Four Potent Sources of Encouragement for the Writer/Artist

ImageHave you subscribed to dozens of writer-support emails/newsletters and engaged in multiple artist/writer forums over the years? How much have they helped your life as a writer/artist? What I am looking for is probably the same thing you are looking for– encouragement. Encouragement comes from ideas that help me morph back into the creative spirit I most love being.

Such encouragement gives me courage and energy.

Does it feel as if it is in short supply?

Here are four hotspot articles of true encouragement recently found, and I am not talking about the clever, rambling email letters that attempt to sell you a book at the end of a long page.

1. Jon Morrow has written a thoughtful piece entitled “How to be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers” (Sept 17, 2013) Normally I would comment on his blog, but this is superior material and needs to be shared. It will make the reader think about his or her approach to life. Morrow’s suggestions are not that hard, and if followed, will make writers/artists feel better about life.

(Simply mentioning Morrow’s piece here will ensure¬† I go back to re-read it and be re-inspired!)

2. Morrow’s article came to my attention from an article entitled “49 Creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art” written by Leanne Regalla (Jan 23, 2014), and Morrow wasn’t even listed as one of the 49-ers, but his was the link that plucked me up the most.

3. My window onto the world above was opened by subscription to The Writer’s Weekly written by Kimberley Grabas. the most recent one being The Definition of Marketing (Issue #28) This was a fantastic post leading to multiple colored, glowing doors, almost all of which feel useful and helpful to writers and artists. Tell me if I am wrong.

4. Not all the best encouragement is found on the web, especially when you think of all the internet dross to be avoided. Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, edited by Laurie Lamson (2014) and published by Penguin is a valuable recent book I have added to my shelves. There is advice in it from speculative writers of every kind, from Dr. Seuss to screenwriters whose names you might not recognize but whose movies you will.

For instance, Jeremy Wagner (who wrote The Armegedon Chord) has a short piece encouraging writers (and artists) to be prolific. So many writers stop writing due to lack of encouragement–they become the opposite of prolific. Wagner uses a clear and simple argument: writing¬† more makes you a better writer.

Being better at anything opens doors.

Wagner’s idea took three minutes to read and has stayed with me for weeks.

May today be a day you find encouragement.

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,400 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Formatting Text and Images for your Amazon Kindle Book

ImageThe more books you put up on Amazon Kindle, the more you are going to learn about the process.

I have just put up my first illustrated children’s book. While my first collection of stories had pictures inserted, the formatting of which drove me crazy, what I learned from the process did not stick long enough in my head for me not to make the same mistakes while formatting this recent book.

A rule of thumb is patience. You can do everything right, formatting your text so that the first line of each paragraph is indented five points (and making sure you never “tab” anything), but it can still come out wrong in the previewer. If the error does not slap you in the face in the previewer, it will certainly do so while you are lying in bed, perusing your side-loaded (or purchased?) version on your ebook reader. You may sigh, as I have more times than I can count, and get back to editing (once more) in the morning.

Why don’t I get it right the first time? Maybe because I am human and fallible. If you get it right every time, first time, please turn off all electrical appliances, scream at the gardeners to turn off their dust blowers, in effect, cut all power and if necessary, take a drive out to a deserted part of the country for utter peace. Then listen. Very carefully. The sound of enthusiastic if sarcastic clapping you hear coming from God knows where will be the echo of my two hands slamming against each other just now.

(Now we can get on to business. That person has clicked off.)

The point is that the previewer is not going to show you things in the same way your word doc file does. Even when you click on the paragraph symbol to show you whether you have tabbed or formatted, everything may look right on the surface. The previewer will demonstrate a rebellious paragraph or two, and you will have to struggle with those with the same persevering patience as a fisherman does to hook his prey. Try blocking and checking how it is formatted. Try making two paragraphs into one. Eventually you will see how the damn sentences are misbehaving.

You are clever. You will fix them. Eventually.

Next we have the illustrations. They look fine in the word doc file, perfectly centered, but for reasons unknown to non computer software programmers, they will show up too much to the right in the Amazon Kindle previewer. Sometimes the inserted picture that looks fine in the word doc file will be partly cut off in the previewer page. You can either narrow the picture while you edit, or make sure it is not indented five points into the paragraph, which your format set up will do automatically.

An inserted picture that looks to be placed too far to the left in the word doc file may come out perfect in Amazon Kindle. Then count on the need for more patience while you upload your edited version, which takes a short eternity, and then to turn pages in your previewer (demanding the same time necessary to turning pages on a clothing store’s online site). Such are the luxuries of our electronic age and the short fuses we have developed to go along with the whole shebang.

On one thing you can be certain: there will always be some edit you know you hit “save” on that does not show up when you are turning pages on the previewer.Image