Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dandelions Blowing In the Wind, And Other Mundane Revelations of No Large Import

With summer coming,  as always I'll try to amp up my blogging frequency. I blog at least once a week over the school year, but over the summer I try to blog several times a week. Wish I could blog that much during the school year, but a lot of times it just isn't possible. 

Part of the issue, of course, is I have no idea  how many people actually READ this blog.  I try and disregard the stats, (because I don't want to get caught up in those sorts of things), so if I were to judge on comments alone, I'd say not many people ever stop by here. 

But I also know that's not necessarily true, just by the random comments I get from people over email or in person that go: "Hey, that was a nice blog you posted last week..." So I think a decent number of folks follow and read, they just don't comment much.

See, I've never  really been down with the idea of crafting these nifty little blogs with questions at the end specifically designed to stimulate readers into posting their opinions and comments. I don't know why. Some people are masters at this. I know folks who, by the strength of their topics alone, sometimes garner over hundreds of comments.

I just don't have it in me to do that. If I'm going to take the time to blog, it's going to be about stuff that matters to me, stuff I'm interested in, of course news about my writing, thoughts and plans  about the future, my concerns and fears and doubts, or ideas I'm threshing out or wrestling with. If people find that interesting, awesome.  I still don't think anyone has made ANY hard connection between sales and the types of things folks blog about.

BUT, in this new publishing age, a regular, consistently active presence on the 'Net  is important, and I'm more likely to be active if I blog about  stuff I'M interested in. If other folks want to come along for the ride, fabulous.

So, let's talk about dandelions.

Friday, Richard Wright posted a blog in his continuing series on making the freelance leap to writing full-time. In it, he clarified reasons for The 52, a short story project he's embarking on. He referenced the below speech by Neil Gaiman (which is awesome), about the necessity of writers/artists being dandelions, doing something - anything - to spread the seeds of their art over as wide a canvas as possible:

Basically, Neil Gaiman's point: the publishing industry is radically changing. And honestly, no one knows where it's going to end up. In such an industry, the best thing to do is....


Something interactive. Something fun. Something imaginative, something engaging, inspiring, something dear to your heart. It's important to make stuff. Make art. Make opportunities. Try everything, fail, and try something else. Print, digital, both, one or the either, traditional publishing, self publishing....Neil's advice is to, basically....

Try it all.

November 2013 will see the release of my first short story collection, Things Slip Through, through a traditional small press. I have a novel I'll be pitching to mid-list publishers soon. I have novellas at several other small presses, and the final installment of my serial novella, "And I Watered It, In Tears" will be featuring in the epub Lamplight Magazine, to be published in its entirety in their print Volume One at the end of the summer. I read submissions for a big horror magazine, and I have an ongoing podcast called Horror 101, (like the Facebook Page), studying the development of the horror genre at Tales to Terrify, the solo episodes of which I've been slowly posting to my YouTube Channel

I'm no Neil Gaiman, but hopefully, I'm blowing some seeds into the wind. Where they'll land I have no idea, or if they'll take root, or just get drowned out by all the other voices, but the more I can use the internet to  spread these seeds, the better, because what is becoming a greater and greater financial reality (especially as my wife prepares to finish her nursing degree), is that I won't be attending many Conventions in the future. 

But this is a new age, one that certainly hasn't made conventions obsolete...but maybe not as necessary as before. I reference self-publishing, FULL TIME WRITER Robert Swartwood. I'm not sure how many Cons he attends, or if he attends them at all. What I DO know is that he's turned self-publishing into a full-time gig, he's busy writing, and getting one of his novels, The Serial Killer's Wife, on the USA TODAY's Bestseller list.

So I've been tinkering and thinking for several months about doing something...different. I've made a Facebook page for the short story collection, and I'm grappling with how to utilize that. I haven't sent invitations and probably won't until the collection's release is imminent. 

But I want to USE the page for something. I don't want it just to offer another avenue for pimping my work, although pimping will go on, as a necessity. BUT, I want to OFFER something to those who 'Like' the page, something that my average Facebook friend won't get. There needs to be a REASON, a BENEFIT to Liking the page.

So I'm tinkering with something called The Shelf. It'll be a little like Richard Wright's "The 52." And I hope that not only will it spread my "seeds" but that it will also engage folks in a unique, communal story-telling experience. We'll see. If you want to know what's on The Shelf please "Like" the page.

In closing, talented author and blogger Mike Duran posted a blog recently musing about why we keep at it, what our reasons are for slugging it out, day after day, in this thing called "writing." I used to have a lot of "high-falutin" ideas about why I write, why I spend so much time at this. In the last two years, however, I've tossed a lot of those, refining it down to one simple thing: I really like writing.

I really like making stuff up.

And I want to have fun doing it.

Of course I want to advance my "career," conquer larger markets, move up the ladder. But once it stops becoming something I HUNGER to do every day...what's the point?

So, The Shelf.  Maybe it'll blow a lot of dandelion seeds that will spread and take root. Maybe not. Maybe it'll just be a learning experience, a kind of wistful failure.

BUT, I'm hoping to have fun with it.

And I hope you will too.