I do not enjoy the promotional side of being a writer, to be blunt about it. Even with the little amount that is expected of me, which is nothing compared to the life of an artist. Writers can live in obscurity and come out of the woodwork with a book, then go back in. Artists don’t have that luxury.
So if a man writes about the same subject as a woman, I think it’s edited differently, I think it’s marketed differently, I think the covers are different. It really does affect the way that it ends up going. So yes, it’s a good thing to talk about who’s getting reviewed, but I also think it’s important to talk about who’s being published and how are they being published. Are we putting a sort of lilac cover with a flower on the cover because it’s now girly and then are we making the man’s cover look like it’s just great literature?
One of the many lessons I hope I’ve learned is how much I underestimated people, their open-mindedness and their willingness to understand. I think, moreover, I underestimated the degree to which everyone has a story. So my advice, for whatever it’s worth, is to trust readers, trust the truth and trust the power of storytelling.
If there were a magic one-size-fits-all recipe, someone most certainly already would have sold it and would be a multi-bajillionare by now. But alas, there is no set-in-stone formula to get published. It stands to reason that the key elements of any publishing formula would include (but would not be limited to): coming up with a great idea, working hard at perfecting it, writing constantly, building your platform and hoping upon hope you get lucky. My experience has been that the last element is just as important as all the rest. Of course, if you do all the rest, you put yourself in the best position to be prepared when luck finds you.
Sometimes setting details – like a jungle on fire, or moonlight sparkling on a lake – are so important to plot or character development that it’s appropriate to include visual setting at the launch of a scene. This is often the case in books set in unusual, exotic or challenging locations such as snowy Himalayan mountains, lush inlands or brutal desert climates. If the setting is going to bear dramatically on the characters and the plot, then there is every reason to let it lead into the scene that will follow.
The most obvious – and easiest! – way to gain perspective is to put your work away for a while.
The truth is, we don’t know how taking a break frees up the mind, but it does: Somehow it freshens our little neurons, or perhaps it prompts the brain to create more cleverness molecules.
If you can bear to let a short piece sit a week and a book-length work a month, do so. Longer is fine, too; some authors have abandoned manuscripts for years before unearthing them and realizing, ‘Hey, this isn’t bad,’ and renewing their energy for the project.