Posted by: Shara | April 7, 2011

Blogging on the Commercial World of Writerdom

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 Edition

Be prepared.  I am writing as I am speaking it in my head.  Does this lend to perfect grammar?  Of course not!  And I love that!  There will be enough of that in my other writings!

A blog….  I swore that I would not “blog” because I think that some things need to be held as private, and not splashed all over the internet.  On the other hand, I have wondered at my own view of my work, of myself, and pondered the question of how my skills fit in with the commercial world of writerdom.  That means that it’s time to put myself out there.

On Sunday, March 27, I decided that I had a talent for writing that could actually get me somewhere.  This was not a wake-up-and-decide-to-become-a-writer moment.  This was a realization of all of the business-style writing and editing that I had been doing for the past fifteen years, and noticing that people always had compliments and a desire to read whatever I chose to write.  I hadn’t stopped writing at all.  I had merely changed my venues.

For years, I had bucked against the system of “selling out” for commercial gain, and wrote for myself in my journal in classic coffee-shop style.  I wanted to be called a poet.  Then one day while I was in my mid-twenties, I had a conference with my poetry professor.  She told me very candidly that I should not aspire to be a poet.  As a hobby, poetry was amazing, and she would never encourage anyone away from writing.  But if I was to make my way in literary society, become a professional writing and editing major.  Editing?  I would never have explored that.  But she had noticed that when I helped others edit their poetry in class, though some of the subjects were touchy for me, I helped them from a removed and professional point of view that made their poems better.

From that meeting stemmed a series of thoughts that culminated in some varied and non-traditional writing that seemed to prove her point.  My first business plan received commentary noting that those with experience in these matters thought that it was a decent proposal, and that they never would have known that this was my first shot.  I wrote essays and learned to be able to argue people with the ability and perspective of one who sees both sides and can explain points of view that would encourage others to compromise.

Through years of having and raising children, exploring my own talents, and trying to decide what was honest and what was braggartism, I discovered that the real test of whether or not one has what it takes to make it is to do it.  No apologies, no hiding, no rebuffing the criticism with “you just don’t know good writing when you see it.”  (At least I can spell well, though that art has gone the way of spellcheck!)

So the day came that I decided to write in a dedicated fashion this time.  If I wrote for at least five hours a day, five days a week, how much could I accomplish!  I had never taken on the role from that perspective, and I thought, “How can I say that I should be published when I have not given my writing the chance to be that good?”  If I wallow in mediocrity, it is because I am not working at excelling!  (I realize that some people are not meant to do certain things as a profession that they love to spend their time doing.  So, it was time to do or die!)

The first test came the next morning.  I must say, I hope that everyone has as many loving, supportive family and friends as I have been blessed with.  These people really DO make rejections easier, and if they are honest with you, and you are honest with yourself, you will know that your work will actually become better.  The only thing more annoying than someone who doesn’t have any talent believing that they are the best in the industry is someone who doesn’t give enough credence to their talents and wastes them.  (Thanks, brother dear, I know that you have my best interests at heart, and I know that you only speak your truth.)  I told my husband and our friend, Mike, that I had taken a vow of literary exploration.  Mike told me of a contest that he wanted me to enter.

To be fair, I believe that my gamer tendencies came from my ability to see videos in my head of the epic scenes and characters from my books.  Truth be told, though, I am a gamer.  World of Warcraft, currently, but paper quests long before, and before that, the quests and stories in my head.  WoW has taught me many things about the world, and who I am, though I know that this sounds impossible.  If my writing is to be honest, I need to be honest.  I love seeing this world created from someone’s mind, and exploring all that it has to offer.  (The friends have been awesome, also!  Cheers, Firelords of Azeroth!)

The contest was a World of Warcraft contest.  Write up an April Fools’ Day holiday of your creation.  Oh, man, really?  There is so much content required to cover something like this!  Then the resolve set in.  I love to create beautiful things.  I love the challenge of someone else telling me what they want to see created and answering the call.  And, I prefer the intriguing look at a fantastical world.  I also really liked the sound of something this fun that I could tackle immediately!  I had five days to come up with the premise… the deadline was one week away.

My first shot at writing, and I take on a tight-knit, dedicated and specific group that is extremely knowledgeable about their area of expertise.  If there is anything flawed or that is lacking enough research, they would catch it immediately.  I needed to have a story line, character backgrounds, and the who, what, where and why for an entire holiday in WoW.  That was not the only problem for me.  One of the judges had knowledge of programming, and the realistic probabilities of implementing such a story.  I wrote the the whole thing out in less than two days.  There was no nervousness, I promise!  I just don’t think that I ate for the three days that I had to wait for the announcements!

As the time for the podcast (which is like a radio broadcast for ipods that also plays live over the internet for those who might not know) approached, I could do nothing else except cling to every word that the hosts said.  They read the winners backwards, as I feel is the best way.  With each winner, I ticked down my chances of having won in the contest.  Finally, there was one winner left to be read… Grand Prize.  I let out the breath that I hadn’t realized I was holding.  My whole family was sitting on top of me and the computer, waiting for the announcement.  And then it came.  VERONIQUE!  Did he really say it?  I WON!  And as he read the prizes that I had won, jaws dropped on both my husband and Mike!  Then the host read my own story to me over the internet.

The thought that came to me from Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, was the time-honored, “write about what you know” litany that I don’t think most writers take enough reassurance in.  (After all, who would want to read about what I know?)  The reaffirmation was there.  I knew World of Warcraft, especially with the player take that I had written the storyline from.  I have always loved the special fun that Blizzard created in celebrating spin-offs of holidays in the game.  But I also understood that I had passed the test.  I had written new lore, or back story, for a game that millions of people play, and had been rewarded for it.  The painstaking efforts of being concise, making sure that story and content had complete connections and reasons for existing, and fleshing out as much as I could in the day and a half that I had had to write it before the deadline, earned me Grand Prize, United States.

I screamed.  And then I called my mom.  I told my mother about winning Grand Prize, and she said, “I hope that this proves to be the jumping off point for which you can trust in your ability to write.”  My mother used to cut contest articles out of the local papers to try to get me to write.  She has always been one of my staunchest supporters.

And then I called my brother.  My brother played World of Warcraft in an analytical, reach-the-pinnacle-to-achieve-the-completion-of-my-own-personal-challenges-and-move-on-upon-proving-that-he-was-ranked-with-the-Best-of-the-Best kind of way.  He was the one person outside of my own house (who was also related to me) that I knew, hoped, would understand and be excited for me!  He told me that, not to puff my head up, if it had only taken me a day and a half, how much could I have done with a whole month?  How much work would it take others to accomplish what I did?  He told me to stop wasting my talents, put them to work… and remember that he was my brother.  (Thanks to those comments, I am now going to have to add some sort of Horde tribute to my trophies to remind me of a certain Horde rogue I once knew.)  He and I spoke for a while, with him asking me all of the insightful questions of someone who knows writing, World of Warcraft, and me.  I told him that I was nervous, and how much of my own ego I had had riding on this.  And he told me that he was proud of me.  Then he told me that he wanted to read the story I was writing along with it, and to send him EVERYTHING I had in writing!  He was going to analyze it, of course.  I was happy about that, of course!  I had no idea that my brother had paid so much attention, or homage, to the two talents I pride myself in the most—singing and writing.  It meant a lot to me that he was so excited for me, because he does not give compliments lightly or easily.  That’s why he earned a place on my mantle.

I wasn’t to know exactly how proud my husband, David, was of me until he awoke me on Thursday morning by saying, “I know of another contest that I think you could win.”  In that instant, I knew that he was saying, “I am proud of you and I believe in you.”

And so, here we are.  The brief beginning of this journey has brought us to the start of this blog.  Just know, I am writing this at 3 am due to crazy sleep issues, so if the writing is off, then it’s proven that tiredness won.  Sometimes it is more important to get the words down on paper and pray that you don’t sound like a loony in the morning.  It would seem that I have already packed my bags and taken off on a flight to an unknown destination!  The goal is one year, at least one finished book, and then the results will be weighed in.

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Responses

  1. That is so cool

  2. …..So…..exactly how many Horde Rogues DO you know?

    • You know that if I list two I will probably be forgetting someone, right? : )


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