Let’s Talk About Writer Envy.

You  like  to think that you are a good person.You dont hate people or resent them, until  an acquaintance has a stroke of writing luck.

woman carrying im here you not plank on front of waterfalls
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

 

Until, someone  you know wins a contest, has a piece published, writes a book or simply seems to be everywhere . They  are on websites, giving interviews in magazines and book shops ,they are the next big thing and you tell yourself you are happy for them and you are. BUT…..

Not Quite So Happy?

You are shocked at how you feel.

But there is  voice in your head that isn’t quite so happy at all. An inner voice that  says  ‘but what about me?’ Eventually, you realise that you are suffering from writer envy. You want what he or she has got. You whine inwardly because it seems to have been so easy for them.

And because we are all good people, you don’t talk about it or mention it to anyone. Gradually,  you realise you are envious because what they have matters to you. If they were climbing mountains or being a successful investor, that wouldn’t cause you to envy them. But writing, that’s your thing, your passion.

Talking Writing with Writers

group of people sitting on sofa while discussing
Talking with trusted friends can provide support and answers

I recently brought this up in an online writer’s forum and most people were happy to acknowledge that yes, they felt it too. There was compassion and wise advice posted in the comments. Many adniited feeling the same. One piece of advice  was  ‘ be yourself- everyone  else is taken.’ Their is wisdom in that, we each have our own lived experience and perceptions. So we have a unique perspetive .

Taking it further Here is the dictionary definition of envy from dictionary,.com

Envy a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

Similar: jealousy enviousness covetousness desire resentment resentfulness bitterness discontent spite the green-eyed monster.

woman staring through window
Envy can leave us feeling stuck.

So, knowing we do feel envy ,what do we do about it? How do we use it creatively? How do we avoid bitter envy,  and don’t say or even think those things?

Envy+ Action.

Take action instead and use the feeling to spur you on. What did they do that you didn’t?

If they won a contest that you didn’t enter that might encourage you to enter next time. They submitted their work to a publisher while yours is still in a drawer. They got a lucky break, yes, but they were out there in the writing community .Being there,they met people, heard of opportunities.

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Go for walk , clear your head and brainstorm ideas,

Let envy encourage you to take action.  You may never sweep into a book talk with an entourage of publicist, bookseller and adoring fans as some succesful authors do. But rememeber that even the most successful writer began somewhere- with blank sheet of paper and in an idea.

 

How Much Does It Cost To Be A Writer?

If only this simple question had a equally simple answer. The answer is, it depends on what  sort of writer you want to be.

 

art materials blank business coffee
At its simplest pencils and notebook

At its simplest- you write, therefore you are a writer.

You can get away with a pen or pencil and a notebook or paper.

The costs are fairly minimal.

Perhaps you are more ambitious, you’d like to see your name in print, to be published somehow, so at a minimum you need the following.

Microsoft Word or it’s equivalent.

close up photo of black typewriter
These days you need more than a typewriter.

A computer or at least computer access. Internet connection or access to one

Depending on how you choose to submit you may need

Computer paper. Access to a printer, or your own printer.

Ink cartridges.

A  concentration of writers’?

More ambitious still? Ready to submit for publication.?

Membership of the relevant professional association for your genre of writing.

Subscription to a writing magazine.  Courses to improve your skills.

Convention attendance. Business cards,

Competition entries Blog start-up and hosting costs.

Writing group membership ( if applicable) Books on writing.

The list can  go on.What has been your biggest writing expense?

 

How much does it cost? A lot or a little ? That depends on how far you choose to take it.

 

What Is the Top Question That Authors Get Asked?         

 

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Photpgraph courtesy of Armadale Public Library.

I presented an author talk on Friday The Art of Publishing a Romance and it was lots of fun and I think the audience enjoyed it too.

Then we came to the questions and answer session and the first question was the one that all authors expect and at times dread.

‘Where do you get your ideas?’

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? If only we could say ‘well, I pop down to the ideas store and see what they have saved for me.’  Wouldn’t that be fabulous? A store of ideas curated just for you.

So how do you explain the creative process, or more specifcially ,your own creative process?

close up photography of eyeglasses near crumpled papers
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

 

For me it is partly research, looking at things that interest me, but equally it could be daydreaming..That aimless, letting your mind run free. It could be a tv program that I   watched ,or a snippet of conversation I  heard.

Ages ago I asked New York Time Bestselling author Natasha Lester a similar question.

‘How do you know you have enough of a topic to make a novel?’

Her reply really resonated with me.M/s Lester told me that she took two unrelated ideas and combined them. Four very successful books later, her latest being The Paris    Seamstress  AKA The Paris Orphan in the US I know she has a winning  formula.

It followed that advice when I combined ice dancing and Norway with a time slip romance with a Viking age past that led to my book Fire & Ice.

So, ideas need to permeate, they need to resonate and then suddenly you realise that you have the right idea and that you are eager to write.

 

 

 

 

Vanity Publishing- Writer Beware.

You may not have heard the term Vanity Publishers and they themselves don’t advertise as such, but they are out there and are a danger to both your self-esteem and your bank account.

 

A warning sign you should heed. Photo by Erica Nilsson

 What are vanity publishers and how do they differ from hybrid or assisted self – publishers?

Quality Control- is totally unselective with vanity publishers because their business model isn’t about the quality of your writing or its saleability. That doesn’t matter as a vanity publisher would happily publish your shopping list and tell you it was great if you paid them. They often approach you directly and you think you have hit gold. How do they find you?  Maybe you won a contest or signed up for a course or a newsletter.

Wrong way Neobrand
Don’t let it put you off course. Photo by NeOBRAND

I personally signed up for a free writing course, a week of writing prompts and interaction with the course leader. She was a personable and engaging personality. The course was interesting, and some exercises worked, but then the hard sell began. There was a contest for a mentoring spot. An ‘associate’ called me to say that unfortunately I’d not won, but I had placed high, and I had so much potential. They could offer me a spot at a reduced price of $3,500. I politely declined saying that while I was sure it was an excellent opportunity it was way out of my budget and comfort zone.

It didn’t end there. There were a couple more phone calls, a blend of flattery –‘you have so much going for you,’ to warnings, ‘time  is running out,’ and ‘we can’t hold a spot for you much longer.’ The price was reduced to $2000, and it was suggested that maybe I had savings or could take out a loan. Warning bells ringing loud and clear  I thanked them but still said ‘ no’.Their final call offered me the whole course for $ 397. They said it was bargain I couldn’t refuse. But I did refuse, and I haven’t heard from them since.

Austin Chan the sign you;'ve been looking for
Keep your wits about you! Photo by Austin Chan

This is the kind of intense pressure which encourages people to sign up with a vanity publisher. Vanity publishing is all about selling you, the writer, a service at inflated costs. As well as persuading you to buy tons of copies of your book. They don’t need to bother with marketing your book, because they made their money from you. Getting out and promoting the book is up to you. They may offer to put the book up on Amazon, but you can do that yourself if you self- published.

If you can, check out other books from the publisher, what’s the quality like? Also, be careful as their contract may take away your copyright and author rights. Buyer beware! Contact their authors and ask about their publishing experience.

The American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association keep an updated list of publishers to beware of- it doesn’t hurt to go online to check it. Even if you simply do an internet search for Vanity publishers you will find that a heap of names come up.

Hybrid and subsidised publishing are legitimate and do charge you for partial costs but as always you need to be careful and compare costings and even research the company name to check complaints about them.

As always if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! Save your dollars and your peace of mind by doing a little checking.

 

Is it A Love story Or A Romance?

 

Heartbreak ahead in a love story! Photo by Kerry Sikkema.

The classic definer of a love story is the film Love Story starring Ali Mc Graw and Ryan O’ Neal. It is based on the popular book by Erich Segal. It is a real tearjerker, with the beautiful young couple parted by death. It is a tragedy and almost all of the love stories considered great have sad or tragic endings.

Here are some examples taken from films and books. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, filmed and updated as West Side Story. Othello. More recently Iain Mc Ewan’s Atonement, John Green’s  The Fault in Our Stars.JoJo Moyes Me Before You, M.C Steadman’s The Light Between Oceans. And Cecelia Ahern’s  Ps. I Love you, and of course ,my all-time favourite Casablanca.

What can be more romantic than Paris?

Romances are different- they promise a reading experience or viewing experience that focuses primarily on the relationship between the couple or as Romance Writers of America says, “Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”

Or in simpler terms you are pretty much promised a happy ending and if not a happy ever after, at least the reader gets the happy for now ending.So if we know the ending why do we read romance?

We read for the journey, for the twists and turns of the relationship. A happy ending may be promised but getting there is half the fun. Who doesn’t love a flawed hero or heroine? Or beautiful couple too blind to see that they are destined for each other? Real-life can be dull and bland, but romances are exciting, sexy and fun. It’s far safer to have a fictional lover than a real one. Romance writers are endlessly inventive and contrive new ways for couples to meet and fall in love.

Romance from Unsplash

Examples of romances are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and of course, it’s spin off’s Bridget Jones’ s Diary by Helen Fielding and the films Pride and Prejudice and Bride and Prejudice as well as the Bridget Jones trilogy of films. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a great read and has been filmed several times The fairy tales Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.

Some romance movies are Romancing the Stone, Breakfast at Tiffany’s( but not the book which ends differently) Moonstruck, Brokeback Mountain( a guy to guy romance) Ella Enchanted and a real oldie but a goodie  It Happened One Night.Another of my favourite films Love Actually spans both genres as it has both love stories with sad ending and romances with happy ones.

Why do you read romance and who are your favourite authors? Let me know!

 

Are You Writing A Romance or a Love Story?

abstract analog art camera
Watching movies can provide inspiration.

Many people are unsure of the difference between a love story and a romance. So often what we think of as romances are actually love stories or stories with love story elements

I began to realise this when  I watched that great movie Casablanca, it has stood the test of time, and many people reference it as one of their favourite films. It was one of my parents and now it is one of mine. The film was made in 1942- when the outcome of the war was uncertain.it is often referred to as a romantic drama but in my opinion, it is a love story.

 

The dialogue is crisp and often witty, ( written mostly by the Epstein brothers) the music haunting ( As Time Goes By) but most of all its the way the story plays out that gets our pulses racing. Rick ( Humphrey Bogart)loves Ilsa,( Ingrid Bergman ) Ilsa loves Rick, they met in Paris the most romantic of cities.  Unknown to Rick  Ilsa is married to Victor Laszlo( Paul Henreid), a resistance leader, who she believes is dead. Rick waits for Ilsa at the Paris railway station as promised as the Germans enter Paris, but Ilsa never arrives. Rick escapes and ends up running a bar in Morocco. It’s a shady place where expats, smugglers, locals and Germans all socialise. Worldly wise and cynical Rick is shocked when Ilsa who is with Lazlo asks Sam to play ‘As time goes by’ a song Rick never wanted to hear again. He storms up to Sam and sees Ilsa. Laszlo and she are trying to get to Lisbon but need visas and Rick’s is the place to get them.

Morocco Vince Gx Unsplash
Morocco by Vince Gx.Unsplash.

 

Will Rick allow the woman he loves to leave again? Has she stopped loving him, was it all a lie? She wants to be with him, but Laszlo loves her too and would be devastated to lose her. After a night when Rick & Ilsa may or may not have got back together,(unclear thanks to US censorship at the time.) it’s up to the audience to decide. Will Rick and Ilsa be together as he has led her to believe? In the final scenes at the airport, Rick has the names Mr & Mrs Victor Laszlo written onto the visa. Will he walk off with Ilsa leaving Laszlo to his likely fate? He gives Laszlo the visas and tells Ilsa ‘We’ll always have Paris’ and that Laszlo and she are fighting for a much greater cause and if she left with Rick, she would always regret it.

silhouettes of couple kissing against sunset
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

With its bittersweet ending, Casablanca is a love story. If it was a romance the relationship of Rick and Ilsa would be centre stage  to the exclusion of all else and they would somehow end up ‘happily ever after.’

While the romantics might wish it, it would be a far less compelling piece of cinema and would not appeal to our higher natures in the same way.

While I would have loved to share images from the film I could not breach copyright. You can easily find them online anyway.

Other love stories are Wuthering Heights,  Romeo and Juliet, Gone with the Wind is historical drama with a love story element as is the film Titanic.

 

close up of tree against sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Currently, I am writing romance and romance comes with the promise of a ‘happily ever after’ or at least ‘ happy for now’. This isn’t to say that a romance cannot have problems and complexities, indeed it should, but to say that in a romantic story love must always triumph.

 

 

Could It Be ‘A Concentration of Writers?’

It was my turn to lead the writing group this week and I added an impromptu exercise asking the eleven members for suggestions what they might call a group of writers.

A’ concentration of writers’?

Here is what they came up with.

A turmoil of writers.        A frustration of writers.

A consolation of writers.    A genius of writers.

A vocabulary of writers.     A complication of writers.

A concentration of writers.  A conundrum of writers

A festival of writers.              A brainstorm of writers.

Missing connection with the wider world writing can be a lonely business.

A composition of writers.       A library of writers.

A compendium of writers.      A mind block of writers.

A quietness of writers.             A uniqueness of writers.

A hodgepodge of writers.         A glorious mystery of writers.

A conference of writers            A convergence of writers.

Do any speak to you?

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions.