I'm author and editor Holly M. Kothe. Thanks for stopping by my writing and review blog.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Writer's High (and) Find Your Following

How do you get high? And no, not in the junkie sense. (Boo drugs—unless otherwise responsibly prescribed by your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist). I mean creatively.

One way to get some creative fulfillment is to put together a killer Halloween costume by knowing how to sew or (how I do it) finding random things around the house that you own, forcing your boyfriend to be part of a couple's costume, and going to a friend's Halloween bash to show off the finished product, i.e.

  (Tha'ts me in the mask as my creative feminine interpretation of The Masque of the Red Death. The other guy, a black and white photo of Randy displaying his mad make-up skills as Poe).
Though I had my share of fun, now that this spooky, distracting holiday is over for another year, it's time to buckle down on writing fiction, with all its dips and twists.

For an aspiring writer trying to get published, that daily trek to ye ole' Yahoo or Gmail box or whatever we use can be a major event (or major snafu) in our day. It’s one thing to open the inbox and see you have nothing new from known contacts that you've submitted to. And that is the most likely occurence when you realize how busy and overworked and underpaid (or non-paid) these slush-pile slush puppies are. Average response times for a short story submission is one to three months. For a novel query or chapter submission, I’ve seen anywhere from weeks to six months to maybe even more, depending on how much of the manuscript you are sending.

When there IS that email from that publication I've been waiting to hear back from, the hopeful/pessimistic amateur author in me bounces off the metaphorical walls. I can’t even open those emails sometimes. Often, I have tried going on with my business, saving the opening of said email for a moment when I’m more emotionally prepared. And boy, do I need the preparation. This is an important moment as a writer. This is readership. Publication. Getting our heart and soul and words out there to affect dozens, possibly even multiple dozens of people! Possibly more, if we've hit upon a big cirulation.

The high of simply seeing that contact in my inbox makes my brain do backwards summersaults.
And what happens when that publisher is writing to ask permission to please publish my story?

Fireworks. Volcanoes. A mental orgasm of extreme proportion. Self-importance. Arrogance. Surprise and shock that I’ve duped some poor sap into accepting my work! This high lasts for days.

Then I want more.

Let’s not waste a moment dwelling on what happens when that email contains a standard, automated rejection. The affect is of an equal and opposite reaction. But I get enough of those, and I start to build up a shell. At least, I like to think I’ve built up a rejection shell. But then, well they just keep coming and coming. Then it goes from being desensitized to rejection to just plain wondering why I’m deluding myself into thinking that anyone would want to read my art. That’s the bad place. None of my personalities like to dwell there… Mwahahaha. Ha.

Another writer’s high: that moment when you're working completely alone, totally absorbed in a story, in the zone and not even thinking about whether anyone else will give you the satisfaction of publication or a good review, and just feeling the sheer excitement of actually liking what is coming out of you.
There are times when, as a writer, I know what I’m pulling out of my literary behind is no good. I’m writing it simply to get through it, and I hate it. That kind of crap just serves to push me until the good stuff starts to flow. Sometimes I come up with an idea or line of dialogue or description that just clicks (for me anyway). I love it, and maybe I’m biased because I am myself, but I am also my own worst critic, so if I’m liking what I’m writing at the moment, that’s saying something.

Sometimes I get those exciting mental starburst clouds simply from writing my own work. There's the rub. That’s where creativity is at.

Now, so far I’ve been coming from a place where a writer looks to someone else for publication in a specific webzine or print literary magazine. But what about this whole self-publishing business?

There was a time, some time ago, when I was pregnant and embarking on my first attempt at fiction, because for some reason, at the age of nineteen while housing a child in my womb, I suddenly felt like writing. It just so happened to be vampire fiction, a piece that never got published, but a piece that left a vicious and permanent mark from the quirky little writing bug. I went on to write my first novel and, in the days before Kindle’s existence, I looked my perfectionist, snooty nose down on self-publication.

But today, it seems something altogether different. It is big. Really big. E-publication is Out There. And so is the opportunity to become a creative self-starter. This is where Find Your Following comes into play.

Sounds kind of like I’m looking to lead a creepy cult, but no, I just want Readers. The writer is greedy for readers. We will post ourselves all over the place (as politely as possible) on the off-chance that someone will have the generosity in their heart to Click.

I am still on the verge of little to no following. That's OK. It is something that takes a lot of work, a lot of know-how, tons of nurturing. I figure I better write some more quality fiction before I get too heavily into that. But this website is part of it. Even right at this moment, I am publishing things that anyone on the WWW could see if they so choose (assuming they knew about it, which most of them don't). Blogspot and other places that support poor, penniless artists with free software to get our words out there offer a fantastic tool for writers and self-promoters.

I’ve come to see self-publication as a similar opportunity. It's far from giving up on a third-party agency and settling. It’s about believing in your work enough that you put it out there, tirelessly working for its promotion on sites like Amazon, Smashwords or Bookbaby. Some of these sites even offer free options and print on demand options. This is a whole new world. It’s a Brave New Publication World.

One cool site, http://www.greygeckopress.com/publishing/  that accepts submissions for ebook publication had some very note-worthy points to make about the state of the publishing world:

"The traditional publishing method is quickly becoming outdated. With only 400,000 books published every year out of the millions submitted, the traditional publisher has, for over a hundred years, been the gatekeeper, protecting the lowly reader from the detritus and worthless manuscripts that would otherwise overwhelm them.

No longer.

With the advent in 2007 of the Amazon Kindle, and in particular the Kindle Direct Publishing program, authors are no longer restricted to the old methods. No querying agents, waiting for the agents to sell the books to a publisher, and waiting for the publisher to print the books, a process that could take as long as 3 years, or never happen.

Now, the gatekeepers are the only ones that really matter: the readers themselves."
I will be considering Grey Geko Press when I submit in the near future. It kind of gives one hope. Though I’m a firm believer in print novels (I always will prefer curling up with a book in the tub over my laptop, because if I dropped that in the tub no one would be safe from my wrath). But I certainly am not against or above reading electronically. Especially for short stories, which are easy to read in one sitting.

Kind of sounds like we are in charge. We, the artist, the reader, are the gatekeepers. We are the music-makers, we are the dreamers of dreams, and so on and so forth as told in this poem by Arthur O'Shaughnessy, made famous by Gene Wilder in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

(I’ll be the first to admit that I only know about this poem because I first watched Willy Wonka as a child).

Enjoy, and interpret as you will.


We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashionempire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844-1881)






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