There is a tension in some, it would appear, between two apparently opposing forces: the practice of one’s craft, and the building of one’s platform.
I’ve discussed this before, but really, I have never thought of this – what I’m doing here – as ‘platform’. The concept that blogging, maintaining a site, setting up a page, being active on twitter, attending cons… that all of that could be merely some effort to ensnare potential readers, that always struck me as slightly nefarious. Dishonest at worst, a mistake of priorities at best.
I always figured on doing all those things because I like doing them. I like here tapping away and throwing my words out into the churning void of bandwidth and opinion that is the internet. I liked going to Genrecon and meeting a community of people who shared my passions, or gave me new insights into passions related but different, or even new insights into my own. I like interacting with people on Twitter, on Facebook, wherever else it might be. So I hadn’t really felt the tension between these things and the craft of writing, other than the obvious mismanagement of time that could occur.
But Jane Friedman’s post on Writer Unboxed got me thinking about this tension anew last month, and as a result I went away from the website here, I left neglected my Facebook Page, I went away from Twitter… ok. That last one’s not true. Twitter is a difficult thing to shake. I did though take a more passive role on twitter, allowing those I follow to guide me to links and such, but not tweeting (much).
What then has been gained from this month of social media ‘sabbatical’? What gained from a month devoted to craft rather than the building of ‘profile’?
- I finished writing my draft of Old Man Madigan. It comes in at 10,000 words and I’m wondering now whether I submit it to a market which may be prepared to serialise it, or whether I go in hard with the editing shears and cut.
- I started expanding some ideas for other short stories, tentatively entitled: Pareidolia, Watchers, Melange. They run a gamut of weird urban/psychological, scif-fi futurism, alt world Fantasy.
- I wrote a draft of ‘The Witch Way’, a Fantasy short story at 5,000 words and in need of an edit.
- I completed a draft of ‘Leaving the Farm’ which had been kicking around in my head and on my computer for years, never really having much structure or purpose. It’s 2150 words and not really genre fiction at all to be honest, straight up Lit Fic with a rural bent.
- I did a heck of a lot of reading: Chuck Wendig’s Bad Blood, Shotgun Gravy, Bait Dog, Blackbirds, and Mockingbird; Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country; Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns (and currently reading King). Reviews to come.
- And I sent out a query email for Exile, in the hope that an agent may be interested.
An agent was, and requested chapters, and so I’ve sent them now. I’m cautious and nervous and excited and apprehensive and uncertain and hopeful and worried and blasé… all at once or vacillating between the states. In one sense it’s not a step I haven’t reached (and stumbled upon) before, but I feel it’s progress. The last time an agent requested chapters it was on the basis of a face-to-face meeting, not so in this case. The agent currently considering my submission asked to see more based solely on the few paragraphs into which I distilled my novel. So that’s a good thing, to know that the query email worked, to know that I can pique the interest.
All in all a productive month, especially as I look back on it now. So what’s in store for this month? I hope to edit those two stories that are complete drafts, and to send them out. I have a list of markets to which I can submit (thanks Peter M Ball and Alan Baxter) and I intend to put that list to use… and of course to check my emails obsessively, in the hope of good news.
Leave a comment | tags: Abercrombie, Alan Baxter, blogging, Chuck Wendig, Exile, Genrecon, Jane Friedman, Mark Lawrence, Peter M Ball, progress, submissions, Writer Unboxed, writing | posted in Musings
Two points more related to profile than project:
Yesterday I passed the 1500 views milestone on this blog. Thanks to all of you who’ve played a part in that whether it’s one view or by following. I do appreciate the sense of having an audience to write for. As far as I can tell the 1500th visitor was from the US, so more evidence of my having gone global.
The second point is that I have signed up to twitter. That’s right, I am officially new media.
Find me and follow me @jmichaelmelican
Leave a comment | tags: audience, blogging, milestones, thanks, twitter, views | posted in Musings
About 8am this morning local time my website (jmichaelmelican.com) got its 1000th view.
I can’t be sure if the actual 1000th came from Australia, the UK, the US or Malaysia (several came in in rapid succession after Swedish views got me into the high 990s).
Thanks to all of you for your support! I have 57 followers as I write this and it’s a great encouragement believing that there’s an audience out there prepared to read what I have written.
My single greatest referrer is still Facebook, but there’s been a few views generated from Google searches as well. The most popular searches to find me are variations on my name, though “strong female protagonists” seems to work as well.
I thought in honor of the milestone I’d share some of the more unusual google searches that have brought people here:
green monkey injured
– presumably this led them to one of my short story pages entitled “The Green Monkeys”
talamh war crys
– presumably because ‘Talamh’ is the name of one of the areas in the fictional Kingdom of Alterre, the setting of my novel ‘Exile’.
What the googler was looking for though I am not sure.
brian melican.com britishness
– which led me to discover another literary Melican.: author, journalist, translator and apparent teutophile… Brian Melican
melican bahar şarkıları – the meaning of which eludes me (my Turkish is a little rusty unfortunately)
and my favourites:
how to summoning the jinni
– presumably because the jinni are featured in my work-in-progress
, a dark urban fantasy set in an alternative contemporary Melbourne. Unfortunately for the googler it’s not intended to be instructional.
pet monkey climbing nets – presumably they too found my story “The Green Monkeys”. Whether that helped them with their query about pet net-climbing monkeys I cannot say.
1 Comment | tags: 1000 views, blogging, Brian Melican, google, milestone, search terms, website | posted in Musings
So I’ll go in reverse alphabetical order and deal with the good news first.
The blog seems to be going pretty well. Today was my third best day since the big opening day of the blog in terms of views. I’ve got more than ten followers through wordpress (thanks guys!) a couple of followers via e-mail (thanks guys!) and nearly 30 followers on Facebook (thanks to you guys too!). If you aren’t following yet it’s easy. Just look to the right-hand side of your screen and use either e-mail or Facebook to stay up-to-date with my posts!
Not bad for the first week.
Even more importantly than the stats the blogosphere has exposed me to lots of other people doing lots of cool stuff and to helpful resources and opportunities I wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s also been really inspiring me to write, and I suppose that’s the most important function it can serve. If I feel there’s an audience for what I’m writing then it’s more than just me bashing a keyboard, it becomes a more shared experience of creating something, and I think that’s been really energising. A week ago I hadn’t even conceived the novel project I’m working on, but now I’ve got a plan and characters and some major plot points and I’m drafting.
Which brings me to my second ‘up’.
Despite all the distractions of life and the competing commitments that have needed juggling I wrote over 1,000 words today on my untitled project and have a total of over 5,000 words. That’s a complete prologue and chapter one and a start on chapter two (in draft stages). I’ll keep posting some excerpts in the drafting section as I go, as I did with the prologue and with chapter 1.
And now the bad news…
I’d put a query in with a Literary Agent here in Australia whose website suggested they were open for submissions and accepted Fantasy manuscripts. The list of Australian Literary Agents who fit that description is quite small, so I was hopeful of at least being able to send them some of my writing.
Not to be. They’re “not looking at manuscripts such as the one I describe”. It was a basic form letter (e-mail) rejection but they sent me a link to a list of Literary Agents. It was the same site I’d used to find them but at least they’re being a little helpful.
Anyway rejection is always bad news, but it also means my search for an agent is now a little more focussed. Not too many more can reject me here in Australia, and it may mean I need to find one overseas, but in the age of the internet that shouldn’t be an insurmountable hurdle. New York and London are as near to me a Sydney for all intents and purposes.
So I leave today feeling energised, with a little more written than I had this morning, with a little more clarity of focus, and with determination to keep working at it.
I read an interview with Joe Abercrombie wherein he said his First Law trilogy was rejected several times and kicked around failed submissions for almost a year… and his First Law trilogy is excellent, so I’ve got a few months and a few more rejections and revisions up my sleeve yet.
Leave a comment | tags: Abercrombie, agent, blogging, persistence, rejection, Untitled Novel | posted in Musings
Welcome to my blog.
Here you will find a collection of my various writings. Some are bare ideas, sketches of scenes or characters, others are initial drafts with something beginning to resemble a plot or purpose, still others I hope are relatively polished pieces.
I have been writing for over a decade, but have only sought professional publication on a few rare occasions, and never (yet) successfully. I have studied writing (Hons BA from Monash with a Creative Writing thesis), joined writers’ communities (Writing Victoria, previously VWC), and subscribe to Aurealis and some online newsletters, but I feel the time has come to stop splashing in the shallows and wade in.
Of course this is only done with a certain trepidation, so this blog is that first tentative step.
I have written the manuscript for a novel. It’s a big one, and although I’ve declared it finished I can’t stop myself occasionally going back and trying to polish it some more. I’ll post excerpts here, but not the whole thing. I’ve started on a follow-up so I’ll keep you posted on progress.
I also write short stories, some in the same fictional setting as the novel, others of various genre or literary intent.
Perhaps though it’s better to let my writing speak for itself.
Thanks for visiting. Honest feedback and constructive criticisms are sought so please do comment and contribute. I hope you enjoy your time on my blog and the writing you read.
2 Comments | tags: blogging, Introduction | posted in Musings