This post is a little bit different from my usual ones given that I haven’t previously used my blog to discuss matters pertaining to popular culture. But I would actually like to expand the topics I write about beyond my own books and publishing journey, while still remaining within the realms of speculative fiction, and recent developments in Hollywood has given me the perfect opportunity to do so.
I like to think that most books have a natural audience: specific readers whose preferences all but guarantee they will enjoy those books. With that being the case it obviously makes sense for authors and publishers to identify the type of reader who constitutes the natural audience for the books they want to sell. By specifically targetting the appropriate audience no time and money is wasted marketing books to the wrong readers. It obviously wouldn’t make sense to market a book like Altered Carbon to readers who favour Regency romance novels, for example.
To varying degrees, many authors, particularly those who are genuinely passionate about their craft, invariably put a lot of themselves into their writing, whether it be in terms of their personality informing their characterisation, or their life experiences influencing their plots. I’ve never been one of these writers. I have always consciously gone out of my way to avoid putting any aspect of myself into my writing. There are a couple of reasons for this: first of all, I am a very private person, so the idea of incorporating any part of myself or my life into a story is one I could never be comfortable with; opening up and sharing personal things about myself with anyone, even indirectly, is something that doesn’t come easily to me, and (with one notable exception) it never will. Secondly, I’m a boring person with a boring life which doesn’t really lend itself to writing exciting stories.
You may recall from the last update on my work in progress that I decided to re-write everything from scratch because I wasn’t happy with the opening chapter. Since then, though I’m much happier about the state of my WIP, I am much less happy about the slow progress of my writing throughout September. While most of the problems that prevented me from getting as much done as I would have liked were (as usual) out of my control, I fully accept that there is one issue that is in my power to affect: Time management.
If you ask a hundred bookworms to identify the most essential ingredient for a must read book, there’s almost no chance you would get unanimous agreement. All readers have differing sentiments that affect what they want and enjoy most in a work of fiction. For many readers there will be one specific box that absolutely needs to be checked in order for a book to be essential reading. For some, pacing is the priority, for others it’s writing style, for some it’s originality, while for others it might be thought-provoking themes and ideas. I’m not going to attempt to provide a definitive answer because there isn’t one. But I will give you my thoughts on what I consider to be the most important constituent of a good story, the absence of which always detracts from my reading pleasure.
During the weekend just gone I came to the realisation that I don’t blog nearly enough; certainly not as much as I should. And though it’s true that in person I am a man of very few words, it’s not as though I don’t have anything worthwhile to say with the written word. To remedy this situation (caused by laziness on my part) I’ve decided to commit to posting updates a minimum of three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If I can keep to that on a regular basis I’ll even consider trying to make it a daily thing (but baby steps first).
I have recently come to learn that the most rewarding thing for any author, after successfully writing and publishing a book, is the feeling experienced upon discovering that the story you have written has really connected with a reader. This amazing feeling is further magnified when such a reader chooses to share their appreciation for your work with you, and the rest of the world.
Earlier this year something rather unusual happened to me; I had a 150,000 word unpublished story on my hands. Certain facets of this manuscript were different from every other story I had ever written in my life before, the most notable difference being that it was a finished novel. Prior to its completion, the only stories I had ever successfully completed were short stories and the occasional novella; all previous attempts at novel writing resulted in abandonment, usually because I unceremoniously tore up or deleted the offending work. It was also different in that it was the first story I had written with the explicit intention of having it read by persons other than myself. And perhaps the most unusual thing about the manuscript was fact the that I was actually happy with it, which shouldn’t have been possible; I am never satisfied with my own writing.
Having now made the commitment to fully pursue my nascent writing ambitions, I have recently been pondering what it is I most want to accomplish as an author. Following on from this, the one thought that has repeatedly come to the forefront of my mind is whether critical acclaim or commercial success is more important to me. I’m sure this thought crosses the mind of every aspiring author at some point before being published; maybe it is something even published authors think about, also. Ultimately, it is difficult to favour one over the other if you come to the conclusion that both options are equally desirable.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion, recently, that I have a self-promotion problem, one that is potentially insurmountable. That problem, in a nutshell, is me; or more to the point my personality. I am what is known as an introvert. (People frequently mistake introversion for shyness, which is incorrect. For a more accurate insight into the psyche of an introvert check out this Huffington Post article.) One of the consequences of this character trait is that I really dislike being the centre of attention. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid bringing attention to myself. Now you’re probably beginning to see my problem.