publishing, ramblings, writing

WHY I WRITE IN ENGLISH

Spoiler alert: it’s not as romantic as one might think.

 

Last week, I shared a post on tips for writing in another language. This week I’m tackling why *I* chose to make the switch from my beloved Romanian to English.

I’m an idealist at heart, but my ambition’s molded me into a realist. The switch to writing in another language isn’t easy, instant, or certain, but I don’t regret my decision for a second. It’s also not something everyone will agree with or think is worth pursuing. To each their own.

So why do I write in English?

 

I’m a fan

Back when I was young, I sucked at almost everything. Couldn’t play sports. Didn’t have money. Grandma used to dress me up like a doll. Had a lisp. Super prissy. I was super badass, you guys. I also had the shitty tendency of correcting people and…you get the picture.

The one thing I was good at? Speaking English. I’d learned it through watching cartoons and people started paying compliments, for the first time ever. It stuck. It stuck so much that although I was practically catatonic in class during college, too scared to raise my hand, once I got to my master’s classes, taught in English, people had a hard time shutting me up.

So there’s an emotional connection with this language. When I’m tense or feel uncomfortable in social situations, I notice I drop some English words mid-conversation. My cool factor hasn’t increased since kindergarten, in case you were wondering.

Speaking in English is almost like a safety blanket at this point. I saw people responded to it, so I did my best to learn it proficiently. And you bet your ass I bust out those four syllable words in an argument.

 

Publishing’s not exactly dead in my country, but…

It’s in a slump. The recession hit us hard, guys. The book market is down 40% from 2007 and only worth about 60 million Euros, according to the latest stats. The bulk of that market is taken up by coloring books and tearjerker novels. I write neither. Compare that to the 24 billion market in the US, and you get a (not so) pretty picture.

There’s also a very complex problem relating to distribution, retailers, and Romanians’ spending habits, which I won’t get into. Suffice it to say I did my research when I decided I wanted a writing career and found the national possibilities lacking for my particular goals.

Not to mention the fact that a large part of the novels written here aren’t my style. They veer a bit too close to the literary genre for me, and I knew I’d have a hard time selling my fun, upbeat novels on the Romanian market. The revenues are also abysmal.

Why am I sharing all these facts? Because if you, like me, want a writing career and you’re not from the US, you need to do your research, too. Don’t make a rash decision based on overseas success stories and the glitz and glamour of overnight bestsellers. Know your own market before even considering a new one.

 

My genres work best in a US market

Know thy writing style. Mine doesn’t have a literary bend, for example. I write fun and quirky YA contemporary, and have an obsession with SF, which are more commercial genres. At least the way I write them. I decided early on which market would be best for my preferences. Not that the US market is only made up of commercial books, but it is more forgiving than the market in my own country.

I know some of my friends and professors will stick up their noses at my genres, but I really, really don’t care. I save all of my pretentiousness for my films, and even then I try to tone it down. The idea that only highbrow art is worthwhile and valuable is something that I’ve fought against my entire life and will continue to do so even when I lose all my teeth and get that lisp back. A film or a book can make you think and change your paradigm while also being entertaining. End of discussion (for now, I feel a blog post on this coming in the near future).

 

That’s the short version of it, anyway. There are a TON of other facts that went into this decision, but, ultimately, I had to figure out early on what would work for me and my career goals. Like I said, it’s not for everyone. But if you’re like me and want to make the leap into writing in English, I’m always here to answer any questions.

publishing, writing

OFFICIALLY PUBLISHED

(Originally posted in 2015)

If you’re in the mood for a steamy read and a little Christmas cheer, look no further than this year’s Fuse Publishing romance anthology, THE STOCKINGS WERE HUNG.

And you know what the best part is? The profits will be donated to the UNHCR, the UN agency leading and coordinating international action to protect refugees.

Yours truly has a sexy Christmas story

giphy
Source: media.giphy.com/media

One of the goals I set for myself in 2015 was to get something published (not self-published, because I’ve decided a long time ago that isn’t an avenue I want to pursue right now – or maybe ever). And I’m glad I took this step for such an amazing cause.

ramblings, writing

“REAL WRITERS”

Current mood:

annoyed-dogSource: barkpost.com/shiba-proves-whining-everything-life

 

If you’re in the writing community–or got dragged into a conversation about Puşkin–you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “real writers”.

The elusive expression that leaves writers in silent tears and online bullies with a sense of purpose in their lackluster lives.

Well, I got dragged into such a conversation by accident. Video games led to films inspired by video games (anybody else excited for the Warcraft film?) which inevitably led to books. Right around this moment in our impromptu online discussion, a French gent proudly exclaimed that one can consider himself a “real writer” if, and only if, they reach the NYC* list.

First place.

At least two weeks in a row.

*And yes, he actually thought it was NYC, not NYT. In which case, maybe I misunderstood the whole ten minute monologue?

Now, when I meet ignorant people on the interwebs, my strategy is to either ignore the dormant troll in them, or to push back. I was getting ready for the second option when said gent mentioned he was actually writing a book (“or maybe memoir, je ne sais pas”) about his life–love life, I might add–and that he’d reach that list in the next five years.

Well, my good man, I wish you all the best. I do. That’s a kind of ambition I’m scared to encourage in myself.

But I realized that some writers have a very grave misunderstanding of what a writer is. I only have two rules, which seem to be echoed around the writing community.

Writers:

  • Write
  • Strive to get better at it

That’s it. If you only write for writing’s sake and you think you’re mankind’s gift to the ignorant masses, that’s a problem that needs to be taken down a peg or two. If you only want to get better without, you know, actually doing the work, that’s a problem you, and you alone, need to deal with.

If you manage to follow those two rules, you’re golden. You’re a writer. Can’t wait to read your work.

And please, please don’t let your worth be dictated by arbitrary goals. As a nifty Google search will tell you, the NYT bestseller list isn’t the most reliable. And never, ever forget that a lot of amazing books don’t get agented/published/millions of copies.

And just like I thought the gent’s opinion was pretentious crap, you’re free to view my take on this topic in the exact same way.

Writing Contests

HOW #PITCHSLAM HELPED ME GET MY MOJO BACK

It’s 2 am and I don’t know if I can do this story justice. I’ll try.

For those unfamiliar with #PitchSlam, I’ll try and break down the rules for you (or you can, you know, check out this link: http://llmckinney.com/pitch-slam/).

Pitch Slam is a writing contest where aspiring writers enter a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of their (finished and edited) manuscript. A panel of judges (made up of other writers and absolutely amazing people), choose the finalists and agents browse through the entries and ask for sample pages.

Sounds pretty standard until this point, yes?

But what truly differentiates Pitch Slam from any other contest I encountered is the incredible support the community offers. This year’s edition even had a feedback round (which I missed, because I found out about the contest one day before the final deadline), where the judges offer advice on the pitch/250 words AND writers can then resubmit their work for the final judging phase.

Not enough? The #PitchSlam feed was constantly full of encouragement from everyone – finalists, writers, judges (even the occasional agent). We supported each other, laughed, came together for a common goal. Each one of us is in the same boat and wants to get to the same place. Instead of ignoring each other or showing off, we gushed over our favourite entries and lurked on the feed at the weirdest hours.

You know how they say writers are bitter people who prey on each other? Those people need just a half hour amidst us Pitch Slam-ers to see the reality. And some chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better.

And that atmosphere, more so than the finalist title (go #TeamDoubleAgent), made me want to keep writing. If judges and competitors can take time off from their busy life to say a couple of nice things per day, then there’s still hope.

On a side note, I got a partial request from an agent. Yey me! But I won’t give too much info about that.

There was only one thing this experience lacked – some of my favourite entries didn’t get a single request. I know some manuscripts work better in a standard querying process and I’m sure all of them will find representations soon. But I wanted all of us to have a success story in the competition.

With that being said, my confidence has sky-rocketed. Somebody thought my entry was worthy of a second glance. A writer can’t ask for more in the first stages of his/her career.

Thank you, Pitch Slam. You gave me the boost I needed.

thank.you

ramblings, writing

BAD BLOGGER, DECENT WRITER

The past month has been beyond hectic. A new word needs to be invented (where art thou, Shakespeare?’) to fully describe how frantic I’ve been every waking hour trying to finish a project.

So I had a decision to make. Either I’d write a blog post every week, or I’d spend time working on my next novel.

Guess which one won?

As a writer, I have my priorities. As a former advertising student, I am ashamed of my lack of blogging. There, I said it. Past me is shaking her head and her chopped bangs are getting in the way of her glare.

And, unfortunately, the next month looks exactly the same. One good thing came out of this – I’ve been munching on almonds every day while I’ve been glued to my computer (eating normal meals is for the weak!!!) and my skin looks amazing. And the good news is that I won’t ever have to go through this again. Yey adult me!

‘Till next time.

ramblings, writing

LOSE A FILE -> CRY -> PURSUE YOUR DREAMS

I have been writing on and off since my noisy teenage years and the discovery of a magical realm called fan fiction. Most cloudy days meant one, two, five more pages – different ships, OTPs and unlikely couples have been stored in my computer and on various websites.

The transition between “She inhaled deeply; there was no way she would get out of this” to slightly better prose made me want to start writing original fiction. My readers encouraged it and offered to beta for me.

Sure, why the hell not. If countless others did it, why couldn’t I?

Well, as it turned out, I wasn’t the next Neil Gaiman, no matter how much my dedicated betas tried to convince me otherwise. After the first ‘novel’ was finished, I immediately started editing it – that’s what professional writers do, right? Right? Big mistake. I wasted close to one year trying to make something worthwhile of it; problem was, even I didn’t want to read it. Yes, it was that bad.

So, after few months of not writing a single page, I tried again. And again. And again. Let me tell you, so many Red Bulls were consumed during those long nights, I wonder how the hell my heart’s not sounding like a race horse.

I didn’t show any of my later work to anyone. I thought writing for my own personal pleasure was enough.

It wasn’t.

Fast forward to more than 12 months ago. I had been gnashing my teeth trying to decide whether I should nix a character or not (I shouldn’t have created him in the first place, but that’s a conversation for another time). As I was cursing every deity binge-reading Wikipedia had made me aware of, the power went off; that tends to happen way more often than is legal where I’m from.

Okay, fine. No problem. I already had the flashlight ready and was craving some leftover pancakes anyway.

When I came back to my computer, which had restarted by itself, my pancake-filled mouth dropped. Guess what? My document – my 100-plus pages with two of my best characters so far – were gone, only leaving a temp file behind.

After the initial crisis, more swearing, so many tissues I thought I was single-handedly responsible for at least a quarter of deforestation in my area, I calmed down.

It wasn’t such a waste, now was it? The half-finished piece didn’t have a deadline or anything; nobody was waiting for it. No agent, no editor, no publisher shaking his/her head at me.

No one…

Huh…that….that disappointed me more than it should have. And yet, there I was, trying to recover a useless file that had no future.

Not exactly the stuff of legend here.

Basically, a power outage, my desperation, and a devious file (that I still can’t find) finally made me realize I was missing something – recognition.  I wanted my hobby to become a career.

It’s not exactly the stuff of legends, but it’s true. Would I have made the same decision without the incident? Probably. Would it have taken me a few more years? Definitely.

So thank you, inebriated power plant workers; thank you, my desperately-in-need-of-an-upgrade computer; thank you all.

Here I am today, trying to bring a story to life.

I’m coming for you, readers.

PS: If anybody knows where the gif is from (film, video, TV ad), please let me know. I want to see more of this badass woman.