Writing about Writing

You might notice that the tag-line to this blog says “Reading Writing Music Theology Etc.” If you’ve been following for any length of time (well, not any length–I mean, if you’ve been following for a few days this wouldn’t appy) you’ll have seen book reviews, Music Mondays, Sunday School Notes, Doctor Who stuff, and other things. But where’s the writing? Sure, I’ve posted some flash fiction from time to time. But you may have noticed I’ve gone quiet when it comes to writing tips and publishing advice.

Back when I started this blog, oh some six years ago now, I did a mini-series (a costume drama, I think) on querying agents, giving tips and suggestions. I was, at that time, querying my first query-ready novel. I had done a lot of reading, and I wanted to sum up all my research and offer it up to the world.

Since that time, however, I’ve done some hard thinking. You see, I am, and remain to this day, an unagented, unpublished writer. So my expertise in publishing is as good as my reading and conversations I’ve had with agents and published writers. I don’t have anything to offer by way of good, positive experience. When I look for query advice, there are two types of people I consider SMEs (Subject Matter Experts):

  • The people who read queries as a job requirement and necessity (i.e., literary agents and editors)
  • People whose queries have secured them multiple requests from agents, or, who have secured agency representation as a result of their queries. In other words, people who have written successful queries. Queries that have produced the desired result.

I am in neither of these camps. So why should anyone listen to what I have to say, when you have plenty of SMEs telling you what you want to know?

As for writing tips, sure I can tell you what works for me. But I have nothing to show for my writing so far, so why should you care what works for me? Clearly what works for me doesn’t yet work for many other people. Again, when I want writing tips, who do I turn to? Published authors whose work I like, people who have demonstrated ability with the craft of writing, and have, as a result, written work that is salable and/or critically acclaimed.

So, at least for now, until I have a credible enough platform from which to pontificate, I’ll gladly point you to SMEs. But unless, for some strange reason, you want to read my thoughts on writing, how I go about composing prose, or whatever, I won’t be posting “tips and tricks” here. Or anywhere else. It just seems a little presumptuous, and a bit arrogant, of me. After all, in the immortal words of the Eighth Doctor, “Who am I?” (Whovian in-joke). So here are some SMEs to get you started. You can easily Google for more:

Query SMEs:

Query Shark/Janet Reid

Carly Watters

Publishing Crawl (Pub Crawl)

Various Tips from Literary Agents

… and other Literary Agent blogs.

Writing SMEs:

Stephen King (his book ON WRITING)

Jeff Somers

Writer’s Digest

James Scott Bell

11 thoughts on “Writing about Writing

  1. Claire W Bobrow

    I’m in the same boat, Colin; however, you’ve gathered a fair bit of wisdom along the way. I always find your comments about the writing process and the world of publishing valuable. Thank you for that, and for providing the helpful SME links.

    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Claire–that’s nice of you to say. 🙂 I hope I don’t come across as snobby by looking for platform from my sources of information. We have access to so much data these days, not just about writing and publishing, but about everything, it’s often hard to know who to trust–especially when opinions conflict. Checking a person’s credentials and biases is the best way I know to weigh what I read. And if I expect platform of others, I can’t complain if others expect platform when they read my thoughts.

  2. Carolynnwith2Ns

    Colin my friend, you are one of the best (unpublished/published) writers I know and one of the most informed I have ever come across. It’s just a matter of time.
    Thanks for the links.

    1. cds Post author

      You’re no shabby wielder of words yourself, 2Ns! Thank you for your kindness. It means a lot coming from you. 🙂

  3. Diane Major

    You know I am the same, Colin – pre-published, and sometimes a little to happy with the liberty that confers (I get to depend upon nobody imagining I am an expert on anything). So when I do discuss writing on my blog, I look at the research I do, or the odd thing this character or that just did, or how I build my mousetraps. Sometimes, this leads to exchanges with lovely folk such as yourself, which is gratifying. I look at writing posts as conversations between those of us doing this work. As for giving advice – yep, I am not your go-to there. 🙂

    1. cds Post author

      You hit upon the one way I could justify talking about writing–as a way of encouraging all those of us on board HMS Pre-Published. Not advice, not this-way-is-better-than-that-way, but peers, non-experts, exchanging ideas. I have had some very good, stimulating, and inspiring conversations of that nature. Thanks for that reminder, Diane. 🙂

  4. AJ Blythe

    Colin, I’m going to disagree here. I think you do have a lot to offer writers about writing. I’m probably not going to get the words right but I’ll try and explain…

    You want to be published, so that is your bar for success (mine too) – but just because you haven’t achieved publication doesn’t mean you aren’t extremely knowledgeable. I don’t know how often you have sub’d or to how many agents, but as we all know, the most perfectly written query still has to land on the right agent’s desk at the right time.

    Think of it in terms of an athlete. They will train like crazy with the goal of a gold medal at the Olympics. They might not make it past Nationals, so not consider themselves a success in their discipline, but their knowledge on the sport and all that it entails (training etc) is still valuable to those coming through the ranks.

    (sorry, having to post in two bits because it wouldn’t let me post the whole thing in one go)……

  5. AJ Blythe

    Every Reider knows you can write, and write well. And you contribute some fabulous insight into all avenues of writing when the Reef discusses the OP topics. You always qualify those contributions with a comment like “the Queen might disagree” but it is incredibly rare that she does.

    I think you are considering what you can offer writers in the same position as yourself, but have you thought about what you might be able to offer writers who are just starting out? Those you haven’t been in the woods as long as you? The obstacles and pitfalls that stand in the way of a new writer are immense and you’ve tackled them already.

    So maybe you aren’t a success when you look at your own “line in the sand”. But to those starting out, your knowledge is still valuable.

    1. cds Post author

      Well… I don’t know what to say! Thanks, AJ. That’s very kind and encouraging of you. I’m still not sure I’m qualified to speak with authority on anything to do with publishing, but I will take what you say into consideration. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Writing Rules | Colin D Smith

Share your thoughts... I usually reply!