Post Number: 99
|Posted on Friday, December 19, 2008 - 01:21 pm: |
I am constantly receiving daily emails from people who want to become writers and ask for my guidance on how to start. That is a very vague question and my response is generally the same. The only way to become a writer is to sit down and do it. Writing is a solitary process and no two people have the same exact journey on their path to achieving their dreams. Writing should be about passion, the love of the craft, and the love of reading. It amazes when I hear that some writers do not read. Stephen King touched upon that in his book “On Writing.” If you never read, how do you know what good writing is comprised of?
My love of reading started very young and has never wavered. That is why I love publishing just as much, if not more, than writing. What writing should not be about is financial gain. Most writers will never become rich—not when it comes to money—but they can become rich when it comes to self-fulfillment. Like musicians, painters, poets, and everyone else creative, the majority of them never achieve wealth from doing what they love to do but it is still worth it. So for those of you counting royalty checks before you even finish your first manuscript or trying to figure out how big of an advance a publisher might give you, odds are that you will not succeed in this business.
There are definitely ways to benefit from other writers. One way is to share concepts, ideas, and to support the efforts of one another. The second you start comparing yourself to another, or believing that you are better than another, that is when you are setting yourself up for a rude awakening. The fact of the matter is that it is not up to you to determine how good you are. Ultimately it will be up to the people presented with your work—readers. People have different preferences and your style of writing may or may not be one of them. I have never proclaimed that my writing was for everybody. In fact, I know it is not. But I do have my readership and I have never shoved a book in someone’s hand or begged them to purchase a book. They have made a choice to read my work, just like the thousands of open-minded people who have decided to join PlanetZane.net since its launch less than ten days ago.
When I write, I do not think about what people expect from me as a writer. I write today for the same reasons that I wrote twelve years ago—three years before I even put out a book. I write because I love it. I go into a zone with just me, my characters, and my imagination and I self-entertain. It is a blessing that others are entertained by my writing as well, but even though I have sold millions of books, some people are still proclaiming that it is all a fluke. Their measure of my talent is meaningless and no matter how many bad articles or blogs, it has not had a negative effect on my success. In fact, I would argue that it has helped it. Controversy sells so I am actually grateful for the naysayers who spew negativity about me. It makes them look silly and they do not even realize it. It also makes people wonder what kind of writing could spark such hostility. For the other writers who claim that my works are trash, all I can say is this: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.
I am so excited to be alive in this day and time, where the opportunities for writers of color are better than ever. I am so pleased to see so many people working together to achieve their dreams. That is one of the reasons why I started the online social network for writers at www.readers.ning.com. So that writers-both published and unpublished-can vibe together and work together to make sure that the literary industry does not die.
I have no ill-feelings toward ANY author and if someone implies that, believe that it is some one-sided imaginary drama. There are those that I do not have dealings with, because nothing positive can come from the experience but I have nothing against them and wish them the best with their careers. I am not in competition with anyone because I do not consider my path to be like anyone else’s. I am not one to follow in someone’s footsteps but to make my own path and leave a trail.
There are no big I’s and little U’s in this business. If I was all about me, I would not be publishing 36-60 books yearly by other authors. I would be chilling in my house writing day and night instead of going into an office and shuffling through thousands of submissions yearly and acquiring books. I would be working on a book right now instead typing this in hopes of encouraging those who seek to become published authors.
I even had one woman email me on MySpace to try to squash some beef. Not only did I not know about the beef, I had never even heard of her. People have tried to use some delusional animosity between me and them to forward their careers. It has yet to work, nor will it ever work. I encourage all of you not to allow any negativity into your personal space. I live my life—both public and private—that way. I only engage in dialogue with positive, proactive, and encouraging people. You should do the same. It is so easy to ignore people, especially if their only way to reach out to you is via the Internet. A lot of people get caught up in drama with people over the computer. Honestly, it is so easy to press the delete button or sign off and do something productive. Time waits for no one and the same time and energy people spend on nonsense and negativity can be better utilized trying to accomplish something. I cannot count the number of people that I have witnessed shoot themselves in the foot in this business. I feel sorry for them but no one can control the choices of another.
So to those of you who want to become writers, listen up. The only limitations that exist in life are in your mind—that goes for your aspirations to become a published author and anything else. No one can tell me that I cannot achieve anything that is humanly possible. No one can tell me that I should not be doing what I love doing. Ultimately, talent will only take you so far. A lot of it is fate, timing, and determination. Completing a manuscript is often the easiest part, for once your work is put into print, then you have to transform from being a writer to an author.
A writer sits in front of a computer or a writing tablet and lets his or her words flow. An author has to convince people to purchase their books, based upon the impression that they have something to say. That should be done by being humble, being approachable, and being sincere. It is not done by talking negatively about other authors, or by acting like you are better than others. It is not done by blaming someone else for your lack of success. Why would you even want to insinuate that another human being could have that type of control over your life?
When you do a book signing, if someone wants to take photos, do it. If someone shows up with a shopping bag full of books and does not even purchase one that day, sign all of them. If there are five hundred people in line and your signing ends up running an hour overtime, spend a moment with every single person in that line. Why? Because you should appreciate the fact that they even came to your signing, that they even read your work, and that they think enough of you to want to speak with you or get your autograph.
An author communicates with their readers on a daily basis. I will not lie. It is not always easy to check the email boxes on Eroticanoir.com, PlanetZane.net, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, AOL, Simon and Schuster, Gmail, Black Planet, and Readers.ning.com. There are days that I have received up to 8,000 emails in a single day—no joke. But you know what? I love and appreciate each and every one of them because it means that someone was thinking of me enough to reach out to me. The thousands of advice emails that I receive monthly are especially important to me. To realize that the people who reach out to me are in some of the darkest and most depressing stages of their life and trust my opinion enough to ask for it is overwhelming. I feel their pain, I understand their situations, and the confusion and lack of communication when it comes to relationships is one of the main reasons why I chose to follow the path that I did.
Just make sure that whatever you write about comes from the heart. A great place to start when it comes to writing is with a person, a place, or an event that has had a lasting effect on you. Whether that be a parent who was not there for you or was your pillar of strength, a childhood experience that caused you great joy or pain, a past lover who left a lasting impression on you, a grandparent who meant the world to you but has passed on, or a traumatic experience that you have never gotten over. My books are really not about sex at all, despite what people think. Neither is my Cinemax series, which, by the way, has had excellent ratings every single week. My writing is about life. My characters are real to me and they are all different. I wish that it were possible to have a “family reunion” and break bread with Zoe and Jason from Addicted, Rayne and Yardley from Afterburn, Jonquinette from Nervous, Bryce, Harmony and Lucky from Shame on it All, and Harmony and Geren from The Heat Seekers. Then Chico and Tomalis from Skyscraper can fall into the party late, right before Robier from Love is Never Painless arrives with his new wife.
Writing should be about fun. It should be about self-discovery and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, that is what life should be about. So my biggest suggestion is to not take things so seriously. Ultimately what is for you will be for you and it is up to a higher power—the only true power—to determine what life has in store for all of us. Grab a glass of wine, water, or coffee, get comfortable at your desk or with your laptop on your bed, and escape. That is the greatest pleasure when it comes to writing; being in your zone.