what to readers want

Getting it Write

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I think the malaria is gone for now – won’t know for sure till Tuesday when the last course of tablets is done. But I’m vertical, and must be on the mend, so that’s that in the illness department for now. Being sick generally makes me angry. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I tend towards rather vicious thoughts of what I’d do to whatever it is that’s ailing me, if I could only lay my hands on it/them. Right now I’m in a good mood, thinking about all those rotten parasites dying tiny horrible chemical deaths. Not normal, I know.

I would estimate that it’s going to take me a couple of weeks to catch up, work and social networking wise. But that’s alright, I think, I always do. I used to believe that if I never blogged for a day, or if I didn’t answer a comment or message immediately, that people would be appalled at my laziness/arrogance, and immediately unfriend me, cursing the day they’d ever come across me. Some did, I think, but they aren’t important, and the loss of them might not be a terrible thing. I don’t think badly of any of my friends when they disappear from the radar for a while, or if they’re not sitting eyeball to monitor, twenty four hours a day, purely on the off-chance that they might miss a comment I leave on a status of theirs. They’ll get around to it when they can, and if they don’t, that’s cool with me too.

Life happens to all of us with varying intensity at different times. Why shouldn’t we be there for people we like, just because they’re not around every day? The Indie scribbler’s life is wild enough without having to worry about that sort of thing also. We’re only human. And most of us came here with just a story or two, and no clue of how hard it would be to keep up. Even if we stop cooking, cleaning and bathing, there will still be stuff left undone. Generally your poor old manuscript at the bottom of the to-do list. We’re not professional bloggers, marketers, or publishers. We’re all just doing the best that we can. I get that, and so should anyone on the self publishing merry-go-round. I believe that with time things get easier, but unless you have a virtual assistant or two, and nothing ever happens in your real life, we all fall down now and then. But, we get up. And our friends are still there. And off we zoom again.

With the really weird, and often horrible, trip I’ve been on this last year, particularly these past few months, of being more off than on, I’ve found that the circle of friends I have in the old world wide web are the coolest friends indeed. Wonderful friends who support each other, and very likely we always will. The users and takers fall away over time, and when they do, you generally realise that they gave you nothing, and you were giving more than they deserved anyway. Really good people don’t whine or bale, and those are the ones that are important. To me anyway.

I did a lot of snoozing this last week. I generally pop out of bed around four am, and then zoom through my days, till I totally run out of steam, conk out, and repeat. I like being busy. All this enforced snoozing, and lack of activity, got the old grey matter agitated. It brought African Me fully to the forefront of my mind, with the question, “Why the hell are you taking so long to publish it?”, popping up every time I woke up. I’ve gone over this book literally hundreds of times, tweaking, changing, deleting. But still, every time I think it’s ready for the big wide world, something puts the brakes on in my subconscious, and then I’m off to page one again, convinced that I’ve missed something.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I realised that the only thing that’s preventing this book from being published is fear. Mine. The main character in African Me has quite a lot to say throughout the book, but particularly, a couple of harsh things in the beginning. The things she says are controversial, to say the least. I must have had the fear of being personally attributed with my character’s words lurking in the back of my mind all this time. So I put the question to the guys at our Readers Meet Authors and Bloggers community on Google+. Their answers really got me thinking. Should I change things, take out things that might cause anger? Should I type my disclaimer in capitals, and in red letters, then let loose the book, and hope I don’t get stomped on? Or bin the whole thing? Last night I was toying with the changing or the binning. The letting loose suddenly seemed a little too scary to do at all.

Then this morning, the first blog I happened to open was Stephannie Beman’s. She’d seen a question from a writer, asking how he could get the joy of writing back. He’d lost it – lost his mojo, poor guy. She very cleverly figured out that his problem wasn’t writer’s block, but that he was trying to write what he thought, or others thought, that readers wanted to read, and not what he wanted to write. Her blog post was called Writing For Yourself First. Light-bulb moment for me!

I think that in this last year, I’ve totally forgotten what it was that started me writing this book. And maybe now a little of every little thing that I do is strongly angled towards not getting up anyone’s nostril, or rocking any boats. Terrified of people hopping not only on the one star nasty train on Amazon, but also terrified of hurting any feelings. The possibility of both offending or hurting all sorts of feelings exists with this book. But there’s also the possibility of opening a couple of eyeballs to the truth. The funny thing is that it’s got nothing to do with politics, or even so much what’s been happening in Zimbabwe in recent years. It’s purely fiction, happening in Zimbabwe, with the thread of South African apartheid, and its legacy running through it. Still. My delaying tactics have clearly been brought on by fear that I was moving too far away from what people want to read. Or know about. I was scared to either hurt or anger people around here also.

Then, as the universe does, it made sure that the very next blog I opened showed me that my cowardice sucked. This young man showed me that. His story isn’t what African Me is about, but his courage in speaking his mind made me ashamed at even considering bowing to what ifs. Even though the only theme of importance in my book is racism, strong points of view from all angles and current affairs seem to have crept into it, so I risk making quite a lot of people on all sides of several fences quite cross indeed. So be it.

I’ve decided. I’ll not be doing any socially, or politically correct, tweaking and editing any more. I had something I was trying to share when I wrote this story. A point I wanted to get across. So that’s what I’ll be doing. That’s the thing with life. You really don’t have to read anything, or look at anything you don’t want to. Except on Facebook, that is. That’s your choice again. If you don’t want to take a chance on seeing anything disturbing, don’t join it. As an example, there people share those awful pictures of geese being force-fed, or bleeding after having their chest feathers regularly plucked out for down pillows and comforters. People get well freaked out and yell at the sharers for bringing down their day. That’s the nature of Facebook though, you can’t necessarily expunge from your brain what pops up under your eyeball. I’ve seen lots of things there that made me want to expunge my actual eyeballs at the time. But I’m not sorry that I’ve seen them. I believe people should know what, and who, makes up the world they live in. That’s your personal choice though. My personal trip doesn’t include avoidance, and if there is ever anything I can do for those poor goose guys, apart from not buying down or eating fois gras, I’d be really quite keen on doing it. Especially if it involves doing what they’ve done to the doers. Anyway. The book stays as it is.

Obviously as writers we want people to read our books. Buy our books. So we zoom around madly, finding out about marketing, market trends, WHAT PEOPLE WANT. Well. I figure that seeing as how I’m a people too, I have first dibs on what at least some people want. You can never give everyone what they want, so why stress about it. I’ll never make a million bucks writing a Zombie Meets Elf, Who Whups His Crumbling Bum into a Frenzy of Pixie Dust, erotica book. Not that I have anything against that sort of thing. People like it. And I certainly wouldn’t mind making a million bucks. I just can’t write that way. I can only write the way I do. It could be that the way I write is really crap. Only time will tell. I’m still very new to this game. But at least if I get blasted, it won’t be for trying to do something I don’t have the talent or ability to do. As Stephannie says, there’s no point in writing at all, if you’re not writing for yourself first.

This post is longer than my usual, but I have been absent a bit, so I hope I’m forgiven. I just zoomed through my unfollowers on Twitter. I get as much pleasure zapping them with my own unfollow button as I do squishing rotten little stinging insects. They follow you, and being a normal, polite Tweep, you follow them back. Then, when they’ve amassed 40 000 followers, they just unfollow 39 900 of them leaving them with an account which makes them look AWESOME! At least they think so. Just like Bieber. I’m not sure if they then sell these accounts, or keep them for themselves, believing that anyone with half a brain cell is going to think that they’re the coolest thing since white bread. Rotten little time wasting tools. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but unless I really, really, really, want to hear what you have to say, I’m not going to follow you on Twitter if you don’t follow me back. And if you have tens of thousands of followers, and are following ten, I’m not going to follow you to begin with. I’m still pissed off at Gordon Ramsay for not answering a tweet I sent him. I unfollowed him immediately, and considered for a moment removing him from my book! Hah! Only for a moment though. I couldn’t come up with a replacement tv chef quite as outrageous as he. Still. He now has ONE less follower. And he doesn’t know I watch every episode of Ramsay’s Hotel Hell after all. So…

Till next time friends.

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