Happy Holidays greeting, robins at cotoneaster

Good Wishes to All

To all the bloggers I’ve grown to know over the past few years — you’ve visited, liked, commented, and reblogged. Some of you have read and reviewed my books, and I’ve read and reviewed some of yours.

To writers — inspiration, time to write, and success with the WIP.

To bloggers — ideas for great posts, and lots of likes and follows.

To self-publishers — good (or at least decent) reviews. And sales, of course. And to those of you who dare to do your own editing, formatting, and/or cover design, success with your DIY projects.

To readers — a TBR pile full of delights, and time to read them.

To gardeners — enough sun, enough rain, and may your garden be blessed with earth magic.

To everyone — peace, good health, and good will.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Interview with author Audrey Driscoll

I had the chance to participate in Sally Cronin’s Open House today. She provided some interesting questions, and hopefully my answers are interesting as well.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

My guest today on the Open House is supernatural/paranormal author of The Herbert West Series, Audrey Driscoll.

About Audrey Driscoll

I grew up reading books, and became interested in making stories myself. I worked out scenes and bits of dialogue, and made my friends act out little dramas based on my favourite book at the time – Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book.

With that background, it was inevitable I would become a writer. It just took a while. After establishing a career as a librarian – first at the University of Saskatchewan and then at the Greater Victoria Public Library in British Columbia – I had a meaningful encounter with H.P. Lovecraft’s character Herbert West.

Strangely fascinated by HPL’s corpse-reanimating physician and his friend the nameless narrator, I built a set of stories around them. In 2000, I was compelled to write them down. The result was The Friendship of Mortals…

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Writerly Pursuits


Looking at my current Things To Do list — specifically Writerly Things To Do (I also have such lists for the house, the garden and my day job) — got me thinking about activities that characterize the writing life. In no particular order, here is the list:

  1. Read and review the three books from the Emerging Local Authors Collection that are sitting on my bedside table.
  2. Finish writing a story (provisionally) called “The Ice Cream Truck From Hell.” Then post the story to my blog.
  3. Look through my file of stories that have never seen the light of day and select a couple to post on the blog. Then post them.
  4. Read closely and comment on three contributions to my critique group in preparation for a meeting on October 20th.
  5. Format for print publication within the next 3 months the second and third books of the Herbert West Series.
  6. Write some other stories that have been incubating way too long, before the ideas that inspired them wither and die.
  7. Prepare to write another novel — a sequel to the Herbert West Series — set in Egypt, specifically at an archaeological excavation in the 1960s. “Prepare to write?” You know — research, brooding, making notes, visualizing scenes, making more notes, etc.
  8. Read and occasionally comment on the daily stream of posts from the blogs I follow.
  9. Post to my blog at least once a week.
  10. Come to grips with the idea of marketing.

Thinking about this, it occurred to me that this is the real stuff of Being A Writer (except the marketing bit, maybe). It’s the 21st century analogue of what writers used to do in pre-computer days — getting together in cafes and bars, gossiping and arguing about the meaning of it all, writing letters, taking walks in the country and thinking about what to write next, mingling in literary salons, scraping away with their quill pens or pounding their typewriters. Nowadays much of the connection and exchange of ideas is done through social media, of course, but the dynamic is the same.

And, of course, there’s #10 on my list — marketing. Now as in the past, there are businesslike writers and those to whom that is an alien notion. Today’s indie authors don’t have to look far for reminders that to succeed, they must regard their writing and publishing as a business. Any who do not do this must resign themselves to failure.

As with the writing rules that also abound on the internet, the real situation is more complex — a compound of financial realities, creative impulses, expectations and motivations. Many self-published writers display a truly businesslike attitude, with (I assume) varying degrees of financial success and personal satisfaction. Many others do not. (Guess which of these groups I belong to. Just guess).

That’s really a side issue, though, the “marketing” aspect of being a writer. The core of it is whatever leads to new creations — writing. Whether the ferment of ideas and inspiration comes from face-to-face conversations with fellow writers, or electronically around the world, it must lead to sitting down and stringing words together. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Too Many Writers Talking About Writing?

Lately it seems that a lot of “indie” writers have found the time to accuse one another of filling the internet with badly written, unedited crap. There are huge numbers of bloggers (like me!) holding forth on the topic and endless forums in which opinions are fired off like artillery barrages. People are trashing each other right and left. You can tell how heated the discussions are by the number of typos made by the flying fingers of the indignant.

I can say one thing — reading these chains of heated opinions is addictive. I’ve spent (wasted?) several hours today doing that. Just think of all the original, creative writing everyone involved in these discussions could have done instead. But would anyone have read that writing? Hmm.

It’s a no-win argument, really, saying that certain people just shouldn’t write — or publish — because their writing is bad, because they haven’t had it “professionally” edited, because they haven’t “honed” their craft, etc. Of course anyone who wants to can write and publish, and no one has to read their work unless they want to. As for filling up the internet, I wouldn’t worry — text takes up far less space than all those cute puppy videos.

I do have a couple of pet theories about the indie writer scene. One of them is that wannabe writers are an enormous and growing market — for editing services, cover design services, book doctoring and marketing and conferences. As boomers retire and discover a book inside of them that simply must be delivered to the world, there will be more and more entrepreneurs eager to help them — for a fee. And that’s a Good Thing, isn’t it? But to create and maintain the market, writers have to be convinced that their writing cannot possibly be good enough without the professional touch.

And why do so many people want to be writers? Simple — they think it’s a quick and easy route to some kind of celebrity. Most of us have neither the looks nor the ability to be a movie actor or an athlete (and for those of us who are boomers, or even “zoomers,” it’s too late anyway), but hey! we can sit in front of our computers and forge our life experiences, humorous thoughts and emotional ups and downs into prose. A few drafts later, we upload and next thing you know someone from the local media is asking us where we get our ideas and telling us how interesting it is that we turned our tropical cruises into a murder mystery.

Has this happened to me? No. I’m just using my imagination, so it doesn’t become atrophied. Because ever since I began publishing (as opposed to writing) the books of my Herbert West Trilogy, I haven’t actually written much of anything. I hope that will change this fall, but if I allow myself to get drawn into the morass of writing about writing, it probably never will.