Growing a Thick Skin for Winter

Sometimes it’s really tough giving a crap about what other people think. Honestly, how liberating must it feel to be a self absorbed a-hole who either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care for the opinions of others? Or to be so self-righteous, you simply believe that everyone else is just wrong anyway? That would have its merits too.

But, alas, as far as I know, I possess none of the above mentioned personality traits. I have the opposite personality trait. I am the validation junkie, the one who lives for the praise of others and dies just a little inside from their criticisms.

And that second part really sucks. It just does. I can get mad. I can rant and rave about the injustice of that anonymous reviewer that gives me one rate-reducing star with no explanation, or the other reviewer who uses my books as a platform to justify his or her disgust with an entire genre of writing (or gender of writers, or political leanings of writers, or all self-published writers in general). But that doesn’t make the cut sting any less. I still get hurt.

Do critics ever think about the pain they cause when they voice their negative opinion for the world to see? Are they working under the assumption that a creative person who has the audacity to share their heart-felt creation with the public deserves ridicule for efforts? Maybe so.

I have opinions. I voice them to people I’m comfortable sharing my opinion with. I would never make a decent critic. I was raised with the time honored mantra of, “if you can’t say something nice, mumble something snarky about it to the closest ear and move on.”

“Oh homophones, oh homophones, you make my righting oops writing crappy.”

For those of you not familiar with the term, a homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling. Homophones are the bane of my existence. Because they are technically not misspelled words, spellcheck does not normally mark them. So it is up to a proofer to catch these mistakes manually. Ultimately that lands on me, and I’m a poor proofer.

It boggles my mind how many words in the English language fall into this dreaded category. Everyone is familiar with the pitfalls of “their, there, and they’re” and “too, to, and two”, never forgetting the dreaded, “your and you’re”. Then there are some odd balls: “cheap and cheep”, “stock and stalk”, “hock and hawk”, “allowed and aloud”, “peak and peek”, “heal and heel”, “sole and soul”, “where, wear, and ware”, “weather and whether”, “which and witch”, “sight and site”, and the aforementioned “write and right”. And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Since a typical word count for one of my novels runs somewhere between 65 and 90 thousand words, you can imagine how many of those suckers hide in all that copy like sneaky little landmines. They are something any proofer can easily overlook, but a reader will catch them every time and sigh at my disappointing effort before moving on, if they are not too disgusted to do so.

And is it so (sow, sew) easy to do (dew, due). Since I am dictating to myself as I put the words to the page, they “sound” correct.  It becomes even more embarrassing if I am mispronouncing a word AND using it incorrectly. I found this with “bravado” and “vibrato” as just one example of my many shortcomings with my native language.

If you think about it, it’s no wonder other countries have such a tough time with English. We all like to poke fun at the poorly worded instructions that come with products made in China. But honestly, can you blame them? After years of trying to create sentence structure this side of decent, I can’t.

The purists would say, leave it to the pros with the English Doctorates to write what we read. That sounds about as fun as reading the ingredients on a tube of toothpaste.

Others would point out that gigantic publishing houses exist for the sole (not soul) purpose of eliminating these issues with professional editors, and self publishers have no one to blame if their writing is of poor structural quality. The only problem with this idealistic view is that it is incorrect. Anyone who has read any amount of “traditionally published” literature  will admit that they miss stuff too. So (sew, sow) what (watt) to (too, two) do (due, dew)?

This posting came about because I got a Facebook pic of some woman’s tweet. She wrote, “When he left this morning, I could still smell his colon on my sheets.” Yes, I thought it was funny too.  But someone in the following comments called her an idiot. My reaction to the comment was two (not too) fold:

“Wow, that was harsh. Thank God I don’t tweet.”

 

 

Ambition, why hast thou left me?

Hey, remember when I was a writer, and I would get totally distracted by this completely made up universe in my head to the point where I would have to compulsively write down the intricate plots of said universe in order to purge my brain and get on with my life, conveniently entertaining you at the same time?

Yeah, it’s been a while, a good month actually. Don’t get me wrong. There’s been outlining. I wrote two whole paragraphs today. But that’s as far as I’ve been able to get. I should be doing all these important things, including my writing (some of you out there have mentioned that I seem to have a knack for it). Life is short. But, damn, I’m tired.

Where do others get their motivation from? I want to be motivated. I want to do right, eat right, exercise, get all these important tasks accomplished, and still find the time to look and act like a human being. It all just seems overwhelming. Hell, some days, just putting pants on seems overwhelming (Oh, how I do enjoy my pantless days).

Flattery does seem to help. One fan told me I “outdid myself” with Blonde in the Backwaters. That felt good to hear. Another told me she liked it so much she immediately gave me a 5 star review online and told a close friend she had to buy the whole series, which the friend did, so that was nice. I love it when I get the “I read it in two days because I just couldn’t put it down. When’s the next one coming out?” And so it goes.

I left Bernice and Evan’s lives in just enough upheaval to get book six off to a running start. The stage is set. New characters are shaping up, and the plot is bursting with intrigue. Come on, Chris, just start writing. You don’t even need pants for that.