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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On Writing...

Who doesn't just love a mime anyways?
Writing fiction is a very bipolar thing to do. What I mean is that your own words have a way of working on you over time. You start a book with this higher than high elation and somewhere in the middle, you begin to question your ability and the words and the story and the existence of the space time continuum. And you realize that your words are failing you, and that maybe it isn't even the words and maybe you're the failure.

You realize then, at that moment, that to save all of humanity from the spread of your diseased worthlessness that you must burn the pages, or delete the entire story, and gnaw off your own paws and digits so they'll never re-offend and write again.

If you're lucky (like I am) when that happens, your cheerleader (you really should have one if you write) will talk you down away from the ledge and then use a combination of gentle persuasion and threats of violence to get you to finish writing the thing.

Hopefully, you'll finish it, and when you do, you'll be elated that is complete and you'll be proud as a new parent. You'll show the kid to everybody and they'll all say that he's adorable (like the Beave) and you'll love it and care for it...until you start writing the next book, and then the next one.

In time, you'll come to see all of the warts and pimples on that book and then eventually when you look at it all you'll see is Eddie Haskell staring back at you and the mere sight of the book will leave you feeling empty and disgusted.The only thing you will see when you look at the cover will be the typos that you know are inside and the misused words and the mistakes...and you'll wonder why in the hell you didn't press the delete button when you had the chance...

And that's where I was not long ago. I was working on a new book and trying not to think about my old ones because whenever I did, it made me sad...like this baby. Well, okay, maybe not sad like this baby, but, you know, not as happy as a mime ought to be (if I was a mime and was okay with being a mime and therefore presumably happy)...

"WOWZAS!"
And then something amazing happened. My cheerleader (hi Lorri!) was lying in bed reading something while I worked away on the computer across the room. She started reading a passage from a book out loud to me and I said, "wow, honey, that's awesome. What are you reading?"

She held up a copy of one of the books that I had been trying to forget about. I knew then, at that moment, what she was trying to tell me (aside from how badly she needs some fresh reading material in the house). She was reminding me that my babies will always be my babies, and that no matter how far I may have come as a writer that a part of me at that time is in those pages and they are worthy of my continued love and devotion.

What's more, a lot of people (myself included) really enjoy those stories. So, I have resolved to make them all the best that they can be by editing and polishing them each one more time. That means I have put the final rewrite and edit of my latest works on hold until my first three novels are completed.

It also means that I'm going stir crazy with line editing instead of writing anything new. But, I have one down with the completion of SILENCE OF CENTERVILLE (now available in revised format on Kindle and Amazon!), and only two more to go. 


So, my next big thing NYTimes bestseller might not get done any time soon, and I may never make the big time at this pace and writing the kinds of stories that I write (no vampires or zombies or flying saucers or the like). But the thing is, and it's awful hard to get away from, is that people around here like my stories. They pay to read em' and they buy an extra to one to send to their folks back east (or wherever), and they're always asking me when the next one is coming out and where can they get it...

And it dawns on me that being a successful author isn't about how many copies you sell. It's about constantly honing your craft and striving toward unattainable perfection and more than that, it's about connecting with your readers, whether there are 10 or 10 million of them, and making them feel something, and giving them the best experience that you possibly can. 

And perhaps even more than any of those things, it's about that cheerleader, and trying to be just half the writer that they believe you are, and trying to make your work a tenth as wonderful as they think it is, and believing in yourself almost as much as they do.If you have that cheerleader, and if you have those readers (in any number), then, as an author...what else is there?

Success is relative. In a hundred years that snooty, rich SOB third cousin of yours (the one that all of the aunts always fawned over) will be dead and gone and his deadbeat kids will have blown their inheritance and probably overdosed on designer drugs. But your book will still be finished, and people might... just maybe... still be reading it. Or, they might be only starting to read it then and it will go on to become an international sensation. Now that's success.

Now leave me be. I have about 400,000 more words to edit. 

Thanks for reading,

Buzz

7 comments:

  1. I feel your pain, bud...I mean, Buzz. I'm here for ya...here...there...somewhere.

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  2. Thanks, Doc. I'll put you down in my book as my big shot New York connection.

    Buzz

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  3. Great post! You crack me up! (That's a good thing) I sympathize, believe me. :D

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    1. Yes, Vashti. Having so much editing is like being trapped in a deep well with no tree roots to stand upon. Thanks for reading!

      Buzz

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  4. I still haven't gotten around to writing my first book, I find it really daunting. I'm afraid somewhere in the middle I'll just lose steam or something. I'm afraid my words may not be good enough. But I have a really big cheerleader squad, and I at least owe it to them!
    Insightful post. I can relate to it

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    1. Benny! You're good enough, Benny. You've just got to power through that first draft. Nobody has EVER sat up in their deathbed and said they wished they HADN'T written a book! I've read some of your stuff. You're good enough. Thanks for stopping by and reading, Benny.

      Buzz

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  5. At least you can edit out your typos and mistakes. My book, Other Half..., has been out there for years with those typos that I still agonize over when I allow myself to do so. What's worse, is it's a textbook and I'm a teacher. Oh the shame of it all. I gain redemption, though, when I catch the occasional error in other textbooks or even books by well-known authors. It takes many book reincarnations to reach Author Nirvana, I suspect. In the meantime, I must follow your model and just plow through the middle to the end. How else will I ever expose my mistakes...or that of my spell check...to the world?

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