Reflections on Writing and The Past Year

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* Note: Slightly Rambling Blog Post *

Hello Readers,

I’ve not written a personal blog post in quite some time, but thought I’d write one to share some thoughts I’ve had with writing/publishing/blogging and my other interests.

2014 was the first year I spent more time reading and writing non-fiction. This happened as I continued noticing a gradual (and sometimes, not-so-gradual) decline in eBook sales.

My heart has never been in commercial fiction, and it probably never will be. For that reason, I am unlikely to continue eBooks publishing as a business (because as a business, it’s commercial forces one has to consistently observe and adapt to). I have some other personal reasons for no longer having the drive for writing fiction as I used to several years ago when I first ventured into digital publishing.

Towards the end of last year, I had a very strong need to switch directions entirely in terms of profession. I’ve listed some of the things I’ve been / am involved with on my about.me page. It’s a refreshing change and I’m grateful for the new work experiences. I like doing things that have some level of originality/innovation/analysis, and I felt indie publishing was not the right place for me anymore.

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‘Reflection’ photo by Arthur Davison, used under a CC License.

I should add that I almost gave up my interest in socio-political blogging for the sake of a close friendship/relationship (let’s just say that my views were “very divergent” from the other person’s). Regardless of the topic, my personal belief is that people who respect each other would be able to sort out their differences. At the end of the day, I concur with activist Brooke Axtell, who said during the 2015 Grammys:

“Authentic love does not devalue another human being.”
(– activist Brooke Axtell)

To me, a friendship/relationship isn’t worth it if either person feels no guilt/shame/remorse in belittling or disparaging the other person, because they disagree with the other’s views and sentiments. (Perhaps this is partly due to the “Venus Scorpio” in me that highly values self-respect and mutual respect.)

I guess quitting self-publishing (or “turning my professional attention elsewhere” for the time-being) gave me an additional sense of closure to that whole chapter in my life. It just felt like everything had reached a dead-end and that it was time for me to try something new, on both the personal and professional level.

That being said, I’ll always like writing, so you’ll see some of my copyediting material online this year along with socio-political blogging book reviews when I can get down to it (once my current schedule has settled in a little bit more). Writing socio-political blog posts helped me access an “analytical” side of my mind I hadn’t really accessed before, which is why I’m keen to continue those independent/unsponsored blog posts.

I’m thankful for the readers/customers I’ve had and heard from over the years, particularly the readers of my earlier erotic material. I guess that’s a part of my life I’m leaving behind too, in a way (since my early erotic fiction was largely due to my own sexual neuroses!).

I appreciate others’ appreciation of my writing — somehow it feels like that will be something which will inspire me with future projects I get up to. It gives me a sense of comfort/satisfaction to know that my efforts were not completely wasted on meaningless things, since I like to focus on one thing at a time and give my all to it if I’m passionate about something.

I guess my main website (jessINK) may “morph” over the next few years, to reflect my personal interests and projects I’m involved with along the way. I initially branded myself as an “author/artist/non-conformist,” a label I’ve since updated to “writer/blogger/analyst” (the practical Virgo in me loves anything of an “analytical” nature…).

Side Note: It is also this practical Virgo in me that keeps me from enjoying the label/lifestyle of “starving artist” (a label my artistic Pisces moon doesn’t quite mind)…I guess I have a rough idea re: career path (I do best with something that combines creative and analytical skills).

Have you had a similar experience where you just felt you needed to drop (almost) everything and try/do something new? Send me a note via email! (I’m keeping the comments ‘off’ on this post in the spirit of intimacy/privacy.)

Stay happy and healthy in the meantime.

— Jess.

Author Interview, Katy Gilbert

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Interview #64, with the author of “Why You’re Gorgeous”: Katy Gilbert!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

katygilbert

Determined, optimistic, individual, creative, caring.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

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From Why You’re Gorgeous:

Blurb:
“Have you ever felt less than utterly delectable?
Ever ruled out the possibility of wearing something that you loved (hello, leopard print Speedos) because you were afraid of what people might think?
Have you ever considered chainsawing your thighs or diving into a cereal diet?
Are you concerned that you can’t be manly if you wear pink?
Have you ever been told that real women are all curvy, or that you need to ‘erase’ your wrinkles?
Confidence lacking? Not believing that you’re exceptionally attractive?
You’ve come to the right place.
Welcome to the world of Why You’re Gorgeous!
It’s time to skip along the path to self-love. It’s possible.
What are you waiting for, gorgeous?”

Excerpt:

“You’re meant to look at your face and your body and gasp in horror. I’m a human being! With skin that isn’t baby youthful for eternity! I have hips! Where is my sixteen pack?! My jaw could do with a bit of chiselling — fetch the tool box! Quickly!

[…]Laughter lines? We can erase them! Hold still, this scalpel here’s just gonna nick into your wallet. Hips?! Unnecessary nowadays, out with them!

[…]Need a more manly jaw? Dahling, haven’t you seen the wonders a painless transformational procedure can achieve? We’ll have you de-deformed in no time.”

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

Oooh, this is so difficult, but what a great question!

I eventually chose Meg Rosoff. This is an excerpt from her book Just In Case:

“Who knows what to expect from a blast of that magnitude? The brain struggles to process information with which it has no experience, races to find an explanation for the searing pain in one shoulder, the awkward bend of a leg folded under and digging into your solar plexus, a leg that turns out not to be your own.

[…]All around are events signalling noise, mouths open in the posture of screams, huge panes of glass splintering from within bent window frames. Everything falls much too slowly and silently towards the ground.”

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing is the love of my life, the publication process is…not so much! No, I’m joking! Whereas being an author is everything to me -– writing is my passion, purpose, the one (when you know you just know, right?!) –- the publishing world is full of dreams and sparkle and you really have to grind away at it to reach them. That’s not a bad thing, though! I’ve self-published two books now, and the publishing side is always a little more stressful than the actual writing. I suppose it just doesn’t flutter around me quite as naturally, but the challenge is an important one! It’s cool to be able to look over your shoulder and know that you achieved it.

In terms of approaching publishers and agents I love the overall experience; I take joy in creating my story. It is very wearing at times; I don’t think you can be aware of the full extent of what you’re taking on until you’re caught up in it yourself. It takes guts to persevere in this industry: you’re constantly offering yourself up for approval, and more often than not you don’t get it. I think you have to relinquish your grip on the personal and let rejection whoosh over your head. Be the sparrowhawk, not the sparrow!

There’ll always be days when it hits you harder than others, but that’s OK. There’ll be one day that turns out to be the best, ever, when everything finally comes together. It’s so exciting to think about a gleam of sun rising on it, and you having no idea what’s falling into place! I mean, that’s exciting regarding any day, let alone one as special as that.

I like that part about how it’s exciting regarding any day ;) What is your definition of “good writing”?

I think for writing to be ‘good’ it just needs passion behind it. If an author is completely dedicated to really putting craft and effort in the end result will have a degree of shine to it. That’s always going to be better than something someone’s thrown together for the sake of money or popularity, for example -– no matter how much talent is involved in either. Love for your baby shows!

Sweet! Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Keep going. You have times when you think ‘God, how much longer is it going to be like this’, then you get up the next morning and you do it again and again.
If you persevere you’ll come through the other side, right out into the bright, sparkling, unicorn adorned light!

And, enjoy the journey! Don’t be so fixated on ‘making it’ that you miss out on what’s just as important, which is getting there. You want your own story to be fabulous, too!

Sorry, that’s two tips.

Important ones, though :) Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.katygilb.com (website)
www.katygilblog.tumblr.com (blog)
www.katygilbert.bigcartel.com (buy / shop)
www.youtube.com/katygilb

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Much thanks to Katy for stopping by — do visit her website for more info about her and her very original/inspiring projects. Stay up to date and win cool prizes with her newsletter too!

UPDATE (2 Sept 12): Here’s my review of Why You’re Gorgeous.

Author Interview, Derek Haines

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Author Interview #11, with author of fiction, historical fiction, essays and poetry, Derek Haines!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Author, Poet, Songwriter, Grammarian, Idiot.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

An author of fiction, historical fiction, essays and poetry. Derek Haines writes his books, novels and e-books from a view of what fascinates him and not from a formula based on one theme or genre. Starting with poetry before moving into essays and novels, his writing is varied but is always written in a style that communicates with and engages his readers.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

As a self confessed devotee of Douglas Adams I just adore this quote.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

In my mind the tag of self-publishing is only correct if you are willing to follow the ‘stick a book on Amazon and forget about it’ method. If you are really determined and willing to do the hard work that a traditional publisher does for their authors then you should be called an independent author and publisher. Or in other words a writer, author, editor, proofreader, graphic designer, administrator and imaginative marketing guru. It might have taken you a year to write your book, but you will need to market it and sell it for the next ten years at least. Nine times the effort. Yes indeed.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

Short words. Writing is not a contest in trying to confuse your reader.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Don’t listen to advice. Be yourself in your writing but don’t be afraid to recycle good ideas…

As Picasso famously said: “Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal.”

Your websites/blogs/etc:

http://www.derekhaines.ch
http://www.milomoon.com/
http://dereksvandalblog.blogspot.com/