It is of interest to me when stuff appears on the horizon and it seems to pertain specifically to me. Well, not just me. Others like me, and me.
Edited to Add: note that it’s not necessary to read the articles linked below so as to subsequently enjoy my brilliant writing.
I’m talking about THIS and THIS articles which, at first glance, seemed to be but mirrors for me to see myself in. They deal with being Lone Wolf Writers. I mean, look at my header, my Gravatar, the name of this blog, all of them screaming it . . . I am a Lone Wolf . . . and I write.
Yeah, that’s a photo of leaves, not wolves. Since many places on the mainland are experiencing Fall, I thought I would showcase a few photos from days gone by. Nothing like that here, where I currently live.
Anyway, I could see myself described in those articles.
Lone Wolf Writers are those who shun critique groups, avoid craft classes, and cross the street when we see volunteer editors heading toward us. We are known for keeping to ourselves and avoiding too many voices in our heads and in our lives.
Not strictly true that in all of the particulars, but in broad terms, yes. I have little motivation to join a writing group. I don’t have nor am I cultivating extensive — or even minimal — contacts in the publishing field. I don’t go to writing conferences (yes, I went to HawaiiCon and it did have a writing track of sorts, but it was not very well focused; fun, yes, but I made no effort to ingratiate — or even introduce myself — to the talent that was there).
I don’t go online and befriend writers, agents, editors. What few panels and workshops I have attended, I’ve mostly kept quiet and indulged in minimal socializing, if any.
When I saw those articles — especially the title and the opening of the first one — what I felt paralleled my experience in finding out there were other atheists out there in the wild, and that indeed, there was even a word like ‘atheist.’
Yes, Lone Wolf as described applied to me and my writing. Like I said, I use a wolf head as an avatar; how could this not apply to me? Why, it might have even been written specifically to me, a particularly old and solitary Disperser. I cannot deny I had a certain anticipation about the prospect of learning how a Lone Wolf might “make it” in the publishing field.
Before I continue, my disclaimer: please do not misconstrue anything I’m about to say as me complaining, feeling sorry for myself, feeling dejected, suffering from a persecution complex, or in any way courting victimhood status.
Imagine my disappointment when I found out the gist of both articles were less about how to be a successful Lone Wolf and more how to stop being a Lone Wolf and court success.
I commented on that fact, asking if there’s any path one might follow and achieve success while remaining a Lone Wolf.
The answer I received was pretty much what I suspected but had never before heard voiced (er . . . seen written):
Most of us refer to our books as our “babies.” No one can make a baby alone.
The publishing process itself is so much bigger than writing. It includes editors, beta readers, layout artists, cover artists, marketing gurus, and, if you’re going traditional, agents and publishing houses. Unless the plan is to write brilliant novels and leave your progeny with the enormous task of seeing them into print after you’re gone, you will have to talk to someone sooner or later. Again, no one makes a baby alone.
I know that’s a hard pill to swallow. It took me years to accept it and crawl out of my shadowy coffee shop corner where I hid to play with my imaginary friends. If you find a way to make it without having to make connections, please write that how-to book. It would definitely be a bestseller among this lot of introverts known as authors.
There was a smiley at the end of that sentence. It was probably intended to ease the blow of what is a harsh truth. I don’t like smileys littering my blog, so I’m not reproducing it here.
I thanked the person.
I re-read that answer a number of times. Other commenters congratulated the writer on the cleverness and depth of advice it offered.
I saw something else. The writer avoided the question. What she described was not so much how one might go about getting published, but the professionals involved in publishing. Yes, once a book is sold — or even if I were to self-publish it — all those people come into play in the effort to transform my final draft into a saleable product. But, those are professional relationships, and I can totally see those as part of my life after I sell a book. Some of those professionals relationships may even turn into friendships.
The problem I have is with the advice repeated over and over in blogs, podcasts, workshops, in the dark corners of dark alleys . . . nurture friendships so as to leverage them into a professional relationship.
Now, I’m pretty sure everyone giving that advice will immediately jump up and yell “Nay! That’s not what we are saying!”
They will then explain how you make friends without any thought to the possible benefits of friendship to your own career. That, apparently, happens by way of transmutation, and you cannot then be saddled with the mantle of opportunist because your new friend *wants* to help you out; I mean, they are your friend, right?
See, that argument would carry more weight if the whole advice things did not start with “you need to make friends who will help you achieve success” and end with specifically telling you to “target editors, agents, and other writers.”
Unfortunately, by nature, I can’t make myself befriend someone with the eventual intent of asking them for favors. In fact, I don’t ask friends for many favors, and that includes reading my stuff. Some friends know I write, but they’ve never read anything of mine because the basis for the friendship covers other interests.
Last year I attended VP and met 23 other writers. I’ve beta-read for a few and I’m glad to do it, but after asking them to beta read a few stories, I stopped asking. I still, however, offer to beta read if anyone makes a general request. No one has specifically asked me to beta read for them, but that’s understandable since I’m not really close with anyone.
At my end, I stopped asking because I felt uncomfortable asking. There’s also the thing that most feedback is too slow. I’m not faulting anyone; people have lives and interests outside of writing.
There’s also the fact that the VP alumni are just a different version of a writing group. Meaning, I’ve not found anyone who writes like me. The Vipers have, in fact, formed feedback groups, but I did not join the two groups.
Here’s the weird part: I’m more comfortable with having someone I don’t know very well ask me to read my stuff. In those instances, there is no implied obligation on either side; they are curious, and I appreciate the feedback from someone who has no stake in the matter. Of course, that’s a rare occurrence. It has happened, but not with a frequency making it useful to my writing process.
The advice in the articles explains the process of befriending established writers, editors, and agents. About that . . . I seldom have anything in common with people I see on Facebook and Twitter (maybe because I’m much older than most), so even if I overcame my reluctance to befriend them for personal gain, I’m not sure what would form the basis for an eventual friendship. Add to that the fact most already have a number of friends (sometimes numbering in the thousands) and I see the whole process as futile.
The advice I could really use is how to strike a professional relationship with agents, editors, authors. Yes, I know, sell them something, but that’s the catch-22 I’m facing. Meaning, once I start selling stuff, I will have the level of feedback and interaction I’m looking for now so that I can get closer to making that first sale.
I don’t see is how to jump-start that kind of interaction ahead of making sales. Saying “make friends with them” in not a path I’m comfortable following, and I don’t have the money to hire them professionally.
BUT, fear not, for all is not lost!
All is not lost for I, the Lone Wolf, have a plan. The plan is to shop around the novel(s) I have written (and the ones I will write) as I concentrate on selling short stories. If I can get a few short stories sales under my belt, one of two things will happen; either I will leverage those sales into at least getting a few agents and/or editors to look at my stuff, or I will leverage those sales into selling the novels on my own.
And yes, at that point I would get the village people . . . er . . . the people in the village to help me with my baby; editors, beta readers, layout artists, cover artists, and marketing gurus.
If this a good plan? How the heck do I know? Also, whom would I ask? Isn’t clear by now that I’m a Lone Wolf?
It may very well be I will receive a chilly reception as I shop my stuff around . . .
. . . but here is one piece of advice I hear over and over and over and over again:
Persistence Pays Off.
Is it good advice? We’ll find out together.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.
Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.