Lois Lane, Here…

Life as a world-renowned journalist will continue later this morning when I go interview another Crane Festival organizer and wildlife biologist. I hope this time I remember to take the questions with me. She’s a person I’ve met before — on the golf course on skis. I liked her.

Yesterday I worked on the article, integrating my last interview into the structure of stuff I already have. Some basic information has to go into that piece, but as I transcribed the interview I took last week I realized what my job is; it’s less about informing people as it is about exciting people.

What a cool job description! “Write a story that makes people excited to see Sandhill Cranes.”

When I was talking to my cousin on my birthday I learned that he’s written a book. It would be his second. As he talked about what he’s doing (getting editors, having it read, etc.) I thought but didn’t say, “Tom, there are no guarantees.” I did say, “Wonderful!” And somewhere in there I said, “The most important thing about writing is that you do it and enjoy it.” But really I can’t speak for anyone but me there. He could have heard that in a lot of ways — one as me trying to cushion him from disappointment, but, I was just speaking from my experience.

Sitting here with all these independently published books I feel differently about THAT than I might have felt 20 years ago. Independently published books are not (necessarily) “second class” or “not as good as,” not at all. Usually (in my experience) they are just different. The big difference is in audience, not the quality of the writing. IF these authors had sought “conventional” publication and had not found it, it would have been, in most cases, because the book they’d written would not have an audience. The publisher wouldn’t sell many of the books he’d paid to produce. That’s the major factor in the decision to take on a writer’s work. Logically so from a business perspective. The moment I understood that for myself, I knew what direction I would have to take. It’s a self-knowledge thing, I think.

Well, that said, and none of it new, I’d better get ready for my gig… Here’s Stephen King’s advice for wannabe writers. The only points I agree with unequivocally are #6, #8, #11, #14. For me the other points are matters of personal taste and style. Some people are quashed by a “daily writing goal,” for example. I have no idea where the word for today, “coddle,” was supposed to go in here; I had an idea when I started, but… OH well.

15 thoughts on “Lois Lane, Here…

  1. I love #11. I had a supervisor who insisted on using all the big words she could, and I was always reminded of a saying: “Why use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice.”
    Good luck, Lois Lane. I think your job description sounds Super. 😉

    • That big word thing was a problem teaching business communication — the students had been encouraged to ‘expand their vocabulary’ but I had to tell them to use words others could understand. They thought I was trying to make them fail the class. They had reason to be paranoid, sadly, not abut me but the policy of the College of Business was that we had to have class averages of C so… Really really stupid and sadistic.

      • Ah, business communication–where the Chiefs used the big words, and the Indians had no time for that because they were getting the job done. I wonder how many students were surprised getting out into the real world.

        • Yep. I was always saying, “You are communicating with people who might not have had the same educational opportunity as you.”

          Some students would say, “I’m not dumbing things down for them.”

          I’d just think, “You’ll find out…”

  2. I may have said this here before…I had a friend who had his first novel published as a mass market paperback. The cover illustration was misleadingly lurid (only slightly lurid, maybe more suggestive). He was told that if he wanted his second book published he had to sell the first one. He considered himself a writer, not a marketer. I have no idea how the book sold. His next book was true crime involving a prostitute and murder, subtitled “The Shocking True Story of Seduction, Suspicion, and Murder…” I think that one sold better, and it was made into a movie.

  3. You showed extreme restraint in not bursting your cousin’s bubble. I hope the interview is a gold mine! I’m pretty sure that you will be successful with this article since King’s #6 will probably be front and center!!

    • I don’t know what will happen with my cousin’s book. It’s not obscure history of a foreign country; it’s probably something people want to read. We all hang our star on something and he’s hung his on being conventionally published but he hasn’t done anything with the manuscript yet. I hope he doesn’t encounter the weirdness I did in that pursuit — an agent who took my book and did nothing with it, meanwhile tying it up so I couldn’t do anything, or the agent who asked if my medieval leper MONK would get married and have a family, or the very ignorant publisher who knew so little about the era or the book that he was about to plaster a well-known painting of Wagner on the cover of a book set in the 16th century. 🤣 It’s pretty weird to learn that these people who hold the future of your book in their hands might be idiots.

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