Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Writers Are Thankful For

I know, I know - I'm a little late with the whole Thanksgiving post.  However, I was enjoying stuffing my face with deep fried turkey, and a post on Thursday during the day would confuse people who aren't used to seeing me until Friday.  :-D

Anyway, instead of posting what I'm thankful for in my life, I thought I'd post what I'm thankful for as a writer, so here goes:

1.  A wild imagination.
An absolute must for a fiction writer, I'm blessed/cursed with an imagination that has led some to call me insane.  My mind will go  to some bizarre places if I let it, and I often let it.  I've found myself wandering through the galactic strings as humanity flees a berserker race of living machines, poking through Japan as detectives investigate a series of vampiric murders, and in front of the Throne of God as a tragic character confronts the Almighty over his life's circumstances.  These things in isolation might qualify me for the nut barn, but in totality they help springboard me towards a career as a professional writer.

Lots of folks say they have a good imagination.  Pardon me for being immodest, but most people are wrong.  There's a difference between "I can tell a good story around the campfire that I've heard a million times" and "Let me take you to a place you've never even thought of before."  Writers have to be part of the second group, and I'm thankful God has given me that gift.

2.  An ability to tell a story.
Second on the "must have" list for a writer.  A good imagination is a start, but the ability to translate it to the page is another.  Most of us pride ourselves on the ability to get our points across, and we cringe when we come across incoherence.

We play with words, arguing with ourselves over the best way to make someone understand our story, but we enjoy the struggle.  One of the greatest compliments I ever got on Salvation Day was when people told me they envisioned the story instead of just reading it.

3.  The boom of indie publishing.
Only five years ago, writers were at the mercy of both publishers and agents.  Lack of contacts and not finding the right agent on the right day made it difficult to break through.  Due to this, publishers exercised dictatorial control over contracts, virtually enslaving authors to those houses.  The rare one that could name his or her own terms, like Stephen King or JK Rowling, were the exception.  Most had to pray that they found success in the first month or two of release or their publisher would declare their book out of print and the writer couldn't get the rights back.

However, with the advent of things like the Amazon Kindle and print on demand, indie publishing has become a viable option for many looking to get their work in front of the public.  Such things have eliminated the middle man and even made agents approach obsolescence.  Success of books like Fifty Shades of Grey have allowed those who publish on their own to get mega deals from publishers who are coming around to a new way to introduce writers to the world.  It provides hope for lots of people shut out before, as well as creating hissy fits among those who view publishing as a kind of country club where only members should be allowed in, once they meet the standards of those already inside of course.

4.  Time to write.
This one is subjective and varies, but I'm thankful I can write for a little while each day.  It takes, on average, 30 minutes for me to do 1,000 words, and my wife is exceptionally patient in allowing me to do it.  I can block out distractions and get those stories out of my head and onto paper, freeing up my mind for other pursuits.

Yes, there are things that get in the way sometimes, but I can usually find 30 minutes in a day, even if it comes in spurts of ten minutes at a time.  I'm lucky that I can do this when a lot of others may not have that time.  My job, while demanding, isn't overly so - as it has been in the past - and my family, set to grow in the next few months, let's me get enough down on paper that I'm on the verge of finishing my second book within the past year.

5.  Readers.
Last, but certainly not least, I'm grateful for those who choose to read my stuff.  Yes, I would continue to write even if no one bought what I wrote, but having people willing to give my stories the time of day is what I may be most grateful for.  We writers sometimes have egos of crystal, and when folks take time out of their busy days to look at what we've put down, it's like the sweetest nectar out there.

I don't think I have ever, or ever will, turned down someone who has asked for material from me.  My response is usually that of a 9th grade virgin faced with the possibility of scoring, and I have to slow my eagerness to print out a piece.  Yes, I try to act all cool, but I'm usually jumping up and down on the inside.  I have yet to meet a writer who doesn't lunge at the opportunity to share his or her work, and I'm grateful for every person who has asked.  To those who've read my work, and to those who will in the future, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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