Monday, January 7, 2013

Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves - The Writer Version

We’re starting a new year and that often means new goals. Resolutions. Promises we make to ourselves that crumble into the ether by the end of January. Forget declaring what we ARE going to do. Today, I’m talking about what we’re NOT going to do this year.

New Rule – No more negative talk!

Yes, we often refer to our first draft as the rough draft. Sometimes even the piece of shit draft. While writing it, we joke that we’re hurling poo against the page and seeing what sticks. I’m putting my foot down now.

No. More.

This does not mean our first draft will be perfect, but these manuscripts are our babies. Would you insult your child and then expect her to grow into a solid, well-adjusted human being? (If you answered yes here, you have bigger problems than trying to write a good book.)

There’s no way we’re going to love the story every day. Sometimes the words come easy. Sometimes they come hard. Sometimes trying to find the right words feels like shoving your earlobe through a meat grinder.

But I’m a firm believer that attitude makes a huge difference. Positivity breeds positivity. You get back what you put out, and that first draft has no reason to cooperate when we’re calling it a pile of doo doo.

A new year means a new attitude. Anyone caught speaking negatively about their story will face a virtual lashing. To say you’re struggling is fair. To say “This story sucks” is unacceptable.

This may sound like some new age mumbo jumbo, but if anyone should know that words matter, it’s a bunch of writers. No more insulting the work. No more talk of poo. No more negativity.

Anybody willing to take a vow? We’re all in this together. Here to support each other. I’ll be the first to say, if anyone catches me insulting my work, call me out. Remind me of this holier-than-thou blog and make me do ten laps around the ship. (Hypothetically speaking, of course. I don’t actually know how to swim. And, you know, this isn’t a real ship.)


quantum said...

I'm all for it ... but then I'm not writing books! LOL

Does this positivity thing also apply to readers? i.e. no critical comments in book reviews.
That's also OK. I can read between the lines. LOL

To make this stick I think that you need the power of enforceable rules.
I would suggest sub-contracting J D Robb (aka Nora Roberts) to administer public spankings on the plank.

She sure knows how to handle the baddies in her books so watch out! LOL

Donna Cummings said...

Hang on -- this isn't a real ship?! Don't tell me the hotties in my cabin aren't real either. *fingers in ears* Lalalala.

I think this is a great philosophy, and it's one I'm going to adopt. For one thing, I don't want your arm to get tired from lashing all of us. :) But I agree that our work deserves more kindness and respect from us. Especially if we want it to cooperate. LOL

Thanks for the timely reminder. I'm still not happy about that "not a real ship" thing though. #seemsrealtome

Marnee Bailey said...

*shamed face* I definitely know I do this. A lot.

It's not the MS I'm insulting. In fact, I don't think it's the MS's fault if I'm upset. Most of the time, I'm frustrated at my brain for getting me into whatever mess I'm in.

So, I'll jump on board. :) If I'm frustrated, I'll try to make sure I'm framing it where it needs to go. Because I also think sometimes venting the frustration allows you to name it and then work around it.

But, you're right. No need to take it out on the defenseless MS.

Terri Osburn said...

Does not extend to reviews, Q. Unless it's a review of your own book. Not that I encourage negativity in reviews, but this is more about standing up for our own work.

And I did consider putting in a punishment, but I'd rather encourage with "If your nice the book will cooperate" than "If you're bad you're getting your ass beat." LOL!

Terri Osburn said...

Yes, Donna, the cat's out of the bag. We are a metaphorical ship. And I could probably do metaphorical laps. LOL! But those hotties are totally real. Don't let anyone tell you differently!

I often worry my draft is not totally up to snuff, but the first draft isn't SUPPOSED to be up to snuff. It's the FIRST DRAFT. LOL! We must remember this.

Terri Osburn said...

No need to take it out on your brain or yourself either, Marn. You're both doing the best you can. :) I admit, sometimes (read: often) the words take coaxing. And that can get frustrating. Totally fair to say "I'm so frustrated with this!" It's all the expletives and name calling we put after the word "this" that I'm suggesting we reduce.

MsHellion said...

Hmmm. Well, clearly I'm an offender in this realm, and I do agree that positivity breeds more I guess I'll join the club.

But I have a feeling I'm going to do a LOT of metaphorical laps.

And I agree about reviews too. Though I think it's fair and honest to say, "This book didn't work for me for this reason, but it may work for others".

Marnee Bailey said...

It's all the expletives and name calling we put after the word "this" that I'm suggesting we reduce.

Fair enough. I can do that. :) Though I'll probably resort to the sort of under the breath mumbling I do as a parent. Sort of a "What the... Ga... F-ing...." LOL

Terri Osburn said...

Fair and honest is always good, Hellie. Unfortunately, many reviewers do not employ this philosophy.

Fair enough, Marn! My only resolution this year is to cut back on the expletives in all areas. I was doing pretty well until the weekend and then failed miserably. But I'm back on the fricken-fracken wagon today. ;)

MsHellion said...

I admit that when I go the Trashy Books site and they have a review where they trash a book I didn't care for, I get a little buzz from it. Like BOOYA! Then again, when they give my favorite author a C and don't love her as much as I do, I think they're on crack. So I get the appeal of making a REAL STATEMENT about something, you get real comments and real "discussion" but I'm not sure it's worth it. And I have had the shameful happening that I changed my mind about a book after reading it a second time--after I have denigrated it hither and yon. Just goes to show what may not work now may work later. *shrugs*

Not about that Daisy book though. I've still never brought myself to read that one, no matter how many people tell me it was great. *LOL*

Terri Osburn said...

You make me quite thankful I never read that Kleypas series. LOL!

I'm not sure trashing a book means you're making REAL statements about it. But so long as a review is clearly stated as an opinion and not fact, the reviewer gets to be totally honest. If it didn't work for you, then it didn't work for you. If you hated it with all the fires of hell, then you hated it.

But there's a difference between saying "I hated this book" and "This book is absolute shite." Because someone else loved that book and didn't think it was shite at all. Stating an opinion and stating fact are two different things.

Though I admit to declaring the Shades stuff as horrible without having read it. Simply on hearsay alone. We all have our prejudices. LOL!

MsHellion said...

Very true...and very true. *LOL* We all have our 50 Shades of Gray....*LOL*

Marnee Bailey said...

Oh, as one who started Shades and gave up on them, I'll say, "I hated those books." Okay, I didn't hate them, I was embarrassed by them.

Anonymous said...

I'm on board. I'm all for positive thinking. It's the only way I can make it through this life while smiling. So I'll take the vow and also encourage others to remain positive (and swear words free)!

I'm with you Terri. I haven't read the Shades series (or the Twilight series) and I don't think I ever will. I think they're a bunch of over bloated baloney.

Diana Greenroad

Terri Osburn said...

That does seem like the irony to me, Di. Shades is a set of books reportedly poorly written based on a set of books reportedly poorly written. And yet....biggest books of recent days. This is why we slam our head against the wall. LOL!

You are the queen of positivity, my dear. I have no doubt you can do it.

P. Kirby said...

Hmmm. Not trashing my own work is a challenge because it's such an ingrained habit. But...I agree; all that negativity isn't productive. I'm looking at you, internal editor.

As for reviews.... While I think my reviews, good and bad, of other people's work are well-reasoned, I'm not going out of my way to say, "This is just my opinion." I mean, duh, that's obvious. Reviews are not critiques. I'm not trying to help or inspire the author. I'm examining what did and didn't work for me and sometimes, when a book is a big fail, there will be blood on the floor. Sometimes I will unleash the mighty power of snark.

As for expletives, I vow to use them more and in more creative ways. I love to curse.

But, yeah, I'll give the "don't trash the draft" approach a try. If the punishment for slip ups is laps, I'm going to be lean as a greyhound.

Janga said...

My use of expletives is pretty limited, but I know I'm guilty a champion of negative comments when it comes to my own work. It's just so frustrating when the gap between what's in my head and what gets translated onto the page is the size of the Atlantic Ocean.

As a reviewer, I do better at focusing on the positives. I can tear a book up with the harshest of critics, but I save those comments for private discussions. But I think we should all remember that any review is just one person's opinion. That's true even when the reviewer comes across like Moses descending the mountain.

Maureen said...

But I never diss my work, I just diss me!

Okay, that probably isn't true, but it sounds good.

I can jump onto this pledge when it comes to what I state about my work, now what I feel about it is a bit more difficult, but I will endeavor to do better with that also.

Doubt is a kissing cousin who always has puckered lips.

Metaphoric ship? Not at all, it sails on the cyber seas, which are real!

I have to curse, I write pirates. It's expected of me.

As for reviews, the only thing I really do anymore when it comes to what I'm reading is rate on Goodreads and if I can't give a book 4-5 stars, I just don't put it up. Hell, if it isn't going that well, I probably just don't finish it!

I have limited time!

Terri Osburn said...

Pat - I totally get that breaking this habit will not be easy. But I think it'll be worth the effort. Perhaps you can kill the infernal IE with kindness.

As to reviews, the "understanding" they are always just someone's opinion does get lost in the tone of some. The ones that as Janga puts it, are delivered as if by Moses coming down from the mount.

I very much like Hellie's caveat of "This is why it didn't work for me, perhaps it will work for you." Then the reader can make up her own mind. When it is more "This book is the worst piece of trash ever written and if you read it you're an idiot just like the author" it feels a tad over-the-top. Ya know?

And here's to getting lean. I could certainly stand the exercise.

Terri Osburn said...

Janga, you are much harder on yourself than anyone I know when you're roughest writing is more eloquent than anything I could ever put on the page. But then you know how much you frustrate me. LOL! We've talked about it here before. What's on the page may not be EXACTLY what you had in your head, but the reader doesn't know that, and this does not mean that what's on the page isn't a great story well told.

Terri Osburn said...

Mo, that is not allowed either. No dissing the work OR yourself. That will get you lashes! And cursing in the work doesn't count. My current heroine curses up a storm. But those words are coming out of her mouth, not mine. ;)

Maureen said...

Uh huh. Sure. Tell yourself that it's Sid, not you.

Terri Osburn said...

Dude. Don't make me curse at you.

Terri Osburn said...

Just realized that new avatar thingy isn't very pirate looking, huh?

P. Kirby said...

"As for reviews, the only thing I really do anymore when it comes to what I'm reading is rate on Goodreads and if I can't give a book 4-5 stars, I just don't put it up."

My policy is that I don't post a review under 4-5 stars IF I know the author or if the book is through one of my publishers. Otherwise, it goes up, horns and all. But my Goodreads reviews are written primarily for an audience of one--Me. They are how I track my reading and remember my impressions of books (and what I read). I'm not caching them in diplomatic language because there's no point.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to be flaying the SF book I'm trying to read. It may go the DNF route. It's supposedly a space opera, but oh, boy, it's dense, dull and pretentious.

Loved a recent YA though, so that glowing review should offset my bad review karma. Not that I really care.

I don't read reviews of my own work, but I appreciate them all, even the bad reviews.

Maureen said...

If I felt strong enough to write a review, I'd go your route, Pat. Since all I'm doing is stars? Eh. If I were willing to really dissect why I don't like a book I think it would be different.

Maureen said...

Terri, I think I'm doing all your cursing for you.

You're welcome.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I'm going to give this my best shot but admit it's going to be super hard for me.

Maureen said...

What we need on this ship is a barrel full of nerf balls. Anytime a person disses themselves or their writing, they get pelted with nerf balls.

I'm actually going to incorporate that into my monthly RWA meetings. I'm the Pres. I can do it!

Terri Osburn said...

How do nerf balls hold up salt water and sand?