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Monday, January 30, 2012

Is writing not enough?

As one might derive from the fact that I have a blog, I fancy myself as a writer. The best things about being a blogger are that I have no overhead - thanks to my free Blogger account - and I don't need to worry about poor reviews from critics; mainly because I doubt any self-respecting critics have heard of me.

                              Bill HE is creative!

As I glory in my creative freedom, I do still pine for the day that I will be a full-fledged, published novelist. The only problem is, by the time my novel(s) are ready to burst onto the literary scene and sell millions of copies in forty languages, will writing a novel be enough? I watched the video below on the BBC and, if the message is to be believed, written novels are now only one part of a larger media production.

Click to watch: Fiction Gets Technology Makeover

I work a full-time job that only takes up half of a day. Unfortunately, it's the first half. This leaves scant time available for plot and character development, endless drafts, happy daydreaming about how to turn a phrase just so, and all those other authorly things. I know what you're thinking, "Well, if you only work half-days, then use the other time to write, you ninny!"

About that.

In my line of work, half-days mean 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (half of a 24-hour day), with lunch usually at my desk. There's another hour or so for driving to and from the office, chores at home, time spent with my lovely wife...and so on. Did I mention how much I love sleep?

But this isn't a, 'woe is me' blog belaboring my as-yet incomplete novels. I'd like other writers to weigh in on whether, to paraphrase Shakespeare, 'The novel is the thing,' and whether I need to be a creative writer and a multimedia specialist.

"Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand—a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods—or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values."
Willa Cather

I'm not convinced there are any new and untried novels out there (except for mine, of course). After all, there are really a finite number of themes to write about - love, betrayal, etc. Many modern (i.e. popular) novelists seem to believe that these themes can all be refreshed by casting the protagonist as either a vampire, werewolf or zombie; or someone in conflict with one of these misunderstood monsters-du-jour. In which case I would put their product (e.g. Twilight) firmly in Ms. Cather's first category of writing.

I don't have all the answers. But I do have questions. And the question today is, can I focus solely on writing my books or do I have to partition some of my ever-shrinking writing time to decide on things like (the need for) book trailers, companion websites, interactive content, multi-media overlays, etc.?

From what I've found concerning book trailers - admittedly something that should likely not be pondered at all until the novel is complete - it's not a matter of, 'Should I have a book trailer?' as much as making sure I have a good one. Angela Wilson, a multimedia producer is interviewed on this blog regarding, among other things, the need for authors to have a media kit. It's been very difficult to find specific information on multimedia in publishing beyond these few nuggets.

The BBC video I linked to above scares me into believing that I have to media-ize my novel, yet there seems to be no great oracle of advice concerning how to do that on the great, wide Internet. My gut tells me to just write the darn novels then worry about such things. But, as I've alluded to above, will that be enough?

How about some input from the writing community? What do you think?


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