The Hard Truth About Being a Professional Writer

SO much to like about this post, I don’t know where to start.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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I happened to see this meme (above) on Facebook and I lost it laughing. This is such a great metaphor for what it is like to be a writer. In the beginning I was a rose, then I learned to become the dandelion. The dandelion might not be as pretty, but it is prolific and it is a survivor.

When I decided years ago to leave sales and become a writer, I had a far more glamorous idea of what it was like to be a professional writer (pieced together from movies). Additionally, it didn’t help that my first “novel” was so much fun to write.

Of course it was fun! I didn’t have to be constrained by these pesky things called “rules” and “craft.” I was like some kid banging away on a piano believing I was, in fact, making music.

Yet, when I joined a writing group and…

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Character Development: Group Personalities

Note: This post was originally going to be a Writing Dilemma discussion, but I thought it would be fun to expand it to encompass a character group.

We all know that when creating characters it’s a good thing to sketch them out in terms of physical descriptions, dominant and secondary personalities, and whatnot. However, new challenges tend to come along when those same carefully-crafted characters are thrown together and their personalities start to interact.

It’s a cookbook!

Actually, it isn’t, but I always loved that Twilight Zone line…hehe. Seriously though…

When you put characters with different personalities, interesting things start to happen. Just like in Real Life, people attract, repel, become indifferent, etc. A group dynamic forms that can range from a unified front to a factional situation that leads to conflict.

This is also a good thing!

When characters jump off the character sheet and act on their own, you can see the 4th Wall close up and the fictional world comes alive with a new breath.

Lights and Shadows Update #10

His apprehension turned to suspicion as they made their way down the airlock’s long cylindrical passageway. Matson was no scientist or even an engineer, but as he studied the white corrugated walls, his mind pondered how much effort and resources it took to dig through what appeared to be tons of rock and subsoil. Clearly, someone was exaggerating their claims with regard to the scanner results. He held the Colt at his left side as he and Finch led the others forward, his mind doing a mental inventory of the last twelve bullets he was carrying in addition to the six in the chamber. Finch had her rifle and his other pistol so hopefully that was enough until they could scrounge up another option. As he walked ahead of the group, he became aware of the knife in his right boot. He doubted that a hologram could be cut, much less made to bleed, but it was another weapon in his woefully under-equipped arsenal.

“Deep in thought?” Burke appeared beside him, her scent distracting him from his internal musings. She smiled up at him as she matched his stride. “It occurred to me that I never thanked you for rescuing me and Pierce back there.”

“No thanks necessary, Doctor,” he replied, avoiding her gaze by studying a line of evenly spaced vertical cylinders that dotted both sides of the tunnel. Each of the red cylinders was attached to the walls by cable struts and were topped by a small antenna. They reminded him of self-destruct charges but there was no way to be sure outside of a closer inspection. They rounded a slight corner after which they saw the end of the airlock tunnel. “Serve and Protect.”

She placed a hand on his arm. “You don’t strike me as the type who follows the Party Line, Agent Matson. I heard Agent Finch call you Zack. Is that your first name?”

He nodded, giving her hand a gentle pat until she took it away. “It is. Rather unprofessional of her, but I’ve learned to make allowances for youth and inexperience.”

“Would you mind if I called you Zack?” she asked. “Agent Matson seems so…formal. After all, it appears that we will be together for some time.”

He looked down at her, studying her features with as cold and dispassionate a disposition as he could muster. He had the advantage of having committed what he had read from the outpost computers to memory, but facts and figures never compensated for a warm flesh and blood person in close proximity. Burke was a suspect. Attractive, yes, desirable, definitely. But still a suspect in what all the evidence indicated was an active participation in mass murder. I can’t afford to trust her too much, he thought, but I can play along until I find some evidence to either clear her name or arrest her.

“You may,” he framed a smile for her benefit. “Though I would think that your companion would find such familiarity a little off-putting.”

She smiled, showing perfect teeth. “My relationship with Pierce is purely professional, Zack. He was assigned as my personal assistant and bodyguard during my time here.”

Matson stopped. “Bodyguard? He’s armed?”

“Of course. Aren’t all bodyguards?”

Matson turned away from her and went to Monroe. “All right, Lieutenant, let’s see it.”

Monroe took a step backward. “What you do mean, Agent?”

Matson raised his pistol and casually allowed it to rest on his right shoulder. “Your weapon, which you neglected to inform us of when we revived you.”

Monroe shot an angry glance at Burke while opening his shirt. A shoulder holster was nestled against his chest, the synthetic sheath enclosing a small and slender chrome plated laser pistol. Matson recognized the standard issue S&W ArcFire Pulse Pistol’s brushed finish before it was gently extracted and put into his outstretched hand. He checked the settings before handing it back. “Any other weapons that you want to tell me about?”

“That’s the only one, I swear,” Monroe protested. “I have legal authorization to carry and use that weapon during the performance of my duties.”

“You are a potential suspect,” Matson said. “You have the rights that I choose to give you. Now, you keep that gun at the ready and I expect you to help out if trouble comes knocking.” He studied the wall cylinders. “I have no doubt that we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Monroe buttoned up his shirt and watched Matson move away. “Agent Finch, may I ask you a question?”

Finch nodded.

“Is he always so…that?”

“It’s our first case together,” she replied. “Agent Matson plays by a different kind of rule book. I would strongly advise you to do as he says.”

40,000 Words! Lights and Shadows is Officially A Novel

I’m pleased to announce that I broke 40,000 words on Lights and Shadows today and I couldn’t be more pleased. I could, but that won’t be until The First Draft is done and I start editing. I’ll admit that the lag in getting this beast tamed is mostly due to me being distracted by promoting my other books on Amazon and my soon-to-be-ending obsession with studying the sales rankings to see how they are performing.

I’ve known for a long time that I perform best when I ignore outside advice (which often turns out badly), stop fixating on what others are doing, and generally do my own thing. I don’t write by consensus and never needed anyone to tell me how to write. Point of Fact, selling books (or not) isn’t my main focus. It never has been.

I write because I love to write. Period, end of story. As long as people know that I’m putting out new stories, that’s enough for me. Yes, of course, I’d love to make a living at it, but I’m not a storytelling machine and I don’t care all that much about making money at writing. I’ll worry about the money aspect when I start to make enough at it to make it an issue.

Anyway, back to the grind. I’ve made some serious progress and I want to keep that momentum going. Thanks for your time. 🙂