Monday, December 20, 2010

Withholding the Goods

Sometimes I’ll start to write a blog post I find particularly amusing—an anecdote, a dialogue, my thoughts, etc., and then I don’t publish it. I’ll even do something similar when I go to leave comments on your blogs—I get about fifteen sentences into my comment when I decide to scrap what I’ve just written and leave something a little smaller and less...lively. There’s a number of reasons for this. But more often than not, it’s because my comments/posts were too passionate. I figure if I’m that passionate about a topic, it’s worth blogging instead of commenting, but sometimes, my passionate thoughts don’t even make it to the blog.

There are a number of reasons for this. My opinion may be  too controversial for the kind of blog I’ve set up or require more time than I have to do justice to the way I feel about it. But just as likely, I decide not to publish a blog post (or comment or tweet, etc.) because I’d rather sell the idea.

writingformoney

Okay, let me explain.

If I want to sell my writing, I must think about what it takes to sell my writing.

So.

Sometimes I start to write (an anecdote, emotion, thought, etc.) about something I experienced, and then I think WTF am I doing? That little story is a gem worth saving for a tweet Facebook status blog post book.

All writers who want to publish should be able to recognize the potential marketability of their words, right? Unfortunately, this has made me a bit skittish—not in leaving comments, but in leaving lengthy ones with substance (same goes for tweets and Facebook). There have been times where I thought, man that comment I left on Jane Smith’s blog was way clever—it would’ve been an awesome line for one of my characters. Is that vain? I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s just…business thinking. As for blog posts, can’t tell you how many I’ve written up and not published. Sometimes it’s for the initial reasons I mentioned (or lame reasons, like it’s boring or too long), but other times…my writerly instincts kick in.

It’s kind of the sucky thing about being a writer. I mean, an actor can have a blog or Facebook without feeling like he’s giving away his acting for free when he could be using it in a movie. While it makes sense to give away some writing for free, if you want to make a career of writing, it’s in your interest to reserve your best ideas to sell, no?

So, yeah, sometimes I know I’m holding back on you guys. I like to think that someday you’ll read my stories and see a greater part of what’s in my head, but until then, what to do? I guess I’ll be as thoughtful and amusing and informative as possible without being, I don’t know, overly clever or marketable.

How do you draw the line between a blog post that will appeal to as many as possible and an idea/thought/anecdote/line you reserve to use in your writing? Do you draw a line?

31 comments:

  1. You know, when I started reading this post I wasn't sure if I'd relate. But I totally do. I think it's something I've started feeling over the last few months. I've been blogging for under a year, so for the first half of that time I was totally getting my feet wet.

    But now, I find I like direction in my posts. Not just as individual posts, but posts the define me or that I can build upon later to tell the reader who I am and who I intend on becoming. And how I want my words to sell.

    This is really interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    Enjoy your holidays!

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  2. From hence forth, I demand that you leave as long and as witty a comment on my blog as you can. I love the cerebralness of your blog and how random it can be sometimes. Don't be holdin' out on us fanboys (and girls) Cee.

    Of all the little things that I get buzzed about in life, when someone leaves a comment on my blog - well - that jazzes me the most. I would love to get more and more but I guess, you can't have everything.

    Bless you and be kept well over the holidays.

    I for one look forward to 2011 and my weekly (or so) check in with "Carol's Prints"

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  3. I guess I just don't think of my comments or posts as book worthy! Or maybe I'm just not thinking that deep.

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  4. I have to agree with salarsen. I thought this might be a post a bit out of my range because I have only been blogging (consistently) for about 6 months. I am still trying to figure out what kind of voice I want people to hear and haven't gotten a regular schedule/plan out, though I have it in the works. Yet, there are some posts I never made public. There are comments I have re-written. I think this is totally normal, and as a writer, I can understand your hesitation when you might want to take the thought further.

    Merry Christmas!

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  5. That's really smart thinking. I have to say, for myself, I haven't yet drawn a line. But maybe that's because my comments/posts aren't really that important or usable. LOL. But really great idea! Merry Christmas!! :)

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  6. I just say what I have to say, and try to have utter faith in my ability to come up with something just as good when it's needed again. Trust the talent! Or try to. (Maybe there's a few eggs stored away for the big day... :)

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  7. A few months ago Husband and I had this exact conversation.
    I was telling him a story of something funny that had happened to me earlier that day. He was in tears laughing and then finally choked out what a fabulous blog post that would be...and then we made eye contact...and as we oft do, we both said in unison: "NO! Use it in a book."
    He gets me.
    (and now you know why I use so many pictures in my posts ;)
    Happy Christmas!
    Love,
    Lola

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  8. I draw no lines! LOL!!!

    Seriously - I go as far as writing my blog posts then editing to death before publishing - but that's it. I think it helps that I know what I want my blog to be about. Lots of anectodal silliness that stand out of my very mundane and ordinary life and Charlie of course! LOL! Oh and lots of my bad poetry! :-)

    Have a great Monday! take care
    x

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  9. The one thing I would say on this is that there is no limit on wit. If you come up with it once, you can and will come up with something again. The more you exercise it, the stronger wit becomes.

    Plots, however, can be a little different. That being said, Scalzi posted nearly all of his Old Man's War on his blog. When you write it out, it is your intellectual property.

    Hence, I try not to post anything that is less than my best effort for that time and day (hence all the videos, etc.).

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  10. I do this a lot. You wouldn't believe the number of unpublished blog drafts I have saved, or the number of comments I've pulled the plug on for the exact same reasons as you've mentioned. For me, it comes down to show vs. tell--sometimes what you have to say isn't something you can, well, say. Sometimes you have to show it . . . in a blog post, in a story, in a book.

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  11. Okay, so...if you post it in a tweet/facebook status/comment/blogpost, it's still yours, right? So...if you decide to use it again later, it's not like you're stealing it from yourself, right?

    Although, I could guess that if you suddenly discovered how to eat fudge every day, never exercise, and not gain weight, you might want to save that one for the book.

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  12. Hmmm..... to be honest, I've never thought of it that much. I guess I'm not clever enough in my posts/comments to think, "Hey I should use that in a book!" ha ha. This certainly makes me even more eager to read your books! ;)

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  13. I do that too, actually. I thought I was the only one!

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  14. Huh. I s'pose I've never considered whether something I post on my blog is fodder for a book. Oh, okay, I have. That serial Mercedes and I wrote could've been novelized, but we did that for fun and our own entertainment anyway, and it helped me expand my repertoire as a writer, so I count it time well spent.

    I don't see why clever comments or insights on your blog can't reappear in your novels, though. I've shamelessly reused lines from my blog-published work, and as long as it fits the story, why not? Also, your long-time readers might notice little gems that you've used elsewhere and get a lovely little "in-the-club" feeling. It's like giving back to your fan base in advance! :)

    I'm pretty sure your well of imagination is boundless, Carol. You won't lose anything by giving it away. But ultimately, you'll do what feels comfortable and right to you, and there's no one in the world can tell you you're wrong.

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  15. I start a lot of posts and don't finish them, but I think it's more because they're too far off topic, and I can't figure out how to bring it back around to anything that anyone is interested in hearing about (like, does anyone really want another blog post full of pictures of my dogs or about my crippling fear of spiders? I didn't think so.) I have occasionally censored my witty comments, but really I think I'm just not as witty as you are :)

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  16. I like the salon-type atmosphere of posts/comments of substance and wit, and I don't worry about losing anything. However, I am reluctant to post much about plots and have become less inclined to post too many samples.

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  17. I think tidbits for our books lurk everywhere, especially when we open that portal from keyboard to brain...no matter what we're writing about or where. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  18. This post expresses exactly what I am thinking year end. How many of the great ideas do I let go, to provide ideas for others? One builds up a body of work; how does one market it? You raise thoughtful questions. (I could say more, but should I reveal all my cards?)

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  19. My work and my blog are so far apart in spirit, it hasn't been a problem. I should try writing an angsty psychological thriller post and see how it flies. That said, I admit to having an entire corral of stupid VR moments that I haven't shared on the blog. Maybe subconsciously I'm saving them? I always thought I was trying to avoid humiliation.

    Happy Christmas!

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  20. I can see how it's a hard balance. Stangely, I do something similar with my WiP. I think - oh, I can't use a scene with X or in which people do Y, I need to have that in my next story.

    But then I wonder - what if I never write that next one? For whatever reason. Maybe it's not worth holding back for something that might be better later.

    Anyway, if you post something you also want to use elsewhere, don't think you're necessarily "wasting" the idea! Think how many authors live their entire lives within a single, fictional world they've created - growing and expanding the stories in that world. Just because you've told something once doesn't mean it's dead.

    Anyway, your blog always has something new and interesting going on. I've no doubt you'll keep coming up with clever things to say - in your stories and on your blog - for a long time to come!

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  21. I, too, am sometimes reluctant to share something which will fit even better in a publishable work, but in the end it rarely stops me. At worst, yes, the readers who have been with me since these early stages of my career might realize where the thought came from. But I figure they'll smile at having that inside knowledge, rather than grimace at my repeating myself. Comments have even fewer readers, so I never worry myself about them.

    Besides, I don't like to deprive the few readers I have now...

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  22. I've never even thought of that!
    I do though have a little notebook (that I try to keep in my purse) to jot down good lines that I either hear or think up to use in future stories.

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  23. I've never given it any thought before. My comments aren't terribly long. Quite short to what others might share, but not because I'm holding back.

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  24. Occasionaly I will leave a comment and then think, I could make a blog post out of that. But I don't really do the same with blog posts and books, since my blog doesn't deal at all with the same topics my fiction does. Or maybe I'm just not that clever with my blogging. :)

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  25. That's interesting. I think it depends on the type of writing you plan to do, maybe? I know that I only plan to try to publish fiction, so I'll wax on about anything, really. ;) I figure, there's more where that came from, and I have no thoughts of writing memoir or essay or anything - at least not to publish traditionally. But - I won't give away short stories or character sketches or anything like that. ;)

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  26. I will just plagiarize my blog and then sue myself and make money. Genius.

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  27. It can be hard. I particularly don't hold off that much, only when I think the comment is too passionate and it would do no good to start a discussion on it. So far, I haven't recognized cool markeatable stuff in my comments. Will look for those though = )

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  28. Happy Holidays Carol! Thanks for being so groovy!

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  29. I do the same thing! I'll blather on and think "You know, this would make a better blog post" so I cut it, paste it into a draft post and leave something shorter and sweeter as a comment.

    Which sometimes means it takes me a REALLY long time to get through my blogroll because I keep editing my comments.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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  30. There've been times when I've THOUGHT about writing a blog post like that (usually when I'm running), but decide not to write it in the end for similar reasons you mentioned, Carol. And I've also written long comments, only to erase half of it in the end. ;)

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