Monday, 11 March 2013


Do what you want in your writing life – but don’t become a Shameless Literary Narcissist™. Publish, and publish again. You’ll have difficulty doing that if you keep checking your fiction in the mirror. Checking for signs of fame.
   Of course there’s such a thing as a Shameful Literary Narcissist. It’s just that the other type is more common. Hush, no names now. From a list of so-called famous writers, draw your own conclusions. How do they sleep at night? On rose-bedecked satin sheets.

WICKED QUEEN: Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the bookiest of them all?

MAGIC MIRROR: Famed is thy booky, Majesty, but hold…a literary maid I see. Dull covers cannot hide her lovely prose. Alas, she’s more booky than thee.

WICKED QUEEN: Pah! Alas for her. Well. Speak her name.

MAGIC MIRROR: Lips, red as the prose. Print as black as ebony. Skin as write as…

WICKED QUEEN: Snow Write. If it weren’t for her and that Rapunzel bitch, I’d be the bookiest of them all. Does Snow Write like apples?

MAGIC MIRROR: Yes, oh Queen. She favours many gadgets promoted by the sorcerer Steve Jobs.

WICKED QUEEN: Insert Evil Cackle™ here. And while we’re at it, this other one. The one with an aversion to needles. Does she like spinning a yarn…

   Writing, unfortunately, attracts the fame-hungry. I say unfortunately as a few of those people are, gasp, actually good at writing. Some are born clichéd, while others have clichés thrust upon them. No, I must resist the sordid temptation to name names.
   Well. There was XXXXXX XXXXXX and XXXX XXXXXXX. Some of you’d be surprised if I mentioned XXXX XXXXXXXXX. Others wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. XXXXXX XXXX and XXXXXX XXXXXXX. Am I just typing random configurations to keep you guessing? I’ll keep you guessing.
   How could I dissuade the fame-hungry from becoming Shameless Literary Narcissists™…
   Can’t be done. If you are on that path already, you are stuck to it. You’re so vain. I bet you think this blog is about you. No, I must not mention names. One of those listed earlier, one of the very dead ones, was an appalling writer. On the make.
   He admitted as much.
   Just a thought. All those semi-mentioned were male. I’ll have to add a few on the female side, for balance. Are there any female offenders as bad as the male perpetrators listed? Ah, the hell with balance.
   Let us suppose that you are worried about turning into a fame-hungry shell of a writer. Perhaps it’s not too late to be saved. What are the signs?
   You talk to a magic mirror. Dead giveaway. The literary equivalent of holding a hairbrush and pretending it’s a microphone as you dazzle everyone in that talent show. From the seclusion of the bathroom.
   Rule one for avoiding Shameless Literary Narcissism™ – no magic mirrors.
   That’s also rule two.
   And rule three.


I couldn’t take much more of that, and have no advice to give. My use of Twitter is less than basic. Yes, I’ve plugged my work. I may do that again. Non-warning. I don’t ask people to like my books on Facebook. For Facebook, as I’ve observed, is for stalkers and the cat-centric. I may be mispronouncing the words networkers and eccentric. There’s nothing wrong with cat-lovers.
   Just keep it legal, folks.
   This is old terrain. Build me no statues. If I were writing for the fame, I’d be a writer/serial killer. Hey, it’s good to have a hobby away from scribbling. Though the fame-thing would pretty much end the serial killer side of things.
   Unless I became so famous a serial killer that people just let me carry on with it. Or botched trial after botched trial allowed me to wriggle off a rather dull judicial hook. Must invent a list. Ten ways to spot a Literary Narcissist™.
   One. Owns a magic mirror. And talks to it, expecting and receiving replies.


No more. To fill out the rest of that list, repeat the first item until done.
   An earlier comment prompted a thought. Publish, and publish again. Different kind of thought, though. Originally, I meant publish then publish more stuff. Something else occurred…
   The world changed. Paper publishing stopped being the only game in town. There used to be writers who would pen their stories and then never lay eyes on those tales again.
   That type of writer still exists. Forward-looking, you might say. In the Digital Age, however, it pays and repays to look back upon that lonesome road. This is necessary if you are writing a series. You really need to know your work down to the last particle if book two is not to fly in the face of book one. (And book three. Oh, and book four. I’m just sayin’. Stay tuned. I’ll get there.)
   In the electronic publishing world, I’d advise looking back at your work periodically – series or no series. There may be a formatting glitch that you’ve struggled to solve for longer than you care to mention. Then, one cold January night, you decide you’ve had enough.
   Tonight, I’m going to solve that bloody problem.
   Solve it I did. The item in question was, according to Amazon, a known issue. I returned to the problem more times than Joan Rivers went back to her facelift surgeon. At some point, it becomes cheaper to lower the surrounding streets than to lift the face. In the unlikely event that Joan is reading this, hey, what the fuck was The Swimmer about anyway?
   In fixing the formatting glitch, I had a moment of genius. It took two days to realise this. After two days I thought my solution inelegant, and tried to tidy it up. This screwed everything. So I backtracked to the moment of genius. Scrappy as hell, but inspired.
   So. Electronic self-publishers on Amazon and other places. Return to your work. Earlier in this blog I’d stated that I spent around two months formatting my first e-book. The basics came to me quite quickly. But I knew quirks must exist inside the system. So I invested several weeks in attacking the problem from all sides. And from a few places that weren’t even sides.
   Two months to format a book. Not long after that, I’d format in a day. After I solved my recent formatting glitch, I had to reformat all the books I’d published. Yes, I returned to my work. Publish, and publish again. That doesn’t just mean keep writing stories.
   It means revisit the material you’ve already published. I had to format each book from stem to stern, to account for my moment of genius. Time-consuming. I had the bulk of the work done in a little over two hours. Then I spent the rest of the night checking the work I’d fixed.
   From two months for the first book to a night’s work for all six publications. That’s what learning and experimenting will get you. Invest time. Never consider it time ill-spent.


Looking back at an earlier post on this blog, I remembered a gem.

One of my DVD drives refuses to open on the first use of the ejector. A second stab at the button does the trick.

   That was an indicator. What did I learn? Well, when the defective DVD drive blew the circuitry on my computer, I didn’t pick up any information at all. When I transferred that evil kidney of a device from the old computer to the new computer and more circuits fried…
   There was nothing much to learn.
   I had intended to write an entire blog on the matter of shamelessness connected to narcissism of a literary nature. But I’d said all I wanted to say in my spoof at the start. As this cycle of the blog winds down, I thought I’d go back and join a few dots for regular readers.
   Evil kidney.
   Glitches and gremlins popped up as I tried to republish my Kindle tomes. Four went through on a rather impersonal personal computer. Not for the last time, I had to go in and publish via my creaky old phone. At least it worked.
   People read books on their phones. And people are writing them on phones, too, so I hear. So it isn’t strange at all to be publishing books by phone. It’s becoming normal. Hardly worth mentioning.
   If you struggle with formatting a book for Kindle, keep struggling until you exhaust every avenue. At that point, you may experience a delayed-action moment of genius. Revisit your work now and again. Just to make sure.
   What was wrong with my formatting for Kindle? A trip to a chapter via the table of contents threw off the chapter title’s centred text. The title slotted left. Moving back or forward one page and returning to the chapter heading slotted the title in the centre again.
   It was quirky. Minor. Annoying. I wanted the problem gone. Last year, I’d seen the work of another author spout reams of code when moving back through pages of a Kindle book. So there are far worse glitches out there than the stuff I had to deal with. Though deal with it I did.
   A light clicked on overhead. Yes, an energy-saving bulb that took a while to reach full glow.


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