Sunday, November 01, 2009

Size Queens and Sentence Fondling

Can you believe it's November already? But hey, it's my new favorite month of the year, and I hope that I can even fit in a little writing in the next few weeks of quiet and contemplation before the holidays really hammer us.

Not that I haven't been writing a lot this past week. Actually, I've been writing about writing and you can read all about it in the Erotica Readers and Writers Association's latest exciting edition of their fabulous newsletter, the Erotic Lure.

In my Shameless Self-Promotion column, "Bigger is Better: Bookstores from Indies to Amazon," I talk about why bigger can be better for the struggling small author and give you my tips for getting attention for your book at local bookstores and at the biggest bookselling marketplace of all.

My sex, food, and writing meditation in Cooking Up a Storey continues the discussion of story critiquing and mentoring with "Don’t Fondle My Sentence: Sex with Strangers, Casual Critiques, and Fearlessly Arty Applesauce." You'll learn about my traumatic past and why I'm gun shy about giving critiques, then when the confessing is done, you can stir up a batch of delicious applesauce just the way you like it. It's the season after all!

Enjoy! (And, yep, that frozen peach applesauce was mighty good...)


Danielle said...

donna..i so love your shameless selfpromotion columns! first ofall i totally feel entertained by your view on publishing and its ups and downs and second it gives every writer so many good advices...LOVE it:-)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Fabulous and fabulous!

Quoting from your critiquing column:

Countless excellent stories have broken every rule a teacher can devise because the passion and vision and creativity of the writer will always trump every “thou shalt not” in the book.

Hear, hear! I think writers can get so stifled and hobbled by overstated, absolute "rules" that by no means have the universal relevance they pretend to have.

Isabel Kerr said...

Donna, I have to say that your column shouldn't be called Shameless Self Promotion, it should be A Selfless Writer's Guide to Book Promotion or something like that, because the time, effort and expertise you are sharing with us is invaluable. This is worth its weight in gold.

Cooking Up a Storey is so helpful as well and my mouth is watering over that applesauce recipe too!

Excellent, excellent advice Donna, thank you.

Donna said...

Thank you so much for reading and supporting my efforts, Danielle, Jeremy and Isabel! I do wonder, as I'm slaving away for the deadline, if any of it matters. But then again, who's to argue with applesauce? It's great to know someone is reading this.

And yes, I could have gone on and on about the bookstores. That was pretty brutal. But I'll tell you, I have a much thicker skin now :-).

Jeremy Edwards said...

But then again, who's to argue with applesauce?

Hahaha. "Never argue with applesauce" makes a great proverb.

Craig Sorensen said...

As always, excellent columns. It's sad that so many of the small book stores you encountered were so "closed" in their mindsets. I suppose it is a difficult business, but writers are usually readers, and often have connections. Beyond just being decent to others, it makes good sense to be respectful and supportive of the small author.

She might be the next big thing!

And I'm with you 100% on the critiquing. But I disagree on blaming the teachers for your hiatus. I daresay teachers can have that effect. I love your assertion that every rule has been broken to good effect. Too many teachers do not try to help you become a better writer by leveraging what is within, but force their viewpoint upon the student. Some will thrive in this, but I think more will not.

Many will feel better not writing and taking chances. They worry about being lambasted, and this is not a good thing. Criticism is an important thing, but it need not be belittling or harsh.

Too much soapbox? Have I made you say "ungle?" No?

It is my verification word, after all.

Emerald said...

Sorry to be so late in commenting on this. Lovely columns, Donna, and thank you as usual for sharing them. Like Isabel, I really am so amazed by the generosity of the knowledge and guidance you share in the "Shameless Self-Promotion" column. Thank you.

Reading the "Cooking up a Storey" column recalled for me the time I spent out west in the MFA program. Funnily, I found that I actually felt more uncomfortable critiquing other people’s stories than having my own critiqued. Don’t get me wrong, at tmes I felt almost physically ill when it was my turn for the 20-some-person fiction workshop to tear my story apart (I know, that was not unique to mine, but the phrase just seems akin to the general process of focusing on a story in workshop), but it was when critiquing other people’s stories that I seemed to consistently draw a blank. What can I tell this person about this story that isn’t simply how I perceive it, which to me seems almost entirely subjective? Why would or should the perspective in me overrule what the author wanted to say how s/he wanted to say it? This may, incidentally, indicate some things about the personality patterns in me, but I did find it uncomfortable to be asked to critique another’s story as though the perspective in me were somehow more important than the author’s vision.

That said, I suppose an author may want to know how readers perceive his/her work. Ulitmately, the discomfort I felt in this area of the MFA program was one of the core reasons I left it. It may be that that is an integral part of such a program, and feeling as uncomfortable and out of place participating in it as I did perhaps meant I wasn't very well-suited as a classmate.

The applesauce recipe sounds fabulous! Thanks again for sharing this loveliness, Donna.