braggadocio

brag·ga·do·ci·o /ˌbrægəˈdoʊʃiˌoʊ/
Pronunciation[brag-uh-doh-shee-oh]
–noun, plural -ci·os.
1. empty boasting; bragging.
2. a boasting person; braggart.

Since I’m ordinarily not prone to this, I hope you’ll forgive this self-indulgence. But two things have happened since I blogged last that I want to tell the world about. I suspect this may fall under the category of self-aggrandizement, but I hope you’ll see beneath all that to the true fangirl squeeing beneath.

Event 1
I got an email from Nora Roberts.

No, really. I’m just gonna leave it there because I’d just embarrass myself with embellishment. Anyone who knows me well can imagine all the muffled, gleeful shrieks.

Event 2
I ran across a blog that reminded me why I write, this entry in particular. I’ll sample for those who are disinclined to click.

I’m a loyal reader. When I put an author on an autobuy list, it’s next to impossible to move it off. That’s most likely because authors have to really sell me in order to get onto the list in the first place. In regards to my choices for my top 4 authors I reviewed in 2007, two of them are now on that list (one through more reading, reviews of which will be coming in the New Year), and the other two are really close to being autobuys. That’s always a great feeling. I love having authors I can rely on.

She then lists the top three runners up for her favorite author of the year. But guess who she chose as winner for 2007?

Annie Dean

Ms. Dean’s books are on my autobuy list. I read three of her stories this year, and while I enjoyed all of them – one quite a bit more than the other two – they’re not the reason I adore her. Her voice is the single most distinctive, most entertaining, most literate voice I read online all year. Hands down. Even when I don’t necessarily care for a character, she keeps me hooked in the story by her clever phrasing, her colorful dialogue, and more. She’s moving into print now, and I have her book, Grimspace, pre-ordered. I didn’t even read the blurb. I just know I want it.

Breathless with delight. That’s the best way I can describe my reaction. It leaves me breathless. I have favorite authors. I’ve never been anyone’s favorite author.

This is why I write, for these moments of connection, when it comes back to me that I’ve written something that moved someone.

This is why I write.

And so, dear readers, I hope you’ll forgive this moment of self-aggrandizement (which is actually something else). I’m humbled today. And I know that I am blessed.

My way is not your way

Yesterday I had a great telephone conversation with Eileen Wilks, wherein we made some good progress in planning our workshop for RWA 2008.

One thing we touched on (and I think is worthy of its own blog post because we’re not covering it as part of our panel) is how writers can sometimes fixate on process. So-and-so does this, and she sells a bazillion books a year, therefore I should do it too.

Personally, I think that’s bollocks.

Truly I think each author needs to find his or her own method and go with it. Same with subject matter, same with stories. I don’t think it’s possible to maximize your own potential if you’re emulating someone else. This is a helpful tool to learn how to write, but after a while, it becomes imperative to develop your own style.

That goes for process, routine, and voice. I’ve attended seminars where the speaker talked as if her method was the only one and if you don’t follow her steps, then you’re doing it wrong. That drives me crazy because it’s so patently not true. Don’t panic if you don’t outline. Don’t panic if you do.

Some writers use outlines, character cards, storyboards, and a whole lot of tools that seem impossibly complicated to me. I have a friend who was flabbergasted to find out I don’t plot anything.

She said, “Do you not outline ahead of time? Are you one of them lucky folks who can just sit down and write? Not me. I need the whole thing, chapter by chapter outlined and plotted. Otherwise, mermaids and shit start popping up all over the place and it’s a straight contemporary.”

Shit, sometimes I don’t even have character names, basic story, nothing. It just comes while I write. I know the important components of a story and how they are constructed (exposition, rising action, etc), but I don’t break it down or deconstruct what I’m doing to see how my work fits the four act dramatic structure. I just write.

For other people, that would not work at all. They would find it impossible to keep track of various plot threads without having it all diagrammed. I would suppose that’s because they’re more visual than I am, and they need to see their scenes laid out to get a feeling for the flow of the book. Both ways are good. Both ways work.

So don’t let anyone convince you that they’ve worked out a foolproof way of doing this or that. Your system is fine. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. There’s no one right way to do this job. Paraphrasing Nora Roberts, whose Q&A was the best I attended at RWA this year: whatever way works for you is the best way.