Monthly Archives: September 2014

Put not your Light under a Basket

Mathew 5: 15 “Neither do people light their lamp and put it under a bushel (basket).”
The idea that you don’t do something creative, then hide it has been around a long time. Nonetheless, some writers create beautiful works and hide them. They put them in their figurative basket (usually a drawer, or a box) and there they stay gathering dust.
Why do people do this? There are many reasons to be sure, but one of the primary ones given is that being critiqued by others upsets them. I have a friend who has written a beautiful novel. He refuses to allow anyone but a handful of people see it because he sent it to an editor years ago and got feedback that he didn’t like.
He’s not generally thin-skinned, but when it came to his novel, he can’t tolerate any criticism. That’s too bad to my way of thinking because he is hiding his light under a basket instead of sharing it with the world.
Artists have something of the same issue. Their works may be seen by people who don’t understand them, don’t have an appreciation of art or know anything about art’s history and development. When they hear someone commenting about their work from this vantage point, they are discouraged.
Kahlil Gibran’s poem on children can say something to writers and artists who can’t let their works see the light of day. He says:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

His poem goes on, but I think this part is enough to realize he is talking about letting go of something you love.

NaNoWriMo: Some Thoughts about the Competition to Write a Novel in a Month.

National Novel Writing Months, NaNoWriMo, is coming up in a few weeks. It is a competition with yourself to see if you can write a 50,000-word novel in a month. To do that you have to write about 1612 words a day. That’s not an insurmountable amount, but doing it day after day is more difficult than it seems.
I have done it two times and have two fiction books. Also, the first time I competed, I wrote a novel in November, then took all my short stories and wrote three books from them in the next few months. I competed again the next year. So in one year, I wrote five books over 50,000 words.
I wouldn’t do it again. Here’s why: NaNoWriMo advises people not to edit. That’s very difficult for many people to do. However, if you follow their advice and do not edit, you have quite an editing job after you’re finished. By approaching NaNoWriMo overzealously, as I did. I had months of editing work to do. That meant I had little time to do anything else, including more writing. More writing created an increasing backlog and I had already demonstrated to may self that I could write faster than I could edit.
I also created another problem for myself. My books were around 500 standard pages or 3290 pages on Kindle. I actually should l have broken them into units between 100-200 pages, making several smaller books. That way, I would have edited in small blocks instead of five large chunks. I gave myself even more problems with this approach.
When you are first starting to self-publish books, there is no advantage to writing lengthy works. There is an advantage to writing many short works and it is this: readers like to read authors who have other works, so, if I had broken my books up into say, 15 titles, that would look very different from having only three titles, even though it would amount to the same writing.
Here’s the moral of my story: I think NaNoWriMo has merits. The first and major plus is you see the results of your work quickly, and if you persevere, you can claim a NaNoWriMo victory. You will answer the question of whether you can write a novel with a resounding, Yes! Aside from that, if you do what I did, keep writing and not editing, you can create a massive backlog that will sit there staring at you until you clean it up. I’ve been working almost a year to do that.
I’m not sure I will do NaNoWriMo again, but if I do I will have to edit more than I have and that may keep me from completing a novel in a month.

WordPress: Why it Sucks

WordPress. It is one of the most exasperating pieces of software I have ever used. When it goes down, or has a problem, you are pointed to Forums that may or may not be up to date, may or may not have expert advice, and may be very misleading.
The ultimate advice that you get is this: “Turn off all your plugins, then plug them in one-by-one until the problem is fixed.” Presumably, you are not supposed to use that plug in anymore. Guess who is doing their Alpha and Beta testing folks. You are.
You find the problems through your site breaking down, then you noodle out the solution, and (they hope) you post them for others to follow.
I understand to a point. You can use a myriad of plugins. God knows how many permutations there are. It must be astronomical. However, the same is true of many other software offerings, yet this one is the only one I know of that asks the user to fix their problems for them.
Asking users to unplug all the plugins is analogous to asking people who take their car to a mechanic to strip the car down, then put it back together to find the problem, and then tell the mechanic how to fix it. No one would do that, but people do as WordPress asks without uttering a peep.
I think they have a bad business model. Too bad they are so popular and there is little else out there to use. Too bad also that migrating to another software has not been made easy. So, I, like many of you, feel stuck with this poorly supported software with its untested and untried plugins.
I don’t want this to turn into a rant, so I’ll stop here.
My WordPress still doesn’t work like I think it should and the last person I got to help me finally told me I was on my on. So much for ‘support.’