06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Learning Like a Loon (-atic)

by M.L. Buchman

Actually it was a Greater Scaup that was most recently added to our "birds seen out the window" list, but we thought it was a Loon at first and that fits the title better. Somehow "Learning Like a Scaup (-atic)" didn't quite get across the concepts I've been thinking about. I could make excuses like "they were out near the limit of my spotting scope," but actually I'm just a pretty crappy birdwatcher who likes making lists.
Greater Scaup (Calibas at Wikimedia cc)
So, while I have no idea how a Loon learns (or a Greater Scaup for that matter), I know how a lunatic does. In the last two weeks I:

  • Finished and published a novel
Latest Novel
More info (click here)
  • Finished and published a short story
Latest Short Story
More Info (click here)
  • Drove to Emerald City Writer's Conference (five hours away in Bellevue, WA), taught two sessions, attended 4 others, and talked to dozens of authors at length about the business and craft of writing.
  • Drove back home to the Oregon Coast where I was one of four primary instructors in an 8-day business Master Class with five other instructors and 35 pros. Ninety-one hours of learning later (because oh man do you learn when you teach), my brain had been turned into a sponge (the mushy rotting kind that you really should have thrown out before you wiped up that latest gooey sauce) and I felt like a lunatic.
So what did I learn in this mad extravaganza of knowledge seeking? Tons.
  1. This world of modern publishing is all about change. Eight hours of the class sessions I was part of teaching were based on news and learning by the instructors that was under three weeks old. If you can't handle change, what in the world are you doing in this business?
  2. Space clauses in contracts. No, not more room. Space as in outer space. If you think I'm joking, check out this article: The Economist. "Universal rights" are now starting to appear in territory clauses. So, is a parallel dimension in our universe? How about the other side of the event horizon on a black hole? Inquiring minds want to know...at least us lunatic ones.
  3. Nothing trumps good quality except, well, better quality. I was part of a small discussion group one night where no one in the circle had under ten years in the industry or under 20 novels; several of us had twice that. Consensus? Quality is 95% of what matters. All of the other 5% is about getting it out there for readers to appreciate. Write and publish your next book.
So then, being a brain-dead lunatic Scaup-pretender, I caught up on some of the backlog on the DVR...and the learning kept going:
  1. "Fear never conquered anything." -Tim Gunn, Project Runway
  2. "[Story] needs a clear focal point." -Tim Gunn, Project Runway. He was talking about the story of a garment, but it holds for a story of words as well. Not that a tale needs a single focal point, but it does need a clear one for the reader to focus on.
  3. "The secret is to show them how much fun you're having." -Pharrell, The Voice. The amount of writing wisdom on this show is just amazing!
Best Quality!
No Fear!
A Clear Story!
Have Fun!

Man, I can only begin to hope that's what I'm putting in my stories!
Coming Dec. 1
"Phenomenal! Breathtaking!" -RT -4-1/2 stars
"Memorable characters and pulse-pounding action!" -PW
More info (click here)
As it it, I'm a still a little too much of a Scaup-atic to keep my Loon under control!

My question? Do you have an outer space clause in your life?


Judith Ashley said...

Fascinating post, Matt. I don't think it's crazy to have a space clause in a contract or to think as an indie author in those terms. The world in general and the publishing world in particular are every-changing.

Thanks for the picture of the Greater Scaup. I don't think I've ever seen one before!

Sarah Raplee said...

I love the advice o The Voice, too, Matt! If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't be herre.

It's good to hear that 95% of the key to success is quality and 5% is getting it out there. That's something that hasn't changed as much as other things.

Looking forward to reading you new books!

M. L. Buchman said...

Judith, we hadn't ever seen a scaup either (or heard of one) which made it even harder to identify. And yes, a "space" clause does make sense...once you've heard of it. :)

Sarah, I get tons of writing wisdom out of The Voice. Just take every comment or bit of advice and change song to book and music to words. Then Wow! Yesterday I got: "They (the audience) want to be in *your* feelings!" -Rihanna on The Voice.

Tons o' fun!