A to Z Recovery and Reflections

Hello all! Thanks for stopping by my blog once more. Last week saw the end of the A to Z Challenge here on DBCII, and a great many other blogs, and it was a genuinely fun time. Just looking at my archives, that was by far the most posts in a month that this blog has seen. It adds a fantastic collection of reflections on writing to the blog, really beefing up the purpose of the blog. And, with completing the challenge on two blogs, it really got me writing!

survivor-atoz [2014]I did a reflection and looking-forward post on Comparative Geeks yesterday, and it was good to do so. For Comparative Geeks, it was a zero-sum change in the amount of content we did in the month: we regularly post Monday to Saturday, once a day, so the challenge’s rules matched perfectly. We went with a theme, so it got us blogging about characters for a whole month, which I think is good. Our character studies are regularly some of our most popular posts, so I think all of these are going to remain popular over time. At least, I hope so; I hope that the challenge-themed titles and such don’t detract from the posts. The one that got away from me was the one on Hermione and Harry – and the recent J.K. Rowling comments surrounding them. Which is a fun and relevant post here, too: does the author really get to challenge the meaning or content of their stories once written? Feel free to check it out and join in the conversation!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking and decompressing, and a four-day vacation helped. But it has me thinking about the state of the blog; the purpose of the blog, and my blogging; the future of my writing. Which is all supposed to happen, I think, doing something like this challenge. So below are some of my thoughts after working through the A to Z Challenge.

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Y – You

YI seem to be missing one last critical component of writing – You! The reader! Without an audience, a book is not a very interesting thing, and a writer is not going to be a paid author for long. So on the one hand, the goal is to get published – but on the other hand, the goal is to get read.

I think that’s a lot of the appeal to self-publishing. Yes, money, a career, all that. But really, if the goal is to be read – if the goal is to get the book to You – then by any means necessary!

It’s the reader who must meet your words with their understanding, it is the reader who tries to figure you out. Who tries – and wants to try! – to know what you scrawled out on the page, what you typed hastily into a computer. It is the reader who makes this worth it.

I missed the opportunity to write about Audience, when I wrote about Author instead, for this A to Z Challenge. So instead, I’ll let you read a post better than I would have written anyway, from the Writing Catalog. I say that in part because I like Gene’O’s writing, but also in part because I don’t think enough about the audience when I write. In a lot of ways, I write for an audience of one: myself.

And maybe that’s why I have a hard time starting to write. Because while I could write, if my main audience is myself, well, I already have the story here in my head. I know what happens. Would anyone else care what I write? Would anyone else like it?

So that means for me the most important question right now goes back to audience. And actually, I think that it may also answer a question I asked before: why write a blog? The answer may well be that you write a blog to have an audience. To experience that, to want that. To interact with them and find out what they like and don’t like. To get praise, or constructive criticism, or to get shared – all to give you that little bit of confidence you need, to know that you might just have an audience outside of yourself (or maybe your family, hopefully they’d read it too…), and that it might be worth it to drag those ideas out of your head and let them see the light of day.

Thus, concluding my posts on the essentials of writing, I dedicate this post to you: my reader, my audience. That’s right, you. Right there. I’m thinking about you when I write this. And I am thanking you for being there. Whether you’re there just as a blogger, wandering by from the Challenge – great! I know I don’t read nearly as many blog posts as I should. I am a bad audience member. Or whether you’re a follower – thank you so much! You remind me time and again that maybe I really can be a writer.

And this seems like an excellent time for self-promotion. If you like my writing here, like being my audience here, check out my geeky blog I write with my wife: Comparative Geeks. It overall has much more content and posts than here. However, since my audience has grown quite a bit during the challenge, I’m going to have to keep going strong here too, I think!

Thank You!

T – Twitter

TOf all the various Social Media options out there, one stands above the rest for writers, from what I have seen. And that option is Twitter. It doesn’t necessarily make sense – after all, Twitter does not allow you to write particularly much. However, it’s not about the writing, or writing there.

With Twitter, it’s the avenue for connecting and marketing.

I say connecting, and use my Twitter account (@dbc_ii) as an example. From the get-go, my description read that I was a writer, and listed it first. That’s some of my self-perception, and though I’m not sure I can call myself an Author, I can go with writer. And from there, it’s been interesting to watch. I have been followed by a whole bunch of writers or authors and publishing groups or companies. Twitter has done an amazing job of connecting writers this way, all on its own. And as I have been followed, and have followed back, writers, the writer quotient is just increasing.

I say marketing, then, because of what I see the authors doing with Twitter. Their description will be a link to their book, through an e-publishing site, or on Amazon. Often mentioning that the first book is reduced price or free – to of course get you hooked on the series! The other thing I see many of them doing is having a follower-reply message, that thanks you for the follow, and either suggests their book or their other Social Media presences. For people who are self-publishing, doing things like this is even more important – they may not have anyone else promoting their works like this!

Obviously writers are not the only folks able to take advantage of Twitter for the reasons I list above. However, of the different types of Social Media, I see Twitter doing this by far the best. Facebook doesn’t do a whole lot of recommending to you – especially of pages – that hasn’t been paid for. And a lot of the others don’t have the public presence and connection.

So if you are a writer, make sure you have a Twitter! And this goes for bloggers too – it’s really easy to connect Twitter with your site, and use things like Publicize to push your posts as well. And I follow back writers 🙂 Include your Twitter in the comments below to connect with folks!

A – Author

A

To kick off the A to Z Challenge, I gave myself an easy one. My topic for the challenge (as you can check out here) is writing, and the world of writing, and so there is not much more critical to this than the author. Books don’t write themselves, as I’m sure someone in the history of the world has said before, and so it goes.

The question often comes up: at what point can you call yourself a writer? The answer tends to have to do with writing – do you write? And in a lot of ways, a lot of the time, there are folks who are writers who are not paid for it, or not paid yet, not published yet, what have you. Take most bloggers, for instance. A consistent blogger might not be paid – and power to those who are! – but they are writing.

However, is there a difference between this and being an author? Is Author, perhaps, the concept that goes along with Being Published? Being paid for your writing? Or maybe it has to do more with something specific, about writing specific sorts of things. Authors write novels. Or wait, are those novelists? Authors can write short stories, after all. Or what about screenplays? Plays plays? Poetry? Or are there other words for these sorts of people – playwrights and poets?

Clearly, this seemingly simple term needs some help. How about Merriam-Webster?

A person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/author

So I don’t know if that’s the answer. One who has written something is an author; they might also be a more specific sort of author, like a blogger or a poet. But still an author.

What about you – what do you think of if someone were to tell you they were an author? What would your assumption be about their work, or what questions would you ask them? Let me know in the comment section down below!

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