Why I don’t believe in muses and how conflating the experience of writing – joyful or otherwise – with the experience of reading is counterproductive, and how writing turns out the same whether it was fun to write or not.
Why I don’t believe in muses and how conflating the experience of writing – joyful or otherwise – with the experience of reading is counterproductive, and how writing turns out the same whether it was fun to write or not.
Greetings from a gorgeous autumn in New Mexico!
This week at the SFF Seven we’re talking about preconditions – what must be true before you go to write.
I changed it from “sit to write” because I don’t sit – I work at a walking desk. So, that’s one thing for me, is that I’m happiest standing or walking to write. I’ve gotten so sitting to write doesn’t work very well. In fact, I’m super happy to have hit on a solution of a portable tripod and desktop to make a standing desk for a retreat I’m going on after Thanksgiving. I can stand to write! Perfect solution.
It used to be that I had fairly elaborate rituals for getting into writing. I had LOTS of preconditions. I had to be sitting at a certain desk (not my work-from-home desk) at a specific time of day (morning) listening to a particular soundtrack (The Mission). I even had a favorite blue jersey dress I had to be wearing. When my husband, with considerable exasperation, pointed out that the dress had more holes than fabric, he countered my plaintive argument that I needed it, by saying “the writing comes from you, not the dress.”
That’s really stuck with me. I remind myself of that truth often.
(And I put the dress in the rag pile.)
All of those rituals helped me in the beginning, when I really needed help establishing a writing habit. But now I know they were just things to help me along. Because the writing comes from me.
The only precondition I have? Myself, present and accounted for.
I’m talking about debut author expectations, how to learn about the industry, and (hopefully) dispelling the myth that excellence = success = money. Also, exciting upcoming episode with Grace Draven!
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious. Ah today is Thursday may fifth I want to say March Fifth may fifth ah, one of our nebula conference organizers made that mistake the other day. She. Said if we could have that back by March Sixth that would be great and she had to follow up with the extra email saying I mean may sixth. Um, so I of course helpfully chimed in and said we only wish it was march. Alas, it’s a little chilly here this morning. Chill breeze blowing I started to go out to the grape arbor and it was too chilly. That’s why I put my jacket on now I’ve taken it off could see I’m on video having a little mister Rogers moment I did not mention this the other day and I meant to when I was talking about. That episode of Julia which faithful listener Laura Darnell tells me has been renewed for a second season. So I guess she started watching it and found it delightful that is a perfect word for it. This show is just delightful. You guys. There are so many things about it that um are heartwarmingly wonderfully delightful. So brief spoilery moments if you don’t want to know I mean I don’t think it’s not an actual like plot type spoiler. But it’s a really cool moment. When you figure out who this person is so Laura if you don’t want to know cover your ears for a moment but at the end of that episode that we watched last week there was this lovely moment where after Betty Friedan has like gutted Julia unfairly totally unfairly. And she is Julia has gone out to lobby just to get a breath of air and she’s sitting there and she’s trying not to cry but actually crying as so many of us do and this man comes up to her and says how much he liked her speech and he is so gentle and so kind. And he and he’s he says how magical and it was a really great speech then and I will not spoil her that way because there’s some lead up to what is she going to say and he said he really loved what she said and a particular thing about it and.
And he is so kind and he is kind and warmhearted in the same way that she is and I went. Oh it’s it’s Mr. Rogers and it was it was Mr. Rogers and I don’t know I mean this is sound goofy you guys it was lovely. it was it was in and he asks some if you should leave her alone and she said no if you would just sit with me for a few minutes. Why does that make me verklempt I don’t know ah some of the girls in the faro group were talking about. Um. Bridgerton second season of bridgerton I was talking about it too. But then they continued and there there was a debate over whether they liked second season better than first a lot of people didn’t seem to like second season as much as the first I liked it. Better. But um I love slow burn I love I love Richard Firstborns hello only child you know who feel like they have to do and be everything and I I love I loved everything about it. So again, slightly spoilery. Towards the end after Kate has like sacrificed everything they were saying that these were things that they didn’t like about it. They didn’t like how her ah the relationship with the sister which I actually loved and but I’ve also read the books a couple times so I had. I don’t know strong opinions already. Um, but 1 of the things they were saying they didn’t like was that after the sister figures out what’s going on I’m trying not to spoil her but you know maybe maybe I will spoil her and. Cover your ears or or go away I’m not going to say anything interesting today anyway. Ah so so the premise is I’m I’m going full spoiler here. Folks Kate is the older sister. She’s given up on marriage. She figures she can’t anyway. Ah, there are a lot of reasons for this and everything’s been put into grooming her younger sister to get her the ideal marriage which will get her an inheritance that Kate will never get and all ah all of these things Kate now see now I have to tell you guys all the details. And you probably don’t even care if I’m going to tell you anyway. So there’s 2 sisters Kate Nedwina and Kate is the daughter of an East Indian man and a british woman fell in love with him and he already had Kate.
As his daughter she was like eight years old when they got married and so she raised Kate as her own and then she also had edwina so edwina has british grandparents and edwina is the one who stands to inherit whereas Kate is you know the daughter of this. You know indian merchant um, she’s got no british blood in her and she know she’s not supposed to be part of this british aristocracy whereas it’s Edwina’s birthright via her mother right? So everything’s been put into getting Edwina the perfect marriage. And so even though Kate falls in love with Anthony Bridgegerton very early on she is determined that well she actually hates him and she doesn’t want to phone for eduwina but Edwina sets her sights on him and he sets his sights on Ed Weida and it’s a brilliant match. It’s like everything that Kate could want for Edwina. And Edwina is like I really want this I want you to be nice to this guy and so Kate does Kate sacrifices everything even though you know like she’s in love with Anthony she doesn’t do anything about it and Anthony doesn’t do anything about it because you know hello Richard Firstborns who are going to do their duty before anything else. Which I love I eat that up with a spoon and then towards the end Edwina realizes the paraho are in love and I mean it’s this fantastic moment because I feel like season 2 borrowed heavily from some of the is it. Okay drama I wanted to say k-pop k drama the korean dramas where they do these long long looks and Anthony and Kate just exchange these searing glances that are full of all of their. Denied lust and love and and at one point a critical point and I won’t spoiler that but Edwina sees it and it’s like the scales fall from her eyes. It’s almost a classic classic mythological moment and Edwina says like. Oh my god have they been doing this the whole time has everybody seen this but me and she feels totally betrayed and I was all right with her feeling totally betrayed. Other people didn’t like this so much I think they wanted it to be like less fraught. But then. Edwina is very unkind to Kate. She is cruel to Kate in her pain and feeling of betrayal and she basically says to Kate um, but she just accuses Kate of some of some terrible things.
You know of hurting her and and we really feel with Kate this whole time because we we know that Kate has only ever done this to sacrifice for Edwina that she was ready to sacrifice her most basic happiness like this her one true. Love. So that Edwina could be happy and have her inheritance and have everything and it’s dramatically unfair and so some of these girls did not like that at all because they felt like it was unfair to Kate and it’s like it is unfair to Kate. It’s awful and it. Made it so good. It was um I just loved I I loved it and I’m going to do a rewatch. So so there it’s um, maybe part of the reason I love it is because it’s always a story challenge. To get the reader feeling along with the protagonist so that even when they make mistakes and both Anthony and Kate make a lot of mistakes they make a lot of mistakes out of pride. And out of this sort of single minded determination to do their duty by their families and that’s um, it’s not always easy to find that sweet spot where where the protagonists are doing. Absolutely the wrong thing through the very best of intentions and that this is tied into their character and into their internal wounds their blind spots and when it’s well done where you are like totally on board where you. You know what choices they’re gonna make youre like oh don’t do this thing I know you’re gonna do this thing I know why you feel like you have to do this thing but don’t do it and then they do it, you still feeling along with them. Um know clearly it doesn’t work for everyone. Ah, let’s see so me and my work. Ah I’ve started revising this book. But you know I definitely um that act 2 climax crisis I whip back and input. All of my notes. From reading the first 3 books and the novella into a document and I’m revising with all of that in mind and I definitely was hitting a point. Um yesterday where I was feeling like I hate this book.
This book sucks this is going to be the book that ruins my career I need a particular name for this crisis. Ah, it’s so funny because I can feel all of those emotions and even knowing that I do this every time I still feel them so we’ll see. Right now I think the book is terrible. Um, cheers I was talking with a friend of mine last night and I won’t say who but 1 of my author friends was ranting and. This is what we do right? when we say step away from the keyboard. Don’t don’t put this online what you do is you call up your author friends and you rant to them and on the phone where nobody ever will ever repeat it and this friend of mine even said she said you know this is why I love you because I can rant to you. She says nobody ever knows that I think these things and I said no everybody thinks you’re super sweet but it’s totally cool. This is this is what we do but she was upset because she had seen a review saying something about 1 of her books or stories. That that said well um, this the author didn’t put in her best effort and and she was frankly incensed because it’s fine if you don’t like the book. Got all stories work for everyone right witness season 2 of Bridgegerton right? Not everybody likes everything like we don’t have to but because a particular book or story didn’t work for you doesn’t mean that the author didn’t put in her best effort and it’s. Think that reviewers do sometimes where they project and I think most authors find it very irritating because they’ll say things like well the ending was rushed because clearly the author was attempting to meet a deadline or you know the the author was thinking this or that and it’s like you know. You hear us say it on the podcast. You don’t know you don’t know what goes on in our heads and ah creating something is. It’s not a science It’s not an exact thing you know where we are not building widgets. There may be some authors who can crank out books like widget I’m not saying names I’m thinking them. Um, there are authors who can reliably deliver the same thing over and over again and they make a good career doing it not everybody wants.
To do that and not everybody has the same creative process to allow for that and if I were going to be really bitchy which is why I’m not naming names I would say that some of these authors who essentially create book widgets are not actually being all that creative. They’re just following a mold and doing the same thing over and over again which can be very satisfying audiences. So while I I will admit that I that doesn’t work for me. You know it’s like well you know if it can make a good living doing it and it’s satisfying to find. Go ahead, but not everybody works that way and you know as I often say that’s and as I was saying with my friend last night I actually talked with 2 of my writer friends yesterday because I’d had a distress that we were doing mutual ranting I did. I’m like what does this even mean a conversation that I had with somebody else sorry to be all obscure but I don’t spill all the tea here at first cup of coffee. That’s why it’s not first cup of tea. But oops I lost. My train of thought there. Oh you know what? when we oh this sorry but but but if we were editing I would edit that but we’re not so oh well, the. The whole point there is and we were saying this back and forth to each other. You know it’s like if it would be There are easier careers to have this what I’m trying to say and I even said to her. Yeah, you know if um, if we wanted to. Just make money just have a job that makes money we would be stockbrokers or bankers or finance people or something like that. It’s this is not the easiest way to make money and being the creative process is so fraught that way and not always within your control. But. Part of why she was so offended by that particular line was she was like every time I sit down to write. It’s my best effort she said I don’t I don’t care what else is going on in my life when I write it I promise it is always my best effort and so she was actually she was like. You could say a lot of things you could say that I didn’t write this book as well as another one or that I have you know, rushed the ending or you know that this story didn’t work for you or that you didn’t like the characters or whatever but don’t say it wasn’t my best effort.
Because they’re all our best efforts and and I totally feel that I mean that’s like here I am with my act 2 climax crisis and it’s like um, it’s totally my best effort but and i. I don’t know if I’m going to pull it off I don’t know if it’s going to work. Um, yeah so I’m I’m pausing because I’m debating saying a thing and I think I’m not going to say it? yeah. I’m not going to talk about what kind of bothered me from from yesterday. Alas, if you could be in on our venting phone calls you all would probably enjoy that the fly on the wall for these things but that’s why we have venting phone calls. It’s it’s a funny thing. You know about the business and it’s a piece of advice that I sometimes give to younger writers and then sometimes withhold because I don’t want to um, rain on their happy parades. But you know like some of this stuff just never gets easier. And and and we talk about you know like you know it’s good to have writers who are like the same face that you are because the problems that we have you know are are champagne problems they are problems that you know that my ten years ago self would have been thrilled. Have no like the thing that is currently aggravating me I would have been thrilled to like people to have this conversation with this person in the first place it would have like felt like a huge success just to be even having this conversation with the people involved you know and now it’s like. I am happy to be having the conversation but some of the content is aggravating to me and it’s like I don’t want to be dealing. That’s some of this. Um you know sometimes I feel like you’re a garmma and I I want to be left alone to write my books. Dont buck me about them which is probably why so many writers end up becoming that person I totally get it now. So yeah, we um, yeah so I guess I have no idea if I was going to like say anything. With relevant content today. It’s always amusing to me when you guys comment and say really good podcast today and it’s like ah I don’t I don’t know why please tell me I’m it’s always interesting to hear which ones you guys think are really good podcasts. But um, yeah, it’s not like I plan it much like my books. Ah.
All right on that note I’m gonna go hope you all are having a great Thursday winding up the week and I will talk to you all tomorrow take care bye bye.
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee and with the fabulous Darynda Jones author of oh ah, you up the thing. Ah paranormal mystery. Young adult straight mystery yeah lots of things I tried to get her to do a trime for you guys and she was like I it it has to be like dy me do delivery. So I am here in. Fabulous portalis and at the home of Doinda Jones and she’s already started making it into a museum. You guys. So like when you tour where Doundda Jones lived and created her works There’s like the dog gates against the guest bedrooms and it’s just like visiting the sacred bedroom of Abraham Lincoln yeah and yes Jane Austen Jane ahusten there. You go here, you go um. And so I stopped at the hydration station on the way from the hotel and got my rather I said like grande-ish size but this feels very would you like I got an americano because it’s like because if I get an espresso. It’s like not enough to keep drinking right. This whole because Dorinda does a lot of the same ah intermittent fasting that I do so she understands we understand each other. Yes, we do so this has like you know enough that I could sit on that for a while and she had stevia for me and. And then a tiny tiny bit of c cream just to like cut that edge right? So what are you drinking? you have your I am also drinking americano but I have sugar you have sugar I actually picked sugar and and show them your fabulous cup. Winter so you have to describe it because some people are only on audio. Oh okay, so it is a very sparkly dairy sparkly travel mug with the winter soldier star that he has on his shoulder and then the back has the words. That the you could say to him that would control him that heck that he had to break they had to break and the in the so do we not dare say them out dare say them out loud but right you want to control him with yeah I mean who wouldn’t so dear listener Doinda has a thing.
Before Sebastian stands I do she stands I stands the same. Those things you didn’t need to know right? right? Probably feel my so and I’m trying to figure out why am I so much whiter than Torenda I mean am I that. We’re sort of sitting side by side and I feel like I look very white in this light. That’s very pale, pretty very pretty well. Well thank you so we’re doing the Jack Williamson lectureship and we went and did that thing last night. Listen to Connie Willis interview Walter John Williams and then went to dinner afterwards that was fun. Yeah, did you learn anything I learned a lot about Walter that I didn’t oh yeah and in his career this very interesting, very interesting. He’s he’s had a very long and. Up and down roller coaster career which it seems like all writers to right? right? Yeah yeah, but yes, it was very interesting and I also went to so Connie Willis’s daughter is a criminalist in San Jose California so I went to that yesterday afternoon and listened to her talk and that was. Ah I learned so much about her daily. You know what does a criminalist do and daily life and and the the stuff that they do in the lab and the different types of evidence. It was very cool. So are you gonna weave any of this into Absolutely yeah, you just don’t know how or where yet right? exactly she gave some really good tips on ways that they found criminals that you know that I have not seen there was 1 in particular that I have not seen in the book yet. So I’m like I’ll be using that. So can you share are you is it secret. It’s it’s well it involves a fitbit put it that way they use technology a lot phones fitbits anything. They can get their hands on and she said whatever you do it doesn’t matter if you delete it. It’s still gonna be in your phone so they have caught many a criminal. By getting their phones and restoring recovering deleted pictures and that sort of thing because so just because you you think it’s deleted. It’s not and computers are the same It’s never really gone. So it’s true that that’s like Facebook and Amazon and all of that they like.
Save everything forever. Yep yep, it’s there forever. So if you commit a crime don’t take pictures. Don’t take pictures and don’t wear your fitbit and don’t wear your and. Ah, ah and I want you guys to know I had to connect with Darynda’s wireless in order to do this podcast and you know how like there’s the joke out there where people say oh you should name your your wireless network like Fbi Surveillance fan so that you can like make your neighbors paranoid. Guess what during this wireless network is called but it is because you just couldn’t resist I couldn’t resist this is sunny I just found it. Funny. It’s been that for oh gosh probably 10 years and I won’t tell you were her wi-fi password just in case. But it’s on brand also so I feel like I have to level up to met to match like your level of being on brand my commitment your commitment to the brand. Ah.
So so what are you working on these days during actually let’s talk about I want I know you’re working on several things but let’s talk about your revisions on the third book the sunshine yes because I think a lot of people. You know, a lot of writers listens to the podcast as well as readers and but there’s always this perception speaking of like up and down and that kind of thing that like you know what is this your sixteenth published book. No, this will be 26 26 how did I lose track. Well, that’s because you’ve got the self post you I had the different stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah, all the. And a young adult that was a long time ago. Oh I was a trilogy and yeah, so yeah, yeah, so so yeah, 26 books now and you’re working with your wonderful editor at St Martin’s but it’s been It hasn’t been a path strewn with rose petals. No, but. So. It’s so funny because I got very used to my first editor was Jennifer Inerlin who is now the president of St Martin’s and she’s busy and she’s busy and so I went to another editor so I got used to Jennifer’s editing style and she had a certain way and she would just write. She wouldn’t do line edits. She would write me up. An editorial letter and you know we were good and it’s kind of like a marriage. Yeah, you get really in sync with a particular view. So and and so I was very used to that then I went to another editor for 1 book and I wasn’t edited at all and I was like no. I’m not no book is perfect I mean they just isn’t I don’t care who you are your book’s not perfect and so I you know voiced my concerns to my agent and so she taught to Jennifer and now I have ah another editor and I’ve had her for 3 books now Alexander Seahlster and she’s amazing. Um, but we do there are things that she thinks of that I just wouldn’t think of and and it’s very interesting. It’s been very interesting and things. Like word choices that I wouldn’t have thought of like I couldn’t use should I say this is it okay to say I think it is because and because it’s interesting how and and yesterday I talked a whole lot oop sorry I thought I muted to my mother um hi mom. Ah now you know what? a. Whenever I’m saying oh there’s my mother awake and texting me. Okay there we go um and now I lost my train of thought so what’s oh because I was talking yesterday about being generation x right? and you know and things change and you try to be good about being aware and not becoming.
That grandfather where everyone says you know in my day my day I know what we called it and it’s like well yes grandpa is a racist but you know that was the time he grew up and you don’t want to be that person right? But at the same time stuff changes rapidly you know and like what feels like. An okay word to use even a year or two ago is now people are like oh wait a minute. Yeah you so use it and so I was really surprised at 2 of the words that she took out and I didn’t even tell you my bizarre story about writer coffee. So okay, so she had me take off thug and hoodlum. Hoodlum I got because that’s clearly hood. You know racist that sort of thing but thug I was like why thug. So I go to writer’s coffee last Saturday and lo and behold what are they talking about. Thugs the word thug which comes from faugy. Yes, yeah I did not know this at all I didn’t bring it up I thought I thought this is a sign from god ah god are you listening or you know like or the technology on your smart. This is true. Yes, it. It’s all out there and. Yeah, and how it came as ah, the british used said as propaganda against indian gods and nice or East India yeah yeah and yeah I didn’t even know that I was like oh well, no I get it and all those. Yeah, although still, it’s um, you know some of these words are so old and I don’t know but you know’s you you don’t want to hurt anybody. So it’s good to learn these things and take them out but then it’s like um, you know trying to lense these things from your vocabulary can just be just very interesting experience. Yes, so I so I have to tell you guys that duringda’s table has cup holders. You see this I can like set this into the the little cup holder. You would think that’s what it is. You know what? it actually is. It’s this is like for gaming or something that this is poker. It is for those little. Ashtrays all way back in the day they would put these little disgusting likes and clearly we don’t have them but we do have the the poker and I was noting that I was fidgeting with this that the poker things. I just thought it was a really pretty table. We used to have game night. We didn’t we never played poker but we used to do game night. So it’s it’s a beautiful table I mean do you know what what it this no I don’t I think it’s all fake. It was not that expense really I don’t know this looks um that has very nice woodgraen. Yeah.
It’s pretty though I just thought it was pretty. It is pretty. It is pretty and it has cup holders. I mean it’s kept up seriously yes, according to my grandkids those are cup holders too. So okay, though that that’s probably says a lot about my mental age right? There? No I actually when I bought it I thought they were cup holders. Did you all I did and then somebody told you yeah somebody was like no those were for those little extras. Oh learning every day learn stuff every day. Okay, so so you ended up having to take words out and then it’s just you know revising people often ask about the process of revising this and so. How would you describe your process I should have tried to ask it with a straight face joined that jones how do you describe your revision process. Ah gosh I I don’t know I just go through the notes and so Alex my new editor she does line edits as well as some editoria. And editorial letter and so I just did the line edits first and went through everything and tried to fix everything and again things that I wouldn’t even have thought of and um and then went to the letter and. What’s my process I don’t know I was curious. Do you like begin at the beginning of the book or do you well with the line edits I do right? just go straight through those try to get those done as much as possible. Um, and i. For the most part I try to accept everything because I figure. Well if it just threw her out of the story or whatever. Um, every once in a while I’ll be like I’m gonna keep that you know instead to fight for your joke. yeah yeah I do fight for my choice because that’s a thing. Like like I have a lot of jokes and and she will take out some and you were known for for your humor. Yeah, and so and every once in a while I’ll be like oh I got to put that one back in I’m sorry sorry I just like it. You can’t kill that darling kill that darling. But. Um, yeah, and and it’s funny. We were talking about how editors um you know like they’ll be reading something and maybe they have to go off and do something else or go to a meeting or they go have lunch or they you know sleep get a phone call or get a phone call. Whatever and they come back to it and it’s kind of like It’s almost like they kind of forgot what was going on to force and because sometimes the the notes will be really out of the blue and you’re like what Linda come I always wanted that when and sometimes like beta readers will do that too because they’ll be like well but you never said.
You know, like why he had the thing or something where did the thing come from and you’re and go back and you’re like here it is on page 10 right? where I say why he has the thing. Yes, yeah, it’s like maybe they just and and you look at it and you think well do I need to add to it. Do I need to explain? yes. Here’s why he has yeah to make it more sadly address something to get be a attention. Yeah, exactly? Yeah, but but sometimes you know it can be hard I I try to tell people this that it can be a real challenge to. No matter where you are in your career knowing which critique to take right and we were talking about this sum to last night about people telling you how to fix it? Yes, so a lot of times it’s like an editor or a beta reader whenever they’ll know something’s wrong not quite right not necessarily wrong but not quite right something didn’t hit him and then they might offer a way to fix it but a lot of times that’s that doesn’t fix it. That’s it’s that’s not the right way to do it. So you’ll like go back and you’ll think oh, but if I add this line to paragraphs before then that makes more sense so you you have to figure out the best way to fix it. It’s like they know something’s not quite right, but they don’t know what and sometimes they can’t even describe it right? right? right? because they’ll say well I just. Don’t sympathize with this character you know and and I think it’s because because he his hair is the wrong color. Yep, that’s that’s like a stupid example, but and you’re like no no no I know it’s not the hair color that’s bothering you but something is making you feel unsympathetic. Yes, yeah. Yeah, exactly exactly it’s so it’s like this detective exactly you have to really and that’s why to me revisions take so long because you have to sit there and kind of think about. Okay, what is the real problem here. You have to try to get in your reader’s head or whatever and try to figure out that’s that’s one of the hardest parts isn’t it to try to. Because you have the book up here right? and so you know exactly and it’s like how do I get it to what they know exactly and then even then you know readers make things their own right? right? Oh absolutely It’s it’s always um, interesting to see how some. Readers interpret the books right? Yeah I talked some in you and I chatted some about um Jennifer L. Armintrout’s most recent book and the whole kerfuffle around that you know and all of those readers saying that you know they were upset about.
I don’t even know what it was but like something did we talk about this. Maybe it was what someone else did you? you know like this one that just came out in her. It was like the war of 2 queens. Oh so yeah, no, we didn’t talk about that. no I was thinking yeah yeah did you follow that at all no oh well no onefuffle oh yeah well all of these readers or some readers. Some very loud voice readers unlike book talk got very very upset saying that I don’t know it had something to do with like that there was some kind of emotional infidelity and they were really upset with her and calling it the deal breaker and and Jennifer said in like 1 of her reader groups that they were reading it wrong. And and they got very upset. You know you can’t tell me how to read and all this which true. Yes, yes, but then some other people who read the book said but actually they were reading it wrong. But so it’s like interesting. Yeah, interesting. But I mean that is a thing you just can’t it I mean do you think there is a thing where readers are rating it wrong because you can go both ways on this. Well it but also to me if there’s more than you know. more than 1 person. yeah more than 1 person got this impression. Yeah, then I don’t I don’t can you read a book wrong I mean certainly we get like reviews where people like get actual details wrong right? You know like exactly the names. Yes, or. Or they’ll say things like you know I hated the part where she killed the dog and you’re like but actually she didn’t kill the dog but that is absolutely yeah, something went wrong. There. There was some discondent but but yeah, readers. And and it’s interesting if you go back and read something that you read a long time ago. Have you done that? yeah and you know like something you read when you were like a teenager or oh yeah, any say anything leaked to mind and done that well ah I hate talking bad. So. I am you can fudge the details. Okay, okay, well, okay, we’ll do that so I am a huge very particular vampire series fan. Well, that was absolutely huge. Um and I remember when I read the first one I read the first one on it. First came out and I left it I loved everything about it and and for the most part and everybody kept talking about how badly written it was and this is the book I think it is to start with a t yes, that’s okay and they kept talking about how badly written it was and I was like really.
Well and I was still new I was still writing I wasn’t published yet or anything and I didn’t get it and so you know now after having I think it was probably about two years ago I decided to reread it and I was like wow it. It really is better. still a good book. you know it was still a good book it was an enthralling book. Yes, and I still loved it and I still love it and I love her and I love what she did. Um, you know I she got hundreds of thousands of teenagers to read. Yes, who then became our readers. Yes, yes, yes, who had never read a book in their lives. I met many of them and then went on to love all things jealousy. Yes yes, so we are. That’s interesting because I have not gone back and read that but I I was really floored I had a very difficult time getting into it again and um, yeah. And well you had’t told me that yeah and I was like I feel bad I mean I a lot of people say there aren’t there’s books are not badly written right? and I I have set that I’ve said that on record on as well yes yeah well that I said that people do not read 800 pages of. Bad writing right? So it’s it’s not actual bad writing it’s something else. Yes, it’s um, that it doesn’t fit a particular aesthetic or style yeah style. Yeah, so what? So what was. What what about it? Would you say was badly written I would hit you wrong because now you’ve got this editor brain. Yeah exactly and I just it feel like it was written which this was her first published book right? and it was the first book who among us would not go back. Right? change. Absolutely our first publish but it was a first book. You know? And yeah, yeah, I just would you change things in your first post oh absolutely yeah oh I would change so much I can’t even yeah I I never read my books. I would change stomachma I cringe I’ve I’ve thought about that and I don’t know if you and I have talked about it but you know like my first published book was or you like full novel was rogues pawn. The first fantasy romance and covenant at thornance that Carina did and we’re trying to get rights back now and so now I’m wrestling with that. It’s like if I get my rights back and I self-publish it do I do you want to go back through it. You know because part of me really does yeah, but also I think it might be such a gargantuan effort right? that we.
It’s not worth that you and and put that kind of time into it when you could be yeah when I could write new things. Yes, producing new work. Yeah, yeah, exactly I don’t know would you? Oh that’s such a good question if I got the rights back to first grave first grave I would change little things little things like word choice. Yes, word choices I feel like Charlie I was trying to in that first book I feel like I tried too hard because and and in some ways you’ve talked about and I’m interrupting you. You’ve talked about that like in the early days you would go in and layer in the humor. Yes, in a way that you now just do as an organic part of the writing exact. But then it was much more deliberate. Yes, like joke deliberate. Yeah and I was trying to write funny beef people kept telling me that I write funny. So I thought okay well I’m gonna do this I’m gonna you know work I’m gonna write funny god god damn funny on purpose. I wasn’t doing it on her and um, yeah I I and I feel like I just I tried too hard and I overdid it and I and Charlie comes across to me, especially early in the book. It’s very unsympathetic because she’s um. When you write humor. You can’t be little. You can’t belitle other people and I don’t know because then it just becomes cruel. It’s Chris cruel. Yeah and I don’t know that she was necessarily doing that but it it almost is that’s on that edge there to where it was just a bit much and I would change that. I would I think I would go back and change it I haven’t looked at that book of mine I take that there’s a lot of problems with it structurally yes, see that would be way more massive a bigger undertaking and I don’t know that I would do that I saw. Somebody recently recently like last year or something like that reading it because this is part of it is like when people discover your work now they go back and the like back less them. Yes, bless you? you? Yes, thank you but they go and read your entire backlist and I I kind of cringe because I’m like. Go all the way back exactly? Um, but I saw somebody like you know, showed up in my tweet search. You know where they mentioned it. They didn’t tag me it. It was totally my fault that I looked but they were talking about oh reading coil thorns by Jobby Kennedy so excited and then. But she was talking about how it like she got whiplash going back and forth between the whimsy and the horrific aspects of it and it’s like I think I didn’t balance it well I didn’t know what I was doing right? right? right? So learning and yeah.
And I I wanted those things in it. But I think yeah, it’s um, it’s that refinement it’s getting the blend right and right now yeah so yeah, absolutely so that’s probably enough time. Do you have anything else. You want to say no. No nothing to say nothing and we’re gonna try get a little work done before we go off to the readings I already got some writing done this did you? Yes, it’s you I know such a good I makes you look bad. Well 1 thing that Walter was saying last night when Condy was asking him about. You know process someone does he write and all of this and he’s like that he writes like 500 words a day and does it like at 1 in the morning and he just works for a couple hours and otherwise he pretty much like naps and naps and eats and and eats and I was like how do I get this writer’s life. She asked what his favorite part of being a writer was and he said the hours and it was like this does not match my life but I but doesn’t match your why I just’s like what we’re doing it fucking wrong. We’re doing very wrong, very very wrong. Walter’s got the right idea I guess he also has like. The enormous backlist and is as his riches that he lives off. Yes, yeah, still where we have to figure this out. Yeah, we’re to work on that with all right? So we’re gonna go work on that. Um, lovely seeing you all I forgot to say that it was Friday we forgot to do the chair dance. I didn’t even say what the date was so let’s do it now today is April Eighth and it is you’re gonna say it with me do the chair dance. What is thisjule. It’s Friday it’s like Friday they ah so you are the wonderful weekend. And I will talk to you all on Monday yall take care bye bye.
This week at the SFF Seven we’re discussing what we wish we’d known when we decided we wanted to write.
It’s an interesting question, and a fraught one. I first decided that being a writer would be the perfect career for me back in 1993. That’s almost 30 years ago, so it isn’t easy to think back to that younger self. At the time, I was completing a Ph.D. in neurophysiology and confronting the bald truth that I didn’t really want to be a research scientist. I sat myself down, meditated, and asked the question: if I took away all the if’s and’s and but’s, what would be the ideal life.
No one was more surprised than I was to hear that the answer was to be a writer. But I also knew it was a true answer and that, if I wanted to be happy, I had to do whatever it took to make that come true.
So, I cut bait on my Ph.D., got a Masters and a job as an editor/writer to start building my chops. I took night classes from visiting writers. I began writing, something, anything.
What do I wish I’d known then? It’s tempting to say I wish I’d known how long it would take before I truly began earning a living as an author. My conception then of how long it would take was absolutely the largest lacunae of ignorance in my hopeful moonscape. I thought it would be a couple of years, not a couple of decades. I totally thought I’d hit it big. I thought my steady progression of successes, for which I am grateful, make no mistake, would have a steeper upward trendline.
And yet… I’m actually glad the younger me didn’t know how protracted that effort would be, how studded with setbacks and pitfalls. Had I known, would I still have done it?
I don’t know.
Sometimes I think our ignorance at the outset of an ambitious enterprise works in our favor. Ignorance truly can be bliss, especially when it allows hope to flourish, hope that carries us through the difficult times.
Maybe what I really wish I’d known back when I made that decision is that it was the right one. But then, I knew that anyway.