Who shares your name?

Work commitments mean I don’t have time to write a real post, but don’t leave in despair yet.

I was reading Janet Reid’s blog recently, and I came across this delightful post in which a writer freaks out about sharing her name with a writer with a strong web presence who pens lousy poetry and is vocal online about her political views.

(If you’re worried, read the post. Agents know this happens and are prepared to put in the small amount of work required to discover that you are a different person to writer crazy-pants.)

I imagine such situations are common.

Years ago, it came to my attention that my legal name was also the name of a German porn star. Putting my name into a Google images search was quite an education.

On the positive side, the other me was incredibly hot, which was obvious beause she never felt the urge to hide behind many clothes.

This was a minorly embarrassing situation. It was more embarrassing because I had recently started working, and the person who made the discovery was my boss.

Who else do you come up with when you Google your name? The people need to know!

When good things happen to other people

Strategies to avoid looking like a gherkin when good things happen to other people (particularly your writer friends)

Recently a very good writing friend had some terrific news on her journey towards publication.

She is a wonderful person and very talented, and I’m SO FREAKING EXCITED for her. Like, jumping up and down squeeing and typing horrendously excited.

But there was a moment when I paused and wondered, “Why her? Why not me?”

In my case, there’s a simple answer: because I’m not querying yet.

Sure, I might query for a long time without getting any positive signals, but I’m certainly not going to get any while I’m not querying. So what I need to do now is get my butt in my chair and finish my revision. (I’m working on it, honest.) Then re-polish to a mirror-like shine. Then engage beta readers…

But what if I were querying and a friend got this good news? What if I’d been querying longer than her?

Would I be envious?

Probably.

I’d still be thrilled for her, but I imagine I’d have a hard time not turning a little gherkin-like in the colour department.

Gherkin of envy
I am the gherkin of envy. Now publish my book.

Since I don’t want to wander around looking like a gherkin, now seems like a good time to come up with a strategy for when good things happen to writers who deserve it less than me are not me.

I’ve narrowed it down to three possible options.

Strategy 1: Take it as encouragment

Writers exist who believe the only way to score a trade publishing contract is to be drinking buddies with the right people and the rest of us are screwed.

I’m not denying having the right drinking buddies might help you get published–I’m not that naïve–but every day people with no contacts in publishing get contracts through the brilliance (and marketability) of their books.

When a friend gets one step closer to being published, this shows it’s not only “other people” who get trade published.

Yesterday your friend hadn’t taken that step; today she has. Today you haven’t, but maybe tomorrow you will.

Don’t quit. She’s proof good things happen to people like you.

Strategy 2: Use it as motivation

Perhaps it was mere luck that your friend took a step towards publishing that you haven’t yet taken.

But maybe she’s doing something that you’re not.

You don’t need to compare, but why not use her success as a reason to examine the way you approach your own writing?

Do you carve out time to write even when it would be easier to blob and watch The West Wing?

Did you revise your book as well as you could before sending it into the world?

Did you get beta feedback, take it seriously, and use it to improve your novel even more?

Do you study writing craft through reading writing craft books and blogs, or analysing successful books that you read? Do you apply what you learn?

Do you study human behaviour, people’s motivations, reactions, and interactions, and use what you learn to make your characters come alive?

You do all that? You’re a legend. Keep doing it.

Strategy 3: Get drunk, moan to the cat about how unfair life is, celebrate with your friend, then get back to your writing

But sometimes you’re doing everything right, you’ve been querying since before your friend started writing, and your novel is so fantabulous it would make demons sing.

Too bad.

Life isn’t fair and publishing is random.

Recovery in this case requires four steps.

Step 1: Have a glass of wine.

Step 2: Rant to whoever in real life will listen. This will probably be your cat. She will respond ,”tuna?” or “sleeping”, depending on whether you woke her up to share your news.

Step 3: Cheer on your friend and help her celebrate her success. It might not be your success, but you can still get caught up in the excitement.

Step 4: Get back to writing. Your current book might be too brilliant to be appreciated by the world until after you die. Finish the next one, because celebrating is a lot harder when you’re dead, and your options for spending an enormous advance are much diminished.

(It should be noted that in preparation for this stage, I have tried to stock up on wine. Success has been limited–but I’ve got to drink a lot of wine.)

I’m still mulling it over, but at the moment I favour strategy 3.

How do you deal with envy when good things happen to people who deserve them less than you friends?

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Concerning the appropriate level of silliness

The definitive* guide to the appropriate levels of silliness for all parts of your life. (* Not definitive)

Different social situations necessitate different levels of silliness. If I responded to my colleagues in the office the way I do to my friends on Twitter, they’d probably think I was insane.

Them: Did you break the photocopier?

Me: Sorry, that was probably my dragon. He thinks it’s funny to sit on it and take copies of his… never mind.

You can only say such things in the office so many times before people start to avoid you at the water cooler.

So what are the appropriate levels of silliness for different parts of life? Read on for the definitive guide.**

Continue reading “Concerning the appropriate level of silliness”

Why Twitter friends are better than real life friends

Twitter friends are a wonder of social media, especially if you’re an introverted writer looking for community. Here’s why they’re so great.

Twitter friends are small, two-dimensional creatures that often take the appearance of models, bearded knights, cats, household items, or occasionally book covers. They live in an application on your phone or a tab in your computer browser, and provide inspiration, encouragement, commiseration, congratulations, or random silliness as appropriate.

You can never be sure what form Twitter friends take in the physical world or what their physical-world names are, but none of this matters.

Names are only labels for people, and handles work just as well for that purpose. (Mine’s @AkkalonAS, in case you didn’t know.)

As for physical form, as long as the physical form can type, it’s wholly irrelevant.

Continue reading “Why Twitter friends are better than real life friends”

Life lessons from a Fitbit called Boris

In an effort to exercise more, I befriended a Fitbit with a number of annoying habits. Fortunately, he’s also had a lot to teach.

I recently gained a new friend, a Fitbit Charge 2 by the name of Boris.

I was happy to make Boris’ acquaintance because over the past cough cough months my level of activity has been somewhere between low and catatonic. I thought Boris might help inspire me to get moving again.

The start of our friendship has been a little rocky, but we are slowly learning each other’s quirks, and I believe we have a bright and possibly even active future ahead of us.

Continue reading “Life lessons from a Fitbit called Boris”