Stop Dreading the Dream: 4 reasons to keep writing

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If you want to experience every emotion in the space of a minute, just sign up to Twitter. It’s a place where writers can be abused, men can be accused, and a President can spread lies faster than any time in history. The #WritingCommunity on Twitter, though, is also a place for writers to find a support network… and one of the most supportive friends I’ve found is author Michele Sagan, who’s just been agented for her thriller, The Lies He Tells.

And it only took her twenty years. Continue reading

3 Reasons to Rewrite the Marginalized

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Women were known to fight in Medieval battles

It wasn’t long ago that academic medievalist and author, Adam D. Jones, shut down an argument by tweeting that women played much more prominent roles in medieval society than most of us realize. Despite that contribution to history, though, our fiction would have us believe that they spent their time languishing in locked-up towers, waiting for princes or knights to finally get off their horses for the rescue. Only recently have authors begun cladding medieval heroines in armour and chain, and some of those authors are copping more than a bit of flak for it in the often-hostile Twittiverse.

Jones says they’re right, though… and that’s the first reason for authors to rewrite what we think we know about minorities. Continue reading

Time for some Shopping

Christmas is over, so I’m off to do some shopping. I’ll never leave my chair, of course—the idea of going out to shop has become almost laughable—but there are a few books waiting for me to buy, a few more almost certain to be discovered, and an Android e-reader that supports enough apps to overcome even Amazon’s false Kindle barrier.

In other words, while I struggle to do any writing, I might as well do some reading.

NeverTooLateMy first stop is to pick up B. Lynn Goodwin’s newly released memoir, Never Too Late. If you’ve read any of Lynn’s articles, coaching or other missives over at Writer Advice, you’ll already know that her style will grip you, but that’s not what appeals to me most about the samples of this book. What appeals to me most is that it’s written by someone who remembers when meeting people had to be done without the help of billion-dollar apps, and when the photos that strangers saw of you were too expensive to be reposed or retouched. It’s written by someone who understands that the person in our mirror may not be the person we remember being, and that Craig’s List may be as brave a foray as some are willing to make into social media. It’s written by someone who’s learned that humanity is a fleeting treasure.

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Who are we Fooling? …Choosing Simplicity over Style.

April Fool’s, everyone!

fools-hatYes, I know it was last week; my mind hasn’t been that addled by free time and hard drives full of media. Last week, you might remember, is when I pulled my very first WordPress prank, by posting the ‘lyrics’ to the old Meow Mix commercial, and suggesting it might be literature. I then tweeted about it—twice, like I do for every other post—and invited the world to view it. I crossed my fingers, hoping that the world wouldn’t: hoping, despite myself, that world would prefer rich human debate over literary trends to the image of a long-deceased mouser lip-syncing one word.

Guess what? The world likes the cat better.

According to my stats, the singing tabby got more views than my last two editorial posts: one exploring publishing trends, and the other lamenting what the loss of Dana Plato could mean to writers. Continue reading

Constant Change

I apologize if you’ve seen this already. I posted it yesterday as a guest-post on Cow Pasture Chronicles. It’s another attempt to express what has been troubling me about the friction between creativity and social media, and so important to me that I decided I need it here, too. I hope Sheila doesn’t mind. 

oceanThe ocean is constantly changing.

It churns millions of gallons between continents every year, and each cupful of water on one beach could well have visited another. Enslaved to tidal forces even greater than itself, movement and change are essential to the ocean; they keep the life underneath it thriving, and sculpt the land between it. A still ocean, one imagines, would surely herald a dying world.

Of course, the ocean isn’t all that changes. Timber wheels evolve into rockets so powerful that they break the force of the very gravity holding that ocean here, so that we can watch a privileged few explore the distant force of those tides. Literature changes, from just a few men being watched playing women on a small wooden stage, to women directing masterpieces that are watched on screens worldwide. And communication changes, too, perhaps most of all; a single letter that was once an act of true devotion is now a daily expectation, to be read and discarded with a swipe.

All the while, the ocean keeps churning Continue reading

Humbled by Blogspace High

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Who could ever ignore this guy?

With my previous post attracting exactly one visitor, my doubts about the purpose of blogging have reached overdrive. I know what publishers and agents say that the purpose is: to motivate them by making myself pre-famous (thus rendering their services moot). While it is always nice to see Tanya Cliff, having her make the only visit to one of my most heartfelt and soul-baring posts is making me feel rejected by more than just those agents. I’m feeling rejected by the process of blogging itself.

In fact, blogging is starting to remind me a lot of High School. Continue reading

Hail to the Tweet

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Grabbing America by the Tweetie.

After nearly two weeks blogging, I am becoming epiphany-weary. Over and over, I learn emotionally something I have known about the world for years now, but only intellectually.

My most recent epiphany is that the leader of the free world is no longer a man (or a woman, for that matter.) Just as Orange has become the New Black, so have software apps nearly become a replacement for our nations… and the borders are stricter than ever. As simple a matter as it might be to emigrate to the United Walls of Facebook, those who claim residency there are becoming as blind to rich diversity as any first-world country has ever been.

Here’s the thing: I became a WordPress denizen for a reason. This was a place, I believed, where ideas of a less, um… abbreviated nature could be shared with like-minded others. In my case, I was (and still am) excited by the prospect of refining my process as an author through feedback from other authors, and, while this exchange has begun, I must confess that I am distraught by a recent incursion across our national borders by some citizens of Faceboknia.

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The Nouveau Meek

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How can anyone remain meek, once they’ve inherited the Earth?

I had a debate with a Jehovah’s Witness, recently. He had come to my door to reassure me of the scripture promising us that the meek shall inherit the Earth. When I suggested that this may have already happened–that those who were once meek may now be too powerful to recognize–the question arose as to what has happened to those who once held that power. If they are now meek, that promise of inheriting the Earth may be stuck in an infinite loop.

While the argument was successful to the extent that it sent the young man packing, it still resonates in my mind days later. It brings to mind a time when authors could only reach an audience if they first knew the magical incantation needed to attract a publisher’s attention. Most authors were, almost by definition, about as ‘meek’ as one can get. As technology has progressed, we are witnessing a democratisation of authoring: an ability to claim at least some kind of audience by simply logging into WordPress and blathering away, regardless of what some old mothballed ‘publisher’ might think.

Surely, this is something to celebrate… but is it also something to fear?

Continue reading

Unpublished is the New Published

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It’s been an interesting journey attempting to join the ranks of “published authors,” and I take this next step with even greater interest. Today, apparently, I become a blogger.

I’ll confess it: my spanking new blog is a direct response to publishers and agents who insist that I have a ‘social media presence.’ Charitably ignoring the oxymoron in this phrase, I’m told, by those who ought to know, that a ‘social media presence’ is more important on a new author’s resume than even the achievement of being published. Let’s take a moment to contemplate this: has writing become more about blogging and tweeting than it has about the actual development of novels and short stories?

If this is so, then it holds implications for the canon. A stanza of Wordsworth might be shrill enough for a tweet, and one might pin with interest some photos from a production of Gatsby. Where, though, does this leave the works of John Updike or William Shakespeare? Would J.K. Rowling, even, have been able to adjust her expanding tomes to the rush we might now place on her writing samples, before we move on to watch a skateboarding cat?

Of course, technology has provided opportunities to streamline the process of submission and publication (or, one might say, rejection). My degree in Computer Science had me appreciating, long before my peers, the ability to format a submission onto an online form or into an email message. Receiving feedback within weeks–some of which is very helpful–beats the heck out of the days that authors would find crumpled letters in the mail about projects they’d already forgotten. It is a different world, though, when technology stops saving us time in the conveyance of our writing, and starts demanding that we spend that time writing much shorter chunks of something else entirely.

Still, here I am, more than game to try my first blog post and see where it leads. Like any first piece, a first post deserves a unique angle, and I am happy with the irony in this one: I am happy, that is, to blog my objections about the necessity of blogging. I can only hope that there are a few authors out there who feel the same way; if not, then who is left to spend their time writing fiction?

So, to the publishers and agents who aren’t reading my new blog, I say this: Shame on you. Shame on you not for discarding all but the most saleable submissions into your slush pile, because that is an industrial necessity. Shame on you not for passing over submissions without corresponding, because your time leaves you no choice. Shame on you, rather, for basing so many of your decisions on how often your authors float their opinions, cramming their abbrevs into a tagline. You are the guardians of deep communication: the last line of defence against the temptations of fleeting thought and lazy grammar. Without you on the side of our words, our words will be lost.

On the other hand, if you are reading my blog, well… I’ve written some novels you might like to read when your ISP goes down.

Oh, and also: you’ve found my social media presence.

Check out my Projects And Samples menu for samples of fiction by K. Alan Leitch, both here and on websites where it has won some awards.