I'm starting a new blog series. I'm nosy and was curious about the advice writers would give themselves three years ago. This is the first post. So, let's give a warm welcome to Incy Black!
The very slightly scary Melissa Blue (yes, she is that good), asked on Facebook: As a writer what advice would we have given ourselves three years ago, knowing what we do now? And of course, I had to pitch in with my nickel’s worth. Next thing I know, she’s got me pinned down for a blog post—told you she was good—which is more my map to surviving the route to getting published, than a guide to ‘must-know’ craft tips.
1. Bite down hard, and assume the position – because as sure as water’s wet, you are going to get your arse spanked with a nail studded paddle, and yes, it is going to hurt. Expect criticism, sometimes kind, sometimes downright cruel. Survive by taking what you want from the thrashing then, with all the dignity you can muster, pro-offer the other cheek.
- Write for yourself first, the publishing house thereafter – it is one thing to allow a few of your words to be changed, quite another to allow anyone to change the cadence/essence of your writing, your ‘voice’. Your voice is unique, your best shot of rising above the choir for a solo spot. Rough and untrained as it might be,(trust me, with persistence it will develop) if it doesn’t fit, move on. Find a choir where it will. Hell, set up your own band if necessary, but have sufficient integrity to protect what you love, what you would want to read. Ban the Bland!
- If you’re British (that would be me), accept the fact Americans can’t spell – Damn, do they hate double Ls. I had the hideous experience of having to call a friend to break it to her gently that the cover of her newly published book had a typo. ‘Unravelling’ has two Ls, I said stroking her with kid gloves. Bollock’s to that, was her reply, I’m writing American. Our US buddies aren’t fussed about Us either (colour/color, favour/favor), but jeez, do they love their Zs (realize/realize, magazine/magazine)…and what the hell is it with that word ‘gotten’? Poor use of English but it rocks in America, so unknot your panties (I had to discard mine altogether), America, after all, is the bigger market.
- Learn Publishing o’clock – time moves very, very slowly on Planet Contracted. Hours become days, days become weeks, weeks become months (if you’re lucky), months become years. Learn patience. I’m told it’s a virtue.
- Just because someone blogs with authority, it doesn’t mean they are an authority – intimidation is the serial killer of creativity, don’t become one of its victims. Don’t be afraid to disagree, trust your own instincts, break the bloody rules if you want to. Try and remember those who appear to know what they are doing are most likely lurching like a drunken sailor on the high seas we call craft, just like the rest of us.
I could go on, but I won’t. That wet nurse they call experience is shared by many, and I have no wish to hog the teat.
Thanks Mel, for inviting me to post. I so needed the reminder of all the occasions I’ve fallen on my arse. The only thing guaranteed, is that these are bruises I will continue to accrue…anyone offering to pucker up and kiss the booboo?
To escape the frenzy of three children aged under 4 years, two mad dogs and four very odd cats, Incy committed to a law degree (University College, London), first to piss off those who said she didn’t stand a chance, and second, because she’s never learned to walk a hill when there are mountains to be climbed.
Armed with said law degree (of which she’s really rather proud), Incy works as a Marketing Director with a history in advertising agencies, property, publishing and education. (She also fitted in two more kids along the way, preferring with her final son, that people dismissed her as fat rather than careless).
In her spare time Incy writes fast-paced romantic suspense and thrillers. Contracted to write for Entangled Publishing in 2012 (well, January 2013, but she’s superstitious), her whoop could be heard across the British Isles where she leads a ‘quiet’ life.
* You can find Incy Black occasionally pouring out her heart (and sometimes her venom) at incyblack.weebly.com