Does Writing Matter?

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Well, does it? As I said in my last blog Why Buy a Book, I already know that I am an unknown author without a huge following trying to get my first novel noticed in a crowded market where anyone can publish anything. Sure there are success stories out there where a “nobody” made a name for his or her self and quit their day job to write full-time, but most of us realize that this is the exception rather than the norm…So then why would I continue to write despite this unfortunate understanding?

To answer both questions simultaneously, it is because I believe that writing does matter! There, blog finished.

 

 

 

 

 

You’re still here? Ah, you’re curious as to why I nurture this belief. Well, I suppose since you did bother to scroll down and check if this thought was fully founded rather than just hastily thrown up that I do owe you a bit more. As always, my primary purpose in writing this is to encourage others to continue the fight and persevere through any creeping negative thoughts that attempt to prevent them from realizing their potential.

I know I am not alone in suffering these thoughts and discouraging questions, so I wish to remind us all, myself included, exactly why what we do is so important in shaping the world. Furthermore, as I am a selfish reader incessantly searching for the next series to devour and obsess over, I hope that by writing this that even if I continue to write merely as a hobby, one of you will stay true to your passion and finish that masterpiece so that it can be my next world to dive into.

So why do I believe writing matters? Of course, I hope that each one of you has a thousand different answers personalized to your own experiences where you have seen the difference the written word can make in someone’s life. I will attempt to narrow these down in order to generalize my own reasons for carrying on in terms of the past, the present, and the future.

Where We’ve Come From

In ancient times, knowledge was passed down from one generation to the next through the telling of stories and later on through lectures where a massive audience would gather around to witness another’s insight. Eventually this evolved further still to translate to written texts in terms of pictographs, carved tablets, and eventually ink. The transition from spoken to recorded allowed for a greater preservation of the discoveries made by great minds as well as accurate recollection of important historical events.

Initially, only important people were allowed to learn the skill of reading and writing as it was understood that such skills brought power that elites wanted kept to themselves. The reasoning behind this was that allowing commoners to communicate with one another or to study and gain knowledge meant the possibility of being overthrown or undermined in the very least. How could something as simple as written words which we take for granted every day pose such a threat to royalty?

People, in my opinion, are biologically inclined to connect with one another for survival. (You can read one of the many reasons why I’ve come to this conclusion based purely on how our brains are wired here.) Keeping others from effectively communicating eliminates their ability to express their grievances to one another and come to the conclusion that they are not alone in their distaste for being taken advantage of. Without the subtle nuances of higher-level learning that writing and reading foster, under-educated people could not secretly plot or discuss among themselves.

As time passed and these skills became more and more necessary for daily living throughout the social classes, education increased allowing for a greater exchange of information. Though we certainly do not live in a utopia free of problems or social disparity, we are closer than we have ever been due to the free exchange of information posted online. As always, I will qualify this with the fact that I understand the dangers of anyone being able to post their ideas online without proof which can lead to entire groups of people jumping to conclusions before cross-referencing, but such misunderstandings have prevailed throughout history regardless of the medium

If royal elites could see the importance of writing to influence or control others, shouldn’t we still value the abilities we learn at such a young age and later come to accept merely as basic strengths most people in developed nations possess? Clearly, the past has held this skill in high regard, but let’s move on.

Where We Are

These days, we have books, newspapers, internet articles, and newscasts constantly influencing us whether or not we want to heed their words. This rapid transit of ideas has allowed for monumental increases in scientific areas such as medicine, architecture, and technology as well as more artistic avenues such as literature, movies, and philosophy. Without the necessity of delivering snail mail as the primary means of conveying information from one mind to the next in solving a puzzle, we are at the peak of information exchange.

Writing provides a way for common folks such as myself to be heard in their encouragements, complaints, and victories. It allows for anyone to dream of accomplishing more and, perhaps most importantly, to make friends with similar passions. I keep saying again and again just as in my first post Aspiring to Aspiring Writer, the opportunity to love others and help one another along in the journey of life should be a key component of everyone’s purpose. Now we get to digitally “meet” others from geographic and even socioeconomic areas we have never experienced.

Simply being able to enter a chat requires the use of written words or even online translation software, because the world is just that cool now. All of these friendships, business partnerships, and even romances are possible through others’ belief that writing today does still matter in terms of connections and paving a way for the future, which transitions nicely to my final category.

Where We Are Going

As a teacher, hopefully it is understandable that I couldn’t go forever without speaking to this highly influential area of my life. Tomorrow is what I spend every day working on, tirelessly working to prepare young minds to tackle issues that I can’t even imagine they may someday face. Though I am a mathematician/physicist, I try to maintain that communication is the most important skill that my pupils can pick up during their time in school

In a world where the means of communication are forever evolving even to the point where texting is beginning to die off in favor of video chats and messages, it has never been more important to emphasize the power words hold in written form. Thus, I implore anyone reading this who feels called to write as a hobby, profession, or any other desire to hone your craft and demonstrate to the next generation how ideas immortalized in digital or printed form will forever drive our world forward.

Furthermore, for those who disagree that the pros of being able to freely express ourselves via our writing do not outweigh the cons, shouldn’t that spur you on even more fervently to produce the facts you see so that impressionable minds have multiple sources to digest before coming to a conclusion that could mold the rest of their lives? If anyone fears that the “crap people can put on the internet” is dangerous for others who are still being exposed to a new topic, and I agree that it very well can be, I charge you with the task of ensuring our future politicians, scientists, philosophers, and yes, even writers have a varied knowledge pool to dive into when discovering their passions.

It Matters to Me

And I believe it matters to you. I believe that even if my words only reach the few people I am honored to read my work regularly, they will see my passion so that it spreads and reaches others through their filter. I love to write to organize my thoughts, express my love to those closest to me, and hopefully entertain those crazy enough to take the ride through my series Across The Breach with me.

And I like to sit in bookstores while I’m writing, so typical selfish Kagan, haha.

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Why Buy a Book

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The internet is a remarkable place in that it provides the greatest resource of knowledge ever to exist. The sheer amount of information readily available at my fingertips never ceases to amaze me. This is partially due to the equally simple process of adding to that wealth of data via forums, blogs, and, you guessed it, ebooks. It has certainly never been easier to write and publish your book with absolutely no cost for the world to view. Whether good or bad (certainly a debate for another time), I believe it is safe to say no one would argue that almost every nook and cranny has been explored through the written word.

As a result, we authors, both seasoned and new, understand from the beginning that from the moment we submit our work to a traditional publisher or hit publish on a digital retailer such as Amazon, it becomes one drop in a sea of titles for readers to peruse. Success, particularly in terms of sales, requires a special combination of marketing, networking, and research. But something is missing, isn’t it? Oh yeah, a good, quality book.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I did my research and felt wonderfully overwhelmed by all the different ideas as to how to successfully break into the ebook world and get my work  noticed. It wasn’t until I took a step back to breathe that I remembered my initial purpose: to entertain others with the story I loved inside my own head. I believe it is easy to forget that the most important component of gaining readers is the quality of the book we produce. (This is despite the incessant reminders on every blog I read such as this, and this, and this, and this…)

Though “a good book” was mentioned in every example above either in terms of putting forth your best work or planning exactly how to enter your niche, I still let all the little nuances of how to sell my book consume me. Amidst this whirlwind of brainstorming it dawned on me that I was doing this for myself and anyone who would enjoy my story. With this purpose in mind, I made up my mind to remind myself daily of my true goals, which brings me to the purpose of this article (longest intro ever, right?).

In a medium saturated with articles from writers coaching others how to emulate their success, I chose to instead write about how to approach your ebook from another angle. Here, I would like to remind you how to critique your odds of success from a perspective that we are all experts in: the eyes of a reader.

Why would I buy this?

The same question posed in the title of this article, but now it is yours. I’m sure everyone who reads this has asked themselves exactly the same question in some form or another when deciding if a prospective title is worth their time, energy, and emotion. Each of us has a myriad of ways to answer, but I would like to attempt to narrow it down into three overly broad categories.

  • I can relate to the characters or story setting.
  • I am a fan of this type of story.
  • I am left needing to know more about this story.

I Can Relate

What I’m referring to here might not be exactly what first comes to mind as you read this heading. Though an initial reaction of “OMG! I totally know exactly what he/she is dealing with!” certainly sells your title, those of us with a young inventor as the main protagonist who is attempting to stop an inter-species war while dealing with his own newly discovered ability to shapeshift typically aren’t so lucky.

No, what I am talking about is after only a few pages you have bonded with one or several characters due to some individual characteristic that you either see or would like to see in yourself. Example: For me while reading Harry Potter for the first time (I know you’ll all get sick of me referring to my favorite read, but it shaped my life, ok!), I couldn’t say I was orphaned or that I was mentally abused in my home life and looking for some escape. What I latched onto was school was a home for Harry just as it was for me. His morals and willpower in the face of peril were the aspects that I wanted to emulate.

In my own book, Shifter, I don’t expect for people to relate to Alex in his situation or even home life. Instead I hope they find his ideals noteworthy or his view of the world in that it needs something new. I want for them to find that they were more amazing in themselves all along than they ever realized, not due to some newfound ability but because they find their own self-worth. Just that one single piece of a story where a reader can see his or her self is enough for them to find they’ve entered the world you’ve written in the place of the protagonist.

I Love Stuff Like This

This section is important for two reasons, the first of which we will quickly gloss over. Amazon clumps together titles to try to sell buyers more stuff they might like, so if you haven’t already utilized those keywords to put your work in a category where it belongs and can compete well, get on it! More importantly, readers are drawn to stories with plots, settings, and character types that they are familiar with and enjoyed in other books. Take the post-apocalyptic setting, for example. Numerous titles that became movies over the past few years took advantage of this hype and were extremely successful in more ways than one.

If your idea is to enter the world of zombies, do it right! You most likely adore zombies yourself and have read and watched hundreds of titles featuring the brain-hungry creatures. Just be sure that you are clear in your description as well as any preview that you provide for your book so that readers can immediately recognize “oh, this is just like ___! I loved ___!” As I love Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl due to my addiction to teen fiction, I wanted it to be very clear that the protagonist was a teen and the tone would entertain readers who enjoyed the same works I always have.

As a bonus, this means you will already have something in common with all of your readers which helps you with blogging and any kind of interaction to have a talking point. Like I said in Aspiring to Aspiring Writer, I believe first and foremost that writing is all about loving people and interacting with them. Hence, this is one of my favorite reasons to have put my own title out for the world to read.

Can’t…Stop…Reading

Here is where previews or free books really get to shine. Having a great hook in your description or even the first few pages that Amazon likes to offer will work just as well, however, if you are willing to put in the work and really grab the attention of prospective readers. In my mind, the greatest compliment someone could offer me would be to say “I finished your book because I just couldn’t put it down!” This shows me that my writing, my characters, and my world are so compelling that a reader can’t get enough and is left craving more.

It is here that every successful title shines and draws people back for more and more in series or even just to get more of an author’s mind. If you have a specific scene or moment in your own work that you yourself repeatedly return to just to enjoy again, then this might be a sign that you’ve done a great job. Remembering what I said above about attracting like-minded readers, those same pages are certain to capture a reader’s attention and have them begging for more!

So, Why Buy?

Because I simply have to have this book! Because I enjoyed the work and want to support the author entirely for the selfish reason that I need to be fed more from their mind! Because the characters are so amazing that I want to know every aspect of their lives before and after the story ends! Because this world can go on and on, and I must know all the untold stories hiding within! Because this book is worth my investment!

As always, I hope this encourages you to either finish your masterpiece or to share your work where I can read it. There are so many untold stories out there just waiting for me to dive in and enjoy while finding new inspiration from amazing writers. Don’t lose yourself to the marketing side of things. Instead, stay true to your reasons for writing and try to approach your work as the fan you already are.

Aspiring to Aspiring Writer

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My entire life has been devoted to simply getting by. Only in the past few years have I even attempted to settle down and focus on myself. Amidst all this recent self-discovery, I have found just how badly I want to write for a living. As I’ve stated numerous times, I have always loved the written word. So it wasn’t much of a revelation to me that an area that I needed to foster in my life was to simply write more.

What did come as a shock, however, was the depth of this desire to write and become an author. Thus, for my first true blog post, I will not write about “How to Become an Author” or “7 Tips for Writing a Bestseller” or even “How I Made Writing a Career.” No, instead, I will take you through my journey from the beginning as I am still aspiring to reach the point in my life where I can call myself an aspiring writer.

Here I will explain the major characteristics that I feel define a writer that you can identify in yourself to see if pursing the profession seems as alluring as it still does for me.

That Story Won’t Go Away

First and foremost, you probably have that idea in your head that you just can’t shake. Perhaps it is some amazing story that you were inspired to conjure up through some major happening in your life. Possibly you simply enjoy writing, and the culmination of all of your experience has brought forth a masterpiece in your mind. Or maybe you are simply like me with a recurring daydream that somehow pieced itself together into an irresistible urge to be recorded for others.

Regardless, you now cannot get this immense story off your mind and think it’d be awesome to share with the world in the off chance they might enjoy it, too. I believe this is one of the most deciding characteristics that people such as myself find to push them forward in their pursuit of becoming an author. Money is nice, as are any rewards for our work, but in the end it is the desire to fulfill our artistic sides that drive us forward to immortalize our thoughts on paper. Having such a tale ready to burst forth is definitely a good sign that you are researching the right career.

So if you are reading this thinking “Hey! He’s talking about                         !” then chances are that you may just yet realize your dreams. (And I might get to read that little nagging story inside your head.)

You Like to Read

While this might seem like a no-brainer, I still feel it is worth mentioning. I don’t know of any writer I know, have read about, or whose work I’ve read, that does not admit to being an avid reader. After all, such amazing works as Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter had to draw inspiration from some source. Their respective authors drew on a combination of life experiences and stories they themselves were fans of to cultivate their own imaginations to birth amazing tales that have become staples for the industry.

Speaking solely for myself, Harry Potter was my childhood. Growing up I was completely enamored of the wizarding world. With age I began to respect the multitude of unique characters and each of their developments throughout the story. Now I love to get lost in the universe that is witches and wizards to imagine the untold tales that surely happened behind the scenes. This passion and love for such an amazing book series fostered my own abilities and desire to emulate my author heroes.

More than that, reading is the best training to hone our craft. Increasing vocabulary, finding new ways to build a scene in the mind of a reader through descriptions, and even deciphering the tone of a story can all shape our own style and help us to find ourselves within the scope of our own writing. Classes and practicing actual writing are of course just as necessary, but without taking the time to stop and enjoy the instruments that lead us to aspiring to become authors ourselves, it would all be for naught.

You Love Your Own Story

I know. It sounds a little narcissistic or even silly, but hear me out. If you don’t enjoy your work, why would anyone else? As I said before, Shifter began merely as a string of daydreams I had while on the bus or train commuting to work. I loved losing myself in the world I was creating inside my head and seeing the different characters live out their lives taking on challenges to overcome them heroically. Shouldn’t it be the same for any book that is headed for the #1 spot?

Again referencing my favorite series (I’m guessing it’s pretty obvious.), Harry Potter not only became a household name due to it’s immense universe, but remains such today due to the never-ending possibilities that exist within. The movie industry is still cashing in on the title for exactly that reason. They can find obscure characters and tell their stories so viewers can see how important they were behind the scenes all along. And that is only part of the puzzle.

Forget media rights and future works. What draws you into a story and keeps you coming back for more? Really take the time to answer that before reading on……Ready? It is losing yourself in pondering what goes on after the main story. What happens next? What went on during this event? I wonder what so-and-so was like before. I wonder if this character and that character were ever romantically involved. I wonder…I wonder…I wonder…That wonder is what makes a tale wonderful and continues to not only bring us as fans back for more but also drives us to talk so passionately about them to bring in new readers.

You Want to Work

Making money as an author isn’t hard. I’ve managed to make some money selling my ebook to a few friends and even a random clicker-through. Earning a living as an author, however, will put all your patience and researching to the test. All I’ve learned in the year and a half that I’ve been going through site after site and book after book reading up on how to best get my book out to the world and then promote it so the world sees it has taught me one thing: nothing comes easy.

And it truly excites me! I’m well aware that nothing worth doing is all easy all the time. What matters is that I am not only willing to take on that challenge but that the prospect is one that I look forward to every day. As an avid consumer of the internet, the idea that I get to get on every day to write something for a blog or try to make new connections with awesome people is a task that does not seem like work to me. Sure building up that animal called an email list is an uphill battle, and sure it takes a good deal of time networking and making sure I’m reading up where to throw my hat in to the reader-blogger pool can be a lot to handle. But at the end of the day, it is a war I am fighting because I believe I can win.

This is where the “want” part comes in. Many sites that I myself have read will let you know that you will need to work, but I’m willing to bet that you already know that. After all, you are either writing, considering writing, or have already written your masterpiece. That was most definitely work, which shows your work ethic. I believe it goes beyond that. A certain level of desire has to be present to make this commitment every day. And what I would like for you to take away more than anything else is that we can all enjoy it together. Which brings me to my last point.

You Love People

This one is purely me, but I am a firm believer that it is, or should be, the guiding principal in any profession. You will need to network, as I’m sure you are aware. That isn’t what I am referring to, though. No, what I mean is that you want to make a connection to your readers. After all, writing is all about giving them a window into your mind and soul and allowing them to take on your story in their own imaginations to make it their own. As they read you get to share an intimate bond with each one where you create a world or worlds together.

Just as paramount is the idea that we authors are not competing. If I become the next big author success story and everyone wants to read my series, does that mean they won’t read yours. Certainly not! I would be honored if anyone who has read Harry Potter reads Shifter and enjoys it because I know they have the same taste in literature as myself. The greatest thing about our line of work is that we do not need to fight one another for “customers.” Instead, we share our friends with one another to cultivate the world through the written word.

 

So, What Now?

Now go on to finish your book and let me know once it is done. At least for now I know I’ve got plenty of time to offer book reviews to help you on your way as well as to share ideas and build a new friendship. I’d love to hear about everyone’s progress regardless of where you are on your own road to fame.

Though this list is by no means exhaustive, and of course is only the key qualities I would like to believe that I have that have driven me thus far, it hopefully is encouraging to see in yourself so that you know you are on the right track. I will continue writing about the things in my daily life as I work through trying to become a real author. So keep aspiring to your own title of “aspiring author.”