This week I am hosting fellow writer, Faye Ling, who is new to the online world, and blogging in particular. Blackmail is such a dirty word, so let’s just say I owed her a few favours that she recently called in, and so today I ‘ve been forced to offer her this opportunity to try her hand at blogging. She is outspoken, often controversial, and takes no prisoners. Before I nervously hand over to my first guest blogger, I feel the need to issue a disclaimer:
EDITORIAL NOTE FROM T. JAMES: The views expressed in the following guest post are entirely those of its author, Miss Faye Ling. I have given editorial control to Faye for the purposes of this post. Except for her use of expletives, which I have edited, I take no responsibility for the opinions she expresses, or the way in which she chooses to express them. The words are entirely hers and in no way reflect my own beliefs or opinions. After some negotiation, I also managed to get Faye to agree to issue the following statement (although she has paraphrased my original wording):
“T. James has insisted that I say up front that I had no one in particular in mind when I wrote this post. I mean, I can think of several people this post applies to, but for some reason T. James has refused to introduce me to anyone he knows online, so obviously I’m not thinking of any of you. But because the hard-of-thinking assume that any negative generalisation somehow applies to them as an individual, any offense taken is completely the fault of the idiot choosing to be offended. Go and get some therapy for your low self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem and you aren’t prepared to embrace the darkside, do not read this post. If you’ve had a sense-of-humour bypass in the last twelve months, do not read this post. In fact, it is probably just better for you if you do not read this post.”
On that sobering note, I shall hand over to Faye for the post proper:
Writing: How to Cope, by Faye Ling.
Your writing ‘career’ is either a none-starter, or is bombing. You have no agent, no publisher, and any self-published work is sliding down the Amazon rankings faster than a buttered rhino down a dancing pole. So, how do you handle it?
Too many writers waste time reading ‘have faith in yourself’ blog posts—putting faith in yourself is stupid. You aren’t God, or even Ghandi; you are an inadequate, weak, feckless human. You can’t write: your plots are inane and illogical; your characters are superficial and Too Stupid To Live; your pacing is either erratic or glacial, and Animal of the Muppets has a greater grip on the art of description. In short, the inescapable reality is, you suck.
Awwww. Are you feeling Offended? That’s just denial talking. Sad? Can’t figure a way out all on your lonesome? You are pathetic, but don’t worry, Mummy is here to help you deal with the harsh realities of the writing life. What you need is an approach that is completely new, yet has been successful since the beginning of eternity— something profoundly simple, yet powerfully diverse in its application. Not some huggy do-gooder lovey bolt-on <deleted>, or wishy-washy ‘happy days’ schmaltz, but something so quintessentially human that it actually works. You need to delude yourself; it is the only way to happiness and self-contentment.
This it’s-so-obvious-so-how-come-everyone-has-missed-it revelation came to me as I watched my first book disappear into the cesspit at the bottom of the Amazon rankings. Was I tempted toward despair, sadness, or to use it as a spur toward greater achievements? Oh, how we do like to project our own failings, petty insecurities, and ideologies onto others, don’t we? Readers are <deleted> proles. They don’t appreciate your work? Erase the art you created. Remove it from their grubby hands. It’s their loss. I digress (look it up). What you need is a new way of looking at the facts of your situation—accept ‘delusional’ is not a dirty word, it’s the typical state of your average human being. The revelation to take hold of is focus—pick a delusion that is relevant to your situation.
How do you put this into practice? I can see I am going to have to do everything for you. Accept that you, your writing, and your ‘career’ (ha ha) suck. When you’ve embraced how truly <deleted> you are, accept the delusion that obscurity and failure don’t matter. Don’t look at me that way. It’s so easy even you can do it. Just fill your head with the following solid gold revelations (I ought to be charging you. I’m not. So the catch is, you have to buy a copy of my next five books. Yes, I said five. This <deleted> will change your life. You should be paying in blood).
1) Obscurity brings freedom from ties. Forget about achieving a loyal reader base. A loyal reader base places expectations on an author. They will push their own selfish wishes at you: make a particular genre choice, please complete the trilogy you started, please don’t kill off Beloved Characters X just because you’ve become bored writing them. In short, loyal readers are petulant hangers-on without the creativity to invent anything for themselves. Ditch them, they hamper a writer’s creativity and spontaneity.
2) Obscurity puts you in control. Ignore all deadlines. You want no time constraints. An agent or publisher always wants the latest edit yesterday, or preferably the day-before-yesterday if you aren’t a platinum selling A-list author. Readers want the sequel to be available on the same day they finished the first book. You need to wake up to the fact publishers, agents and readers are all philistines with no real appreciation for the artistic process. Ignore them with impunity, and set your own pace. If readers have to wait for your work, it means they have longer to whip themselves and their online friends into a needy frenzy on their forums, Facebook and Twitter. Remember, you are taking them away from their mundane little lives, and that gives you the power. As for <deleted> agents and publishers—they are squid—merciless, grasping and cold blooded. They will flash their pathetic threat warnings at you when you don’t tow their line. Just remember, they are what they are because they have no talent, and thus they possess a hidden awe for what you can achieve with words. Use this, threaten them and they will back down.
3) Obscurity protects your inadequate self-esteem. If readers and critics aren’t reading your book because it’s scraping the fetid bottom of the deepest slush pile, or it has slid down the online sales rankings faster than <deleted> off a shovel, then negative reviews are a thing of the past. Those who can’t write, critique; those who can’t imagine for themselves, read. Neither of these groups of limited individuals will get under your skin ever again. But you shouldn’t need reminding of this: cynicism should have become the shield for your vulnerable self-esteem years ago. Fortunately for the slow learners out there, I am here to coddle your anaemic little butts. Remember, in recognition and fame lies only heartbreak. Nobody cares, embrace it.
4) Obscurity brings the freedom to express yourself. You no longer need to care about political correctness, having regard for other’s feelings, or anything else that gets in the way of your natural selfishness and narcissism. If no one has any interest in your opinions, you are free to voice them as loudly and obnoxiously as you wish. Embrace this truism: in me-world my expressed opinions are always the most relevant, pertinent, and factually correct. Everyone else is prone to error, and histrionics when their errors are pointed out to them.
5) Obscurity gives you dignity. Amazon sales ranks are recorded like this, “Amazon Sales Rank: XXXXXXX”. For the uninitiated, the traditional view is that the lower XXXXXXX is, the better—this is a load of hairy-man-spheres. The higher the number after your book’s Amazon sales ranking, the better. Amazon sales ranks have nothing to do with the quality or brilliance of your writing; it is a rating system that measures an author’s desperation and how pathetic they are. Every author with a lower number in the rankings than you is simply needier, and has spent more time prostituting themselves in a pathetic begging attempt for attention. Like the annoying puppy that constantly bounces up and down yipping, “Pet me! Pet me!” they desperately schmooze: rolling on their backs for reader tummy strokes and stick-fetching for book critics and bloggers: “Of course I don’t mind re-formatting my entire book just so you can review it. No, really, it’s absolutely no trouble.” “Of course I don’t mind spending hours every day sending out inane Tweets and puerile Facebook updates just to get you to buy my mediocre book.” Remember people, big numbers in those sales rankings mean you are not as sad as they are. You have kept your dignity.
6) Obscurity saves time wasted on wannabe whiners. The sad wannabes go to the popular and successful writers for support. If you are a popular writer then everyone who writes in your genre is going to be emailing, Tweeting, FaceBooking and foruming you for advice. How are you supposed to write anything if you are constantly helping everyone else? Writing is supposed to be a solitary activity. The wannabes should go away, lock themselves in their own rooms, and go write something instead of asking the great and the good how to do it. But, as you are unknown, this is not your problem—you can leave the spewing of the inane <deleted> that passes for advice to the do-gooding altruist types.
7) Obscurity saves you travel. No conferences. You do not have to associate with the great-unwashed masses. No inane questions. No personal contact. Why do readers insist on talking to writers? Just read the <deleted> book. If writers were social people and wanted to come over all friendly with complete strangers, they’d become politicians, actors or dinner ladies. I write, by myself, in a small room with a closed and preferably locked door. It’s what writers do. If you want to be a proper writer, you should too.
8a) Obscurity saves you <deleted> away your time. No readings. What the <deleted> are they for? Writers read their own book to a group of people who have already read the book to themselves, or are going to read it to themselves in the next few days. Readers travel miles to come and hear a few paragraphs just because it’s read by the person who wrote it. Are they still in kindergarten? Last time I did stories with teacher I was seven. I am a <deleted> writer, not an orator, after dinner speaker, or an audio book. Don’t become a performing seal just because these illiterates can’t string more than three letters together for themselves. Instead, milk their stupidity and sell them the audio book for lots and lots of cash. It will be recorded by someone who has voice-over talent. I am utterly convinced that Julie Andrews will agree to do every book I ever write, simply for the prestige.
8b) Obscurity saves you <deleted> away your time. No book signings. Why does your defacing of a reader’s pristine, mint copy of your unadulterated book with your scrawled signature carry any emotional significance for them? You are unknown, so it won’t. Therefore, you are free of this onerous obligation. If it carries significance for you as a writer, then I can only assume you are shallow, vain, or a pathological defacer of others belongings.
I believe I have satisfactorily demonstrated that, if you place upon yourself the mantle of delusion, you can thoroughly embrace your lack of success, lack of ability, and utter obscurity. The difference between you and I is that you are deluded, where obviously I am not. So fortified, I venture onward, perfectly assured in the knowledge that I am the best undiscovered unfettered talent this planet, and possibly the universe, has ever seen. Do not read me and weep, mortals.
Erm, thank you Faye. Faye Ling is currently working on a no-nonsense self-help guide for struggling and aspiring writers, to be released, “When I can be bothered to finish it.”
She can also be found on Twitter as @FayeLingWriter, but I’m not sure how she feels about followers.
I would be very interested to know what you thought of Faye’s views. Faye says she isn’t interested, but I think she may care more than she is letting on. I will field most of the comments for Faye as she … has yet to find her groove when communicating with people, but if she does choose to reply I will vet her responses and make sure they are at least civil. Faye says that this is censorship. I say that it’s my blog, and it’s called ‘keeping the peace’.
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