Into 2020 We Go

This New Year 2020 was the first New Year’s since January 1, 2012 in which I did not have a new manuscript in some degree of progress. I’m not planning on doing any major writing before possibly summer. I want – need – the break, but I still feel a bit rudderless.

[Photo by me, January 6, 2020.]

But there are other outlets, such as reading other authors’ doings on Twitter. Here’s our first look at a few as 2019 ends and 2020 begins. For starters, one is offering a job:

Well, uh, but I’m thinking those requirements pretty much rule me out.

I feel like I am supposed to know who he is without googling.

Not all characters “deep thoughts” matter to a story. It is up to the author to focus and decide who is driving the tale. An internal monologue from, for instance, the letter carrier who appears for a paragraph, may not be relevant… unless maybe he’s the eventual killer, or the planned protagonist from the planet “Abubpuabduba” who has disguised himself as human and has the great powers of “Zhenonknai” behind him…

I tried reading the book as a teen and gave up in a few pages. When I tried to watch the LOTR film some years ago, I’m sorry I lasted about 15 minutes with it as well. Even with the film I had no idea what the heck was supposed to be going on and I just didn’t much care to stick around to find out.

As you see just above, I am, uh, probably the wrong writer to ask. LOL!

Here I return briefly to putting on my academic’s hat in political science. Stop feeling “terrified.” “Terror” may beset you for seconds as your life is about to end, perhaps, but should not be something you experience casually sitting at a writing desk… or standing in the kitchen.

[Photo by me, January 6, 2020.]

Remember: life, said Stephen Covey, has a “circle of concern” outside of a much narrower “circle of influence” within it. Foreign policy, for example, in Washington may fall into our “circle of concern,” but our actual personal influence on it is likely tiny at best.

If you are American and concerned about foreign policy, write to your US House district representative and your two US senators politely expressing how you feel. After dispatching those three (short, respectful) letters – don’t email; don’t tweet: you’re a writer, so write actual serious typed paper letters as if it is “1950” – take a walk with the dog, listen to the birds, perhaps crunch your feet in the icy snow, and gaze up at the stars (if it’s dark). Finally, return home and enjoy your family and your friends.

Popular or not, here is why I do mind. I fully understand authors wanting to attract attention to their books. However, I want to know why I should read them.

Remember “the elevator pitch?” A tweeted one is similar. Please don’t just throw titles at me and tell me to do so…

…uh, like that.

New authors need to learn: there is no cajoling people into reading your books. We are not in high school any longer. People read what they want to read.

Now, it is reviews too. “Passive-aggressively” is we know never a way to make friends or attract interest. Come to think of it, I seem to have been decrying that sort of thing for ages: When did all of this suggesting reviews c-ap start?

I repeat: I believe a writer should NEVER demand suggest a reader do anything. Indeed some authors had better be careful about getting what they wish for in constantly going on about reviews. Some reader may get so fed up with you demanding suggesting that… that they may choose to give your book ONE ⭐️.

Umm, I have five published books (so far) in which I share all sorts of stuff about myself buried in the fiction. Some of it is true, but you may not know what is. I like to be “mysterious”… and keep you guessing. 😉

“POV” is hip writers’ shop talk for the story’s “point of view.”

Is the story told mostly from the “first person”?: “I gazed back out at my rear garden after going to the rubbish and recycling bins. It was chilly. I wondered: Did Sam Spade ever recycle anything? Maybe guns?”

[Back garden view. Potton, England. Photo by me, January 6, 2020.]

Or is it in the “third person”?: “He tried to kiss her. She was furious at that impudence. He sensed that in her look and turned away. Suddenly she punched him in the back of the head.”

[NO ILLUSTRATIVE AVAILABLE PHOTO HERE.]

Very few books are in the “second person.”: “You went to the pub and you wanted a damn drink.”

My, uh, point of view on that? As long as readers are never confused as to whose “point of view” they are reading, I don’t see any problem with having as many as the writer believes the story requires. The Winds of War – yes, I know I have that on my mind lately – has at least ten “points of view.” For example, with “Commander Victor Henry” abroad, we see the Pearl Harbor attack through the eyes of the only character in Hawaii, his daughter-in-law, “Janice Henry.” (It made sense, but I was not a big fan of that.) Clearly trying to follow the lead up to America’s involvement in World War II as a “first person” story is asking a heckuva lot.

Television – my recent two historical novels in particular. The tale is too long for a two hour theatrical film. Just like Winds of War. LOL!

Sorry, my characters don’t really do interviews. They are private types. And some don’t speak English well and… my historical ones, being from “1800,” have no idea what a blog, or the internet, or even an aspirin, is.

I did that: I added my Tomorrow The Grace novel’s link. Afterwards, though, I wasn’t sure why I had done that: I suspected he’s not interested in my sort of fiction, nor would it appear would be most of his followers. After 24 hours that writer did not even acknowledge my tweet, so rather than leave it there buried among others, wordlessly I deleted it.

Thus a response from a tweeter to someone who had tweeted and deleted: “I waste way too much time on here trying to get engagement. Almost 4,000 followers, and barely anything…”

That is an intriguing assertion the responder there makes. Have we become so fearful of tweeting what we think that we don’t tweet anything socially controversial to avoid arguments and trolls? Probably. I admit I am careful about what I write on social media.

So many also seem now to feel a need at any opportunity to stick a finger in some people’s eye. Tweeting contentious political and social opinions will likely only alienate a large percentage of your readership. Why would an author want to do that?

One supposes, though, a J. K. Rowling, having made her bazillions, no longer cares who she annoys. But most other writers do still have to care. Indeed should we not be thoughtful regardless?

If for no other reason, it is a good idea – I feel – to be mindful on social media as in person simply because that used to be called “good manners.”

Have a good Monday [grumble, grumble] wherever you are. 🙂