Today’s guest post is from Fred Johnson, who is an editor for Standout Books, where he helps authors take their manuscripts from good to perfect. He’s had poetry published in Zetetic, Spark: A Creative Anthology, The Incubator, Iota, Belleville Park Pages, Smoke, and Spring 14. His personal blog can be found here and he can be found on Twitter as @FredBobJohn. You can also find out more at the Standout Books Blog.
Poetry is big and confusing and I don’t get it. As a form, it’s remarkably fluid—just when I think I’ve grasped what it is and how it works, I’ll discover some poet who throws the whole thing on its head. Whereas contemporary formalists like Glyn Maxwell argue that poetry without strict form is like a table without legs, the bleeding edge throw words all over the page, dismissing grammar, form, spelling, and linear sequence. How do I know where to stand? It’s all too much to keep up with.
About ten years ago I worked for a startup that launched a social media site for published authors. This was the first place where I really started to meet writers and come in contact with people in the industry. In the spring of 2008 one of the topics being bantered about on our website was the question of self-publishing. Specifically, did the rise of it spell tragedy for good literature everywhere?
Nearly a decade later I can’t believe how worked up people got about it, and how worked up some people still are today. Because the fact of the matter is that self-publishing is here to stay, and it’s probably the best thing that’s happened to writers since the invention of computers.
Every morning when I open my inbox a landslide of emails from the online writing community pour out. Blog posts, newsletters, classes and programs and retreats. And then I jump on social media and the wave continues: Advice and instructions on character development, plotting your plot, finessing the end and then going back to that first page and polishing your opening hook until it sparkles and shines and catches the eye of every agent with an email address.
The online writing community is built upon the giving of good advice. I totally get that. As a writing coach with a writing blog, I’m one of those writers handing out pieces of that advice. It definitely has a place, and it definitely can be helpful.
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This is one of those books that falls squarely into the category of “delicious fun.” It’s got some mystery, a few cliffhangers, and a strong dose of romance. The plot revolves around the storylines of two different heroines—an A-list rock star celebrity singer and an average everyday woman—but both are whip-smart, fiery, compassionate, and completely relatable.
I’ve noticed a trend in the last year or so among my coaching clients. Many of the writers I’ve worked with have been women writing memoirs. Whether this trend is fueled by the inspiration and success of such bestsellers as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, women are turning out in droves these days to write about the bigness of their lives, or even just one little narrow slice of it. I think this is partly because women feel the freedom to express themselves as never before, unconstrained by expectations about gender, intellect, sexuality and social and political choices. But also because, for the first time in our modern culture, we get the feeling that someone beyond our tiny individual circle of friends might possibly be interested in reading about our lives and the way we chose to live them.