Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Anne Enright

Failure . . .


First, be warned that I’m a true believer in the slipperiness of language use, for mere mortals…

Next, I want to look into what “Success” means.

I’ve delved into what it might mean in a number of contexts in the past…

Let’s look again.

Definition: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

Word history: “1530s, ‘result, outcome’, from Latin successus ‘an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome’, [to] ‘come after’. Meaning ‘accomplishment of desired end’ (good success) first recorded 1580s.”

Now, Failure.

Definition: “A falling short or cessation.”

Word history: “1640s, failer, ‘a failing, deficiency’, also ‘act of failing’, from Anglo-French failer, Old French falir ‘be lacking; not succeed'”

I think I may have just proved that grabbing one definition of a word and glancing at its history of use doesn’t quite give us what we might need

Certainly, most folks have enough occurrences of both success and failure in their lives to define it for themselves

However, looking at a few accomplished writers’ explanations of “Failure” could throw much light on what “Success” could mean…

There’s an article in The Guardian called Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure.

I normally pull a few excerpts from articles to encourage you to read the whole thing; but, the end of this one had a link that led to an imposing form to fill out for “reuse” of the “content”…

There is such a thing as “fair use“; but… well… these days… and, I’m in the U.S. but the article is in an English publication… — So, I’ll give links to the writers involved (in case you need to evaluate your desire for their explanations of success and failure) and hope some of you take the link to the article in The Guardian

Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Will Self, and Lionel Shriver.

If you do go to Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure, I’d love it if you’d share in the Comments which author(s) drew you there…

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How Do Writers Do It? ~ Getting the Job Done…


I spent over 50 years of my life waiting for inspiration to write—it did arrive, a few times

Writer's Productivity Habits

Gerard ter Borch, Woman Writing a Letter, ~1655, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thing is, during all that time, I wasn’t thinking of myself as a writer (but, I was learning most of what serves me well now that I do...).

With my current schedule of a new short tale every week, my “writing habits” or “productivity routines” are the heartbeat of my work.

Doing this blog helps keep me tuned up, too.

Recently, Kristin Wong had an article on LifeHacker called, The Best Productivity Habits of Famous Writers.

As is my reportorial habit, I’ll share a few excerpts and leave it to you to go find all the really interesting stuff in the full article :-)

Kristin’s first bullet point is On Getting Started”.

Toni Morrison: Change Your Definition of Failure

“Pay very close attention to failure, rather than get depressed or unnerved or feel ashamed. As a writer, a failure is just information…”

John Steinbeck: Focus on the System, Not the Goal

“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps.”

Neil Gaiman: “You Learn By Finishing Things”

“When people come to me and they say, ‘I want to be a writer, what should i do?’ I say you have to write.”

The quotes from each of the authors is longer in Kristin’s article

The next major point is “On Staying Focused”.

Zadie Smith: Disconnect From Distractions

“Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­Internet.”

Jerry Seinfeld: Don’t Break The Chain (most of this quote is “about Jerry”—do go to the full article to find out what Jerry said…)

“He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write.”

Raymond Chandler: Write or Get Bored (another “about”—Kristen talking…)

“He blocked time into his schedule for writing, and if he didn’t write, his only other option was to do nothing.”

The next point is “On Warding Off Writer’s Block”.

Colson Whitehead: Embrace Adventure

“Keep ahead of the curve. Get out and see the world. It’s not going to kill you to butch it up a tad.”

Ernest Hemingway: Stop Mid-Sentence

“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next.”

Anne Enright: Imagine Your Death to Find the Problem

“Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not?”

So…

Go to the full article to find out the endings of the quotes I’ve shared—discovering everything Kristin says is another good reason to go read it :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

How Many Sales Does It Take to Make a Book a “Success”?


The answer to this post’s title depends on who you ask.

Author Earnings and Book Sales

Image courtesy of Thiago Felipe Festa ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/thiagofest

The author, the publisher, and the readers would have different opinions.

My past post—What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?—says, “An extremely small percentage of writers sells more than 500 copies of a book…”

So, is a successful book one that sells 600 copies, a thousand, hundreds of thousands?

Again, it depends on who you ask

An article about book sales, from National Public Radio in the U.S.A., has Washington Post critic Ron Charles saying:

“When I saw that Anne Enright — [who] I think of as giant in literary fiction, beloved around the world — could only sell 9,000 copies [of The Green Road] in the U.K. I was shocked, that’s really low.”

The Authors Guild in the U.S.A. recently did a member survey that showed a decided drop in book sales per author; however, their members are either traditionally published or have book-earnings of around $3,300 a year

The National Public Radio article goes on to quote Barry Eisler (who’s mentioned in a number of my posts):

“I mean, there are lots of writers … thousands of writers who are making a good living from self-publishing.”

The article continues:

“Eisler is a self-publishing advocate who says the Authors Guild doesn’t represent all writers. Its membership skews older and it is mostly interested in maintaining the status quo of traditional publishing. Self-publishing may not be for everyone, he says. There is no question writers have to be more entrepreneurial. But he says it also offers them a choice when it comes to money and control — and the end result isn’t really all that different from traditional publishing.”

So, self-publishing might help sell more but doesn’t guarantee anything

Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild, says:

“We can’t tell people not to write for free. It’s not to their advantage to do it. But if they want to do it, they will do it.”

If you’re a writer and are still reading this post, would you consider responding to Roxana’s statement in the Comments?
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