An Old Dog & The New Rules of Writing
I recently fell out from under the spell of Black Ops when I had an epiphany about it treating me like a lab rat. Yes, I was playing too much lately when I should have been writing. Alas, my creative juices, confidence and motivation were just not there for me over the past few months. All was not in vain though, Black Ops did get me to restart this blog. Black Ops did get me writing again.
I updated to the latest version of OpenOffice and I found a couple of interesting novel and story writing templates for OO Writer which I will blog about in more detail another time. I modified the templates to suit my needs using Internet resources to brush up on the latest publishing requirements only to discover that things have changed quite a bit over the last several years. Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
Courier used to be font du jour. Double spacing after a period the norm. You underlined words in your manuscript that are meant to be in italics in final print… There are more but you get the picture.
The whole double space thing after a period is a pain in the ass for me to get used to. See? Even now I had to go back and remove that extra space from these last two sentences. With technology advancing so fast, faster than our humanity, change is to be expected these days. The most important change for the aspiring writer? We no longer have to dream about being accepted by a publishing house who would trustingly spend enough money advertising us to the appropriate niche and then, hopefully, be accepted by said niche. Anis Shivani said it best in his Huffington Post article, New Rules For Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition And More.
Why take part in the game at all? Who has ever come out of it alive, able to set up tent and build followers on the other side? Why not accept the reality that writers aren’t forged in social harmony and peer input and obedient fellowship, but in a region where madmen and insomniacs find no comfort? ~ Anis Shivani
A region where madmen and insomniacs find no comfort. Reading his article filled me with renewed hope. It speaks to the rebellious nature deep inside of me. Fuck the gatekeepers, Mr. Shivani says. Fuck the gatekeepers. It was liberating to read. The writing industry, like all other industries, has suffered from the maladies of stagnation, insiders only, and status-quo for ages now. I’m amazed that J.K Rowling was discovered at all while Stephanie Meyers “discovery” does not surprise me one bit. For decades the people manning the entertainment gates of success have been telling the public what they should be reading and watching, never caring about their customers enough to ask them what they want (can you tell I’m still quite miffed over the cancellation of Firefly?) Thanks to the Internet and this little nudge from Mr. Shivani I am encouraged to go directly to the source. I no longer dream of that Random House acceptance letter but of the day when people post here to tell me that they have read my book on Kindle or iTunes and enjoyed it. I will take that praise and I will look away from it. I will wallow in my self-doubt and fear of failing at my chosen art form but I will continue to write. I will continue to write. Not for you. Not for me. Not for fame. Not for fortune. I will continue to write for the story.
But I digress. So what does all this mean to you and I during the actual writing process?
Well for one you’re gonna have to spend the next few days going through all the crap you’ve written so far and remove all those pesky extra spaces and replace all the underlined words with actual italics. Who knows? You may find something long forgotten that’s worth rehashing. From now on when you write you have to remember that the end result will most likely not be printed, so many of the old writing conventions do not matter anymore. Unless you have a dear friend willing to partake the drudgery of editing with you, you will be the only one fishing through your manuscript for errors. I’ll be keeping the Courier type and the double spaces in between lines as this just makes editing far more easier on the eyes. When the time comes to get the manuscript ready for digital publishing, after the traditional editing process for plot, grammar and spelling, I will make a copy and then edit for digital aesthetics. And hopefully I will learn things along this journey and share them with the people kind enough to spend a little of their time reading my ramblings here.