good place for me to get this emergency thing from Sarah you know like if she had sent this to me two or three weeks ago when I was in the um panicked depths of trying to finish storm princess. There would have been no way. But right now I’m doing well on track for um, for shadow wizard. What am I doing I like made air quotes really what I want to do is knock on wood so I should do that knock on wood. But um, yeah, yeah. So all right I’m going to go get to work I hope you all have a wonderful Friday hope you have a wonderful weekend I hope you get to spend the time with dear friends. Um I have not seen Kelly and Alyx since August of 2019 in Dublin. As it were I don’t know not as it were ironically enough oddly enough when we were at world con in Dublin. So um, coming up on almost three years since I’ve seen them in the flash. So yeah, it’s really good to be able to. See friends and be with them again and I hope that you can have some of that and I will talk to you all on Monday you all take care bye bye.

Seven Things You Must Avoid If You Want to Write

These three books are on sale right now. THE MARK OF THE TALA, the book that started it all, first in The Twelve Kingdoms series. Also THE PAGES OF THE MIND, my RITA® Award-winning novel, which kicks off a new phase in the overall series, and PRISONER OF THE CROWN, first in a stand-alone spin off trilogy, The Chronicles of Dasnaria. If you’ve been thinking about reading my books or this series, it’s a great time to start!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week regards the writer’s Seven Deadly Sins: the list of things you MUST avoid if you want to finish a project on time. Of course, if you’re supposed to be writing, and you’re reading this, you’ve already broken three of mine. Oops. But never fear! There is still hope for you. Read on.

“If You’re Bored, Your Readers Will Be Too”

Isabel as gatekeeper. You shall not pass.

I hear the titular advice a lot: “If you’re bored, your readers will be too.” It’s that kind of advice you see on inspirational posters. It’s simple enough to fit in a small space. It sounds good at the outset. And, like, many of those, it’s not very helpful.

In this case, I think it’s actually the kind of bad advice that can cause real problems because it’s absolutely not true.

See, writing is a painstaking process. Especially writing a longer work like a novel. Even for people lucky enough to write fast, or on those fantastic days when the words pour out, there’s days when the writing isn’t like that. And there’s revision, which can be torturous. If you write a lot, then you perforce spend a lot of time writing. It’s absolutely unreasonable to expect to be thrilled and fascinated every moment of the process.

Certainly not at the level you hope the readers will be.

This is the key, so I’m going to all cap it. Because, what else is the Caps Lock key for?


Do I need to say it again for the people in the back? I’m guessing no, because we all recognize that this is true. There are few more contradictory feelings for an author than releasing a book we spent the last six months or a year writing and at various levels of editing, only to have readers message within hours that they LOVED it and when is the next one coming out? On the one hand, it’s fabulous and exhilarating that people are so excited for the story that they read it immediately. There’s really no greater compliment. (So, Readers – don’t stop! That’s not what I’m saying.) On the other hand, however, it’s daunting that readers can devour so quickly what takes so long to produce.

Which is why this whole “if you’re bored, the reader will be, too” thing is a false equivalence.

What it takes me a day of work to write might feel like a slog. Let’s say I write 3,000 words/day, which is my usual goal. At my typical average of 271 words/page (this is remarkably steady across all my work), that’s about 11 pages. (That’s in Word, Times New Roman 12pt, double spaced, 1″ margins all around.) How fast do you read 11 pages? At the average reading speed of 200 words/minute, that takes 15 minutes to read what I spent hours drafting. And that’s not counting any of the editing that comes after.

OF COURSE my experience is slower and less exciting!

Neil Gaiman says that writing a novel is a lot like paving a road with bricks. (I think this was on his Tumblr – I haven’t been able to find it again. If anyone knows, please link me to it! Edited to add, I asked him on Twitter and he suggested this post, which isn’t exactly how I recalled it, but is full of awesome.) He says it can be like laying down one brick after another, slowly making progress. Laying bricks is, by nature, tedious. Painstaking, even.

You don’t go into brick-laying for the thrills; you do it because you want a paved road.

Same with writing.

If you’re bored, that’s okay. Keep going. Seek the next brick, layer on the mortar, carefully set it in place. Keep going.

If you do your job right, the reader will cruise along on a smooth road, never guessing what it took to put it there.

Exactly as it should be.