Sorry for not blogging awhile. I’ve been attending a friend’s wedding on the other side of the country and it’s taken weeks to catch up. So… what better a writing subject after a longish break than discussing toilets? More specifically, what we do in them and when. Which, according to 99.99% of fiction is nothing – and never.
You see, I was reading a Neville DeMille novel. I’ve been a fan of DeMille for years. In this particular book it’s a fairly typical “chase” story with our hero and a somewhat reluctant heroine racing across the country either fleeing from, or madly pursuing, some villainous dude and, of course, they regularly find themselves holed up in hotels taking stock of the situation. It’s during these occasions that our hero manages to slip into a nearby store and buy some clean shorts and a shirt. DeMille’s slight obsession with our hero’s personal hygiene was intriguing.
To be honest, I’m quite happy to assume my heroes somehow deal with the sticky issue of soiled undies and even taking a dump somewhere without drawing my attention to the realities. I mean, during the God-knows-how-long trek by Frodo to Mordor to ditch the One Ring, was it mentioned at any time that he needed to nip behind the nearest Ent for a noisy Number Two’s? Nope, of course not.
Fictional heroes don’t do a lot of things. Like fart, scratch unseemly places, discreetly pick their nose when no one’s looking… which is a good thing, since most of this stuff comes under the “Too much information” category. Of course, there are exceptions to the unwritten, writing rule and some authors use such moments to advantage, but generally even our most flawed characters don’t require toilet breaks.
They don’t need a shower unless someone plans to stab them through the curtain. They eat about two meals per book. Many of them don’t have to call their mother. They rarely go shopping for normal stuff.
Wouldn’t it be a challenge to write a novel and include all the mundane, everyday things for the sake of authenticity? It’d probably get some kind of major, literary prize.
But no one would read it.
Rule No#1 in promoting yourself is supposedly getting involved in online writing communities, forums, Facebook and the like. Anything social, right? So to “test the water” last night I registered at a forum called The Writer’s Forum (www.writersforum.com) where aspiring, established and indie writers are encouraged to share their thoughts, experiences and promote their work. I wrote a nice Introducing Myself post in the Introduce Yourself forum, then I posted in the Publishing Forum what I’d done in the past, present and future, how I’d just published my eight books as Ebooks (making no attempt to disguise the fact I was in promotion mode) and I also offered to discuss with anyone interested the process I’d just gone through. I was genuinely polite, honest and transparent (as my old boss like to say).
This morning I check the forum and see my post isn’t there… odd, but these things happen. I log on and bam! I’ve been permanently banned, never to be lifted, for spamming. This isn’t an auto-response thing. The noddy running the forum has deliberately decided to ban me.
So I wrote an email to the webmaster asking why I’ve been banned. Okay, I was a little pissed off and DID ask whether he was interested in having experienced writers contributing to the forum- or whether he just wanted unpublished people who would desperately resort to paying his sponsors’ for their dubious services- nasty I know, but jeez, an instant, permanent ban and being labeled as a spammer? I found that offensive and uncalled-for.
His response later was that I’d obviously not read the forum rules, which state that only “active members” can promote their published works and that I hadn’t proved that I was going to be a contributing forum member. Okay, I get that- but hell, who reads the rules? He was certain his forum members would “succeed without my expert advice”. I didn’t say I was an expert- I said I’d had plenty of experience to offer. There’s a difference he’s apparently incapable of understanding.
Now I could, in turn, reply that he is supposed to be a forum moderator not an internet demi-god and that a responsible moderator would have simply removed my post and sent me a brief message as to why I didn’t make the grade (yet) for promoting my books. I could also suggest that he personally, plainly hasn’t ever had anything published beyond the second-grade finger-painting his mother stuck on the refrigerator door for a week when he was 12 years old (think about that)… or maybe he just resented my achievements as a writer and enjoyed putting the (banning) boot in?
Lesson here is that if anyone finds themselves about to embark on a similar mission, perhaps a more stealthy approach to establishing a presence on these forums first is better? Apparently some writers forums aren’t particularly interested in people who have actually achieved anything and are willing to share that experience- or at least the moderators aren’t. It upsets the sponsors who, for god’s sake, don’t want informed, free advice being handed around instead of people paying for it.