Everyone’s A Critic

The other day I received a text from a friend of mine with a screenshot of an Instagram post. The post in question was a negative, but a valid critique of a novel, The user said that while the book was well paced, the twist was very impressive, but the novel itself was “just okay” and “not for them”.

While this is not exactly what every author wants to hear, as far as reviews go, the internet has been worse. If it were my book, I would be very content with that type of review negative or otherwise. If something just is not for you, that’s completely fair. In that sense, everyone is entitled to their opinion. That being said, the Poster, tagged the author of the novel that she did not like.

Not even that she didn’t like it, she just didn’t like a lot. “This book honestly fell short for me, but that does not mean you shouldn’t check it out for yourself.” the Instagram account writes. She follows it up with praise for a few plot devices the author uses. The only thing reads as “good, not great.” In short; she gave it a B minus. It’s passing. It’s respectable.  

“Can she even do this?” my friend asked me. “Is that not a thing? That’s gotta be against a rule,”

Was the review particularly nasty? As I said, no. Is it okay to tag an author in a post? Depends. The person who posted this probably did not expect the author to freaking comment on it! If I get a retweet or a reply from Maureen Johnson on Twitter and I would be freaking out for days. (For the sake of my dignity, we will not get into how many times I’ve tweeted to Stephen King and have gotten NOTHING.)  I know the Poster did not expect the author to respond to this post let alone with the line; “Please don’t tag authors in reviews of their books that ‘fell short for you’. We are people too with feelings. Thanks.”

This is one of those things where I kind of had to squint at it, for a second. I am of two schools of thought in this scenario; one is plain fact, the other I think is more of a symptom of Internet culture. Firstly, my knee jerk response was “Hey Doll, criticism is part of the job if you cannot handle just a very professional review and opinions such as the one that this young woman posted, maybe head over to be a nurse or something.

Because a little insta post like this is going to be the very least of your worries.” I stand by that, being an author means you have to have some kind of thick skin, if you don’t you’re just Emily Dickinson and you’re only shot at getting published is your little sister taking your stuff and sending them out because you never felt the need to leave your room.

It comes with the job, the fact of the matter is, you are not a one hundred dollar bill, not everyone is going to like you or your work so you cannot take this kind of thing personally. There’s a big difference between; “The twist was solid, great narrative, it would have been better if XYZ had happened.” and “this sucks, never write again, go jump in a tub with a toaster,” are vastly different.

Stephen King used to get death threats mailed to him before Twitter. He would get handwritten letters telling him he was going to Hell where none of his “millions of dollars would buy him so much as a glass of water”.  The hills are indeed alive with the sound of douchebaggery. People suck. Writers know this. We would not find such a solitary career path if we were people who need people, okay?

My second thought is clearly a sign I’ve been on the internet too long because it was something to effect of BURN THE WITCH! That I just chalked up to drinking the Kool-Aid of the Internet’s cancel culture. I was ready to roll my eyes and throw out this author for reacting the way she did. I mean so someone doesn’t think that you are the next Jane Austen – chill out bitch you will survive.   When it comes to “cancel culture”, while I think it is completely justified and applicable in the case of say, R. Kelly. It took a minute to realize that I was being a bit too harsh on this woman. 

To the author’s point, it takes guts to write a book. Not a lot of people realize that. Most books come from a personal place, Pet Sematary? One of Stephen King’s sons got out in the road and luckily turned out fine but when you have kids it makes it hard not to obsess over the worst case scenario, I don’t have kids myself but I’d imagine that’s where any parent worth their salt has a meltdown.  This is going to be okay, you will survive a bad review, no one has ever died of inadequacy, it’s why Stephenie Meyer and EL James are still employed.

All of this to say, everyone is entitled to their opinion, just like everyone is entitled to their reaction to that opinion. As an author, you have to learn to take criticism as it is, just “yes, and” the review and carry on with your work. If it’s constructive, listen, if it’s undiluted negativity, then it is not your problem. The moral here is maybe don’t tag authors in your reviews? We will find it do not make it easier.
The Novel in question; The Favorite Sister
The author: Jessica Knoll 

 

I give this blog post five stars,

Fran

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Magic Beans

[Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, okay? Look, I had a pretty intense trip at the start of the month, and I started a new job, and I’m trying to write a book and things have been on warp speed lately. May’s going to be more chill I promise you. On with the show!]

“Given enough coffee I can rule the world,” Terry Pratchett

It’s a common association, you’re picturing it right now aren’t you? A writer, usually wearing black, holding a steaming and extremely strong cup of coffee. Coffee shops are associated with poetry readings, celebrations of the spoken word, there’s bongos involved, no one knows why. You get my point, for as long as it’s been around, coffee has been associated with writers, intellectuals, and let’s be real; the pretentious. So why is coffee the elixir of creativity? Several forms of it have to do with the beatnik movement, the original hipsters, in the late fifties early sixties, who used coffee shops as a way to hold social events, this is also where the bongo thing comes in to the picture. After some heavy handed Googling, I found it predates that movement as well.

Voltaire, the writer, philosopher, and world renowned coffee snob, was a man who very much enjoyed his mocha. He would have up to forty cups of cocoa mixed with coffee a day, and spend an obscene amount of money to have the good stuff imported. His physician told him at one point that this habit may just kill him. Voltaire died at eighty three outliving the doctor, who’s laughing now, Doc? Now, I myself am more of a Cafe Au Lait kind of girl.

My theory is that we are just tired, contrary to the starving artist stereotype; these days most of us work like dogs.  I myself write for a media company and I have a nine to five gig as a legal assistant, naturally this blog, my creative writing submissions, and for the sake of my sanity let’s not get into the family, exercise, and social obligations that I have to do to ensure I stay a good friend, daughter, sister, and all of that.  The point being the vast majority of writers have lives outside of The Project. This involves time management skills, and energy, writers have bills and responsibility like anyone else in the world.

When you are juggling all of that, and a creative endeavor, it tends to drain you somewhat. Enter the bitter dark elixir that is coffee, a few cups of that stuff a day, I have to physically stop myself at no more than three because my fight or flight response is a total killjoy and all that caffeine makes my brain go on high alert. Scientifically, coffee’s very purpose is to trick your brain into thinking you are not tired. Thus, giving you the extra zing to crank out another three hundred words or so before you have to wrap it up.

There’s a common misconception that caffeine makes you more creative, it’s in the same vein as “alcohol makes you more social,” at the risk of sounding like a fairy godmother, you had it in you the whole time. Once you are that tired your inhibitions are lowered, it’s the same principle as “liquid courage”  Essentially giving your brain a caffeine boost, simply ignites the wheels of whatever project you wanted to work on. It does, however, improves cognitive function, so go ahead and grab a latte before that long class.

Oh, and the black clothes? After all I just told you you really think we have time to do our damn laundry every single day?

 

Zooming away,

Fran

When Are You Finished?

I should not be doing this, but something came up and it got me thinking. I was writing on my sofa last night on this short story that I am trying desperately to finish and figure out the ending provided I have not ripped my hair out by the time I have finished. Then my mom asked me the most dangerous question, that anyone can ask a writer.

“Aren’t you done with that yet?” she asked me, and then I entertained myself by imagining climbing off the roof and swan-diving onto the curb.

“It’s not that easy,” was the best I could come up with. I wish more people realized that, that it is not that easy, we can’t just type something away, have it fit the criteria, and it is out of our lives forever. If it were that easy everyone would be a published author. I just feel like in America, at least, people see art as a hobby, just something to be dismissed and something you just do in your spare time.

This is a legitimate career that people have and it boggles my mind when they see people like Stephen King and accept that he’s a “real” writer, yet when they see me at night they brush it off as a hobby and think nothing of asking me to do tasks around the house when I just got into a flow state. When I tell anyone that quite often it will take some people years to write a book, they look at me like I have officially lost my marbles. I usually get one of three of the following responses; “That much take such focus, I could never do that.”, “Years? Seriously? Why does it take so long?”, and my personal favorite, “Jesus why would you do that?”.

Deadlines make the world go ‘round folks, otherwise, nothing would get done. It would just be the writers of the world, with stacks of printed paper and manuscripts in drawers, cabinets, I met one person who kept his stuff in a broken refrigerator. (As in not connected to power, it was in the garage, apparently refrigerators are resistant to house fires, so if God forbid their house catches fire, all his work is safe, I thought he was an idiot, but now I have to say I respect it, if anyone is giving away an old fridge, drop me a comment because that is a surprisingly good idea). Imagine Stephen King clinging to Carrie and yelling “No it’s not ready!”.

Those type of people need to realize that I am not doing this for a laugh or just do it, why would I work so hard on something if it did not mean anything to me? There’s a common mindset in the United States, that if you’re not getting paid for it, or paying for it yourself, it does not matter. It’s why people pay for personal training because the thought of wasting that much money motivates them to go, they are the same people who ask me “why are you working so hard like this? It’s not like you’re getting paid.” First of all, next time those people say that to me, I want them to walk up to a bunch of kids, playing in a baseball field, and ask, “what’s the point if you’re not getting paid?”. You would not do that, would you? I mean I hope not, because that would be rude, to say the least.

The fact of the matter is, I do not get paid for a lot of things that I like to do, this very blog for example, and most of the time I am okay with that.  But when it’s something I know how to do, spent my life molding and honing it, this is something I want to make a living off of, I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It boggles my mind, frankly, because people will watch movies, and read books, go to museums, they will hang up pictures on their walls, and decorate their houses, so why do they not want to pay artists? Can you imagine I someone treated a doctor or something like they treat an artist?

“Oh, I’m not going to pay you for this open-heart surgery, but if you do a good job, I’ll tell all my friends about you and it will be excellent exposure.” Did that sound as ridiculous to you as it did to me? ‘But Fran!’ you are arguing at your screen. ‘Surgeons do life-changing, lifesaving work, they deserve the money,’ and I agree, and I’m glad this came up because just because I am not wielding a scalpel, does not mean that what I do is important. It’s not as important as a doctor, but it’s important nonetheless. I expand your brain, I give you something to get scared by, to laugh at. You know why I love Stephen King so much? You know why It is my favorite book? The novel used to make me feel, a little bit less alone. I like that the Loser’s Club worked together and stuck up for each other and helped one another face their fears. I felt validated in my fear of clowns (they’re creepy this is obvious, I am not alone in this).

So, the real answer to the question; “How do you know when you’re done?” the short, quip answer is “when the publisher pulls it out of your cold, dead, hands,” this, after all, is why we have deadlines. The serious answer is when you feel like the story has been told properly. Personally, for me, it’s when the deadline approaches. It’s like having a kid, you have to send them off into the world sometime. Whether or not, you’re ready to have them flee the nest is debatable, but it’s going to happen eventually. The best thing you can do is wave goodbye and hope you molded them well enough that they survive in this dumpster fire of a planet.

Truth be told, you have to be done at some point when you hand it over to the publisher when you see it on a shelf for the first time. It does not have to be the second you type “THE END” on your manuscript (it’s not needed but you’re a sentimentalist like that). If you do not, in fact, let it go, and keep broadcasting retroactive story plotlines that no one wanted, cared about, or even asked for, then the readers of Twitter are going to have a field day roasting you on the internet.

Am I done with this short story? No, not yet, I genuinely feel like something is missing. She’s walking, she’s feeding herself, she’s reading and writing, once I teach her to drive, she’ll be ready to go on without me.

Now for the big finish,

Fran

A Freak’s Pilgrimage

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I am standing in front of the Amityville House, sipping a flat white and eating a bagel, like some kind of demented version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Except Audrey Hepburn was not wearing sweatpants, a Buzzfeed Unsolved sweatshirt and taking photos powering through the guilt because yes, real people live here. I was not alone, there were people there taking photos because a young woman was writing a report on the house, I gave her the name of a podcast that I listen to and assured her I was just there to snap a photo and finally see the house in person. Looking up at the house, the windows had been changed in order to deter press and attention from weirdos like myself.

It was good weather for it too, by that I mean not at all, it was cloudy, dreary, a bit cold because it’s still March. It had rained pretty badly the night before and the land was still feeling soggy after effects, I felt bad parking in front of the house as if it were not already painfully obvious why me, or pretty much anyone after 1975, sought out this big suburban home. God help me, it’s a beautiful house. I have always wanted a house like this, I mean the layout not the tainted by tragedy part. I have a good friend who lives in Bay Shore, New York, a mere seventy miles away from where I am in New Jersey. I never get to see her as often as I want to, I finally got the time to for a visit one weekend and decided to take an impromptu field trip on my way home.

I really was originally planning to just go straight home, I was exhausted, my period decided to ruin my weekend that morning and I needed all the sleep I could get. I did not, under any circumstances, need to make a hard right and go an extra forty-five minutes out of my way to stalk this ridiculous building. Consider it a horror nerd Mecca at any rate, and if it were me, I would not live here if the state paid me. Not because I’m afraid of ghosts or demons, no, I would not live here because of idiots like me who get a thrill out of seeing an actual horror landmark. I would have been just as delighted if you showed me, Ripper Alley. The house itself is essentially a celebrity, everyone who has ever seen a horror movie knows about The House, how a demon slapped a priest across the face while yelling – “GET OUT”. Lorraine Warren famously said, “I hope this is as close to Hell as I’ll ever get,” after being in the house for an hour. It’s compelling, as a horror fan it is freaking gold, and as true crime nerd, it was my first case. Every nerd has one, some people have whatever the popular case was in their generation. I did follow the Casey Anthony case pretty closely, mostly hoping the guilty bitch would fry but that case mostly taught me disappointment.

Once upon a time, Ronnie “Butch” DeFeo Jr., got up in the middle of the night, got his rifle, and shot his parents, and his four other siblings while they were sleeping. Ronnie’s father “Big Ronnie” was known to be abusive, to both his kids and his wife. It’s said that Ronnie had enough of his dad’s bullshit and only meant to shoot him, but then realized that he needed to kill the rest of his family for fear of being found guilty for murder. Clearly, this was a flawless plan, it was bound to work. So, he runs into a nearby bar, think like the scene in Beauty and the Beast, where Maurice comes in ranting in the Inn once the Beast takes Belle, and says his family had been killed.

This is Long Island so anywhere in the New York/New Jersey area the media has one avenue – mob hit. The reason why everyone thinks demons is a few components; it was the seventies, it was written in Carrie that “these are godless times,” and they truly were, the Exorcist had come out the year before, and shook the movie industry to its core. The Exorcist was everything, it was suspenseful, it was a mental assault, it questioned the belief of God; I can write an entire paper on The Exorcist, but that’s a different topic. Amityville is just one case of the ripple effect that The Exorcist left, due to the latter film’s popularity, everyone genuinely bought the idea that the house was haunted. Everyone wanted to be the one to get the exclusive on a real-life haunted house.

DeFeo, thinking that if he blamed a dark being, he might get off on insanity and be sent to an asylum, not to prison. DeFeo went to jail anyway; enter the Lutzes, who would then report cold spots, noises, and even the children began to sleep in the positions that the children slept in when they were murdered. The Warrens, Ed and Lorraine, if you saw The Conjuring you know who I’m talking about, they’re the husband and wife team of a Demonologist, and a clairvoyant that was hired to investigate, and film, the house. Then there was the book.

The book The Amityville Horror written by Jay Anson is an amazing narrative, it was an instant hit, people love to be scared. The whole country was Demon Crazy at this point and God love Anson he was striking while the iron was hot, so just give him some credit on that one. For more information, I highly recommend Last Podcast on The Left’s two-part episode on The Amityville Horror.

So DeFeo is in prison, Jay Anson made millions, and the Lutzes got a cut. No one has ever had any spirit incidents since the Lutzes lived there and I don’t think it was Lorraine Warren and her schoolmarm bun that scared them off. Nonetheless, the house reminds me that stories stay with us, whether we want them too or not. Once my thrill subsided, I felt something that I did not expect, pity. I felt bad for the people who lived there now, I wondered idly if they had school-age children whose classmates would sneer at them since they lived in the spooky house. Or maybe little kids these days probably won’t know about the Amityville Horror, they have real scary things to look out for, these days. There was a sign on the fence that warned me PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING, no one likes to be treated like a sideshow, right? I only stood in front of the house for a minute or two, before returning to my car. The demons were not real, the only force of evil was the young man who snapped and decided that this was the last night his family would get to have. As a final jab, I sent the photo to my mom who recognized it right away as I knew she would.

Me: hey ma, look where I am!

Mom: YOU STOP BY A CHURCH ON YOUR WAY HOME, KEEP THIS SHIT OUT OF MY HOUSE.

 

….Like I said, stories stay with us.

 

 

Ooga Booga,

Fran

Come Play With Us, Franny

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a minute, but I found myself inspired again – just kidding my friend Paul of “thepluckyreader” kept updating and, I know that dude personally, and he has had a cuckoo bananas schedule and he still updated; basically, I’m not about to be outdone. God knows I have fewer obligations than he does. Paul, you’re my hero man, good on you. All of this to say, I just want to give you a small update on my life. My writing life that is, I wrote a short story about a ghost in like two weeks and now this six-thousand-word albatross is essentially taking over my whole life. My life when I’m not working, that is. I have sent it out a bunch of times, so hopefully, something comes of that, who’s to say?

When I was writing this, I had a thought, this short story entitled The Widow, was my first attempt at a horror story. “Wait, seriously?” you might be asking. “aren’t you the girl who cites Stephen King in a normal conversation?! How are you just now, writing a horror story?” Well frankly, I did not think I could. Why would I? Joe Hill exists! Stephen King exists!

As long the King family is around and writing we, as horror nerds are set. Yeah, that looks just as stupid on the page as it sounded out loud. Just in case anyone forgets – women have been writing horror for decades. Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Flannery O’Connor’s story A Good Man Is Hard to Find – I still get chills!

Oh yeah, I know, it only took me about -let’s see it’s Friday, right? Let’s call it, twelve years until I realized just how undeniably stupid that logic is in the grand scheme. Ever hear someone try to rationalize a reason as to why they cannot do a thing, but you see right through them? Their argument is so transparent and flimsy that you just squint your eyes and say “…dude.” For most of my life, I was that idiot. Not that I have some kind of gift because I do not unless you count a firm belief in the notion that practice makes perfect.

But honestly, it just did not occur to me to try to do it. I need to tread lightly here because if I’m not careful, I am going to sound like the most self-aggrandizing jerk you have ever met. Let’s not be That Girl, shall we? I got to thinking, more like arguing with myself if we are being totally honest.

“But I write YA.” I would think.

“You still can,” I would tell myself.

“I write about good things…” popped in my head. “I don’t know if I can deter from that -,”

“Your favorite book is literally about a demon clown who gets defeated by the power of friendship.”

“Oh. Fair.”

Basically, my whole point is when I wrote my own scary story – it just felt right. For a first attempt, I think I did pretty good, and I want to keep doing this, I do not see why I cannot keep writing Young Adult and horror -you know who else did that? Dr. Seuss. Just kidding it was Stephen King. It predates Carrie, and he sent it out under the name Richard Bachman. It’s called The Long Walk and I know I say this about most of his work but- Holy God what imagery.

Young Adult is rapidly becoming darker, and more paranormal, Truly, Devious is a murder mystery. Lauren Myracle has this one novel I read it in high school, but I still remember it, it’s called Bliss it uses the Manson murders as a backdrop to the novel’s events to give you a taste of what we are dealing with. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to writing I don’t like labels. Even if I want to make horror my job I do not have to stay there-the selling point is that there are no rules for this kind of work. Frankly, it does not matter. I want to scare you, and I want a seat at the table.

 

Pass the salt,

Fran

 

 

 

Page One

In my last semester of college, I took a Forensic Psychology class, because you know, for fun. I had an assignment in which I had to read the Hoffman report, what that is, is a 600 plus page document regarding the “relaxation”, of the ethical standards for the psychologists involved in torture interrogations. It’s a big deal in the world of the American Psychological Association. Not so much a big deal in the world of Fran LoIacono Needs to Pass. Luckily, training in jiu-jitsu means you hang out with a surprising amount of cops, so I asked one of them. I figured, he’s a detective, he might know.

“Dude, you gotta help me, I have to read the Hoffman report and I have no idea what I’m doing!” I said on the phone, my professor had a different style than I was used to, and while I liked the hands-off approach, taking the class as a simple true crime nerd and not a CJ or Psych major, did not do me enough favors, to say the least. Although I did manage to mention a few details on the Jeffrey Dahmer case he had missed while he was giving a lecture. To my chagrin, Detective Not Helping, scoffed. Mind you, I have the Bible in its entirety before, and yet one really long Law Enforcement manual has me quaking. I’m a weird person, what can I say?

“That’s like six hundred pages long,” DNH responded incredulously, I am assuming that perhaps it simply was not his division, or since it came out in 2015 there’s a chance he just did not have to read it, although he may have found the Spark Notes, which at this point I would have gladly accepted.

“I know!” I panicked. “So, where do I start?”

“I would start with Page One,” he quipped.

“I hate you, bye.” was my answer back.

I am ninety-nine percent positive he was just being an ass and was not trying to tell me anything profound. It was not coming from a cop, but as my friend who wanted me to do the work and succeed, and partially as a dad himself who probably tells his kids the same thing, do your own homework. It got to the point, where I was so preoccupied with trying to find a shortcut, that enough time had passed when I could have just read the thing.

The other day I got a text message from a friend of mine, asking “Where does one begin to write a memoir?”, I retorted with “page one”. That was when I got the idea for this post, I want to talk about the concept of Page One this week. For some reason, those who do not have a creative mindset think that authors simply clap their hands and poof instant best seller. It really is work, I know people who cannot even sit still for a movie or they see a book and just quit on the spot.  For someone to sit down, at a typewriter or in the case of the really early works, hand written, could you imagine handwriting, Les Miserables?! No, absolutely not, I quit internally at the very thought. That takes focus, that takes discipline and work like any other job. No, you cannot just “write when inspiration strikes,” you just power through because you are on a deadline, so you look through your novel if you are blocked to find out what went wrong and you fix it. It is all part of the process, you cannot just write when inspiration strikes or no one would have any money. The starving artist thing is only cool if you are in a musical by Jonathan Larson.

Did my thinking stop there? Well if it did this would be one boring blog post. Of course, it did not, instead of after that conversation with my friend, I found a list of some of the longest novels and series’ known to nerd kind. Remembrance of Things Past (this one actually hold the record for the longest novel according to the Guinness website), War and Peace, A Song of Ice and Fire, Silmarillion, Les Miserables, IT, The Stand, freaking Ulysses. All of these are amazing works, they are also insanely ridiculous  “how do you even do that?” level of long. Someone asked Stephen King how he writes and he said “one word at a time”. Once again I am positive he is being an ass and did not mean to sound as profound as he did, but that’s what happens with writers, no one wants to pay us but they look to us to find the poetry in a traffic jam. Go figure.

It’s the truth, for anything really not just writing, you want to write a novel, even if it does end up a big on the long side, or if you want to write a blog post, a really risky text, there is only one way to do it, one word at a time.  No matter what the task, no matter how daunting it may seem, if you ever find yourself asking “how am I supposed to do this?!”. There will only ever be one way to conquer any challenge, start with page one.

 

Planners vs. Pantsers: Two Kinds of People

Many writers would divide themselves into one of two categories; the planners and the pantsers. The planners, that’s your Tolkien, your Gaiman, your Martin. Authors who are inclined to fantasy, essentially need to be planners, fantasy and speculative fiction require a lot of world building. Which involves gearing up the coffee and moving into the library for several weeks. It took me five years before I realized, I really like research. This is one of the best parts of the process for me. I like learning something new, I like uncovering knowledge that I did not have before. I have a permanent student mentality and the research process is a lot more fun when there is not a grade hanging over your head.

I am a planner, or a “plotter” depending on who you ask. I like to think of a piece I am writing, as a trip, I am going to take, I want to know how I am going to get there, and where I am going to end up, but I do not need to plan every turn and stop point.  The likes of us, are authors like JK Rowling, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Miller, Joseph Heller, so I like to think that I am in good company. I take extensive notes on whatever topic I do not know about, proceed to throw myself down a Google rabbit hole, and do my very best. If I took the adage “write what you know” literally, I would not have a leg to stand on. It would be so repetitive, a sullen girl writing in her journal with her headphones playing Alice Cooper on her bed while a cup of coffee or tea slowly grows cold beside her on the end table. You have read that, I have read that, I have written that, and sometimes, depending on how you do it, it can be a great story. Most stories need to branch out, and I like to write what I like to read, as do we all I am sure.

Meg Cabot read romance novels as a kid so she wrote a romance in every book plot. Maureen Johnson read every word Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote, enter Truly, Devious (which you have totally picked up, right? Sequel comes out in January). Me? I like to write about family, I like to write about friendship, and I like to write characters that prove their naysayers wrong. So I like to read those stories, everyone thought Bill Denbrough was just going nuts after the death of his brother, so he and his friends kill Pennywise. Whenever I am writing a new piece of fiction, I like to pick something I do not know anything about, this leaves me with a lot of questions, a lot of really cool field trips, and an eclectic home library.

“Pantser”, as in “fly by the seat of your pants” get it? It is a term that is one syllable shorter than “winging it”. These are the people who sit down and stare at their screen and as Pierce Brown says “wait for the lightning to strike,”. These are the likes of Margaret Atwood, who grabs an idea and runs with it, which I respect and I do that too to a degree. Where Margaret gets an idea and jumps into the pool, I get the idea and consult the thermometer, when the last time the pool was cleaned, and if anyone is in my splash zone.

You will never guess, who is easily the most famous pantser of all time, contain your shock, it’s Stephen King. Notorious pantser gets up, brushes his teeth sits at his desk and thinks ‘fuck it’ and types away. I have no idea how he got there, and nor does he for that matter, he just rips off the band-aid and likes to jest that planners, “Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters’ theses.” all due respect King, everyone has their method. What a grouch. I like to plan, I am a planner in most aspects of life, you should see me pack for a trip, if I ever get stuck in a Taken type of situation, I am set I have food, I have clothes, I probably have every pair of underwear I own, take your time Liam Neeson I have several novels and trail mix to keep me company. I once brought four suitcases to spend a weekend three hours from home for a wedding, do not doubt my skills. Like this blog post, I spent all week knowing who pertained to what process and what the appeal was for them because frankly, I do not get it. In the most “me” thing I could think of, I researched spontaneity. Therefore, I am here with my data; it’s just fun for them. Like driving is fun for some people, and I do not understand those people either.

Whether you are a planner like me or a pantser like King the idea behind wanting to write is trying to find a process that works for you. If you want to stick to a routine go for it, if you do not have a routine, that is fine too, if you just spent an hour on Wikipedia wondering what happened when Queen Elizabeth I had her period for the first time and what the protocol was for that – first of all, nice idea, and second of all, go for it.  Maybe you need to write three thousand words by dinner time, I envy you, maybe you feel accomplished if you got two hundred words in today, that’s still two hundred more than you had this morning – good on you. Writing is a job in which the process is as fluid and individualized as the product itself. Find your groove you will get there.

 

Happy writing,

Fran