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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The White Queen Age: Why Are We Running as Fast as We Can to Stay in the Same Place?

This week I finished the first draft of my fourth Camilla Randall mystery, NO PLACE LIKE HOME, and sent it off to my editor. What a relief!

All my books are comedies, but they have a darker subtext, and this one, dealing with homelessness here in San Luis Obispo, CA— "The Happiest Town on Earth"—took a lot of soul searching. Finishing it left me feeling drained. But satisfied. I'd succeeded in doing some writing I was proud of, and I could enjoy the feeling of job well done.

For about 8 hours.

The next morning, I was confronted with a pile of procrastinated projects that literally brought me to tears. Huge, already-overdue writing projects, this blog, guest posts, plus falling fences, overgrown gardens, put-off doctor visits, unpaid bills, neglected family and friends. And my inbox is crammed with requests to help newbie authors, new literary magazines, and start-up reader/author sites. All worthy enough to be set aside for "when I have time"--whenever that may be.

No rest for the weary.

So I asked myself—when did I sign up for "weary"?

Do I really have to live this frenzied life that is taking such a huge toll on my health and home and friendships...and seems to get me no farther ahead?

In the final three months of last year, I launched five novels and two anthologies--all while keeping up this blog (which I couldn't have done without the wonderful Ruth Harris. Thanks, Ruth!) But it was pretty much the most exhausting thing I've ever done. I thought I'd get to rest afterward. But after a bout of pneumonia in January, my pace went back to frantic. I had a nonfic book to co-author and launch in June, the new Camilla mystery to write, plus dozens of guest posts, bloghops, blogtours, radio interviews, daily Tweeting, Facebooking, etc., and presentations at a seminar and a writers' conference to prepare

I know my schedule is nothing compared to what most authors face. In fact, I'm constantly hearing the message that I should be doing more. Lots more. And I have a wonderful, helpful publisher--so I have nothing like the workload of most indie authors.

But I know I can't keep up this pace for much longer without facing another health crisis. And a health crisis will eat up any profits I might make from producing and marketing more books.

On the morning I woke up to the tsunami of procrastinated tasks, I saw a tweet from a reader who has taken my Slow Blogging posts to heart. The wonderful Marcia Richards wrote a plea for blogging sanity that reminded me of something kind of important:

I'm a "Slow Blog" person, not a "work-24-hours-a-day-and-sleep-when-your-dead" person.

My nonfic book is called HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…and Keep your E-Sanity! (co-authored with Catherine Ryan Hyde.)

So why have I been willing to give up my own "e-sanity"?

I think I started to forget who I am.

I call these crazed times "White Queen Days," after Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, who ruled a chessboard kingdom where "It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place." (Yikes. I stand corrected. it's the RED Queen who said this--the picture above should have been a clue, Anne. The White Queen did say the quote below. She also said, "Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today,"which is almost as good. Thanks Lexi Revellian for the correction! Yet another reason why we shouldn't write when were're on burn-out.)

The White Queen offered Alice this advice for surviving in her "Looking Glass" realm: "Speak in French when you can’t remember the English for a thing; turn out your toes as you walk, and remember who you are!"

Pretty good advice for the surreal world of 2012. Well, the French and the toe thing—not so much—but “remember who you are” is true wisdom.

Wisdom that I’ve been ignoring. I hope to remedy that.

The dictators of the new publishing paradigm say the average author should have followings in social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads, RedRoom, Libararything—and all the new and wonderful sites emerging daily. (There's a new reader site that looks like a nice alternative to the sometimes cumbersome Goodreads, called Readmill, which really does look intriguing if you've got more time than me.) Oh, and then those are those book trailers we're supposed to be filming...

And we're also supposed to blog three to five times a week.

All while we churn out twelve novels a year

Plus keep a day job and a tidy home, exercise daily, contribute to the community, and perform all the duties of the perfect parent/spouse, of course.

I think it's wonderful so many authors out there have the remarkable superpowers to be able to do all that.

But I'm not a super-hero. (You do not want to see me wearing my underwear over spandex pants. Seriously.)

I'm not even "the average author."

And you know what? Nobody is. We're not machines. We each have our own gifts to bring to the table.

I remember an old folk song from the pre-Civil War South I heard as a kid. It had a verse that resonated in my small, way-too-sensitive soul:

Blue jay pulled a four-horse plow
Sparrow, why can't you?
Because my legs is little and long
And they might get broke in two.

Yes, there are blue jays out there doing the work of four horses. They are amazing and due all the credit in the world.

But a lot of us are sparrows--and we're quite good at being sparrows.

The fact we aren't horse-impersonating blue jays shouldn't be held against us.

I think Harper Lee made as important a contribution to our culture with her one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, as Prentiss Ingraham did with his 600+ books. (Note I had to provide link to tell you who Mr. Ingraham was, but not Ms. Lee.)

I think we all benefit from diversity. I know I learn more from reading books by a  lot of different authors than I would reading the same number of books by one author.

Agent Rachelle Gardner reminded us recently that it's going to take quality, not quantity, to stand out in this rapidly expanding marketplace. She says "The quality of your writing is going to determine if people want to read what you write."

And after telling us a year ago that all authors should have daily blogs with 15K hits or more a month, she's finally come around to the idea that blogging may not be for everyone.

I'm not saying that some authors can't produce a huge number of quality books in quick succession while blogging and Tweeting brilliant bon mots every fifteen minutes.

But personally, I can't.

Natalie Whipple, a successful children’s author, has a popular blog. Last year she wrote wrote a post about what she wished she’d done differently in her career. It was enlightening.

Here are a few of the things she’d do if she had a second chance:

Spend less time online
Spend more time reading
Spend more time with her family
Spend more time “living”
Spend less time “waiting”
Spend less time on news

She realized she’d been running in place so long, she’d been missing out on the things that mattered. I re-read that recently and it really hit home for me.

Maybe we can keep running like Alice, clinging to the White Queen, for a certain amount of time. But every human has to rest sometime. Hey, even the Lord rested on the seventh day.

We are bombarded with constant White Queen messages on the Interwebz: What—you’re not on Pinterest yet?! There’s another blog hop you’ve GOT to join!! Social media is 24/7!! Look what you missed while you slept, you lazy slacker!!! Whatever you do will never be enough!!!! Look at all the people who are writing/selling more than you!!!!!!

But yanno--I'm pretty sure all that tech is supposed to be here to serve us, not the other way around.

So if you're feeling as pressured as I am, be brave: shut out the noise. Write at your own pace. Ignore social media for a while. Read the “Slow Blog Manifesto”.

Compare yourself to no one. You may not be keeping up with Prentiss Ingraham's stats, but you may be creating the next To Kill a Mockingbird.

Take the White Queen’s advice: remember who you are…and keep your e-sanity!

I'd love to have writers at all stages of their writing journeys weigh in here. Are you feeling pressure to do endless tasks that get you nowhere?  This is NaNoWriMo month, so a lot of people are busy trying to access their own White Queens.  I think NaNo is a fabulous exercise if you've got the time to do it--at least once. But for the rest of us, maybe it's good to remember that we don't have to be in a state of frenzied activity to be productive...and that slow and steady can still win the race. What do you think, scriveners? 

TO ALL THE SURVIVORS OF SUPERSTORM SANDY: Our prayers are with you. I hope you have your power back or that you will soon. A catastrophe like this gives all of us a reminder of what's really important. Ruth Harris lives in Manhattan, but she seems to have come through it relatively unscathed. I thank her for being such a trouper and keeping up with the blog last week in spite of everything.

BOOK NEWS: SHERWOOD, LTD, joins THE GATSBY GAME and FOOD OF LOVE in HARD COPY. They are all now available as very nice paperbacks for only $8.99 (£6.29 UK) on Amazon. And in ebooks, SHERWOOD, LTD is FREE for Kobo! And free on Smashwords, too. (Please ignore the glitches. My publisher will correct my name and give some description besides "blah" very soon. )

When the Manners Doctor, Camilla Randall, flies into Robin Hood airport with a suitcase in one hand and a book contract in the other, she thinks she's leaving all her problems behind and is about to start a new life. If you look very carefully you may just spot the Sheriff of Nottingham, Maid Marian and even Little John hidden away. But as for Robin Hood himself... You'll just have to read it and find out.

COMING UP ON THE BLOG! On November 18th, we'll have a visit from the dynamic literary agent Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada, talking about the exciting new happenings in the publishing world. And on December 16th, we'll have another visit from uber-blogger Roni Loren talking about how authors can best use Facebook and Twitter.

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm hoping slow and steady wins as there's no way I could crank out even one book a year. I'm just not that kind of writer.
I did feel the frenzy earlier this spring while preparing for my book launch, then the tour, then gearing up for the A to Z Challenge, then acting as a co-host during the Challenge. I was beat by May.
Some days I do feel stretched. That's why I limit my blogging days, guest posts, social sites, and overall commitments. I do see results from my efforts though - the long run my books had on the Amazon UK chart, the interview I just had in Southern Writers Magazine, my blurb on Nancy Thompson's book - those things keep pushing me forward. Most of all is what I can do for others with my blog now because of all those efforts. That really rocks my world.
Still, would be nice to have clones...

November 4, 2012 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Christy Farmer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 4, 2012 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Christy Farmer said...

*Cheers & applause* Anne! While although it's great for writers to have many outlets for social media, what good are they if the stories somehow suffer?

I'm a listen-to-your-heart type of person who feels writers should do what is right for them. In my opinion, I am a great fan of putting the stories first, choosing only a few social media outlets and then learn to do those well (including slow blogging.)

Get some rest, Anne! This is one of your best posts, yet!

November 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Catherine Al-Meten said...

As I'm finishing a book, a compilation of poetry, I'm at the format-online-ready-to-jump-overboard stage. It was so refreshing and relieving to read your blog this morning. Thank you. I've found this year, that working on our own schedules can be just as if not more exhausting than working on an institutional one. Perfect ideas at this point of the year.

November 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne, as usual you are a voice of sanity in a sea of gotta-do-it-now-or-else!

Style was once described as "looking like yourself on purpose." I don't know who said it but the words & the idea always seemed true to me. Certainly Barbra Streisand & Audrey Hepburn & Tilda Swinton are examples. They don't look like anyone else & are instantly identifiable.

My long-time hair stylist, the late, great Roger Thompson (he was Vidal Sassoon's first Artistic Director) told me that the dilemma is people are afraid to look like themselves. They fear owning their own hair, body, face when, in fact, the key to standing out is to do exactly that.

A noted sports psychologist stresses accentuating the positive. If a golfer is a good putter, why not practice putting until s/he becomes a superb putter? His approach was not to work on correcting an athlete's weaknesses, but polishing his/her strengths.

I have been thinking for a long time about doing a blog post about how to develop a writing style of your own, one that is recognizable & that "sounds like you." Roger's observation, the sports psychologist's approach and the comment about style kept coming to mind. I still haven't quite figured how how to write it in a way that will be helpful to others, but reading your post today brought those concepts back to mind.

It's hard & I certainly fail but the frenzy of blogging-pinteresting-FBing-writing-blurbing-pitching-tweeting-cover creating-marketing is a virus—very contagious—that must be resisted. The conclusion I have come to is to ignore the noise & do your own thing(s) in your own way.

It's not easy but "being yourself on purpose" & working on your strengths are realistic goals &, I suspect, one of the keys to leading a sensible, satisfying personal & professional life.

November 4, 2012 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Vera Soroka said...

Great post and I agree with the comments here. You should do what works for you and not get caught up in the social media too much. You can only be in so many places at one time.

November 4, 2012 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Ranae Rose said...

A very down-to-earth post, Anne, and one that I can relate to (as I suspect many writers can).

Even though I don't think I spread myself too thin social media-wise (I basically only use Twitter and FB, and those because I genuinely enjoy them), the many duties and complications of being a writer have a way of popping up and eating up my time - usually when I thought I'd carved out a little block of sanity-time (ha!).

I do try to balance my heavy workload by taking time to do other unrelated activities anyway, but to be honest I still spend the majority of my time working long hours at a fast pace. It can definitely be stressful at times.

November 4, 2012 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--Great to hear you got that fantastic kudos (nice to get some print ink too) And yeah: we have to be "the kind of writer" we are.

Christy--"Story first" Great motto! I might have to put that on my wall. Thanks!

Catherine--"This point in the year" indeed. Halloween to Christmas is one big, exausting zooooom for most of us in our culture. Another thing that's out of control. Good luck with the new book!

Ruth--As usual, you put it better than me 'Being yourself on purpose'--that should be our goal, not "pretending to be somebody who's pretending to be a robot."

Verea--"You can only be in so many places at one time" Exactly. Like one. Why is it we're expected to defy the laws of physics?

Ranae--I have a feeling we're all working at a stressful pace, and most of us can handle it most of the time. But then there's that last straw that pushes the burden of stress to overload. That's when it all goes kerflooey. It's good to be aware of your limits. Sounds as if you're handling it.

November 4, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

I was getting exhausted just reading what you were fitting into a day ... glad to hear you stopped and breathed.

November 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger SK Figler said...

I'm too busy to realize how busy I am. I blame much of it on my drunken attachment to the internet-fed news and politics. Tuesday---while awaiting the outcomes---I'm vowing to let go, come hell or high water, which we've recently seen can amount to the same thing.

November 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Ann West said...

The world is artificially "fast." I have an author's blog I wrote regularly to but have neglected for MONTHS. Thanks to strong SEO (picking strong keywords, writing when I HAD something to say, not because the schedule said so) it STILL gets 100+ views per day. Took a YEAR to build that.

I've done the daily Twitter stuff with an automated service, mimicking an author who told me I had to do this, and it netted me sales each month. I've abandoned it because it was just too much, too much. I was buried in spreadsheets. LOL

I now WORK for a reader group doing tech work and the author ad program. I am working on a digital magazine all about ereading. I've stopped trying to do what they say I HAVE to do and doing what I want to do.

There is no gold rush. Reading isn't stopping or slowing down, and e-reading is increasing the amount of reading people are doing. When they say build a solid PLATFORM, they mean over MONTHS, not a few days or a few weeks. :)

November 4, 2012 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

widdershins--I'm not quite at the breathing point yet, but I'm hoping to schedule a little in for tomorrow :-).

SK--Definitely the 24-hr newscycle has something to do with the frantic pitch. Yes indeed--for man folks in the Northeast, Hell and high water have been the same thing this week. :-)

Elizabeth--I think you were probably wise to let go of the automated Tweets. So many people dislike them. If you're just broadcasting and not engaging, I'm not sure there's any point. I took several years to build my "platform" but there were a lot fewer aspects to it a few years ago. Everything gets more congested and more intense.

November 4, 2012 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Deborah Jay said...

Anne, thanks for this! Such a relief to hear anything other than the continuous pressurising advice about what an author must do these days.
I've been 'learning the ropes' for almost a year now - I love twitter, I already had facebook, my first novel is being formatted, my second is off to an agent (fingers crossed) and my blog is getting sorted (planning to post once a week - as much as I can commit to).
BUT there is no way I can do it all, and I've come to realise that I need to be WRITING - books, not social media! Otherwise I have no product to market. I reckon flat out I can produce one a year. When I'm writing (and I have 2 nonfic published, so I know this with certainty) everything else non-essential goes on hold, which can include friends, outings, housework (note the order of priorities). At the end of that year it takes me a month or two to get straightened out again.
Life needs living. Don't kill yourself.
I shall follow the great advice: write the best books you can - that's the best chance we all have of being successful in this madly-changing industry.

November 4, 2012 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

Thank you so much, Anne, for this post. Lately I've been feeling completely bored and sick of social media, wanting to throw it out the window along with my computer. But I need my Mac to write books, so I didn't succumb to that rash idea. I get so tired of hearing what I'm "supposed" to do to "make it" as a writer, I want to throw up. I know I won't give up all social media because I like to blog once a week and I find wonderful things on FB, but I've started to read again - a LOT - and thinking of my next book. That's really what people are saying lately in the blogs I'm reading - we need to write that next book.

November 4, 2012 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Smithharia said...

I so enjoy your blogs though only once a week. In fact, I think it makes it better. I am not overwhelmed with trying to ready your blog everyday!
I took a social networking class this semester at Cuesta and dropped it about half way though. Learned a lot and believe what we were taught--that in order to sell whatever it is we do, we have to do social media. I have no doubt that we need a presence but not sure it needs to be a gung ho as they tell us it has to be.
I have also found, for me, that sometimes my 'busyness' is more about not having to think about me, my actions,and what is really important in my life. I'm 75--who knows how long I've got and what time there is goes so fast. I want it to be spent doing what I want to do, not what I have to do. Thanks for this--it's exactly what I have been thinking lately.

November 4, 2012 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Deborah--I hear you. And sometimes even the writing can get to be too much, when you're expected to write multiple books a year. Everybody's muse has her own pace. :-)

Patricia--No, no--Hang on to your Mac :-) But you're right. Why don't more people talk about the importance of READING? Read fiction, even read blogs. There has to be input, not just output.

Smith--What great insight! "Busyness" can be covering up for stuff we don't want to look at in contemplative time. People who pressure us into "busyness" may be projecting their own issues on us--telling us that contemplation is a bad thing.

November 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Laura Pauling said...

There is a tremendous amount of information out there. But when it comes to marketing and promotion I see very conflicting opinions - all coming from industry professionals/experience authors. So I'm going with the advice that rang true for me!

And we have to look at who is giving the expert advice.

And when it comes to quality, I don't think that always equates to perfect punctuation and copy editing. I've loved books and so did many others considering they were in the top 500 paid at Amazon, that had clear copy editing issues. But the story? The story was imperfectly amazing. :) That's quality to readers.

November 4, 2012 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

How true, how true,
My mom was a big fan of the quote, 'The hurrieder I go the behinder I get,' which applies to all these fancypants "timesaving tools" we apply to everything these days. Hallelujuah to your intention to simplify & relax a tad. & congrats on having another one ready for MWI!

November 4, 2012 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Charley Robson said...

I took one look at your schedule and went "eeeeep!"

Then again, I'm only a newbie author - first co-authored books is currently going through the edits with lovely publisher / editor as we speak - but looking at this I can see your point perfectly.

I'm lucky that I'm still pretty young and have more free time than most adults - if only I used it for more writing! - so, to be honest, I can maintain my blog with relative ease, and being a bit OCD I like to keep to my schedule. Organisation's key too, but then again, I'm not as deep into the authorly world as you are yet.

To be honest, though, I like being busy. I do prefer sleeping before I'm dead, though. A nice middle pace is the way, perhaps?

November 5, 2012 at 12:49 AM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

Anne, how refreshing to hear that even you can lose your e-sanity! AND regain it! I very much enjoyed your book and I most certainly enjoy your blog too, including Ruth's excellent comment. Yes, we need to keep in mind what our overall MAIN GOAL is, we're writers dammit! We're not Internet geeks, though the temptation is there because commenting on other blogs, tweeting, posting links with clever comments all come rather easily to us. Not to mention the fact that keeping a blog is actually a form of writing exercise. Keeps you on your toes...

Until you start forgetting what's you're supposed to do as a fiction writer: produce novels (yes and novellas and short stories and poems, why not?) That's the main thing. I've learned last April when I went through a very serious operation to keep my eyes on IT, the MAIN THING, i.e. writing!

That helps. Because you learn that even when you sleep and play with your kid or your dog, you're not wasting time. Everything you do in life, especially the things that have no connection at all with that damn computer, are the very things that add a new dimension to your writing, that make you a BETTER writer! More human...We're not machines! Thanks, Anne, for reminding us.

November 5, 2012 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger bookspersonally said...

So true, the social media and blogging really can suck you in. Anne, I always admire that you seem to manage a balance and still be effective on social media! I love the list from Natalie Whipple. Might have to post it on the fridge.

November 5, 2012 at 4:16 AM  
Blogger amy362 said...

Great post Anne.
Sade (the singer) produces an album every ten years. Her fans turn her albums into gold every time. I heard someone in the music business say, "Musicians are told to keep their name in the press and crank out albums or they will be forgotten about. Nobody ever forgets about Sade"
Thank you for your help with my blogging trials yesterday. I have deleted everything and started over. I will take my time and breathe.
Thanks for all that you do for others.

November 5, 2012 at 5:52 AM  
Blogger Clarissa Draper said...

This blog post really rang true with me this morning. I've been suffering burnout and because of that, have been looking at what is truly important in my life. You know what? Blogging and social media isn't really high on my list anymore. Thanks for this common sense advice.

November 5, 2012 at 6:02 AM  
Blogger Stacy Lyn said...

I definitely feel the pressure to be all over the internet. I'm just not very comfortable putting myself out there, but as a new, unknown writer, I feel it's a necessary evil. How else will anyone discover my novel?

I used to naively think that writing was a hushed activity, solitary, peaceful!!

The only way for me to do this is slowly. I'm on most of the popular sites, but I post when I have something of value to contribute. I don't think drivel would serve my purposes very well. :)

Thanks for your insights, Anne. I feel much better about all of this now - have a different perspective, which is something we all need a jolt of from time to time. <3

November 5, 2012 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger M.V.Freeman said...

I am a new author-my first book is out and I am writing the second.

Everything you mentioned resonated--because I remember the first few months--the desperation.

I'm still trying to balance out the blogs, the tweeting, the facebooking..and realizing I cannot do it all. I can't.

So I do what I can.

And I agree--about quality. That is the most important thing. Some people can write swiftly--awesome stories, but I have to meander a bit.

I'm going to just put one foot in front of the other and remember: One word at a time and it is ok to say no.

Thanks for this post, I loved it.

November 5, 2012 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger kathrynoh said...

I rarely read writer's blogs. I find people writing about the writing process not interesting. Especially went it's an update on the word count of their latet novel or something like that.

And I've never bought a book based on a writer's blog. I don't think blogging or twitter or other social media sells books. I might be wrong but it sure don't sell to me.

November 5, 2012 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger amy362 said...

Thank you again Anne! I have successfully set up a blog. To reward myself I am going to go out and rake leaves!

November 5, 2012 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Diana Stevan said...

Great post, Anne. Because you are so talented in so many ways, social media is seductive. There are so many great writers to connect with and that is also tempting. But the reality is we are mere humans. There is only so much time. And as you say, you have to be careful not to get sick again. That's the risk for all of us high achievers. Finding that balance is hard when we're curious, hard working and conscientious. Thank you for the reminders. We all need to take care of ourselves and not let the other important things in life slide by.

November 5, 2012 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Emily Cross said...

I know for me social media is a distraction and method of procrastination. Things seem to have gotten so complicated. . . and like you said wearisome.

You have an amazing output though with your books, anthologies and posts so I wouldn't worry about that end of it.

In the end, your health is your wealth.

November 5, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laura—You're so right about the conflicting advice. Some say blog daily. Others say write 12 books a year. And the newbie author is supposed to do it all. As far as editing, it depends very much on your target demographic. Amanda Hocking's audience cares about story, not literary niceties. I write for more of a literary/academic audience, so I need meticulous editing (luckily I have a fantastic editor) But with a lot of YA and genre writing, story trumps all. You're absolutely right.

C. S.—"The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get" is a great expression. I might have to put that on my wall!

Charley—Organization is definitely the key. You need to schedule everything. Including sleep, which unfortunately can get forgotten. Yeah. Take some time to be young. You won't get another chance at that!

Claude—This is great: "even when you sleep and play with your kid or your dog, you're not wasting time." Thanks for the reminder!

Books—Natalie's post was so powerful and heartfelt. I think I need to post that list where I can see it, too.

Amy—LOVE the story about Sade! And in the long run, will we remember the latest pop princess, or Sade?

Stacy—"I used to naively think that writing was a hushed activity, solitary, peaceful…" Me too!! Good for you for resisting all the crazy and taking it slow.

MV—"It's OK to say no"—so true. I need to remind myself of that. Often.

Amy—Your blog looks great! Congrats on getting it launched. Now don't let it run your life :-)

Diana—Thanks. You're right about the seductive nature of social media. I'm hoping to take off some time away from the computer later today. We've got crazy weather in the 90s and I might just pick up a book and READ!!

November 5, 2012 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Clarissa--I don't know how I missed you up there. I think Blogger must slip in comments when we're not looking :-) Thanks for letting me know you're feeling the burnout too. We've both been at this blogging thing a long time. At a certain point you have to rethink priorities. I agree.

Emily--I know you weren't there the last time I looked. Or maybe I'm going a leeetle nuts? :-) Anyway, you've got a really important reminder there "Your health is your wealth". Without health it doesn't mean much. Thanks for the timely reminder!

November 5, 2012 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Anne, I'm late to the show again because some of those ten-thousand-and-one things were pulling at me this week. AGAIN. I love to also read your comments. I noticed that this post brought out the most Alex has ever said. He is the master of the one or two line comment and this one got him hitting the ground running.

My answer? And mine alone (no advice meant). I do what I can when I can. Don't get, don't like twitter and don't do it. Tried to condense my compulsive over-talking self to 140 characters and failed. So what. Check in to Facebook once or twice a week and blog only once a week. I cheat and reprint. I prograstinate and do composites of other work ... give them new headings and call it a day.

Don't know how this will translate later when I am also expected to do all but sit in the reader's lap and spoon feed them ...but for now ... who gives a da$$ anyway?

You are marvelous and I love this blog. Take care of your health so we can all continue to enjoy your books and you. SLOW down if you must and remember ... we're boomers and supposed to rebel !!

November 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence Fois--I appreciate the encouragement--and the reminder. Yeah. We're rebels, dammit! Now if I could just find my bifocals...

I don't know anybody who's better at "being yourself on purpose" than you. When your books start coming out, I think a lot of people will recognize your name and buy them because they know who you are and that you're funny and quirky and talented.

November 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

And yes--how cool is it that I got Alex J. Cavanaugh to write three whole paragraphs?

November 5, 2012 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger Cathryn Leigh said...

Thank You Anne for reminding me that things can slip. Right now I need to take that slow blogger manifesto to an even slower pace.

You never know when free tiem is going to get eaten up by real life.

So I'll go with FioS on doign what I can when I can... and that means less blogging at the moment (including your's, which I so love to read).

Ah well - that's life as they say in French (which I won't atempt to spell) *grins*

:} Cathryn

November 6, 2012 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger J. B. Chicoine said...

Well, if the fact that this is the only blog post I've commented on in weeks (including my own) is any indication of how overwhelmed I am with everything, then yeah...wait...what was the question?

It doesn't help that moving in with aging parents to 'help out' has run concurrent with releasing a novel. I just can't keep up and I can't even formulate enough of a post to explain it to anyone who visits my blog.

I appreciate the sentiments you've shared here. If I had the wherewithal to link back to this post, I'd put it on my blog and say "This is where I'm at!"

Thanks for giving me a place to commiserate. :)

November 7, 2012 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Cathryn--It's that "real life" stuff that gets you isn't it? All these gurus who tell you if you're not turning out a book a month you're a slacker probably don't have families or homes to repair and gardens to keep up. Or friends. So why are we listening to these losers? :-)

J. B.--Ditto what I said to Cathryn. Yes. Caring for aging parents: I'm pretty sure the book-a-month gurus aren't doing that. Congrats on doing so much and still managing to leave a comment on a blog or two. (And many thanks that you chose this one.) Best wishes for the new book!

November 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Linda Gray said...

Hi, Anne, it's been a while since I checked in here and the timing couldn't have been better for me. I've been thinking about how crazy the social media requirements for writers seem for me, because I'm not well suited to sound bites etc. I do love blogging, but I love it for what I learn while doing it, and for the real connections I've made with some other wonderful bloggers. I've promised myself I'll get around to actually trying to market my blog, but haven't done it. When I started blogging on my own I intended to only blog once a week, but gave in to the pressure to do it at least three times a week instead. No question, my Monday blogs are the ones both my readers and I like best. You're inspiring me to change to Mondays only. thank you! :-)

November 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--Nice to see your name here again! I definitely recommend going to a once a week blog. Writing on your own blog less and commenting more on other blogs is what social media guru Bob Mayer recommends these days. I'm not sure "marketing" your blog is worthwhile unless that's all you've got to market. (You're trying to create a monetized blog on, say, reviewing baby clothing or travel tips.) If you're an author, you just need that blog as a friendly "home" where readers can visit and you can network with other authors. (Some gurus will tell you that networking with your fellow writers is a waste of time, but I don't think so at all. Having friends in the business is important when it comes to getting guest blog gigs and reviews.)

November 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

A few years ago, I took my daughter to an event at MIT- she wasn't college-aged. A sophomore said that when he was in high school he used to stress over getting all As and doing perfectly on his tests, but he'd flub it off the next morning by saying that he had gone to sleep at 10 after he'd watched something on Cartoon Network. Once he got to MIT that facade was out the window because everyone knew everyone else was stressing to pass the same classes.

Congratulations to the people who are getting more done than I am, but I couldn't keep that up and I'm not going to try.

Yeah, I never worried about Gardner's admonition to get 15K blog hits per month and kept blogging anyway.

November 7, 2012 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great post, Anne - I'm a full-time pastor and have also written a book scheduled for publication in February. Earlier this year, I joined Facebook and also started a blog, so I'm still figuring out how everything fits together without getting to be too much! I started blogging twice a week, but have recently cut back to once a week in favour of spending some time reading and commenting on other blogs--that's been great for connecting with others and has also brought some new readers too. Thank you for your blog!

November 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

p.s. I had to try several times to leave a comment on your blog and it's still not right since I didn't mean to be anonymous! Not sure why that happened, but I meant to leave my name - April Yamasaki http://aprilyamasaki.com

November 7, 2012 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger Elle Strauss said...

I know I can't keep up the same pace I ran on last year. I slowed down my blog recently and gave up on all social sites besides Twitter and Facebook. I'm pacing out my production schedule for 2013.

November 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Deb--I used to play that game when I was at an Ivy League school--pretend I wasn't studying when I was. Amazing that we thought it was cool not to work hard. But I never worked as hard in college as I have trying to launch my writing career. This is like pulling an all-nighter every night. It's not sustainable. Congrats that you saw that early and are taking care of yourself.

April--I'm SO sorry that Blogger made you jump through those hoops. I've supposedly turned off the "Anonymous" comments because I was getting such a horrific amount of anon spam. But why they should stop a person who doesn't want to be anonymous, I do not know. The ways of the Interwebz are inscrutable.

Anyway, thanks for weighing in here and congrats on your upcoming book launch. I definitely encourage once-a-week blogging.

Elle--Thanks for taking the time to comment. You've got a strong social media presence, and I can say you are proof that social media sells books, because I have one of yours on my Kindle because I saw it and thought "I know her!" so I bought it. (Hope to make time to read more soon.) But I think it needs to be a cycle: establish a SM presence, then cut back so you can write the books. That's what I'm going to do.

November 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I found you via Reetta Raitenen's blog. So thank you for that, Reetta.

Oh how I sympathise and get what you're saying, Anne. Been there, got the gold star, and I've still not learned the lesson. If we don't write a quality product then readers will not want to read our work. Simple. It is, but so very hard to do when we need to support our writing community. But it can and does become too much. I've tried blogging three times a week, but it's not possible to do that and write creatively. Toss in health issues, family, friends and running a home and we can become demented.

I think this is a woman thing too. I don't know about you but I've had friends raise their eyebrows when I say I'm writing. As if it's a little hobby rather than a career. Trying to justify myself is something I refuse to do. My biggest support is my DH and even he sometimes gets it wrong if he interrupts the zone and my creative flow. Blood is on the carpet.

We can only do our best and write our best each and every day and give ourselves a break. Writing must come first and that means cutting back and saying no.

Great post, Anne.

November 8, 2012 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've been blogging for over seven years now, and at the height of promoting my YA series, I was on almost 25 social sites. Needless to say, I crashed and burned. I've spent this year getting back into the game, focusing on blogging and hitting just a couple other sites now and then. I have a book coming out next February and I'd prefer to keep my sanity this time.

November 9, 2012 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--Thanks for letting me know about Reetta's blog. I'm so honored to be in her "if you read one blog this week" top spot! She has a great set of links.

You bring up an interesting point and I think it has some validity. Women "scribbling romances" are often not seen as the equals of men "creating fiction." Even if you're not writing romance, you get put in this faux-frivolous female ghetto. Even in the 21st century. I've certainly fought that attitude.

Diane--Congrats on the new book! And yes, I think we have to treat social media as a cyclical thing--join in when the burden's a little lighter and let it go when life interferes or we're in the flow with a book.

November 9, 2012 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger amy362 said...

Social media is a tool. We don't let our toaster or our computer or our car, run our lives. We USE them.
When you want toast, you use the toaster. You don't feel obligated to make toast everyday just because you bought a toaster. Women view the world, and the use of tools, differently. With obligation. And our sense of obligation is the thing that holds us back.
In Dances with Wolves, the female protoganist can't get pregnant and she says, "I am nothing." Kevin Costner looks at her and says, "You are Plenty."
When I doubt myself I just imagine Kevin Costner telling me..."You are plenty."
Kevin is so right...

November 9, 2012 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Amy--What a great insight! I'd never thought of it that way. Love the toaster analogy. (And you know, I DO feel obligated to use appliances sometimes. Even when it's easier just to use a knife, I'll find myself using my mini-Cuisinart.)

Also love the Kevin Costner line :-)

November 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Anne,
I keep re-reading this blog post to remind myself I am not super woman.
Thank you!

November 14, 2012 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tracy--I'm so glad it helps. I have to keep reminding myself, too!

November 14, 2012 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Thank you, Anne for taking time out of your busy day to respond.
Have a great evening! :)

November 14, 2012 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger Jenn Crowell said...

Bless you, Anne, for being brave enough to put this manifesta of sorts out there. I think as writers we're often too scared/reluctant to admit these feelings, lest we come off as Luddites or uninvested in our own marketing. But it's absolutely critical to remember why we're doing all this social media in the first place: to share our writing with the world. And the writing won't get done if we're on Twitter every five seconds! (Ask me how I know this ...)

Like you, I struggle with some chronic health issues and am acutely aware of my need to pace myself. In a way it's been helpful to have that constant reminder of the price I'll pay if I don't slow down and disconnect.

Here's to balance and authenticity!

November 15, 2012 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jenn--Thanks much for your comment here and on Porter's "Writing on the Ether" post. I honestly didn't expect such a big response to this. I was running out of steam and planning to write about something else and it just spilled out.

I developed asthma a couple of years ago, and it makes basic coldy things stay around for weeks, so I can't push myself the way I could when I was in the theater, living on coffee and 4 hours of sleep a night.

November 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger ML Hart said...

What is it they say on the airplane during the safety demonstration about the oxygen masks? Put your own mask on first before assisting anyone else...
... thanks for the terrific reminder to take care of myself first!

December 2, 2012 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

ML--LOVE the oxygen mask analogy. So true. Thanks!

December 2, 2012 at 11:31 AM  

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