Tuesday, May 18, 2010

D.W. Smith

I got onto Twitter a month or two ago. I swore not to for a long time, and Rish still swears he never will, but in the end I thought it would be worth it to promote the show and besides, we were probably the only podcast in existence that hadn't joined up to do just that.

I didn't know what to expect from Twitter. I soon learned that most people are telling you what they ate for breakfast or how many pounds their last bowel movement weighed. There's so much useless information being exchanged on that site, that it's hard to believe that the internet doesn't collapse under the sheer weight of the inanity.

I don't follow many people.

I found the real worthwhile use of Twitter, however. You can't do much in 140 characters, other than spout banality. That is, unless you have something to link to. You can link to a blog post or a podcast or something that runs more than a few worthless characters, and then the folks who follow you can go and read something worthwhile.

I follow several people who tend to lead me to links that I would be interested in. And that is how I discovered D.W. Smith's site. Somebody, and I have no idea who it was anymore, retweeted one of his links. I was intrigued by the headline of the post, so I clicked and read and was very impressed with what he had to say. I started following his Twitter feed. A week later he posted another similar post, and again I was blown away, energized, and excited by his words. I'd never heard of this writer before, but I was starting to become a fan.

What D.W. Smith has been doing for a while now, is writing a book about the myths that exist in the publishing industries and among writers, especially new writers. The myths that he is examining are all destructive myths that, when believed by beginning writers, can completely derail your possible career before it even gets out of the station. He calls the project "Killing The Sacred Cows Of Publishing."

After reading the posts that I talked about earlier, I decided that I needed to go through and read them all from beginning to end. The information in them was too valuable not to have. As I went through the posts, I realized, as myth after myth, was blown up in my face, that so many of these things had been holding me back for years. A lot of them are idiotic myths, yet I believed them all the same. Maybe I was raised on them, I don't know, but I'd never been more excited about writing in my life than I was after reading those posts.

The biggest, and stupidest, myth that I believed was that a writer doesn't need to practice. An author can sit down and write his first book ever and, if they have talent, it could be fantastic. The idea had to be good, not the writer, is what I thought I guess. It's so stupid. Of course it doesn't work that way. A writer must practice and practice and practice until they are good. It won't happen any other way. It's easier to believe that you can be great without work I guess.

As you've probably noticed if you've read any blog post I've written in the last few months, I've been trying to turn things around now, since I started reading what he had to say. The cool thing is that I feel that if I put in the work, eventually it will work out. I just wish I'd read this all fifteen years ago, the first time I started writing short stories in an attempt to be an author.

If you've never heard of D.W. Smith's "Killing The Sacred Cows Of Publishing," I suggest that you swing over to his website and read them all. They will change the way you look at a lot of things, and may save you from wasting a lot of your life doing things the wrong way. And be sure to read the comments on the posts as well, because there is a lot more great information down there from beginning writers as well as old pros.

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