Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Writing is my Business

I saw a Facebook post this morning where an author said they don't want to be told what to do anymore and that she would do what she wanted to do (or something like that). I'm not really sure what this was about, but the posts that followed that one made it look like her comment had something to do with book reviews or being told how/what to write.

Here's my take: In writing, there is a formula. You either follow that formula or you don't. Those who follow it have a greater chance of success than those who don't, so why not follow it and improve your earning potential? Reviewers help you zero in on that formula, because, like it or not, reviewers have the power to influence who buys your book and WILL follow the formula, even if you (the author, in this case) don't.

Yes, the writing formula works on the reading end, too. The readers dictated the formula, after all. The readers are the ones who said they like happy endings over sad ones. The reader likes seeing the characters overcome obstacles to reach their objective. The readers like strong characters who jump off the page instead of ones that are weak and flimsy. The readers like alpha males and strong-headed females. The readers like angst, conflict, tension, adversity, and a whole host of other things. So, if you deviate from what readers want (the formula), you risk not having any readers.

If an author doesn't understand this, they don't understand their business. And writing is my business. I'd better understand it and work hard to learn all I can about it, or I will sink in a sea of authors willing to give readers what they want. And like any business, you have to give the customer what they want or they will go elsewhere to find it.

Happy writing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Are We Really Connected?

In a world where connecting with others is a click away, we're more disconnected than ever. Somewhere in the midst of all this connectivity and technology that puts people halfway around the world at our fingertips, we forgot how to be socially responsible. We have forgotten good manners. We have stopped thinking before we speak, er, post/type/text. We have forgotten to say, "I'm sorry," when we've offended or upset someone. Instead, we simply say, "If they don't like it, they can unfriend me," or, "If they don't want to see it, just ignore it."

Granted, there are times when that is the answer, and I know that. But when someone says that to shirk their responsibility for bad social behavior or to rid themselves of the guilt over upsetting someone, that's when it's problematic. If you've done something wrong and offended someone (and you'll know when this happens), own it and apologize.

Better yet, start thinking before you post/text/type. You've got a lot of friends on that Facebook friend list, and you don't know the details about their personal lives. Don't post a picture depicting rape, because you might have a friend on your list who has been raped and will find that disturbing and upsetting. Don't post naked pictures of yourself, because your boss might see it. Don't post an infected abscess, because someone might be eating lunch and you just made them 1) lose their appetite or 2) throw up.

And if you do post something thoughtless like this, under the guise of entertainment, and someone speaks up and expresses that it bothers them, don't blame them for being the problem. APOLOGIZE to them and remove the offensive picture. But always apologize. 9 out of 10 people who are bothered won't say anything, you should respect the 1 out of 10 who had the balls to speak up. Hell, you should thank that 1 person for pointing out your faux pas and giving you an opportunity to correct your insensitive misstep. Unfortunately, what usually happens is a bash-session against the speaker-outer, and that's too bad.

Oh well, the lesson ultimately is to think before you post. Understandably, this socially networked world we now live in has dictated a new way of behaving. Some of it's good, some of it's not so good. But good manners shouldn't be tossed out the window. What some enjoy in the privacy of their own Facebook wall should stay just that, private. It doesn't need to be shared in more public domains. I find it ironic that someone will say that the subjects of farting and peeing are TMI, but then accept the posting of a graphically pornographic picture of rape.

I'm no prude, but where have our priorities gone? Apparently out the window with good manners, common sense...and the voice-to-voice conversation.