Sunday, March 26, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 21: Self-promote

Writers are not braggarts by any means, but they do talk up writing in general and their own work in particular. Many writers have said  that no publisher will promote their book like they can. As a result, they go wherever they can to bring exposure to their books. 

Writers get caught up in the obvious book readings, online interviews, blogs, and vlogs. But they also talk to whoever will listen to them about their latest work. They don't hold on to their stuff; they send it into the universe of print and online publishers, news outlets, and other established global sources. It's their business; it's what they do.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 20: Return to Abandoned Projects

Writers are hoarders. They collect news clippings, store event programs, and stash notes scribbled on napkins. 

These practices may not keep them in good standing with their uninformed significant others, but they need to do these things to always be working. The ten-year-old news story about an environmental incident might solve a problem the novelist was having in establishing a context for the setting of a long-abandoned book. The playbill from a forgotten Off-Broadway musical twelve years ago might help a poet recall a line from a song that she can weave into an unpublished sonnet she started last year. A note about a conversation overheard in a diner fifteen years ago might hand a playwright just the sentence she needs to close a scene in one of her deferred theatrical works.

Writers do not forever abandon their filed projects. They won't let them fade away until they do.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 19: Change

In a long ago conversation with a friend, salsa vibraphonist extraordinaire George Rodriguez of the New Swing Sextet, I ruminated about my disappointment over jazz legend Miles Davis, whose trumpet transformed from playing sweetly melodic and soulful tunes to wildly dissonant, herky-jerky compositions in his later years. George prescriptively responded, "Artists are always trying to invent something new, and sometimes they reach new places that no one understands, not even themselves. Maybe whether it's good or not to others doesn't matter to them as much as being in the moment of invention, whatever the outcome."

George beautifully summarized what writers do. They should always be ready to change their course, fearfully perhaps, but willingly, moving in new directions, reinventing their craft, trying a different sentence structure, establish a unique setting, creating an unexpected story line, reaching for an unfamiliar character. If writers are to reflect the times in which they live, they need to acknowledge that their times are always changing, so they must change with them. 

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Things Writers Do, Part 18: Take Notes

Writers take their notebooks whatever the situation. They know a good idea may pop up:
  • At Anytime — Especially at their most relaxed moments (when drowsy, waking, lounging, strolling, meditating), writers are likely to invent creative ideas.
  • In Anyplace — Setting their characters and story lines in an airplane, bodega, cellar, forest, garden, hospital, jail, museum, substation, tugboat, university, or war zone makes an intellectual and emotional difference. Thus, writers study these places and record their observations.
  • From Anyone — Writers know that all people contribute to their knowledge of natural phenomena, historical facts, human habits, cultural proclivities, speech patterns, and much more. They will want to note those unique discoveries. 
  • Over Anything — From the obvious seashells at the beach, bench in the park, and signposts on a commercial street to the less apparent bleeding a blister, threading a needle, or mooring a skiff, writers are ready to memorialize the moment.
In all these situations, writers carry their notebooks or recording devices to capture what they need to remember the next time they sit down.