About Writers, blogging, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

This Space Not Reserved

If you drop in from time to time to see what’s being discussed, feel free to stir up a discussion of your own. If you have author privileges, put your post in “Draft” and I will post it on Mondays – on a first-come-first-posted basis. If not, email it to me at
GD(at)Deckard(dot)one
(If you replace the parentheticals with “@” and “.” you’ll have my address. If email-collecting spam ‘bots see it, hopefully the code will thwart them.)
Enough ifs.

This weeks’ commentary is completely open. Open comments week ocurrs when nobody can think of anything to post. Personally, I’d like to hear that Sue channeled Matsuo Bashō to write a haiku, or Boris became apprenticed to Mel Brooks, or that Perry fly fished with Lee Wulff. Or see a link to a new Space Cowboy song. Or watch a Youtube of Victor plugging his latest novel on the Tonight Show, or one of Curtis in Africa accepting an award for his charitable contributions. Or Mimi’s creations becoming NFT art.
But enough ors.

Comment on whatever aspect of writing you care to.

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60 thoughts on “This Space Not Reserved

  1. Cwbadie says:

    By gosh, sir, I have finally made my way into your domain! Of course I have a billion irrelevant questions, but I shall refrain from asking but one…for now: did you create Writer’s Co-op? If so, I owe you you a great apology for not ever giving an intentional glance at your organization. Then it would have not taken an introduction by my MC brother, Doug, to finally take notice that you had literally been in my face for the last several years. I truly hope to learn from your experience form this point on…oh, forgive the babbling…Ritalin…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ritalin? Oh God what a flash-back… We had that drug in stock at Kwangju Air Base, in a tent hospital set up immediately after North Korea stole the USS Pueblo. Drug companies always favor the military with an early opportunity to test their controversial products. A local bar owner got some of the psychotropic substance to slip into the drinks of patrons on the grounds that a central nervous system stimulant ought to keep them drinking longer and hence increase profitability. As the NCOIC in charge of the pharmacy, I was ordered to keep that stuff locked up and to report all prescriptions. To my knowledge there were no noticeable effects, but then, we are talking about drunks.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Cwbadie says:

        Well, Ritalin is a dexidrine derivative. Probably gave it to the guys who go on patrol and have to stay (explains the military musician who went on patrols…not!) alert. It mellows people with ADHD out and sharpens our focus. As you described it, no one was exposed to it long enough to cause problems

        Liked by 3 people

    • MamaSquid says:

      Welcome, welcome. I get you. I started taking stimulants two years ago and OH MY GOD is this what it’s like for normal people? You just think about something you want to do, and then do it? Vyvanse opened up a whole new world for me.

      Liked by 4 people

    • My son had a friend who suffered from ADHD whose parents agreed to give him Ritalin. (In reality, my son probably had several friends on Ritalin — it was the 1980s.) But the one I mention here told me he was glad he took it because it made him feel “normal”– he could focus on whatever it was he was supposed to do and not be carried away by every hilarious urge that entered his head. I think the hidden bonus was that it helped him discipline those hilarious urges to become truly outstanding comic stage performances.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    I never knew what NFT was, but was never curious enough to look it up. I looked it up and still don’t know what it is or, rather, why it is. Why people are willing to pay big money for something that’s endlessly reproduceable.

    I read: think of it as owning an original artwork, of which prints are made and sold. It doesn’t feel like that to me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • mimispeike says:

      I just read an article. Most of these doo-hickeys are sold by celebrities/influencers and supposedly give their fanbase access to exclusive content/interaction with them. Paris Hilton is working the racket. That tells you something right there.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Mimi, NFTs are stored as a unique image on a blockchain, and the owner has exclusive rights, similar to the copyrights an author retains to their work. If I purchased one of your art pieces as a non-fungible token, I would own all commercial rights to it.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Mimi. I’m with you on NFTs. Ultimately, other than bragging rights, their greatest value seems to come only when the owner sells them to some other sucker who will pay even more than the seller did. I foresee those transactions quickly reaching a high point and then losing favor with investors.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    For the hell of it, I followed one of those promos on Facebook to a sample of book one in a series called Moonlight Bay. And read the five page teaser. It was five pages of the most boring drivel I ever read in my life. And there are six books in the series.

    It’s #840 in ‘Clean and Wholesome Romance!’

    It’s fun to check some of this stuff out once in a while. It makes you feel a lot better about your own work.

    Who buys this crap? Unbe-fucking-lievable!

    Liked by 3 people

      • mimispeike says:

        Judging by the first five pages, in which you’d expect the author to put her best foot forward, Moonlight Bay is not ordinary drivel. It’s super-drivel.

        Liked by 3 people

        • mimispeike says:

          Go read it yourselves, tell me I’m wrong. (I don’t think so!)

          Go to Amazon/Books/Moonlight Bay/The Parker Women/book one (I didn’t note the individual title). I’d love to know what someone else thinks.

          For your effort, I think you’ll have a good laugh.

          Liked by 3 people

            • MamaSquid says:

              I went through the whole sample. My read is that the protagonist neither has a clear desire nor any agency. The attempts to generate conflict fall flat because we don’t know what the character wants. The character is not faced with any crisis choices. There isn’t even a signal as to what genre we’re reading. With the kind of stuff I read, I was hoping Aunt Evelyn would find a body on the pier or something.

              Liked by 3 people

    • MamaSquid says:

      I have tried to change my attitude toward bad writing/bad writers, allowing that what makes for bad writing is entirely subjective, and that, in the words of E.B. White, “I admire anyone who has the guts to write anything at all.” But bad writing is one of the upshots of self-publishing. As great as it is for compelling indie authors who wouldn’t otherwise get their foot in the door, it leads to poor quality control. And there are a number of readers out there who would rather consume books than read them, if that makes any sense. They aren’t looking for quality so much as a very specific kind of dopamine hit, which they feel and then discard and move onto the next. So you don’t even have to be that good to be successful. Better news for us, yes?

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think that anyone with “the guts to write anything at all” deserves the opportunity for helpful feedback, but I don’t believe bad writing is entirely subjective. Objectively bad writing is a real thing. It might contain some bits of good writing, but there are some standards that editors agree on. Otherwise, professionally published works would have the same proportion of bad writing as we might find in self-published works, right?

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Perry Palin says:

    GD wrote in part, “Personally, I’d like to hear . . . that Perry fly fished with Lee Wulff.” Well, I never met Lee Wulff. He was an innovator, an inventor, an artist, an author, a conservationist, a master fly fisherman, and probably he was a great guy. He built a career in fly fishing, and by the time he was famous, I expect it was a good living.

    I have met a few author/fly fishermen with national or regional reputations. They’re nice guys, but they have to spend all their time marketing their brand, their books, their products, their services, and their lives. I’d have a tough time fishing with them unless they were at least half drunk, and I was at least started on a drunk, to bring down the hype and the need to push for another sale.

    I know several author/fly fishing guides. Good guys, but they lament the constant pressure to deliver a positive experience to bumbling neophytes who think they know better than the guide because they are paying the bill.

    My best fly fishing companions wear bib overalls or dirty canvas pants and funny hats, speak ungrammatically, are good casters and fly tiers, don’t need to flaunt their skills, and laugh when a big fish breaks them off. Ted, my hero and role model, will fish for a while, maybe he’ll catch something or maybe he won’t, he’ll watch a spider spin a web and listen to the birds in the trees, and then he’ll say, “The world doesn’t owe me another fish.” Then he’ll lay down under a tree and take a nap.

    My preference for fishing partners is a clue to the way I write and share my stories. I like to write. I’ve been published in some magazines and journals and had a couple of short story collections well received by a small audience. In writing, I’m a small fish in a small pond. I may never have the urge to swim out into the big river.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Perry,
      Come to think of it, my fondest outdoor memories come from fishing or hunting with people like you describe as “best fly fishing companions.” They are too complicated to easily describe. But you did a good job of it.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. MamaSquid says:

    I wrote a blog post for the co-op about how I recovered from writing burnout, but I haven’t edited it yet. I’m in a challenging place with multiple competing priorities, including my job and my two-year-old, and one of the things that makes it so difficult is that I have executive function problems with task-switching. My life is one continuous exercise in task-switching and I never have the same day twice. Routine is a laughable concept when you have a toddler. I found a system that seems to be working for me. Stay tuned…

    They say the best writers read outside their genre – keeps them from getting stale and relying on worn-out tropes. I’m reading something right now far off the beaten path, a literary fiction true-crime novel called Devil House by John Darnielle. I’m not generally one for true-crime because of how exploitative it feels, but that is very much the point of the novel. It’s about a true-crime writer confronting the ethical problems of writing true-crime. I have to keep reminding myself the stories aren’t real because they are so emotionally affecting. I think this has relevance to every piece of writing because most writers to one extent or another are exploiting other people’s experience. I think of this often when I write about prisoners of war or sexual assault. Even if I have direct experience with something, I may be imagining some other version or dimension that I don’t have direct experience with. I don’t really have a solution, but I think about it often.

    I’m also reading Great Expectations with the Serial Reader App. If you are an Android user I recommend it. It takes books that are public domain and breaks them down in ten-minute episodes that it sends to you each day. I have read a few classics this way, including The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. They have a pretty robust library. I also found that as a member of Amazon Prime (or maybe Kindle Unlimited?) I have free access to BBC History magazine. Knowledge of history is also very useful for a writer, but I often struggle for context. This mag is great for giving me exactly the right amount of information without overwhelming me. Did you know scientists have mapped the entire genome of the bacteria that caused the Black Plague and have traced its evolutionary history throughout the world? It’s been around since at least 7000 BC.

    Well there are my random contributions. lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • 👍 MAMASQUID your contribution reads like a favorite piece that used to appear at the end of Scientific American magazine. Called “Connections” it (only on the surface) rambled over great distances of thought, but everything was connected.

      Oh, and don’t even try to keep up with a two year old. Notre Dame Football Coache Knute Rockne once famously brought his two year old son to an indoor practice session on a rainy day. He turned the kid loose in the gym to play on the exercise equipment and told his players to do everything the kid did. They did and had to quit before the kid even slowed down.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lol, Mamasquid, pardon my ignorance of the genre, but isn’t a “literary fiction true-crime novel” the same thing as a “crime novel”?

      22+ years as a Licensed Child Care Provider, mostly managing six at a time with two younger than age 2. It was a marvelous, energetic, frustrating time that had satisfactions and rewards no other occupation but parenthood offers. One of the many things I learned was that people might talk about the Terrible Twos, but they are a dream compared to the Threatened Threes. The fact is, there isn’t a 3-year-old alive who isn’t lucky to make it to 4. 2-year-olds might tell you, “No!” Repeatedly. Insistently. But they are easily distracted. 3-year-olds, on the other hand, mean it, and they will test you and every nerve you own, on purpose. Something to look forward to.

      Liked by 2 people

      • MamaSquid says:

        Well, I don’t mind age two so much. He’s a sweet and silly boy. It’s true what you say about the rewards. We’ll take it as it comes.

        I described Devil House as a true-crime novel rather than a crime novel because it’s about true-crime. It’s a deconstruction of the true-crime genre and it’s about a true-crime writer, his writing process, and his thoughts about writing true-crime. It’s not what you’d think of as a traditional crime novel where there’s a crime, a hero, and a villain to be captured. But I’m not familiar with the genre either. Maybe it would just be classified as Crime.

        I haven’t read Capote. I don’t usually read stuff like this. Trying to stretch myself a little. Some of this crime stuff makes me jumpy.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Perry Palin says:

      We spent a week in February with our daughter and son-in-law and their two year old and three year old. Mom and dad both work from home, but only one at a time. Those kids were two handsful, The Chaos Crew.

      I am reading mysteries and crime novels from American, British, and Nordic authors. Interesting how we don’t think the British books need to be translated. In one Finnish novel it was clear that the translation was done by someone who had Finnish as their first language, and learned English (very well, I might add) later. The book read lust like my parents and their siblings and a lot of our older neighbors talked. I’m also reading other stuff all the time. It keeps me thinking about how I write, and how I put ideas down into words.

      Liked by 3 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Do you know about gutenberg.org? Classics, and obscure out-of-print books, thousands and thousands, for free. Many gems to be discovered there.

      The site is: gutenberg.org. There is a site feeding off gutenberg’s reputation: guttenberg.org (2 t’s) – I know nothing about them. The site to check out is gutenberg.

      Liked by 4 people

    • mimispeike says:

      “. . . a literary fiction true-crime novel called Devil House”

      Have you read Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’? I read it fifty years ago, and I recall enjoying it. (Who does not enjoy Capote?) I have to read it again.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. My work compared favorably to Matsuo Bashō’s? Twice? Thank you, GD and Mellow, I’m humbled and flabbergasted.

    12th grade Honors English provided my first exposure to Haiku, and of those we studied, Bashō wrote my favorite: Bashō’s Road

    This road:
    with no man traveling on it,
    autumn darkness falls.

    Not in traditional Haiku format, I know, but below that was this:

    Kono / michi / ya / yuku-hito / nashi / ni / aki-no-kure

    Transliterated to:

    This / road / : / going-person / be-none / [with] / autumn-nightfall

    To me, “This road: going person be none” expressed in a blinding flash the essence, the roadiness of the road, and during the many decades since, has remained one of my favorite phrases.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mimispeike says:

    Dear god in heaven! Kay Correll, author of Moonbeam Bay, has four other series out: Lighthouse Point, Comfort Crossing, Charming Inn, and Sweet River.

    Her bio reads: Kay Correll is a USA Today bestselling author of sweet, heartwarming stories that are a cross between women’s fiction and contemporary romance. She is known for her charming small towns, quirky townsfolk, and the enduring strong friendships between the women in her books.

    Apparently writing bland women discussing their bland lives is a formula for success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL Mimi, “bland people discussing their bland lives” sounds like a harsh judgement but really, it is normal. Interesting, too, that it is what most people on social media are doing. Maybe, it’s a sign that most people feel isolated and enjoy the comfort of chatting with others or even just reading about others like themselves?

      When I was on Facebook, an ad was for a software program that would collect your posts and turn them into a book. Stupid idea, I thought at the time, 😏 but I suppose it could become a USA Today bestseller 😝 in the newest genre – drivel.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MamaSquid says:

        I suspect we each left Facebook for different reasons, but I don’t miss it. I can’t even guess how long it was before I didn’t feel the impulse to post every random thought in my head.

        I used to be angry at successful bad writers. EL James was the bane of my existence. I joined a Facebook group for sci-fi romance writers, and scoffed at the low quality of the writing. I thought, “Why? Why when I slave over every word, when I suffer so much for years trying to get everything right, are people who are completely oblivious and uncaring about their craft rolling in accolades?” And because it’s such a small pond, I think they all critique each other’s work before it gets published. They are constantly reinforcing one another, so none of them will ever improve. And why should they? They’re making money churning out six bad novels a year. Most of them have no idea about, or interest in, the genre’s potential.

        But it doesn’t affect me. It’s certainly not going to change how I write. I’d rather languish in obscurity than be successful writing rushed and predictable stories that will be mindlessly consumed rather than thoughtfully considered. Yet… eventually I came to see these writers as potential allies, either in terms of networking or just as fellow writers in my genre. I could learn a lot from them about marketing. Not only that, but I realized my work would really stand out in this context. So far those writers are superior to me in at least one way: they had the courage to hit “publish.”

        Liked by 3 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    I check ‘Posts’ every day to see if anything is up there. Most of the time, I find nada.

    My recent pieces have failed to impress. I’ve thought, What’s the use?

    I’m trying again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m thinking a writer’s first need is not an agent or a publisher. We first need a marketing person to attract an agent or a publisher.

    Unless we self-publish. Then we need a marketing person.

    Anyone know a good marketing person?

    Liked by 1 person

    • MamaSquid says:

      I’m a part of a writing program over at Pages and Platforms called Happily Ever Author Club, which teaches both story craft with two of my editor friends, and marketing with a guru named Sue Campbell. It’s time intensive and expensive, but cheaper than working one on one with someone. I’ve yet to dip my toes into the marketing waters. Sue says you need to start sooner than you think you do, but I don’t have a product yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Also keep R.O.I. in mind. Return on investment here means you sell enough books to profit on your marketing investment. I have yet to come across any marketing effort that paid more than it cost. Think of it this way: If the marketer could provide you with a profit, they would be willing to work on commission.

    Marketers work best selling commodities, not one-offs like a book because they know selling one copy to each consumer does not build a solid customer base. Prolific writers like Stephen King or James Patterson have a solid customer base. But then, they don’t need a marketer.

    Disclaimer: I have zero marketing ability. I worked with marketing people that I hired for my company before I retired. But my actual experience came from overriding their advice and placing what I thought were great ads that totally wasted my money.

    Still, my final advice is to ask the marketer to work on commission. Then ask, “Why not,” just for fun. They’ve already decided that they can’t make you a profit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MamaSquid says:

      I can’t agree with profits and commissions. I’m a grant writer and me getting paid is not contingent on getting the grant, nor should it be. Not every attempt is going to succeed, and there are so many factors that go into success regardless of one’s expertise.

      There’s a difference between paying someone to market for you, and paying someone to teach you how to market yourself. I’m doing the latter. I don’t know if I’ll ever get ROI on anything I’ve done, including all the editing courses I’ve taken, but I don’t care because I’m learning so much. I’m already living the dream AFAIC.

      Liked by 2 people

      • We all enjoy the writing life, MAMASQUID. Profits and commissions as used here refers to how much -and how- a writer pays another person to sell their books. Authors who get paid only when their book sells sometimes consider using a marketer to increase their sales. If so, they want to sell enough extra books to cover the cost of the marketer.

        Liked by 1 person

        • mimispeike says:

          From the prices I’ve seen on that website, that would be a shitload of books you’d have to sell to make that money back. You’d have to be a genuine best-seller, not a best-seller in one of Amazon’s hilarious sub-categories.

          It would be cheaper to take my chances with a review by Kirkus, hope for a real good one, slap it on every open-to-it site on the web.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Cwbadie says:

    Gosh, guys…either the old meds are still in my system or I could use some direction on how to get somideas on how to start up in thus business of writing…I guess the first thing is to create an actual product…am I in the ‘write’ path? Or what should I do and where do I start to get some helpful skills?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Google how to write a story just to get a feel for what that means, but the best learning comes from experience: write stories.

      Go to our “Show Case.” That’s the button at the top of the page that says “Show Case.” People here will comment on your story, and you can use their feedback to keep writing better as you go. Experience is a good teacher.

      Check Duotrop.com to see what kind of stories and/or novels publishers are looking for.

      Like

    • MamaSquid says:

      Read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield, because no matter where you are at in the process, Resistance will come for you. As a beginner, you will be especially vulnerable to self-doubt and feeling like this whole writing thing is not for you. Just keep writing. Focus on the joy of the process. And listen to Ira Glass.

      I’ve read like 200 books on writing, and a friend of mine recently joked that I’m not allowed to read another craft book until I submit my debut novel to 50 agents. So I really believe in the value of craft books, possibly to the point of my own Resistance rearing its ugly head! But if I could have had one thing when I started writing, it wouldn’t be a craft book. It would be the tools to keep writing even when I felt discouraged. The real secret to success in this field is just to keep going, in the famous parable of Anne Lamott, take it bird by bird.

      “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Cwbadie says:

    Ah…so I am doing it write…er, right! I’ve done all the things you’ve suggested: I’ve re-read several books on writing that I own, visited YouTube and read what they had to offer and them to be excellent refreshers on what I have learned. So now I just exhibit my wares and listen for constructive criticism?

    Liked by 1 person

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