I'm super excited that I have recently been published by Yahoo. Now, I know that in the writing world this is not a huge accomplishment. A lot of people get published by Yahoo. But, up until recently, I hadn't. So, I have jumped one more hurdle in my writing career. In writing, it is important that people can see your work, or at least samples of it. This is hard to accomplish if all you do is either write novels or stuff at home and never publish, or if you are a freelance writer where all of your work is sold and another person claims credit for it. At Yahoo, you get the opportunity to write and have your work professionally critiqued, and if you're lucky it gets published... under your name. That's the important part, it's your name on the byline.
How well your work does at that point is kind of up to the public. It may be a literary masterpiece and never get viewed because it isn't a popular subject. It could also be a piece of crap and have 10,000 views. People are fickle, we all know that. So, it's no good to take yourself or your writing too seriously. If you take it all too seriously, you'll drive yourself insane. Getting published, even by an online news source, like Yahoo is a big accomplishment. Sure sometimes they publish crap articles, everyone does. But, they are staffed by professionals that take their jobs seriously. When they look at a submission, they don't just look at the composition as a literary piece of work, they have to look at it in a whole different way. They need to determine if it is going to get them into any kind of trouble, personally, politically or legally. They need to decide if the subject is relevant. And finally they need to decide if people will want to read it. All of this and probably a lot more goes into one single submission. Anything and everything from a simple meal critique to the news of the day is scrutinized with the same set of filters. So, in the grand scheme of things, getting published by Yahoo, is a big deal.
They make it simple by walking you through each step. They have a University, it's an online Yahoo school that teaches you all that you need to know to submit content and get paid. Yes, that's right, they pay you to write. Here's the really cool part, they pay you to write whatever you want to write and give you several options on how you want to be paid for it. I took the sure fire they will publish it avenue for my first two articles. That is, they only pay for it if it gets viewed enough times. I chose this method for two reason, one I wanted them to publish them so I could use that fact to my advantage, and second I wanted to see if the topics could generate their own readers. This tells me if I need to rework my titles, my key words (how people look up and find an article) or my actual writing. I'm using them to further my career and my writing skills.
I did this because every writer needs to know that they can never be the perfect writer. They must always improve their writing skills. This is also why, in my last two books I have challenged myself to write in a way that I had never done before. First I took a small single hero book and turned it into an epic novel in the vein of the Fire and Ice saga by RR Martin. In fact I used his writing and the writing of Robert Jordan as templates for my own style. Let me tell you stepping out of my comfort zone and up into an entirely different genre was eye opening and a mind blowing experience. Soon I will be sending that manuscript to DAW Books to see what they think of it. That will be yet another challenge in my writing career.
In my most recent book, I am challenging myself again. But, this time I am trying to write more than just a crime novel. This time I am trying to write a crime novel that is also a mystery. Now crime novels can always be a mystery if you don't tell people who the killer is. But, in this novel I am going to create some misdirection and some smoke and mirrors so that when my readers reach the finale they will be surprised, and hopefully will be going back through the book looking at encounters and situations where they might have missed something or misread something. I personally love stories like that. They give me an appreciation of the author's skill. Now writing one, gives me more of an appreciation of an author's ability to not tell part of the story, when it's is burning a hole in their mind.
In both cases I am pushing myself as an author, but I don't have to be writing a novel to do this. I remember when I wrote poetry on a regular basis. I would often try to write in styles in which I was not familiar. I tried Haiku for a while and when I became somewhat decent at that style I tried to write without rhyming, then I went on to what can only be described as an epic poem that was written almost entirely as a figure of speech. Unfortunately that particular poem is awesome, but it can only be understood by a very specific group of people. This characteristic makes it so that I could never publish it, but it was a great exercise for me.
I have always tried to improve my writing. I remember the first time that I incorporated a conversation into my story. I was in 7th grade. My teacher gave me an A+ for original thinking. Prior to this I had always used thoughts and feeling to portray events in a story. I got A, for those. But, the idea of conversation, which was first used by one of my talented classmates, was liberating for me.
The point here is that an author should never rest on his or her laurels. They should always strive to improve, even if that improvement seems mundane or even a waste of time to other people. If the author grows or their writing improves, then the exercise was worth it. Hence my exercise with simply writing some articles for Yahoo and not getting an immediate payment for them. With my very next article I improved my skills. Then when it was sent back for revisions, I wasn't angry, because it gave me yet another chance to improve my writing skills.
I suppose what I am saying is this: never be satisfied with your writing. You can always make it better. I think that if you simply become satisfied as a writer, your writing and your stories will become stale. We've all read stories that just didn't meet the mark, when other stories by the same person were outstanding. Don't become this person. Always seek to improve.
Live well and be good to each other.