Whistling in the dark, we sometimes call it, but it’s painful, hearing emerging and establishing writers speak self-deprecatingly of their work. We don’t hear that sort of self-mockery much in other professions. And, even in our own, with a few Fitzgeraldian exceptions, we would be shocked if top-of-their-field authors spoke with destructive irony about their work.
Furthermore, feeling down about writing interferes with our management of our planning, drafting, and editing time. Well, I’ll never get there and the world’s not waiting, so I might as well check my emails.
Instead of speaking harshly about our own work, we would be better served to give our inner writing minds all the encouragement we can. And give that encouragement with our eyes wide open, and sincerely, because we know what our strongest skills are, and which skills we’re working on. With persistence, hard work, and learning we will always get better still. And that’s why we’re in this game, isn’t it? To write superb stories. To become our highest writing selves. To do that, we look to our great goals, and show up for the work. And, we don’t kick the authorial dog.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel
This week from @yourwritingmuse: You’ve wisely employed all the skills your hero gained in Act 2 in your final showdown. Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature
For more daily writing inspiration from Mel, check out The Writer’s Boon Companion, available in our bookstore and on Amazon.com.
We’ve got to have great big goals to get us out of bed in the morning. But we need to set systems into place in order to move towards them. The last thing we need is for goals to turn back into dreams.
Systems for limiting time on the Internet, keeping chaos at bay, making time for people, and keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy. If we give some time to creating these systems, then we have the peace of mind that comes from life that is not necessarily perfect, but is warm and reasonably calm, and we’re working towards creating, for example, our five novels in five years.
Great goals set our course. Systems are about the process of moving towards them, and most success experts say that process, not product, gets us where we want to go.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel
This week from @yourwritingmuse:
You make a point of learning new skills every day. No wonder your work is so good. Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature
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Whether we publish through traditional means or independently, we’ll most likely want to think about creating a platform to support a writing career connects us to the larger prospects of authorship, such as the publication and marketing of our work.
Like anything else in our writing careers, each of the following could take us all day, all week, or even the rest of our lives, but setting a timer for 5 minutes and getting something done on each will add up quickly to progress and an understanding of the channels available to us.
- social media & connecting with other writers, editors, and publishers
- banking and bookkeeping
- learning something new about writing, social media, design, etc
Every writer’s schedules, interests, and mileage will differ, as always, but touching base with writing communities, financial sustainability, and professional development can keep us active in the greater world outside. Sure, writers sometimes feel like metaphorical cave-dwelling hermits, but even real cave-dwelling hermits communicate with nature, eat, and try to be the best hermits they can be.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel.
This week from @yourwritingmuse: You’ve devised a great writing space. No wonder you get so much done. From your fan, your Writing Muse
Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind. – Woolcott Gibbs
Notes from the acquisitions editor
Every acquisitions editor has a few red flags in a top desk drawer. This list may save you time with rejections.
- Ten cent transitionals like suddenly, then, next, and realized.
- Actions that come after they occur (eg Stella walked on, having shut the door behind her.)
- Bouncing blonde curls (You wouldn’t believe how often I read stories where blonde curls bounce around. Also, raven hair.)
- Without a doubt, paragraphs jam-packed with sentences beginning with modifying phrases.
- Dialogue tags like “chuckled”, “said flirtatiously”, “shouted”, “gasped”, “For which better dialogue can be substituted,” Mel advised testily.
- Exclamation points. (Excepted, the masters Ray Bradbury and Tom Wolfe.)
- Frequent adverbs, (excepted, the master Bill Bryson.)
- ALL CAPS DAMMIT.
However, there are no hard and fast rules. Many editors think all use of the passive stinks like old fish, but two of my favourite writers, Wodehouse and Churchill, use the passive form a lot, and for excellent reasons, so the passive is not much of a red flag for me. One reason authors love writing is that we enjoy our creative freedom. Do what you like, really, for there will be editors who are fine with ! and Iy. I read somewhere that McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies was rejected many times for its slow start, and it became an adored bestseller. (Note: the previous sentence was in passive form because the manuscript was more important than the editors who rejected it).
How comforting it is to know that none of us will ever catch everything. That’s why we employ brilliant, talented copy editors to work over our manuscripts. Pay them. Pay them more than they ask.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel
This week from @yourwritingmuse: I admire the way your first paragraph gives us time, place, tone, and hints at the central conflict. Your Writing Muse
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With the whole great world of publishing at your fingertips, we hope you’ll choose to subscribe to Pulp Literature. We work hard to get you the best storytelling around, and to keep our philosophy rooted in integrity, keeping true to our goals and our promises to you, our readers, authors, and artists.
Our editorial goal is to put together a gorgeous magazine bursting with intriguing tales for you, our faithful readers.
Our business goal is to become the first literary magazine to sustain itself on subscriptions from satisfied customers.
Our employment goal is to pay higher and higher per-word and per-page rates to our authors and artists as our subscription list grows.
With three days left in our Something Novel campaign, we wish you warm spots to read and put your feet up, the most comfortable of seating, and a happy reading experience this winter, and through the year. Thanks for your readership and support.
Mel & Jen
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Self-motivation is one of the great time management tools available to writers, and one of the most pleasant to employ. If you’re geared up, it’s far easier to sit your butt in that chair and type.
One powerful way to self-motivate is to take a minute to contemplate our greater goals. Picture the ideal life you want. Spend a little time with the writer you intend to be — the writers you really are. How will you spend your days?
The bigger the goal, the more challenging and meaningful it is. As writers we can envision reaching it, without worrying about how we’ll take every step along the way. Maybe we’ll have to slog every step, but writers love writing, so that’s completely okay. Or maybe, from time to time, fortune will shine on us, through an opportunity for swift advancement that a writer’s hard work has readied each of us to accept.
If a career goal is our true desire, and if we can picture ourselves winning it, then the small steps we take towards it have more meaning. And they may be more fun, especially if thinking about that red carpet to a writing nomination at the Oscars is on your mind, or a signing, or a great big royalty cheque. Our goal may well be to write while smiling broadly. These are the working moments when a writer feels as if time stands still, and (I smile as I type) it’s truly amazing how much we can get done when it feels like time stands still.
With a great attitude and steady incremental preparation, we are a long way towards creating the author’s life we want and deserve.
I hope it’s another brilliant writing day for you.
For more inspiration from Mel, check out The Writer’s Boon Companion available till December 1st only on Something Novel.
An editor once told me that to become a better writer and storyteller I must read, read, read, and write, write, write! But, like most writers, I was already doing that. What more can a writer do to continue to improve?
I always find that one of the great joys of writing is making something out of nothing. Writing is brain work. So, to improve our work, we can improve our brains.
Our writing brains work best when we
I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week with your talented, well-cared-for writing mind.
This week from @yourwritingmuse: I admire the way you’ve created an antagonist who believes in his own struggle. From your Writing Muse
Top Ten Reasons
to visit Something Novel right now and support your sweatstained Pulp Literature team on Kickstarter.
“Because I don’t want to carry around the collected works of Eudora Welty.”
“Because it fits in my bag and looks gorgeous while I read it on the train.”
“Because the pages feel smooth and beautiful.”
“Because it I can give it to my friends or leave it on my coffee table to show off.”
“Because I want to read different types of stories from all genres, as long as they’re all well told.”
“Because they give me an exquisite illustration to showcase every story.”
“Because it’s about darned time that a magazine works so hard to pay its writers.”
“Because the editors read every story they get, emerging and established.”
“Because it’s the only Canadian magazine that publishes all genres.”
“Because the editors want their writers and artists to succeed and will do everything they can to help them.”
Go Pulp Literature! We want to publish not only your superbly written short stories but novels as well, and we’re putting up ours to Kickstart the boutique genre press. Pulp Spec, Pulp Steam, Pulp Fantasy, Pulp Mystery, Pulp Historica … Get it here!
Update: Great start on our Kickstarter campaign yesterday. We made it to 50 backers and 15% funded on day 1! Thank you so much to our early backers. We hope you are enjoying your Writer’s Boon Companion journals. If you missed out on this gift for early backers, never fear, we have a new journal, The Writer’s Friend and Confidante, for the next 50! Get in on it here.
In the meantime, here’s another wise and wonderful writing tip from Mel:
Blake Snyder in his brilliant Save the Cat wrote that Act 2 is what the audience pays their entry money for. Here’s where the promise of genre is honoured with adventures that are not just exciting, but meaningful.
How to make these adventures meaningful?
No matter the genre, we return to story structure that endures from The Odyssey to the great book you’re reading today. In every adventure your protagonist experiences in Act 2, the Belly of the Beast, that protagonist must learn more and become more than he was, through making believable choices that he would never previously have made. As well, it’s wise to remember what John Saul said about writing success – that is, until he realized that he was plotting along a straight line to the story goal, his books were rejected. As soon as he began writing in a non-linear fashion, setting up surprise turns and then surprising the protagonist and readers as well, success was his.
Plotting isn’t easy, but then we’re not in the writing game because it’s easy. We’re in it to please ourselves and our readers, and to make some money through honest toil.
I wish you another brilliant writing week.
This week from @yourwritingmuse: You create strong frameworks for storytelling, no doubt because you think so hard about your story arcs. From your Writing Muse