Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011
Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Moved sites late morning yesterday, so now I’m back up at Job #2. A bag of work that was supposed to be delivered to me here in CT was delivered to the Cape instead. It would have been nice to get started on it this weekend, but I’ll just have to do it early next week instead. I can still meet the deadlines — I just have to spend more focused time on everything next week. The world isn’t going to stop spinning, and it’s just not that big a deal.

Next week will have a lot of extra long days in it, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you stop on the dot at 5 PM, anymore than working a desk job means you stop at 5 PM. No matter what the profession, there are days when we put in extra hours. You do what’s necessary to get the job done. You learn from it and see if there’s a way you don’t have to do that the next time around. Sometimes, it’s beyond your control, and you just suck it up, get it done, and add it to the invoice. The “I have a life” refrain doesn’t cut it — work is part of life. You hate your job, you want to compartmentalize, go ahead. I prefer to live an integrated life, and that means sometimes I put in 16 hours at the computer and sometimes I put in 1. Doing what needs to be done outside of “regular business hours” doesn’t mean I don’t have a life. What it means is I’m able to ebb and flow, rather than be regimented (how very Piscean of me), and still get everything done.

Started reading a book yesterday that I was very excited about when I bought it. What a disappointment! The first SENTENCE turned me off. I pushed on. The writing is sloppy, shifts tenses without good reason, it rambles, the structure is poor, and I don’t give a damn about the characters. By the time you finish one of the rambling, disjointed sentences, you have to go back to its start to try to figure out why it was written in the first place. It’s not like the sentences move the story ahead or reveal anything about character. I stopped on p. 12. I just couldn’t take any more. The author effusively thanks her editor, and I am so tempted to contact the editor and ask what the editor saw in this manuscript? Why not fix these massive problems? But there’s no way I could phrase it so it wouldn’t sound like I’m criticizing the editor, and I don’t want to burn a bridge in my field with someone I don’t actually know yet. So I will keep my damn mouth shut. I’m especially irritated because I paid full price for the book. 😉 I don’t know whether to put it up on BookMooch or keep it as an example in the year-long class of what NOT to do! Later in the day, I forced myself to read more, just to be fair. It didn’t get any better. Sloppy writing, illogical plotting, non-dimensional character cliches, poor research, no growth or surprises in it. Everything I tell my students not to do. Often, if I don’t like a book, I just shrug and figure it’s not for me, it’s for others, more power to the writer for getting it on the market, it’s hard to make a living. Well, badly written books like this make it harder for the rest of us to get published, and I can’t help but wonder who slept with whom to get it done, because it certainly wasn’t picked up on merit.

I thought I’d share my weird book-buying formula with you. It’s not the “right” way to do things, but it works the best for me, on several levels. I happen to think there’s a place for Amazon, big bookstores, independents, and second hand stores. Each fulfills an important part of the reader experience. I like to support independents, so that’s where I try to shop first. Again, I’m enormously blessed on the Cape because there are so many independent bookstores, so many libraries, and they are so busy all the time. I also buy books by living authors I know (in person or by their work) and like at full price, preferably from an independent store, but, if I want it fast and it’s via a box store, so be it. But I buy the books NEW, so that the author gets the royalty payment. I “test drive” new-to-me authors via anthologies (bought new if I already am familiar with a contributor, second hand otherwise) or from the library. If I like their work and they’re alive, I then buy them new. Dead writers’ books are usually bought second-hand. Out-of-print and research books are often bought second-hand, usually because they’re so out of my price range I can’t buy more than a dozen a year at full price (again, I try to buy those few full-priced ones from living authors, so they get royalties to pay bills). Amazon is my last resort, usually if I’m on a tight deadline and can’t find the book at my usual outlets or get it in time from my usual outlets. I’ll also buy new-to-me authors second-hand at first if I’m on the fence about them — then, if I like them, and they’re alive, I switch to buying their books new and at full price. Not every book on my shelves falls into these categories neatly, but that’s how I try to buy them.

Not a good writing day yesterday, so here’s hoping that today is better. At least it’s sunny and a bit warmer.

Going to Costco this morning, and then a friend is coming over for dinner tonight, which will be fun!

Time to wrestle with the Page Dragon, and hope that I win!

Devon

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 8:07 am  Comments (8)  
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8 Comments

  1. I’m going to re-read that paragraph about book buying. Fascinating stuff. I’ve never had a strategy – I like the sound of it. I’m plagued by this fear I never read enough, though.

    Enjoy dinner!

    • One of the great joys of so many books out there in the world is that there’s always something more to read!

  2. I do try to give myself the weekend off, and evenings – when I’m writing full time. When I’m doing a day job, then I write in the evenings and at weekends. But if something either needs finishing or if something is screaming to be written (could both be the same thing), then I carry on until I finish. And others just don’t understand, try to tell me to chill or take time out. Hey, I do – when it suits me not you. 🙂

  3. There just aren’t many independent bookstores here or I would try to frequent them. I buy my books from everywhere. From Target to B&N to Amazon or a UBS. I like your criteria for purchasing a book.
    I hope you have an enjoyable weekend!

  4. LOL. Sounds like a book I read recently. Devon. 😉 The entire thing was awful. Yep–I read the entire thing and it never got better. I know exactly what you mean.

    • Usually I’ll only push through on a book I can’t stand if I’m being paid to read it. I kept hoping this would get better — it was published by a major house. What’s funny is a recent exchange I had with an editor ranting about a manuscript with the same errors. She rejected it after reading the first page.

  5. And, no, the manuscript rejected was NOT mine! 😉

  6. And, no, the manuscript rejected was NOT mine! 😉


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