Focus or Diversify?

Do you ever wonder about which is better – to focus or diversify?

With focus, you can become an expert in a small field. It is identifying a niche that pleases you and moving from there to let others come and make use of your knowledge in that small area. On the other hand, with diversity you can know a little bit about a ton of things and point questions in the direction of someone with the expertise to answer in the niche.

I’m struggling with this because I want to focus, but I do not seem to be able to let go of all the little distractions that lead me to exploring other areas. My other problem is a lack of time.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I play with my kids and try to teach them things and hope they don’t run me ragged by day’s end. I get very little quiet time to pursue my interests, mostly writing, and so I think it’d be best to target one thing and finish it and do it well. Usually I find myself doing about ten things that aren’t that one task that I think ought to be most important.

Is it procrastination? Or is it just some inability to focus?

It’s March and NaNoEdMo is going on. I know I can’t set aside 50 hours to dedicate to editing my manuscript, but I did dutifully send the next segment to my [online] critique partners. While this piece isn’t in their science-fiction-or-fantasy niche, they’re being good sports and reading it anyway.

Yesterday I figured out new goals for the month, and the day before I was free writing about the idea of a community. Some science fiction story will be popping out of that at some point in the near future. It’s not my fault – I refuse to gag my muse. Or maybe that is my fault, because I refuse to gag my muse. She drags me on all kinds of side trips around different concepts and characters and plot twists until I can’t help but focus on something else.

I should be able to help it. I’m the writer. I’m the one in charge! Or so I like to tell myself. When characters take the stories into their own hands, trouble ensues but it makes for a beautiful story.

Sometimes I write articles as well. Does it help to further split my time between nonfiction and fiction? No. Yet something brings me back to nonfiction time and again, so I’m attempting to keep it in check while I go.

I keep track of social media and I’m learning about how I can influence those around me. It’s also interesting because that will be part of my platform for when I do get that book out.

When. Not if. This is not a place or a time for doubt. I am an artist and doubting my work comes all too easily, but I am working on not letting it get in my way. Determination takes me farther than talent, so as long as I keep my iron will set on getting it published I know it will happen.

Then what stops me from working on it until it shines like a pearl? Something is resistant to me sitting down and just saying I’m a novelist, or a short story writer, or an article writer. [Though on that last one, I blame lack of interest in pursuing only articles.] I’m not the best writer out there, but I can’t say I’m a bad writer, either.

Then I’ll be spending more time on the question of whether to focus or to branch out, whether to find my tiny niche or keep writing as I find interest. It is a question for my platform, because then I wonder if I should separate it to be found easier for the things I do, or to lump them together and show the wide differences in style.

It’s hard to be successful until you figure out what you want to do and apply all your talents in that direction. But what if what you think is the direction you want to go actually covers too much territory to make it work? What did you do when this question presented itself? Did you find your niche and become the expert? Or did you dabble with fingers in every inkwell?

It reminds me of the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none.” Except something in my writerly head wants to twist it to ‘jill of all trades, mistress of one” – meaning writing, of course. I can’t stop because I love it and I don’t know who I am without it.

Plots and Characters

I’ve always taken a middle road on the plotting versus pantsing spectrum. I would argue for both sides as I have friends who manage both ways to varying degrees of success. That is not to say that there is any correlation between the success of those who write with full plots versus those who write off the cuff, but that each writer has a different degree of success with the method s/he chooses.

Lately I think I’m shifting more into a plotter. Okay, there’s no doubt about it. And the more I figure out the difference between figuring out a plot, the more I like it. Yes, the only part I loved about those little outlines with roman numerals was how nicely they lined up – the nerd in me has a sick fascination with overly ordered things like lined up books (alphabetized by genre, author, and title) in a bookshelf.

I know there is more than one way to plot. I wonder if many of the writers who say they don’t plot (yet there are inklings that their instinctual way of feeling through a story might be started off with organizing thoughts in a writer’s head) actually work through some of those issues but don’t formally write them down. For the rest, sometimes it’s about asking the right questions.

These questions are not just about plot. They’re also about characters and settings and anything else that makes it into the novel. One of the character templates a friend of mine loaned me always had a couple gaps though the questions themselves were exhausting. I’d pick and choose, but often I skipped things like “what would be in X’s wallet?” What does it matter? I’m in a fantasy universe and they don’t have wallets.

Maybe the point I should have been chasing was something broader. A wallet is often one of the things we won’t leave home without. We put things in it like identification and money and sometimes photos of our kids. We also grab keys, cell phones, and other items and stow them in our pockets or purses. [Or voluminous diaper bags – but that’s a different character.]

I’ve been checking into these and backing up. It might be the easiest thing to set down what the character physically looks like. An appearance trait that might even be changed down the road if I decide something else fits better. But the internal parts are not so easy to lay out on paper, and they’re also not as easy to change in a book. “Oh, Lucy isn’t recovering from an overdose of her mother’s guilt trips anymore because I decided her mother needed to not be in this book and I killed the character off.” So every reference to the mother needs to be removed, but also every time Lucy reacted to that guilt trip by doing something without her mother entering the scene. That rewrite would take significant effort to realize the changes in Lucy.

Also, I need to remember to put things in context for cultures if I make them up. It’s simply part of the world building that sometimes doesn’t make it to the character level. It’s one of the fun things about writing nonhuman characters, but also one of the challenges. What is fashion like for a race that doesn’t have a strong sense of vision? They rely heavily on sense of smell, so it makes me wonder if there are trends in scents, rather than colors. “Dogbreath is in this year. I think I’ll hibernate for the winter.” It just opens so many possibilities that hadn’t existed before.

I love world building. I worry sometimes that my races are too much to add into the fabric of the story, but it’s just too much fun for me. There are authors who have done it well, and I’m sure many more who have not that I simply haven’t read yet. As long as I don’t stop the action for info dumps, I suppose I’m not doing too bad.

The world building leads me back to the plot and the characters and the setting and all the rest. And as I’m looking at my worlds, I’m trying to stretch myself so I can ask the right questions and get the right answers in the beginning stages when changes are easy. Like if the character had to leave his residence in the middle of the night for some catastrophe (something on the order of a house fire), what would be the thing he couldn’t leave without? And not forgetting to find the unique voice of that character as we go. Because it’s different if he says “my firstborn” versus “I couldn’t leave without my beloved daughter.” And it’s knowing the difference that will make the novel great.

Are You Ready To Write That Novel Yet?

There are a lot of ways to ask and answer this question – but the one I mean today is “How do you know you’re ready for that idea that won’t leave you alone?”

It’s not something we’re ready for at all times. The idea hits me and I want to run with it. The problem comes along later, when I realize the idea was not fully formed and is in dire need of tweaks and research and who knows what else… And when I run into that wall I end up with a partial draft of something that I’m not sure what to do with, because the idea takes a turn every time I actually finish the front end stuff.

Somehow that leads me to the idea I wasn’t quite ready to write it when I started setting fingers to keyboard. Later, when the ideas mature, I can put them in different combinations and make something better.

Example: I just pulled two ideas from my snippets and merged them with another idea I came up with more recently. While they were not related at first, this time they seem more suited to weaving together. Once I started down that path, a torrent of words spewed forth. Then I read my old notes and found nuances I had forgotten. I’m still trying to pin them together.

I’m not sure if it’s enough to write that novel yet. I have a couple different viewpoints I want to show in this world I’m creating, but I haven’t figured that all out yet. So it might be a few novellas woven together into a book. It might also be a series. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how much I have to say before it begins.

Other times I am not sure if I’m ready to say exactly what needs to be said. At least I have time to manage to think about it. I am focusing on editing my last manuscript (still working due to moving and having a baby and everything else that gets in the way of pure writing pursuits), yet in the meantime I still doodle and dream up this alternate place that sings to me when my creative side takes hold.

I’m not sure I’m ready to write it yet. The two year old and the two week old are definitely taking most of my waking hours and will continue to do that for some time. I’m also not sure what my message is, but somehow the idea won’t leave me alone for the moment.

It’s a little like when the unicorn kept telling me he was the one who wanted to skewer my last protagonist. Silly unicorn, she’s got her own magic to protect her. Now if only she could control it… But that’s another story that hasn’t quite been finished yet. I promise I will when I’m ready. The question of how to know when I’m ready troubles me, but I write hundreds of thousands of words in a year (250k+ last year). I have time to figure out drafts and redraft them later.

I’ll admit it would be seriously more efficient if I could figure that all out before I start drafting, but so far I haven’t been able to help myself. What do you do when that idea takes hold of your brain and won’t let go? Do you write it? Do you start building the world? Do you outline (or whatever other plot devices you use to figure it out before you write)? Or do you take a little snippet and let it simmer for later?

Can a Writer Go Paperless?

So many times I read the advice about printing out the manuscript to read it, especially for last round edits and finding those little typos. It’s also useful to grab on the way to writer’s group to combat issues like low laptop batteries and losing one’s place while reading words on the screen.

However, in the quest to be less attached to physical objects – the question keeps surfacing with as much as I read about the subject. Some laud Twitter as bringing people to make their updates in a succinct style, while others study that writers are wordier when they write directly into digital methods rather than on paper first and then transcribing later.

I’m sure most of that would be true in varying degrees depending on the writer. Some writers can go on and on about all kinds of things, while others make certain they boil it down to the most essential substance. It’s part of an individual style as much as anything else. I’m not sure wordiness can be equated with quality on any level. Some swear by the 1000 page novels and others prefer short pieces that don’t span the full page.

My moving saga has taken me away from my laptop with the two monitor system that I had in my little library. I love stacks of books surrounding me while I type out my next piece. Some of those books are blank and others are binders with hard copies littered with comments in varying colors. [I love using colorful ink.] The other missing part of my setup is the printer. It’s in storage for a time and I’m learning to compensate with different ways for that.

It’s not so bad. But I haven’t found a new writer’s group yet. I’ve been finding ways to not just write online, but also edit. I can’t say whether I’ve found all the ways to manage what I need. I’ve managed to critique a couple things from friends, and that’s been quite an experience to get the apps on my iPad running the way I want them. I keep thinking just one more… just one more…

I’m curious about other writers who manage without paper. It seems like a less physically demanding way to survive without the stacks of manuscripts covering the desk. Do writers exist in paperless environments, even on a temporary basis?

I write, therefore I exist — even without my comforting paper clutter. Right?


What Hinders Your Productivity?

Or maybe the question ought to be – have you looked into what hinders your productivity? It’s something I think about occasionally. I’ll admit it probably isn’t often enough.

Right now I’m a stay-at-home mother. The writing is a side gig that occurs mostly when my little one sleeps. The SAHM gig is not to be regarded in any way less demanding or rewarding than other career options, but a statement that my time is claimed. Life hinders my productivity in domestic tasks, but I don’t tell my two-year-old that she can’t get out her toys, even if it does look like a war zone. We’re learning to pick them all up before bedtime.

More often we point our fingers to the obvious procrastination markers like Facebook or Twitter and try to justify them as promotion. I recently ran into an article saying how people ought to only check that stuff twice a day. I’m not sure how that’d work for Twitter, but Facebook would be easy enough.

Maybe the trick to becoming a productive moonlighting writer is to know why you’re writing and not just the things that are also taking up that coveted downtime. I write because I love exploring new worlds through fiction. I love stringing sentences together (even if they’re not very good at first) and sharing them with others. I enjoy the struggle to find the right words to portray something in my head. With that in mind, I crank out a lot of words.

Over 250,000 words since I began writing at 750words last May. I had no idea I could be so prolific. Sure, I’ve done NaNoWriMo and completed the challenge without breaking a sweat or trying to finish in the 11th hour, but I haven’t kept track of what I do normally. While the 750words site has focused me to write every day and not in the fits and starts I had done before, it also keeps track of what I’ve done since I joined.

I don’t have a full novel written there yet. My last project has morphed into something I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle just yet and I’m working on editing a young adult manuscript more than whipping a wayward work-in-progress into shape.

The other thing I really like about those kinds of statistics is it will track how long it takes me to spew out my words. Some days are a struggle, full of distractions and nearly an hour sessions spent trying to find words. Others can be as short as seven minutes to make the minimum word count. A couple have been spent with a timer and an idea and simply throwing out the ideas as fast as my brain can make it up.

Of the times when my daughter is asleep, I rarely wake before she does. So between writing during her afternoon nap and after she goes to sleep at night, I am much more productive in the afternoon hours and try to take advantage of that. I also shut down other distractions like Facebook.

Lately I feel like I’ve been just waiting, waiting, waiting for the baby to be born. [If you believe the computer, I’m due today. If you believe the 8-week ultrasound, I was due yesterday.]  That’s been hindering my productivity more than I like to admit. How much could be done while I’m not feeling the best but not as sleep-deprived as I soon will be? Another blog post? Another article read? Another chapter edited? Another story written? Another submission sent off?

I’ve managed to get my iPad mostly in order to be my productivity station on the go. I only have three games loaded on it. Mostly I have been reading a bunch of articles and keeping up through other social outlets. When the games become a serious time sink, I’ll have to let them go, too. It’s always good to have goals and keep them in view to know what can be achieved.

I believe goals ought to be flexible and intended to stretch abilities. When I see the goals I want to make happen, I work harder to keep those results at the top of my list. When I allow for life or other things to intrude, I make it more likely that I will stick with the goal instead of just throw in the towel. Take 750words as one example: I haven’t written every day since I joined on May 1. I’ve missed 12 days. Most of them were in a row during a difficult couple weeks. I’ve given myself permission to lose a day or two with the impending baby, though I’m trying not to use that.

Whatever hinders me is something I allow to happen. My choices lead me to where I will be next. Not everything has to be productive – not every moment, not every choice, not every little detail – but I manage to get things done. Maybe that’s just because no one’s sold me on a reason to spend 3000 hours on a WoW profile…

What do you think about productivity and downtime and how they affect your writing and your goals?

Ready for the Holidays?

Whether I’m ready or not, they’re coming. I was able to wish my good friend a Happy Hanukkah before sundown, which also happened to be my (favorite) sister-in-law’s birthday. [It doesn’t matter that I only have one sister-in-law; she’s all kinds of awesome, and that makes her my favorite.] And Christmas is very soon!

When I was a child, holidays never stressed me out. It was a break from school, time to read as many books as I could fit into the time, and time to be excited about exchanging gifts.

Somehow as adulthood approaches, there are more pressures. We want things to be special for the kids- and in my family we have a great 7-year Santa tradition that none of us want to miss. Each year since my daughter’s birth we’ve sent out pictures of at least her with Santa. This year’s holiday card had a picture of my daughter hugging Santa, plus one of the four of us (my husband, my daughter, Santa, and me).

My husband and I were super organized during our recent relocation, and we had the labels printed off before we moved as well as a short letter to explain our recent developments (baby due in January, promotion and move). We had the cards printed and ready to send out by 1 December, but it took me another week to buy stamps. Some years the holiday cards feel like such a strain to get them all out with everything else going on. Yet I love receiving them from others and seeing how others change.

Then there’s always the question of gifts. I love shopping and finding a great gift someone on my list will love. Because I’m due in less than three weeks and a little restricted for travel, it changed how we normally celebrate the holidays. Most of my shopping was completed Black Friday and most of our gifts exchanged on the next day.

This year also marks a change in my attitude. We moved for my husband’s job about a month ago. We’re in temporary housing so we didn’t have to worry about all that while the baby was imminent. There’s only so much we can do at once, right? But with these two moves (one to temporary housing, one to a more permanent residence), it has me realizing that it won’t be a permanent residence, most likely. Just a more permanent one.

That makes me more willing to part with items that clutter up our living space, and more selective on the things I want to purchase for gifts. So part of my daughter’s gift was a museum membership (that we’re already enjoying). My husband often asks for clothes, so it makes it easy to keep him happy and well-dressed.

One of the few things I’m not willing to part with, or even entertain a discussion about getting rid of, are my books. No, they’re not easy to move. They’re heavy and bulky and I have a lot of them. Many more than goodreads would have you believe. One day I’ll catch up with that, but it won’t be in the near future. I love books and reading and writing.

“I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson

I have been modifying some of my writing techniques, but I miss my printer. I have been accustomed to writing in a digital setting for some time, but I don’t always have access to my saved copies. Most of it is again at my fingertips, but I’m still using different computers than I’d gotten accustomed to in my home office. Not to mention that lovely iPad 2 I got for my birthday and the bluetooth keyboard I (already) received for Christmas (from that favorite sister-in-law).

The questions become how to keep it all compiled nicely where I can find it, and also how do I bypass the print and edit/revise/proofread step(s). At home I had novels trapped in binders that I could take with me to writing groups or simply lend to a friend who wanted to read the one up for revision. But those paper copies make it so easy to mark notes in margins and replace words I don’t like.

My current issues are organization of my digital files and keeping tabs on the draft copy I’m revising. Once I moved I realized I wasn’t sure where my best copy of in-progress revisions were hiding. Oops. While that’s partly under control, it tells me what else I need to do in order to be more productive.

Yes, productivity and efficiency are at the bottom of everything, from holiday shopping to organization to making a new place feel like home. Or maybe my household is just practical that way.

Happy Holidays! May your new year bring in many wonderful things.

There Is Beauty in Words

Except, sometimes, when you get caught up in the doubts that follow during the project. Yes, all writers go through it. Some of us hit it early on and can’t get past the first word to put down on paper. Others get it mid-project. Once I even experienced it as soon as I finished the rough draft. [If you don’t know what happened that that project – it’s now The Art of Science.] 

I know that thinking about a project midway through definitely brings out the doubts more than the merits. At least when you’re finished you can pass it off to a trusted associate (or even your best friend) and say, hey, should I keep working on this? The problem with a midway project is sometimes they try to give advice about how it ought to go – whether that is the end in mind or not it can become a stumbling block. 

It’s not like i don’t have ten million other things I could be working on – believe me, I do. I’m the soon-to-be mother of two, naptime novelist, and I always think I can manage more than can be done in a day. So just one more thing never scares me, and the really important stuff does get done in time. Or it doesn’t – that happens often enough. 

Current mid-draft novel is sitting at 36k. It lacks direction and I’m not sure how my protagonist is going to get to the desired end. I’m still attacking it here and there. I mix it up with other projects so I don’t get too burnt on one thing – the holidays are near and there’s supposed to be a lot to do. Yesterday I wrapped gifts, which inspired my two year old to have fits. Today I’m hoping to mail the package, but we’ll see how the time runs with the little girl. 

I’m sure it doesn’t help that I keep thinking this novel might be better than the last one – which is currently sitting in the middle of a rewrite of the teen romance subplot. I don’t think I’m good at writing romance, but I know that’s what the protagonist needs right now. More tension! More drama! So I got to break him up with his girlfriend and let him focus on trying to ask out the new girl. 

The more I torture my characters, the more they know I love them, right? At least, that’s the fun of being the author. Then I can enjoy the drama-free parts of my days when the toddler isn’t being stubborn (like now when she’s not napping). Better luck tomorrow. 

Writing: Fast or Slow?

Do you ever wonder how fast you type? Usually it isn’t an issue, or is it?

Typing is a necessity for many of us, writers even more than most. Something about all those novels makes it hard to understand how you could manage at a slow pace. Do you do 120,000 words on a novel for how many revisions?

In the interest of keeping the writing time down, do you organize your thoughts? Do you wade through an outline or just start chugging from page one through to the end? Do you write longhand or do you sit at the keyboard for hours on end?

I love it when people get to study things like writers tend to be wordier when they do rough drafts at a keyboard instead of by hand. So what does it mean by wordier? Did they put the same writers side by side on the same topics and count words for each of the outpourings? I think it has to be difficult to make a really good comparison between writers. Especially when you consider that there gets to be a point where each writer makes a decision about the form that works better on an individual basis.

I’m one of those writers who logs hours in front of a keyboard. Perhaps less than some who transcribe their longhand so much slower than I type, but more than many if you consider all the other things I do in front of a monitor. Ha.

When I’m warmed up and awake, I can type about 100 words per minute. That’s from a typing test, though, and it isn’t about how fast I can create the words in my head. Creating requires more attention to detail and sometimes the proper word doesn’t just sprout from the fingertips. At times you end up with a blue where you really need a cerulean or a navy.

For me, the first draft is about getting the ideas out. It’s all about the concept. It’s one reason I just let it all run out from my fingers like they’re on fire when the ideas come fast. When they come slow, it’s one word at a time. It’s all about continuing the stream. Sometimes I skip ahead and come back to the troublesome parts. I don’t like to stop where it gets slow; I jump ahead if I have momentum to keep things moving. The movement is how I finish things. Some projects languish when I lose the steam to keep things on track.

It’s one reason I like NaNoWriMo. Everyone’s about moving and keeping the words spilling onto the page without worry about the inner editors getting in the way with whether it ought to be a separate sentence or hooked together with a semicolon. It seems like a small distinction, but it impacts the finished project.

So instead of recording just how fast I type, I’ve been keeping tabs on how fast I can pour out ideas. It varies on topic and particular day for my energy, but it looks like I could finish a day’s worth of a NaNo requirement between 30 and 90 minutes. Big swing, so I’m working on it to see if I can narrow the gap.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Yes, I’m serious. We all have our characters we come to love when we write. We have to in order to make it through an entire novel with them. Do you ever make it too easy on your main character?

In my writer’s group, one of the contributors is working on her first fiction project. She’s got a wonderful flair for description and the short bits she reads us are vivid. I’m sure it helps that she’s got a long history in nonfiction. One of the veterans asked her the question: “What’s the absolute worst thing that can happen to your protagonist? Do that and you’ll find your plot.”

It’s not always how I think of it, but it’s very good advice. Sometimes people try to go easy on their characters if they like them, though the best thing is to torture the poor protagonist until he wants to give up – except you never, ever let that happen. Even giving up is a choice and bad things can happen from it. Just like a juggler who throws all the balls in the air and then doesn’t try to catch them – one of them will turn into the brick to land on his head.

When was the last time you read a book where the worst thing didn’t happen? Did you get bored with reading it? The other extreme might be where believability hits. Did you put the book down because the events just couldn’t happen that way? Within each story world there are possibilities and consequences for every choice made.

Pretend you’re writing a young adult novel and Mom forbids the main character from talking on the phone for a week. The main character has two choices, to follow the restriction or to break it. Either choice has consequences. It seems very cut and dried, but what happens when you add the love interest who’s expecting a call that evening? What happens when you add the mother’s incessant checking of the phone logs? Then a father who allows it because he doesn’t know about the restriction? Does your character choose to follow the restriction even if it means the love interest will be upset? Does the character come clean to Dad about not being able to use the phone (and maybe even why)? Or is it just a one time thing that the character hopes won’t be noticed? Suddenly there’s a plot!

Might not be an epic plot right now, but the more consequences and reactions the writer adds to make the choices more tortured adds to the reader’s pleasure. Somehow George R. R. Martin gets named in protagonist-torturing crowd. Readers might get mad at him for killing off their beloved characters, but as far as I know they’re still reading. And making movies and a game out of the story line. I suppose we can’t all do it that way, but kudos to him for making it work well!

Next time you take a look at your plot, whether you’ve finished writing or if you outline beforehand, really dig in to see if you’ve made your protagonist’s life as troubled as you can. That’s when you know you’re writing a good story.

Note: This is not to say that writers love to torture people. We’re pretty much just aiming to get readers, and we can’t overdose on all the sugary fluffiness that it would require to make an entire novel out of things happening that aren’t bad. 

Criticism or Ridicule?

Free speech is a beautiful thing. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and has the ability to express it.

But, sometimes, I wonder what the point of expressing an opinion in a certain way is. I love to read. I love to write. I love this form of expression – and many of you who follow me on Google+ or Facebook will have noticed the YouTube video Words Are My Sandbox.

I learned from reviewing other authors and from working in critique groups that often it’s good to sandwich the bad stuff inside the good things you find about the piece. There are some where it can be difficult to find something nice. There are also venues with spoken-only reading and critique where it is easy to focus on just one flaw and miss all the rest of the beauty of that segment. Many groups implement rules about how to treat other writers and others try to focus on how professional the advice may be – but nearly all of them are not about tearing down an amateur. I know I never would want to be the reason someone decides to stop expressing opinions through words.

How does that change when someone becomes a big name professional? Why is it that I hear conversations where people discuss only the bad aspects of some series and trash the author for it? There are so many examples, but here are two:

1. Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight series seems to take a bad rap from a lot of people. I know many who love the novels and read them again and again. I read them and enjoyed them, but they’re not something that will draw me to read them 50 million times. I’ve heard people call them nothing but a teenage romance and think it’s awful for a 110 year old man (or however old Edward’s character was at the time of publication) to be after a 17 year old girl. Whatever else you say about them, didn’t Meyer make some interesting characters?

2. J. K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series has throwbacks to the British boarding school novels. Sure. I’m sure there were other critics, possibly about the whole good versus evil thing. But there were rich things in the story, too, that some of the amateur people won’t admit.

Maybe it boils down to jealousy or something else I can’t easily name. I don’t think a single novel will fit every reader out there – which is why we have so many different genres and subgenres and points of view on everything. I wonder if that’s how you know you’re successful – that there are people out there trying to trash your accomplishment. Perhaps I’m just too thin-skinned and I worry what people will say about my work if it’s out there more. It hasn’t stopped me from pursuing publishing yet, and it isn’t likely to in the future.

I can acknowledge that many of the authors I read and enjoy have flaws. Some of them take much less flack than others, but some are much better known than the rest, too. It doesn’t make anyone more discerning to burn another in effigy.

Next time you want to stomp all over someone else’s expressed art, think to yourself- did I even try to see the good in it? What is it about this that so many people find fascinating? We don’t have to “agree to disagree” (don’t get me started on the wrongness of this phrase) or agree on anything at all, but it might be nice to acknowledge that not everyone who disagrees with you is completely wrong. And, also, that the tired, worn-out, dog-eared copy of whatever your favorite novel is has its own baggage. Peace!