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Monday, 4 February 2013

KACEY VANDERKARR.



Fitt the First.

I entered your hall, unbidden, as the Green Knight, and put my neck to your sword so that you might chop off my head. That ordeal, I survived. I will return to your hall in a year and a day, Sir Gawain. And if you have learned nothing from your quest in that time, I may chop your head off.

Fitt the Second.

We all settle down to watch the TV movie-of-the-week. A disaster flick. The story opens with a massive storm scouring its way across the Atlantic, heading for America. Specifically, for the Top Secret Research Base containing the Zombie Virus.
   Audience members nod sagely. This doesn’t bode well.

Fitt the Third.

“Paging Doctor Vanderkarr to Lab Zee. Doctor Vanderkarr to Lab Zee.”
   “Holy Eff. OMG. What could they possibly want now? I was just about to head home and soak in a tub of chocolate ice cream. That dulls the pain. Damn it – it’s a cliché to say damn it, but, damn it!”

Fitt the Fourth.

I was in my own Top Secret Volcano Base, hatching plans. For months, reports filtered in. There were people out in the dark vastness, writing stories. Writing them wasn’t enough. Those people wanted to send the stories off for publication. And yet…
   They were afraid. The work would never be ready to show to anyone. Ever.
   The reports I received were not fresh. Those who said they felt this way declared the sickness cured. They all once felt that way. No more. Edmund Burke tapped me on the shoulder with thoughts of trying to avoid indicting a whole nation.
   However, I couldn’t help but think. This strange writing sickness must be an American thing.
   Only in America is a phrase that could only be invented in America for export worldwide. When I say worldwide, I mean possibly intergalactically.

Fitt the Fifth.

Winter came on with a vengeance. How winter avenges itself, I have no idea. Perhaps it bursts through the door with a chainsaw. In the dark wintry hall, I gathered my stores, my stories, and saw the cold night through. Come morning, I’d been sent a message.
   In those far-off days if you followed me on Twitter and declared yourself a writer, I’d check out your blog. The latest writer to drop through the digital letterbox advertised herself using a Sheriff’s arrest photo. Or so I thought.
   I wasn’t one to judge her on that basis. No. I’d look at the writing. So I went to her blog and quickly threw on a pair of sunglasses to avoid the glare of white text on a lava background. I still have that version in my archives. Reviewing a few days ago, I reached for the shades yet again.
   Kacey Vanderkarr was scared to publish her work. It wouldn’t be ready for anyone to read. Ever. In a million years? Not even then. Holy Eff. This was one of those people. Yes, THOSE people. I’d never encountered one of them.
   Reading the tales of the repentant didn’t come close. This was the real deal. And, yes, she was American. Must be an American thing. Her work just wasn’t ready. And wouldn’t be ready. She’d written four books.
   Depressing.

Fitt the Sixth.

I kept reading. Mrs Vanderkarr’s life unspooled before me, and the life was an inspirational one. The inspirational mood she carried everywhere was dumped by the wayside when she considered her writing. I read fiction on her blog, and came to a decision.

Fitt the Seventh.

In the drive to self-publish, I’d contacted authors and shared a few tips. But I’d never given major advice on writing because I’d never given major advice on anything. That was a big no-no. Until I read Kacey’s fiction excerpts on her blog.
   She could write. And she inspired people in other areas of her life. So what’s wrong with this picture? To change her views, I’d have to change mine. And actually give major advice. On writing. To a stranger.
   If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know the story. I repeat elements of it here as this blog post goes out, by coincidence, a year and a day after I first wrote to Kacey Vanderkarr.

Fitt the Eighth.

Yes. I changed. The writer who never gives major advice was about to give major advice to the writer who never takes advice. Atlantic storm. Zombie lab.

Fitt the Ninth.

What great crime was committed? I told an author who could write that she had to publish. She was free to ignore what I said. I wanted her to self-publish or seek a deal. She’d have a year and a day in which to do one or the other. After that, I’d chop her head off if she’d done nothing.

Fitt the Tenth.

Now I want you all to know that I spend the bulk of my time as a curmudgeon, with added grumpiness. I don’t do favours, or go out of my way to help people. There’s a vast blasted plain. My home. I live there under a trapdoor. Spiderishly.
   If you hear viscous rumours to the contrary, mop them up with a sponge. Viscosity. Great word.

Fitt the Eleventh.

I write fiction. Kacey does, too. My electronic message urging her to publish was, according to the lady herself, life-changing. I’d hope that was in a positive sense.
   Kacey didn’t make plans. She changed non-plans. Altered her outlook. I gave her a slight nudge – out of the aeroplane. She went in search of a deal.

Fitt the Twelfth.

Far and wide she travelled. Wide and far she went. Come the midst of the year, she’d signed her deal and the head-chopping was off – not the head itself. Kacey Vanderkarr moved more swiftly over the landscape than Sir Gawain. She had the internet. He was on a horse named Gringolet. Sounds like internet. Eventually. If you squint.

Fitt the Thirteenth.

And so, I mark the passing of a day on which I could have written a story concerning the beheading. There’ll be no beheading. I’m sure Kacey felt the axe upon her neck as she sat with her husband by her side. Pressing the SEND button was some strange nuclear affair that required the presence of at least two people.
   He urged her on to seek that deal. Inspirational fellow. Though he has been known to utter the line no more books. This is a lie I certainly live by, and I expect Kacey to live that lie as she stares at her own bookshelves. I’m veering off. Wouldn’t be like me.

Fitt the Fourteenth.

Must find room for a moral. Perhaps that’s the moral.

Fitt the Fifteenth.

Kacey didn’t have to follow me on Twitter and I didn’t have to give her any advice. She certainly needn’t have listened. Listening isn’t acting. Acting won’t necessarily garner results. Doing nothing does that no-result thing all by itself.
   So. If you are one of those people. You know. There’s a desire to be a published writer, but a sense that the work will never be ready. If you are like that, cook a meal. Nothing fancy. Beans on toast, without the toast.
   You have to eat. So the meal will be ready.

Fitt the Sixteenth.

Did I just sneak some kind of message in there?

Fitt the Seventeenth.

Do as Kacey did. She listened. And do what Kacey did next. She acted. With material sitting there doing nothing, she did something with the material. I don’t have the time to go around threatening to chop heads off. So I’ll speak to all of you in this blog, for quickness.
   If you want to write, then write. And if you have no desire to be published, THAT’S FINE.
   However…
   Let’s say you want to write and you want to publish. Accept, today, that you must act at some point. You have to take those beans off the stove. I don’t care if your writing is ready or not. In your haste, you may remove the beans from the heat before those beans are cooked.
   Hell, that’s no crime.
   It really doesn’t matter if your writing isn’t ready. Acting anyway may let you see that. There are people out there who were published, just the same. They carved out whole careers and reputations based on writing that would never be ready. What’s stopping you?
   I hesitate to say that to Americans. It still feels like an American thing. So I’ll say it to readers the world over, and to aliens reading the intergalactic archive millions of years on. Stop thinking that your work will NEVER be ready. For NEVER is a long time.

Fitt the Eighteenth.

As this goes out, Kacey is gearing up for publication in the summer of 2013. I’m sure she wants to hide under a rock. Well, she can’t. Mustn’t. You put your name to a book cover, and you have to cling to what you’ve written.
   Years from now she may ache at the sight of her first book. Writers just have to get on. By then, she’ll have changed as a scribbler. She must, to keep going. Only the static author suffers. The rest of us look back at earlier work and we are gladdened that we’re still in the writing game.

Fitt the Nineteenth.

At the distance of a twelvemonth, I’m glad that I helped another author. Yes, I’ll bore my audience by regurgitating a well-worn favourite. There are no rivals in writing. Other writers are colleagues, with their own marvellous views and wonderful skewed perspectives.

Fitt the Twentieth.

That’s all you need to know about the writer Kacey Vanderkarr.

NEXT BLOG: AN AUTHOR’S LIBRARY.

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