Bye Bye, Big Words

I haven’t had a chance to mention this here yet, but I received my very first piece of fan mail last weekend. An extremely nice guy took the time to write me an email after finishing PWNED, letting me know what he thought of it.

You guys. He liked it. He thought I pulled it off. He was a little skeptical when he first started reading it, but he said he enjoyed reading it overall and is glad he bought it!

Do you have any idea how mind-blowingly amazing that is? SO mind-blowingly amazing.

One helpful bit of feedback he gave me is to take a very hard look at the big words I use in my writing, and ask myself how many people will really know what those pieces of vocab mean. He mentioned the word “atavistic” in particular, and after revisiting it I see his point.

This is not the first time someone has noticed this. I wield a formidable vocabulary and sometimes have a skewed perspective on what constitutes a “big word.”

At first I rebelled against the notion that I should use smaller words in order to write at a level the general public is comfortable with. Stephen King uses big words! I’m reading a book right now (Cryptonomicon, in case you’re curious) that is chock full of big words! Successful authors use big words and no one yells at them for it!

Then something my first-piece-of-fan-mail-writer said caught my eye. To paraphrase, my writing is easy to read and hums right along until a big word drops out of nowhere and cracks the reader’s windshield.

If I take an honest look at my writing, I have to agree with the guy. My writing style was born on my blog. If the big words I use on occasion are distracting and annoying to my readers, then it’s safe to say my writing isn’t an appropriate place to let my fun words loose.

This does give me an excuse to ponder the relevance of the juicy words that are big on nuance and short on fans. Do you think they’ll get phased out and become obsolete someday? If no one’s learning them anymore and fewer and fewer people are using them, how long do you think it’ll take before words like “atavistic” and “pusillanimous” are, for all intents and purposes, extinct? Gone the way of thee’s and thou’s, and used only when irony or a bit of cheap authenticity are called for.

Throwback Deer

I just saw a proof of the printed version of my book and…It’s awesome, you guys. They’re getting it done so much faster than I thought they would, and it looks pretty freaking rad. I’m optimistic that those of you holding out for an honest-to-goodness printed book will have one in your hot little hands in less than a month.

W00t!

Book talk aside, things have been going swimmingly here at Casa de Mitchell. Wes is wrapping up a whole slew of year-end projects, Aidan is cutting some new molars (by golly, that looks painful) and I’m down to 175 pounds and feeling pretty happy about it. I can run for two miles without stopping, none of my clothes fit, and I feel light and springy like a deer.

Granted, I’m the kind of deer a hunter probably wouldn’t shoot at what with my crazy eyes and unkempt hair, but still. A deer.

Let’s see, what else is up? We started watching Better Off Ted recently and it’s hilarious (and not just because Lindsay Bluth is in it). Aidan walked into a lake on Sunday and would have just kept on walking had I not saved him from drowning himself. Consequently, I’ve signed him up for swimming classes. Wes and I get to go to a shooting class in two weeks, after which we get to go on vacation. Alas, we probably won’t shoot anything while we’re on vacation.

Man, I’m out of practice blogging about stuff that isn’t book-related. Let’s see, how do I normally wrap things up? Mention gnomes or cupcakes, ask an inane rhetorical question, and then conclude with a nonsensical statement. So here goes:

I haven’t eaten nearly enough cupcakes lately, what with my quest to not be rotund. But that’s the thing with losing weight, isn’t it? You become uncomfortably aware of how many opportunities you have each day to make poor decisions. Ignorance really is bliss when it comes to calories. But not when it comes to toilet paper on your shoe.

Bootstrappin’

Ok that’s quite enough of all that whining, thankssomuch.

Today is a much better day. I ate a bowl of Life cereal just because, I tried the Stairclimber at the gym for the first time, and Aidan just learned where his belly is and will show you with great gusto, which I find endlessly adorable. Life is better.

Once I got over the initial shock of learning that the Internet is full of people who have strong opinions and little patience for tact, life got easier. You guys have spoiled me! My Internet (and real life) friends are so sweet to me, I guess I’d forgotten that not everyone is as kind.

No matter, though, because today is a new day. This is not the first time I’ve had to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and it won’t be the last. It takes awhile to grow a thicker skin, but I figure if I can beat depression I can handle this too.

As for my future as a writer? I’ll just keep on writing, obviously. I’ll keep learning where and when I can, writing as much as possible, and with any luck my books will just keep getting better and better.

Theme song of the day? Kashmir by Led Zeppelin.

Also? The book trailer for PWNED is out! Wanna take a peek? (Please be kind, my budget for this trailer was approximately $0)

Floundering

Excuse me, but has anyone seen my kidney laying around somewhere? I’m getting eviscerated you see, and I always like to keep track of my pieces when I’m getting eviscerated so I can get myself back in order afterwards.

You know those scenes on 30 Rock where Jenna locks herself in her dressing room because her niece drew an unflattering picture of her or because her stalker forgot about her or somesuch nonsense? I have infinitely more sympathy for her now.

It turns out the old adage about never reading your own reviews is a good one. People are mean! Multiply that exponentially and then square it when those same people are on the Internet.

I bought some marketing space on a Starcraft 2 related site and at first the responses were encouraging. People were excited! I was excited! Hooray! Or so I thought.

As so often happens on Internet forums, the weather turned foul and I saw far more backhanded slaps than high fives. They insulted my writing. They mocked my plot. They even picked apart my character’s name!

Yikes. I had no idea. No. Idea.

So now I’m…floundering, to be quite honest. As someone who’s always been somewhat hesitant to let other people read my writing (not blogging writing, mind you. Obviously) to see it flayed to bits for fun is traumatizing in the worst way. I never set out to write the best book ever written. I just wanted to tell a story.

Apparently that’s abhorrent to a lot of people.

The only thing keeping me from refusing to get out of bed is Wes, funny enough. He’s made it his mission to provide proof that this is how it is for almost everyone who publishes something. Even respected, amazing writers. He won’t let me wallow, and insists that the negative comments haven’t shaken his faith in my writing at all.

I tell you, that kind of support is truly unique. If everyone had someone in their life who believed in them like Wes believes in me, I’d love to see how much could get accomplished.

As for me? Well, as badly as I want to burrow under the covers and lay there in an abject pile of misery and bad self esteem, I won’t. I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing my darndest to ignore the comments of the faceless masses on the Internet who go after helpless books like heat-seeking missiles.

Who knows? I might even work up the courage to publish another book! Someday. Maybe when I’m 80 and senility and dementia have set in. Probably then.

Official

As of today, I’m a published author. As undeniably cool as it was to see my name on the covers people designed for me, it is even more mind-blowing to see my name on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. As an author. That is just so freaking cool!

I woke up at 11:55 last night because Aidan was up and all I could think was, “In five minutes it’ll be June 20. And I’ll be a published author,” and then I went back to sleep because my tired brain couldn’t process the enormity of that statement.

In my first day as a published author, so far I have worked out, done the breakfast thing, and changed a diaper. Pretty much life as usual. When I had Aidan on the changing table, I tried to tell him he was getting his diaper changed by a published author, and that that was a big deal. He was, and continues to be, unimpressed.

It’s ok. I’m excited enough for the both of us.