Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Fourteen: Fight The Fear!
Do you smell that on the wind? Do you? It’s the smell of FEAR!
And a particular kind of fear- Writer Fear! Muwahahahahahahaha!
Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The social networks be drenched in it. Every insecure writer out there just puking their neuroses into every post they make. Then the other writers hop on and perpetuate the fear, keepin’ it rollin’. Soon they are all whipped into a frenzy of fear and if anyone even dares to add something positive or, God forbid!, question the fear, then lookout! Here comes the lynch mob!
So let me spell this out in simple terms: knock it the fuck off.
Sure, writers, as with all artists, can be an insecure lot, filled with neurosis, psychosis, and coffee halitosis. I’m not arguing that. What I have a problem with is the writers that jump onto the fear bandwagon and add fuel to that lame fire. Those guys all want others to be as afraid as they are. Don’t buy into it, man. Walk away. Below I have a list (not comprehensive in any way) of ten fears I see writers vomiting into their Facebook posts daily. Have a read.
To the examples and metaphors!
1. The Self-Publishing Fear Train– I know I’ll catch a lot of flak for this, but in my opinion, the self-publishing movement is fueled by fear, not by independence. I honestly believe the majority of writers that decide to self-publish are not doing it for the artistic freedom or for the chance at riches. I believe they are doing it out of fear that they will miss out on said riches. That’s the number one argument I see shouted by self-pubbers when anyone presents their case that they want to go a more traditional route- “Why lose out on all that money? Why give away 75% of your royalties?”.
It’s a stupid argument based on absolutely nothing. If this argument is why you are self-publishing then you are doing it wrong. A fear of the possible? Are you shitting me? Sure, maybe you’ll be in the .1% of self-pubbers that hits pay dirt, but more than likely you’ll be selling three books a month. Why? Because there are a million others out there like you all trying to be seen/heard/smelled. You think you can rise above that pile? Maybe. But, I’m thinking maybe not.
If you’d rather not put in all the immense amount of work it takes to self-publish a quality product then don’t. Get your ass out there and submit to agents and publishers. Don’t be afraid of losing money that hasn’t even been made yet. Get some experience in the industry then self-publish once you know the ropes. Or don’t. Stick with publishers if that’s your gig. Trust me, you aren’t losing a dime if you do.
2. Rejection– Ignore it and move on. Everyone gets rejected. We’ve all heard the stories of famous manuscripts rejected ten, twenty, thirty, fifty times. Just keep going. Rejection is part of the process. If you fear rejection then you fear the process itself and should probably not be a writer. Which brings me to…
3. Reviews– Ignore those too. Sure, read them if you want, but ignore them once you are done. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writing is not a community endeavor. So someone didn’t like your novel. Whoopty shit. Who cares? Not everyone is going to like what you write. That’s why there are fifty bajillion genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres.
And get this, people that leave reviews have an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with you or the work. Say what? Yep. Think of the last time you wrote a review of something or left feedback or sent an email to a manufacturer or whatever. Was your agenda to leave an honest review or give honest feedback in the hopes it would make the world better? No. You left that review, filled out that comment card, sent that email because you wanted someone to listen to you. Sure, you may have had a shitty dinner or really hated that book, but you could have just sucked it up and walked away. Yet, you didn’t. For good or bad, you wanted someone to listen at that moment.
Now, I’m not saying reviews are bad. Not saying that at all. I’m saying, as a writer, there is no need to fear them. They aren’t about you. They’re about the reviewer. Let them say what they want and move on. Don’t worry about whether or not the 1-star review will kill sales. It won’t. Personally, I am suspicious of books without any bad reviews. But that’s me.
4. The Rules– Whatever the rules are. They change week to week. And who makes these rules? Fuck if I know. So I ignore them. Don’t tell me when, where, and what I can post. Don’t tell me how to act on my Facebook page or not to market the shit out of my latest novel. Don’t tell me I’m supposed to act this way, like this shit, hate this other shit, write in first person subjective narrative BLECH FUCKETY FUCK FUCK.
Do not tell me what to do or how to act or how to write or anything. And if anyone tells you what to do or how to write or how to act then just walk away. Don’t even engage. Just. Walk. Away. Rules are for rule followers. You’re a writer, which is a type of artist, and artists don’t follow rules . That’s kinda the whole thing about being an artist. You get to fuck the rules.
“But, but, but…”
Shut up. Just shut up. Rules are shit. Ignore them. I don’t even subscribe to the “learn the rules so you can break them” mantra. Why learn a bad habit? Waste of time and energy. Just fucking write. Just act. Just do. Just whatever the fuck you want. It’ll all sort itself out in the end.
5. Content– This sorta goes hand in hand with reviews and with The Rules. If anyone tells you that “X” novels must/must not contain “Y” then punch them in the dick/taint/anus. If that were true then we’d still be reading Greek literature. Writing changes and writing styles evolve. Why? Because someone has the guts to ignore everything they have ever been told about “content”. Don’t use the F-word more than three times? Fuck that fuckety fuck shit, fucker. Don’t write in first person past-tense? “Fuck that,” I said. No sex in YA? Really? Yeah, because teenagers don’t fuck. Right…
You get what I’m saying? It’s your story, your novel. You get to put whatever the hell you want to in it. Writing is not a community endeavor! Say it with me! WRITING IS NOT A COMMUNITY ENDEAVOR!
6. Not Being Worthy– This goes out to all the newbie writers. It’s all good, mans and womans. You don’t have to say “aspiring” every time you introduce yourself. We’re all aspiring to something. Don’t worry about being a rookie. Just don’t worry. Are you writing? Then you are a writer. Have you gotten paid for any of your writing? Then you are a professional writer. You may not have experience, but own that, don’t fear it. Ask questions. Learn. Don’t be afraid, the veterans won’t bite. Not the good ones, at least. All writers have gone through what you newbies have gone through. We survived, and you’ll be surprised to find out, we are happy to help you survive too. Ask any question you want. As long as it isn’t fear-based. That gets annoying. 😉
7. Marketing/Promoting– So many writers are afraid they aren’t doing enough to market their work. If you are thinking about marketing for more than five minutes a day then you are doing it wrong. Why? Because you aren’t writing when you are thinking of marketing! There is a saying that the best way to market a novel is by writing the next one. Since I am writing a novel a month right now, I have to agree. Just keep writing. Get your work out there. Build up a backlist. The only way books become successful is by word of mouth anyway, so unless you plan on talking with EVERYONE then you are wasting your time.
With that said, yes I market and promote my work, but only when it is convenient and within my comfort zone. And doesn’t get in the way of the writing of my next novel. I post to Twitter and Facebook. I don’t post in Goodreads or hang out in forums. I don’t hunt down reviewers or bloggers. Not my thing. And guess what? My novels still sell. Don’t waste time worrying about something you don’t want to do.
8. Getting Screwed– Guess what? At some point in your writing career you will get royally screwed over. It’s going to happen. Just deal with it. But don’t let the fear of getting screwed paralyze you. Don’t pass up an opportunity because you have been handed a contract that has the potential to screw you over.
I’m not saying sign a bad contract. Don’t do that. Consult with a professional before signing anything, of course. No, what I am saying is that if the contract wants rights to your novel for six years, don’t walk away because you only want to give four years. Sure, try to negotiate, but don’t make something like that a deal breaker. Read the contract thoroughly, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get all anal retentive over every little detail. You’re a writer, so sign that bitch and move on so you can write.
If the publisher does screw you then tell the world and go about your way. If you have done what you were supposed to, which is consult a professional before signing, then the screwing you get will be minor. Not the end of the world.
9. Failure- Yeah, let that go. Either write or don’t. Is it possible you could fail? Yes. Is it possible you could be wildly successful? Yes. Where do you want to put your energy? I know where mine is going.
10. Not Measuring Up– One of the worst things a writer can do is to compare him/herself to other writers. Sure, you may not be freakin’ Tolstoy, but do you really want to be? Tolstoy had problems. Do you want to be Hemingway? One final shotgun incident may change your mind. Patterson? King? Koontz? Asimov? Rowling? WHY? If you want to be a writer other than the writer you are then I might suggest you only write fan fic. You are your own writer with your own process.
I write a 75k word novel a month. Is that something to live up to? I don’t know, I don’t care. It’s how I work. If that isn’t how you work then don’t feel bad about that. You aren’t me. And I’m not King. Not really an issue for me, that not being King thing. He’s got the King market cornered. Won’t be another like him. And there won’t be another like you.
To sum up: Kick fear in the ass. It’s stupid. You don’t need it. It’s not productive. And has zero basis in reality. Ignore the naysayers. Taint punch the critics. Don’t get caught up in the fear that people insist on throwing at you. Just write your ass off.
It’s your call. And only your call. So, unless you fear yourself, which I can’t do anything about, then you have absolutely nothing to fear! FUCK THAT FEAR SHIT, YO!
Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.
Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.
Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.
He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).
Posted on April 9, 2014, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged bible, exclamation, fiction, future, genre, horror, jake, Jake Bible, publishing, science, science fiction, scifi, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.