Both of the posts this week, Dave Freer’s and Amanda Green’s are about not fully being able to anticipate the future. I thought about them both when we drove past our old neighborhood and I realized the college is expanding dorms massively, now within a block of our old house.
All well and good, and my kids’ college, which is different is doing the same. Expanding the dorms, making them spiffier, adding to the on site facilities, etc.
At the same time, tech marches on, and as usual, marches in directions that makes these dorms and facilities a supremely stupid “investment.”
It reminds me of five years ago, when, in the first flush of selling ebooks, and frankly not accounting for them too well, all the NY publishers were expanding their quarters, and getting spiffier buildings. Now they’re firing authors.
The truth is that Education might think it’s immune to the tech stick, because governmental loans have made them fat and sassy, and who will trust an internet educational certificate?
But you know, the change is already in the wind. The same way that trad publishers made the indie revolution easier by having this idea they could push taste onto their readers, instead of treating them like customers to be wooed, the traditional educational system is cooperating in its own demise by pouring out totally useless graduates, or worse, those who have been actively poisoned against the culture that shelters them.
When things change, they will change rapidly and terribly, as they did for publishing.
Six years ago I thought I was too late to the indie revolution. And nowadays I live in fear of not catching up to change fast enough. Other indies and I discuss options all the time. And sometimes things still blindside us.
In this environment it doesn’t do to be too confident, or to get set in a rut. And not JUST on how to market. How to write too. It helps to scope out the competition and “spontaneous hits.” (That means those that don’t have push and money behind them.)
Not that you should write what other people write, but you should be aware what is selling, and what style it is, so you know what to do.
One of the things that is important to do, as it’s been borne upon me in the course of my (argh) starting to be long career is to have what Kris Rusch called “as many tools in your toolbox as possible.”
All of us have restrictions, and some of them are internal. Currently, for various reasons, I’m writing a book I’d never write on my own. Its structure is not something I would ever conceive of on my own, though I’ve read and enjoyed books like it. I think I can do it, and hope so, since other people are depending on me, but it’s so new that everything feels “odd”.
Because your first time at everything will feel odd, better to try everything before it’s crucial. Er… everything in writing. Step down from the ledge. You only die once.
A lot of your internal stopping points are false ones. There was a time I couldn’t write female characters. This wasn’t exactly true but I couldn’t write female characters that made sense to Americans. (I could write other ethnicities fine.) However, I wrote Athena, and then I figured out how to write other people. Kyrie didn’t even feel hard to write.
I’m still working on writing action, but I can see the time coming when it’s natural.
A lot of our stopping points are lack of practice. Others will always stop us cold. For instance, I can’t write sex. Not because I’m prudish, but because I’m not a voyeur. Described sex holds me out and bores me, whether I’m reading it or writing it.
So, include some writing stretching exercises in your routine. Take a day a week, say, to write something that “doesn’t count” like, say, a short story, or a chapter of a story you’re not sure you’ll ever write.
Try a pov you’ve never written. Try a genre you’ve never written. Try a style you’ve never written.
Give it a whirl. You might discover it’s not your thing. Or you might add it to your core competency and enlarge your toolbox, the better to face the future with.