Scribbling with purpose

scribblingI have alluded herein to being a writer. That has even brought comments, suggestions, and the idea (freely given by a wonderful person) that I use this blog as a vehicle to push my writing career along. So here is yet another post about writing, which may or may not be more interesting or better written than my previous post, that about having too many blue denim shirts. 🙂

Although I consider myself, now, to be a writer of fiction, that is almost certainly problematic. Other forms of writing, however give me a usable rationale, I believe, to say that I am a professional writer and be at least partially correct. Let’s look at a few of those before we come back to fiction.

I have written thousands of pages of non-fiction in pursuit of business goals, both mine and those of others. I have written reams of technical prose, including software and project documentation, again for myself and others. All of that has been for pay, one way or another. So I suppose that I have proven that I am a competent professional technical writer.

I am a blogger, which is to say (in my case) a short non-fiction writer, at a couple of levels. I have written hundreds of posts for my own blogs, with no thought of success or financial return. That’s not why I wrote them, nor is it why I write the posts here. I do it simply for the joy of expressing myself, of trying to say something about the world.

I also write technical columns in return for money. I’ve been doing that for quite a while, starting at, continuing on to, and now writing in a number of sections of the tech site I don’t know what the total column count is, but I tend to write about sixty columns per month, so it is probably well over a thousand. I guess, since they are still sending money, I must be a professional blogger, another form of professional writer.

I have written a fair amount of poetry. The less said about that the better. If you wish to know why I feel that is the case, I refer you to: a frawg poem. That is fairly old, but I have not gotten much better. I am distinctly not a professional poet.

I am currently writing a non-fiction book, my first. It is about the tension between a society less than 100 years away from steam power and teams of horses, in stark contrast to a highly technical world in which technical complexity doubles every eighteen months. I have already had agents bite on that book, so I am sure it will sell. It is a salable property and idea, though it will never make anybody a lot of money. I would probably do almost as well to self-publish it.

Now we are back to the fiction. I have written two novels and begun a third. I have had a number of interested agents on the first, which is of the thriller genre, fiction written around an autobiographical core. A number if literary agents like it, but say that it is almost impossible for an unknown author to break in today because the publishing business is in such a state of upheaval. That may be true, or that may be a not unkind way to reject me. I have refused thus far to take advances on a book which may not be immediately publishable.

The second is a work of hard science fiction. It is probably salable, even today, because most of the sci-fi agents are inundated with fantasy. I refuse to write a book in which any plot problem can be solved by the sudden appearance of elves. The scarcity of my sort of work, and a backlog of older readers of Asimov and Niven, give it a good chance. Unfortunately, immediately after I finished it, the initial scientific premise was solved in a slightly different way than I wrote it, so it needs some rewriting.

The third, started but not finished, is also based on a core of fact (my father’s life), the story of three children orphaned during the depression and the later results of the scars of youth. I have, perhaps, another dozen or so treatments that would work as novels. Still, only two have been written to date, and I have not cashed a check for either. That is why I am not sure if I am a professional novelist or not. I have written novels, but have not taken money for them yet. I will leave it up to the reader to come up with a usable definition of “professional novelist” in this context.

Still, by most definitions, I am a professional writer. I probably will add a section of pages to this site for the use of self-promotion, although that is an activity at which I am abysmal. I will even consider putting some of my fiction on line, although I will need to do so only in part, and behind a membership firewall, to keep the agents and publishers happy. I know something about that, since I am also the editor in chief of a Web-zine.

So, I guess I do indeed scribble, all the time and with a certain purpose. As I said in another post, it is what I have always wanted to do. I may need some new territory to explore, though. Any suggestions?


Scribbling with purpose — 7 Comments

  1. Frawg,
    Love this blog post!
    Most folks, that read what you write (me included) are envious of your seemingly effortless ability to express exactly what it is that you are trying to say. I surely am!
    Please keep updating this blog, I look forward to reading what you have to say, and watching the vlog posts that accompany them 😉

    I’ll end this comment with one of my favorite quotes:

    Success isn’t measured by the position you reach in life: it’s measured by the obstacles you overcome.
    Booker T. Washington

  2. Thanks a million. This is not destined to be a very popular post, but it will remain one of my favorites. These are things that are very important to me. Thanks you for your kind words. 🙂

  3. Michael, can you have too many blue denim shirts? 😀

    Your reasons for blogging are some of the most pure and well thought out that I have seen stated.

    I can’t watit to read your forthcoming non-fiction book and would absolutely love to read your fictional work. I mostly read non-fiction because I’m terribly, terribly picky about what I read and most fiction simply doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps it’s that my first “real” job (outside of managing a bookstore that mainly catered to roleplaying games and collecters of rare books, which was a great first job) was at Steve Jackson Games. In addition to other duties, I did a lot of editing and ghost writing. Roleplaying games being what they are, there’s a lot of fictional and creative elements that go into such productions, with sidebars running through a number of the books for fluidity as much as for demonstrative purposes. Back to the point, I’m truly interested to see the meshing of fiction wrapped around an autobiographical account. Given what I do know of the current state of the publishing industry (from my days at SJG I have friends who have gone on to bigger and better things therein), it is in a state of massive change, so I doubt that what you’re experiencing is some form of rejection. From what I’ve heard, most companies don’t want to take on anyone they’d truly like to keep for any length at the moment because of the chaos. Waiting out the storm is most likely your best bet.

    And sci-fi . . . *actual* sci-fi?! Please don’t tease me! Now, that’s fiction I would read!

    You are indeed a professional writer. The novelist portion of that may be up for debate, but if the work is done (mostly – editors and publishing houses being what they are and working as they do) and all that’s left is a matter of finding the right publisher, I think it should count. At least that’s my humble opionion, for what it may be worth.

    You could always hire someone to handle the promotion end of things – like someone (cough, cough) to develop a site subsection for fan interaction, sales, a Wiki even . . . It’s just a thought. You could even put a newsletter and forums up. The webdev has many ideas for how a subsite (or a separate, albeit cross-linked one) could be done!

    As for new territory, the world is your playground. You’re already doing what you’d like to do, which is a good start. Are you looking for new subjects to dive into, ‘types’ of writing to branch out in, a new medium, or something altogether different? Such a question begs for more clarification as to what your desires and aims are if it is to be addressed in the best manner possible.

    Oh, and I think that a post and vlog from your garage would be incredibly awesome! ^_^

  4. Reese –

    It is only rarely that I see comments on blogs that are better than the blogs they comment on This is one of those times. It is interesting to peer into your mind through your words and see what’s up in there, Good stuff!

    No, you can’t have too many denim shirts.

    The non-fiction book is coming along, a least on those days when I can clear the decks of my mind for action, and that is certainly not every day. There is just too much competing for time in my brain. I have decided the same as you have about the current state of the world of fiction publishing, and further that fiction should probably not be self-published. So I’m waiting. Perhaps some private novel screenings could be arranged,

    Maybe we should talk sometime about the promotion of the non-fiction book. I am up in the air about how to publish and sell it, It’s a while yet, unless my head miraculously clears tomorrow and I am not holding my breath. Busy, busy, busy.

    I am open to any suggestion in the area of writing that may spark me to try something new and different. I need to get back to painting. I need to build some more furniture. I need to stretch my writing skills. I need days of infinite length.

    Thank you, so much, for taking the time to write such an incredible comment. I will try to do it justice in future posts. There is a lot in your comment to think about. And, when I do a garage vlog, I’ll dedicate it to you. 🙂

  5. I’m glad to see you have realistic expectations of yourself. It has undoubtedly helped you as a writer in that many people give up when they don’t produce on something every day like they think they can and unrealistically attempt to do.

    Ugh . . . given current circumstances, I’m not really at my best to reply with all that I’d initially hoped. I’m kind of pissed at myself for that.

    If there’s any way I can help you, I will. Gladly!

  6. Reese –

    Don’t be annoyed with you. Stuff happens. Is there anything that *I* can do to help *you*? You have my email address, right?

  7. Awww! You’re a total sweetie, you know that, right? Just asking is help enough!

    I’ve always been hard – unrealistically so – on myself. I’ve known that for ages and it’s the one thing that every therapist I’ve ever had has had little success in assisting me to overcome. It’s far easier for me to forgive someone else something or to cut someone else some slack than it is for me to allow myself the same. Fatal flaw? I’m not sure as it’s proven to kept me constantly seeking to do more and better things and to be a better person.

    Actually, I don’t have your e-mail address, sadly. I know (or am, at least, I’m pretty sure!) that you have mine from my comment postings here. If not, let me know and I’ll post it for you, k?

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