Friday, March 20, 2015

Mike and Molly - What It's Really Like To Be A Writer

To be honest, I watch a lot of television. I get bored when I am doing chores around my house, so I turn on the television a lot or open hulu/netflix/amazon instant video to entertain me while I clean or cook. I watch a variety of different shows, but one of my favorite types of shows are sitcoms. It's hard not to like them. They are light-hearted. The problems the characters face are always resolved within thirty minutes. Also, I don't have to watch the screen usually to know what's going on, unlike other shows I like (for instance, Doctor Who and The Walking Dead.)

One of the sitcoms I happen to love is Mike and Molly. In the show, Molly has a mental breakdown. She's an elementary school teacher and suddenly she can't stand it anymore. She quits her job in the middle of class, she jumps out the window to get away from the students. She wants to become a writer. Although it was a big moment in the life of the character, I thought it would be over and resolved by the end of the episode. I wasn't expecting the show to spend more than a season showing a mostly realistic portrayal of what it's like to become a novelist.

She has breaks and opportunities that many writers either do not get or take a decade to receive (like she gets a book deal within a year of starting to write.) Yet her family thinks she's wasting her life and that she did the wrong thing. (Even though it all happened very quickly for her.) But besides that, the things she goes through are things we all go through. Instead of writing the book in a couple of days, the show has her sitting down, struggling with the novel over a long period of time and many episodes. It shows how awkward it can be when people you know find out you are writing dirty sex scenes in your books and how harsh writers are with themselves about writing something perfect. Once she's done and gives the book to her publisher, after she's wrestled with every word for a long time, they force her to rewrite....completely.

It shows how publishers are usually focused on the business side of things. They want her to change the book to a time travel erotica when it was supposed to be an erotica about a woman discovering herself. They think that is cool and will sell, but she's a visionary who doesn't want to do that. (It sounds like a struggle a lot of authors go through.) It also shows her working to promote her book after she finishes writing it and how frustrated she gets when her sales aren't effected by her efforts.

Her first book reading/signing has pretty much only her family members and friends there, cheering her on in one of the latest episodes. It also has her writing a second book. Because she's not a bestselling big hit on her first book, like most of us aren't. As soon as she's done writing, she has to start writing the next book and this one, too, just like the last one, she is already struggling through again. She's started the process over.

I just love that this show didn't romanticize writing. It didn't make it something that it's not. It shows that it's hard work and something you have to sit down and dedicate lots of time to without as much appreciation for hard work as many people think. I recommend any author watching at least the last two seasons of Mike and Molly. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Networking Online And Off

A few years ago, I joined a web-site that allows me to meet friends through clubs I am interested online. I've met groups of authors this way on several occasions and also cultivated random friendships with other women.

A lot of people who are on the site find it intimidating because it involves meeting a bunch of strangers all at once. A lot of the groups meet in restaurants, so there's also the problem of figuring out where you are supposed to go when you've never met any of these people before. Many people sign up and get too scared to go.

I don't have that much of a problem with it. Maybe I am weird, especially for an introvert, but I find it more comfortable, when I am around new people, to be around a whole group of new people rather than just one person. I think the reason I feel this way is that as an introvert, I am often quiet or do not know what to say. When I am around a group of people, there is guaranteed going to be at least one person who knows what to say and can fill the silence.

The really hard part for me is when I get one-on-one. I don't know where to look. I don't want to look at the other persons eyes too much, but I also don't want to look away too much or I'll seem nervous. I get scared we'll run out of things to talk about and try to run through a list of questions in my head to ask (unsuccessfully.)

I relate to social media in a very similar way. I find it easy to write blog posts or post things on twitter than to interact one-on-one. When people e-mail me or message me, I find myself at a loss of what to say. I also often struggle to know how to respond to my comments. I like facebook because it lets me press "like" when I read a comment. I am good at reading comments and when I press "like", the person knows I read it and am listening, but when I am on a blog or in my e-mail, I can't press "like." I thought what they said was interesting and good, but sometimes I don't have anything to add to it.

It has made some networking with authors awkward for me, I think. I only know how to talk to them through their statuses and don't know how to ask them questions privately or even ask for other things.

Lately, I've really wanted to get together with other authors and exchange sample pages that we can post in each others books or organize a giant contest where we all pitch in a little or write an anthology.

Most authors are introverts, but sometimes you just can't be. You have to reach out and try. You have to go outside your comfort zone. I hope to do this more and more in the future. That's why I am glad I recognized this aspect of myself. I want to make it better.