Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sunday Musings: July 13 2014

Someone once told me they do not have any expectations concerning anyone. Therefore they can never be disappointed. For me that's completely sad. Maybe even a cop-out.

We all have expectations. I expect a whole boatload regarding my hubby, child, mom, and even myself.

But, as an author what do we expect of ourselves? Our self-expectations in the totality of our writing and its business.

With every hat I wear, it is expected I will be fair and honest, open, professional, worthy of the trust placed in me. Humble and apologetic when required. When I write, well, that's actually harder to pin down. I'm very aware that sometimes stepping outside of the now and looking at the larger scene will revamp my direction.

I also know my Muser Family have worded their thoughts much clearer than I have...let the Musings begin:

Yes, this is a tough question that I rarely ask myself when I write. I started writing because I had something to say and it wouldn’t stay inside of me. If only that could happen I wouldn’t now have one published book and another one coming out in the fall plus short stories and tons of poetry both published in anthologies and online. Writing is really the goal of my writing. That is not easy, because I do expect to be paid for some of it. When you work on a novel the amount of time you spend on it deserves some kind of payment. However, I didn’t write them for payment. I wrote them because they tore at my insides and had to come out in words.

No one who is not a writer understands this. I would love to have bestsellers and I try to promote my books as much as I can, but the marketing of my books is not fun for me. I just like to talk with people about them and then they come alive for the people and for me. They are the culmination of both my ideas and my editors’ ideas and I always hope that they will get great sales. But the sales as I said aren’t the reason I wrote them.

I guess I like the title of author. When I was younger I was in awe of anyone who had a published book. To meet a real author was such a big deal and to have them sign the book I was going to read was even bigger. Then I became an author and I saw the spark in people’s eyes as they met me. I was still me, but I was also an author. I like that feeling and really for me it is better than the money. Yes, I would love to be a rich and famous author, but I think I would still write if the inspiration hit me. As I used to say in my bio, writing is my life.


Writing for me has always been second nature, I've done it since the age of four, just scribbles I'd read back to my little sister. Although I used to spend days and even months on this habit of mine, I only recently got serious about publishing, something I'm still learning about.

Now, I write every morning for about two hours. It's different now that I actually write things worth reading (An area I'm working on more and more, still learning this, too.) Now writing is more constant for me, even with my other life things. Yes, sometimes I get discouraged, like when I can't come up with the right wording for the next section. I have my doubts but then it hits me, people are paying to read my stories. That is very cool, it really helps me get motivated to focus.

I'll write, always have. even if no one buys these words I put down on paper and screen.

I've always told myself stories, and I've written poetry for years, but it never occurred to me to write any of them down until around 2005 or so. My goal -- my expectation -- of myself as a writer is to make what ends up on the page as true to my internal vision as I can make it.

I'm not much of a plotter. I usually have a sense of the arc of my story, its ending and high points, but not so much of what happens in between and less of how its going to happen. A lot of what goes into my first drafts is teasing out what's rolling around in my head and getting it more-or-less onto the page. Then I need to go back and revise, because now I can see the whole of the story and how all the parts fit together.

Voice, language, grammar, word choice, and the voices of the individual characters are all very important to me. I hear and see my characters in my head. When I'm working on a scene, I'll see it unrolling on a sort of mental movie screen. After I run it, so I know what's going on, I go and write it down.

For anything I write about, I need to know enough about it to be able to picture it in my head. This goes right down to the floor plan of the houses my characters inhabit and the furniture in their rooms. It may not end up in the book, but I need to picture exactly where the kitchen is or I can't start to write.

I write because once I get a story, I have to tell it.  I strive to make each book/story better than those that came before, but I also play with different settings and ideas, whatever works best for the individual tale.  As for the writing business, I would still be writing even if I were selling nothing, but I want my work published, and I want to be paid for it.  I want the respect for it that professional status entails.  On the practical side, I can truly use the money, and I greet those royalty checks with great affection.


When I write, its because I have stories or images in mind that yearn to be shared. I love to share these ideas and have others experience them.  The magic of writing comes both in the initial drafting, and then in the moment a reader responds. 

However, I have to confess, now that I'm published it becomes frustrating trying to weigh the excitement of writing against the difficulties of marketing.  I'm not looking for piles of money, after all I, like most authors here, work another job. Yet, I do love the idea of more people experiencing my visions, and sharing in the dreams I've placed on paper (or ebook).  One challenge for me is to write purely for the joy of knowing that the ideas are going out into the world, and someday my children will pick them up and see the worlds I've created.


Wow, this is a loaded question!

For me, it’s giving myself permission to say ‘no’ to those who make unrealistic demands on my time or that don’t ‘get’ why it’s so important for me to write.  There’s something empowering about this and it helps me feel like a professional instead of a wannabe writer.  I schedule in my writing time and found that I thrive at local coffee houses.  Give me an ice tea latte, a booth, and my iPod with a Playlist that reflects my characters, and I’m in heaven.

It really depends on which project I’m working on on what I’ll listen to while writing.  For my current thriller, the one love interest loves country music.  I’m not a huge fan but this music speaks to my character and I’m better able to see inside his head.  I also use Pinterest to post iStock photos and other things that help me with my projects.

I also include reading as an important part of writing.  I try to read books outside my usual comfort zone.  Right now it’s been biographies and memoirs.  I love a good historical novel too.

Writing is a huge part of who I am.  If I don’t write for a length of time, it’s like being parched on a summer day.  Without daily writing, my stories wither up and die.  Not good!

On the business side of writing, I’ve realized it’s okay to not ‘force’ a story or stress out if I don’t have a book come out every year or so.  It’s like Liz, my one UCI creative writing teacher, told me, “It’s better to not be published, then to be published badly.”  So very true!

I've loved to write for a long time, though I'm also the kind of person who "likes to write what she likes to write", which is usually just fantasy. What I expect of myself is to capture the things that I am passionate about and craft them into a story. When I write, I take myself on a journey and try to convey that to others, so they can experience what I do when I write. Although I usually plan out the major details, I tend to figure out much more along the way than I would have expected. I never know ahead of time what little details will crop up, so it really becomes an adventure.

I don't really hold myself to expectations with respect to publishing, though I obviously try to be successful in this so people can read my stories. So the major expectation that I hold myself to is to know that I've told a good story. Something that's worth the reader's time, that's worth my time, and something that can have the potential to change others and myself. It's a part of my life that I would never choose to live without.


For me, writing is much like reading.  The big difference is I get to create - not just be a part of the story.  It is my escape from reality - it's FUN.  I become what I've always wanted - or go places - own things - etc.  It's artistic expression with intrinsic motivation.  Its a form of release.

Also, I want to "plant seeds of thought".  I love to be positive, and I love adventure.  This may be silly, but I'm a Harry Potter fan and have been moved many times by inspirational words portrayed in the stories.  I want to be able to do that for someone else - I would love to inspire others as J.K. Rowling inspires me.  I would love to be paid for doing what I love to do - making my time spent not seem so wasteful - as we all know, time is money - but many spend money on what they love anyway!  The marketing is the overwhelming aspect for me. 

DAWN KNOX, author

My main expectation of myself as a writer is that I don't offend although it sounds rather negative to describe my aspirations in terms of something I don't want to do.  I could have said that as a writer, I expect to entertain, amuse, uplift or move a reader - and of course, I desperately want to do those things but I don't want to cause offence in any way. If someone invests time in reading something I've written, I'd hate them to arrive at the end and feel they've been cheated or had their time wasted because they considered my story was dull. Or indeed, that the language or subject matter was inappropriate.

I would love to think I've crafted a story so skillfully, the reader felt it had been time well spent in finishing it. I'd also love to think it didn't need to contain shocking material to be enjoyable. That may sound rather old fashioned and of course, there's room for all sorts of writing and all sorts of tastes. But for me, if I don't think my mum would like it, I don't write it!

I began (with historical romances) because I’d been researching a particular historical period and influential woman of the time and I think someone asked me what I intended doing with it all. That planted the seed and so I “had a go” just to see if I could do it. The “strapline” to my blog on my website says “an author’s progress” and I guess that about sums it up. I want to be improving all the time - which is where editorial input from other people is such a good teaching agent, as well as reading lots of other writers’ works. Having come quite late to this art I want to try different genres and styles of writing as to voice, tense and aspects like doing humour without forcing it. That’s from the output side. From the marketing side I probably need to do more to connect with readers who will enjoy reading my work (some royalties would be nice!). Unlike some, this is a part-time activity for me since, though retired, I have quite a lot of local commitments demanding attention most weeks.

Self expectations.

A few years ago, when I was writing The Natasha Saga my goal was to write something worthy of being published. Mission accomplished. I can google my name and it appears on a publisher's site.
Now I have to take the next step. My next goal/expectation is to grow and develop as an author. I compare myself to person in school. I've worked with 4 editors during my time at Muse so I've passed the primary grades and secondary school. I'm heading to "university" where I hope to mature as writer, under the guidance and scrutiny of my editors. Thank you Muse for putting me and my work in front of your talented team. I certainly appreciate their patience and knowledge. I've been told my growth is obvious as people finish reading all four books in the saga. That makes me proud.

Marketing is another facet of the job, but it's harder to measure. My goal is to improve my marketing. Most authors market through social media, and other methods we think of. Ideally, we need to send each person that pushes that 'buy now' button a little survey that asks how they found out about the book. Without that, we don't know where our time is best spent. It's difficult marketing something so personal, but this challenge will not get the best of me. I will persevere.

JAMI GRAY, author

A loaded question.

When I first sat down to write, the expectation was simple--I wanted to be an author, preferably published. It wasn't until I achieved my first contract, that I realized there was more to it. Now with two series out, my expectations are more detailed:

--write compelling stories, ones that will drag readers in and suck them down. Just like the ones I grew up reading.

--challenge myself every time I start a new title. What am I struggling with--character motivation, voice, point of view, a certain character type--whatever it is, it's my focus for the next project.

--learn, all the time. Poke my head out of my rabbit hole and look around. What's going on in the writing world? What are other writers struggling with? How are they battling their challenges? Will some of their options set me on the right path for my upcoming skirmishes?

--grow, push my writerly boundaries until I squirm. If I don't stretch, my writing will become stale. If my stories become stale, I'm doing something wrong.

For the business side, this is a constant struggle. Like many, many writers, along with crafting stories, I have a family to herd along life's path and a job that keeps those pesky bill collectors at bay, not to mention all the normal stresses life sends your way. So carving out vital time to address the business side of my craft has become as important as carving out writing time.  I do a lot of listening to the experiences of others, trying to determine if what worked for them will work for me. Then, I've been brutally shoved out of my introvert comfort zone to "market" myself. Seriously, such action generally produce hives. But it's necessary and vital because readers have a plethora of fantastic authors to choose from, and perhaps I can lure them my way, but only if they hear about me.  On the flip side, the writing community is one of the best at support, so I'm a firm believer if you want to get your name out there, you need to return the favor with  your fellow writers. Good karma pays off. Plus, if you come across approachable, readers are more likely to reach out. They're just as shy as writers most times, but if they're brave enough to reach out, I'm right there with a smile, because it's admirable.

One of the best things I ever read about writer marketing--the best way to sell yourself? Write. The more great books you put out there, the more likely you are to succeed.

My expectations of myself as a writer are this: Keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting it to good use. Never be afraid to seize the moment and never stop dreaming. Seeing my work published has been one of my dreams, and now that it's a reality, I want to see it continue. My next book is always going the best I’ve ever written, because I don't ever want to stop improving.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at


Susan Bernhardt said...

"Someone once told me they do not have any expectations concerning anyone. Therefore they can never be disappointed."

I agree with you, Chris. This is an extremely negative thing to say. I have lots of expectations of both myself and others.

Great posts everyone!

Jami Gray said...

I love being included in such a great group of writers. Thank you so much for sharing, everyone. It's so nice to see we all have a common goal--to share the best stories we can with our readers.

Dawn Knox said...

That topic was a difficult one to write about but it's been so interesting to see everyone's comments.