Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another day of solid writing

Of all the pieces that I mentioned the previous day I am actually working on an entirely different piece. (a side note: I would really like to know the psychology about working on creative projects, why does the brain reach out to certain ones? It semi drives me crazy because I wanted to work on the other ones I mentioned previously instead I'm working on a short that is in fact rough to write. Anytime I open any other of the documents I want to work on I stare and my brain just says no work on the letter)

The piece is a letter from the Devil to the human race. He's basically tired of getting a bad reputation with the propaganda being from the other side. This is his attempt at setting the record straight and (in his eyes) the last hope for the human race to attain salvation. It's meant to be slightly humorous though it, as can a lot of stories I write, lean to the serious. I hope to have it done soon. Then let it sit for a few days before editing it. The letter looks at Heaven, the fall, and Satan's interactions with the world since then. I'm on the fall part. I can only hope it is done by the end of the year. I have been managing a pretty good rate with the typing though I haven't worked well enough on any of the covers (which looks to be the bottleneck again in the production process).

Thoughts on the Letter from Satan cover? I was thinking either a letter head... (the whole fire and brimstone idea seems too cliche though it could be eye-catching) or Satan smiling at the camera (horns to indicate otherwise) or some more controversial things. Thoughts? Perhaps someone could point me to any books that in fact have been written about Satan that follow the same idea as mine? I claim originality in that I am thinking of this from scratch, but I can easily see how it was done before. (This idea was born in the subway, watching a crazy old man on the D—as it hit the Bronx—yell obscenities at the world. Don't ask how. It was written the next day on yellow pad while riding the D again to the writer's workshop at NYU. I wrote some more on it during my vacation. It is not entirely finished. But, as we speak I am exhausted).

I take some offense when I hear from several people (again when trolling the net for information pertinent to my vocation) that writing is not hard. True, it's not a job where you have lives in your hand and deal with matters of great weight. But to say that it is not easy is something else. I think it depends on whether or not you are writing something that is close to home. Writing about ideas that hit close to the heart exhaust me like almost nothing else (they, in fact, remind me of a more strenuous Arabic DLPT test whereby after reading Arabic—for the non-native speaker—you just seem drained... this is the feeling I get when I write). Now, I'm no lazy bum; I've worked myself to the bone in several other occupations. I feel in writing it is easier to emotionally exhaust yourself.

Writing about Lucifer has been hard. They are just words, to be certain, but everything you are is invoked when you write about such things (the grammatical aspect, with which I am not perfect at, does not play a role in this exhaustion). I feel the strings of my upbringing tugging at my heart and brain as I assault many widely held beliefs (by society at large, by friends, by family) when I type. How can that not exhaust a person?

How goes it for the writers out there? Are there people who can just type for hours straight and not feel the slightest stress? If any regular readers out there remember the link I gave for a writer managing 10k words a day (I can only imagine such a sustained rate with something more than caffeine on board—mainly illegal substances... Adderral I imagine would help, but then if I want to be a long term writer that seems like the perfect way to crash a career) but even she couldn't sustain that (it was said that she used it for the last push when trying to meet a deadline) and managed to only aim for 1k a day (she fell short).

Yet there have been prolific writers out there who have managed to write thousands of words a day, consistently. I remember watching a show on Charlie Rose where it was said that the man who went to the South Pole did so by merely being consistent (now here's the question: this was dealing with the topic of being consistent with goals and mostly in business, can the same be said of an artist endeavor such as writing or am I being too egotistical when calling writers artists?). In that he went a certain amount of miles a day no matter what. If it was a bad day he went that distance, if it was a good day he did the same. That way he never overstretched himself and thus was able to win the race. Pure and simple correct?

I have definitely found that if I have a few days of prolific writing the next day will be for naught. The question I must ask is what should be the per day rate. Perhaps 2k is proper. Should I treat this like running and only increase it slowly as I get a week of 2k, then 3k and so forth? Will experiment with this as I face my deadline of the end of the year for getting my four shorts and novelettes/novellas up.

Also to anyone who balked at paying 1.99 for a short from an unknown writer: I've lowered the price of my first short to 0.99 dollars. I did further research on the web and based (not on going rates, because I don't believe that an entire novel, that is several months of work, is going to be worth 0.99) on what I read decided all shorts below 15k will be 0.99 cents. Above and to 40/50k words will be 2.99 and everything bigger (read: a novel) will be 4.99. Other pricing schemes out there? I will change this as I see fit (I can see leaving 0.99 cents for work under 10k words and 1.99 for 10-20k words, that way there will be a properly tiered system).

Such is the publishing world that you need to have a proper price that will also pay back (especially since I plan on living off my writing) the artist. The e-reader world is the new money maker yet there are thousands, if not millions, of writers out there selling novels for 0.99. I wonder if one has to stand out.

Now, note, given the profit schemes that most (all, I'd say) have for the author deems the 99 cent price very unprofitable. You get 35 cents or 35% up to 1.99 and above that you get 70% of the price in profits. That means, everything else being equal, you need to sell 10 times as many copies at 99cents versus 4.99. So if it's a novel I don't see going any other way than trying to get some money for the effort.

Of course, there is also the matter of thinking about reaching more people. At 99 cents you are in the realm of "impulse buy". What does the reader have to lose? And if you hook them you have a new fan. On the other hand I have found that around the net there are too many writers who say that those 99 cent buys aren't always worth it (unless on the off chance that you actually get through and sell a million copies... then the question is what if you sold only slightly less at 4.99) and that you attract a different kind of fan. Any thoughts out there on this subject?
It's not an easy decision, especially for a writer just starting out.

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