Ahhh. Fall is in the air.
The birds are singing, the Golden Retriever has once again found a loose board in the fence and can be seen running around in the lot next-door, and the trampoline is covered in leaves.
Also, National Novel Writing Month.
I saw a post on G+ the other day--a post whose location is eluding me at the moment--but the spirit of it was something like this: Writers and authors, please stop criticizing one another. It is okay to write in a different style/format/point of view than someone else. It is okay if some people choose to self-publish, and it is okay if others publish traditionally. Are you forgetting that you all do the same thing, that you are each a slave to your own voice/muse/characters/plot? Instead of arguing over petty differences, why not congratulate each other on jobs well-done?
(Those aren't the exact words: not even close, just "close enough.")
People are too critical of one another these days. (The irony of me being critical to other people's levels of criticism is not lost on me, folks. Don't worry. This just needs to be said.) If someone asks you in broken English to critique their writing, for goodness' sake, don't rip them a new one over a few technical mistakes. Do you know what the worst writers and the best writers have in common? They each 1.) feel the same urgent need to write, and 2.) need some type of encouragement before the knife gets stuck in to the hilt.
G+ has a wide variety of communities geared toward writing critiques and evaluations, but too many people are so busy peddling their new book or blog that they don't even try to help the brave soul who just posted his most recent work and is asking for some feedback. When is the last time you went out on a limb and felt vulnerable? Yes, you've gained the ability to pump out a blog post in eleven minutes flat and you now have the confidence to post/share it online for the world to see, but have you forgotten the days when you just wanted to hear a few words of encouragement? When you were on the verge of throwing in the towel? The weeks when your blog might have seen one hit? Do you remember what it would have meant to you for one person to simply say, "I love what you've done here!" or, "This is a great opening line!"
Everyone is so busy trying to score their own blog hits or push their own "Download the First Four Pages Free!" websites that no one really pays attention to the guy in the corner who is waiting for someone to give him some kind of a thumbs-up on his short work.
"Yes, but my novel/play/interpretive dance dvd just came out. You have no idea how busy I have been marketing it. Did you know I'm doing everything myself?" Yes. Yes, I did realize that. I realized that just about the seventeenth time your link came across my G+ page, thanks for asking. Everyone wants the other person's time, but no one wants to invest their own. Everyone wants to be paid for their work to appear in a magazine, but no one wants to buy the magazine subscriptions anymore. The happy medium here is that you get what you give.
My mantra for the future? Let me write, let me be successful, but never let me forget where I came from.
It is almost November. It is time to encourage people to write. A critique does not have to pick apart every little thing that someone has done differently than what you would have done had that been your story. Encourage. Smile. Have fun. Help others to have fun. And when all else fails, remember: The first draft of anything is shit. (Or so said Hemingway, or someone walking around in his clothes.)
Interacting with people--with real, live people? That's marketing. "Marketing" is not posting link after link to your website/blog/author interview. That's actually spamming. Take down your wall. Help someone who is asking. Comment. Give some feedback. If you are the one with the experience, take the time to talk about it with a group.
A group of real live people.
Writing a blog at 3am and then posting it in every community is one thing, but it's not the only thing.
Nothing excites me more than authors who are busy but continue to make time to be human. It's sexy, it's invigorating, and it's real.
Thanks for reading.