Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How much do you share?

Maven Carrie Ryan A writing friend recently asked what my second book was about. Good question. Right now it's a companion book to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, ostensibly it's a sequel but we'll still see if that label fits once it's finished and turned in (incidentally, writing under contract does feel a lot like school, just with longer deadlines before you turn in your homework). As I pondered what more I could say about the book I started to wonder how much people really share about what they're writing.

Early on, when the idea for FHT came to me, I didn't say much about it on my blog. Maybe I didn't want to jinx it, maybe I was following what other writers were doing, but not talking about what I was writing suddenly became my habit. For my previous projects (pre FHT) I had word meters up (which I then protested) and talked at least minimally about what I was writing. And then, at the other end of the spectrum you have authors who have daily updates not only about word count, but also about plot.

On the one hand, I'm a writer and I blog about writing. It seems silly not to talk about what I'm actually working on at any given moment. On the other hand, I don't want to give too much information because I'm very anti-spoiler.

Plus, there's another element at play. It's hard to know how much I'm "supposed" to talk about. Not that there's a blog mafia out there watching my every word, but you start to get advice that maybe you shouldn't complain about writing, maybe you shouldn't talk about the struggles or put up a word count meter that will not only show the added words, but also the deleted words.

So that's the question I ask y'all. As blog readers, how much information do you want? What do you like to read about? As blog writers (or any kind of writer) how much do you share or think you should share?


Bill Clark said...

As blog writers (or any kind of writer) how much do you share or think you should share?

Interesting post, Carrie! You raise a good question that I'd noticed subliminally but never really focused on.

At the recent MWA conference in NYC, Lee Child was a presenting author whose MO really resonated with me. He writes for himself, by himself, a true pantser, no CP's, no feedback, and even hates letting his editor see what he's written - he just wants to go straight to print. That's me.

If you're the type who wants to share, however, I personally think that word count meters can become a little tedious to the general public. Better, I think, is Maven Erica's scene-o-meter. But it's hard for me to get excited about abstract statistics concerning a book I've never read, and in all likelihood may never read, given the vicissitudes of the publishing world.

What I do find interesting is a one- or two-paragraph synopsis of a WIP, with an occasional (weekly, say) progress update. That can whet a person's appetite, as can sharing snippets of scenes or opening chapter hooks (Maven Erica did the latter, and it was a great post).

In other words, show me the quality, and spare me the quantity. I'm a person who reads for the sheer joy of seeing words assembled in new and exciting ways, and I try to write in the same fashion. If you're a sharer, give us a peek at your actual writing; and if you're not a sharer, I would still hope you might do the same from time to time.

We're all wordsmiths, after all, not journeyman hacks who get paid by the column inch. Writing is our craft, not our assembly-line day job. My feeling is that we should share the craft and the art, and leave the statistics to the bean counters in the back office. (No offense to the bean counters; some of my best friends, etc.)

Kelly Krysten said...

As a blog writer I don't share much at all. And I love to read about the writing process on blogs.

Kelly Krysten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darcy Burke said...

Great question Maven Carrie. I used to share next to nothing. I'm trying to put more out there, but like you I'm not sure what's "okay." There's a balance of finding the right amount of "you" to share. I'm just not certain what that formula is.

Very thought-provoking post.

Erica Ridley said...

It's funny. (Where funny=weird.) When I first started blogging, I blogged about everything. No holds barred. And then over time, I shared less and less. Partly, like you said, b/c I'm anti-spoiler. And partly b/c lots of times I'm wrong. Some of the great lines I post b/c I think they're so hilarious (or whatever) end up on the cutting room floor a week or two later. Or I take the story in a completely different direction and start over. And maybe, like you said, I don't want to blog about all my starting-overs. But then again, I love to read that stuff on other writer blogs b/c it makes me feel less alone. Especially multi-published authors I read and respect. So maybe I *should* return to stream-of-consciousness blogging and share more of my daily travails... (assuming I have daily travails. Must get back on a schedule!)

Carrie Ryan said...

I remember wanting to post my first lines and last lines back when Erica did it, but all of mine were spoilers! And since then I've come to realize that a lot of my lines are spoilers :)

For me too, I know that I cut and change things as I go (or rather at the end). I don't feel like anything is final until, well, I guess until the book comes out - lol. So I feel like I can't share it because who knows if that line, paragraph, page, or plot point will still exist when the book comes out.

Though, oddly, I don't think I'd have as hard a time sharing them after the book is out, sort of a "here's a glimpse at the cutting room floor."

B.E. Sanderson said...

I share whatever strikes me as interesting or pertinent or potential helpful (with regard to writing). Like Erica mentioned, reading about other writers' travails can ease the discomfort of our own. Almost like the old phrase about shared pain being lessened or something like that. This can be such a lonely job, sometimes just knowing there are other people who have been there helps. If I can help one other person like so many others have helped me, I'm willing to write about my bloopers, pains, stupid moments, etc. Everyone makes mistakes, and the only stupid ones are the ones we don't learn from. I learned and now I share.

I also share snippets of 'cutting room floor' scenes. They may not belong in the book any more, but I loved them when I wrote them. I still love them. I just hope other people enjoy them. =o)

Jackie Barbosa said...

I guess I'm like Erica. When I started blogging, I shared almost everything. As time has gone on, I've gotten a bit more reticent (and lazy, lol), and I share way less.

As a blog reader, I suppose I like it most when an author shares a lot about his/her process and work. I'm maybe a little less interested in their personal lives (unless I could them as friends, in which case, they can tell me in email or IM).

I do still keep word meters on my blog, but that's more a matter of public self-humiliation (maybe if I know everyone else can see what a slacker I am, I'll get moving faster!) than anything else.

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