Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Going On the Offensive (an IWSG post)

I'm not one for all of that resolution stuff or making lists of goals or any of that stuff. I figure I'm going to do something or I'm not and making a "resolution" isn't going to change that. If I make any kind of list at all, it's only so that I don't forget things (and I'm not really the best at those kinds of lists, either), so don't look at this post as some sort of New Year's resolution thing; it's not. In fact, the idea for this post has been sitting in my notes since October, and I've been thinking about it for longer than that, but this seems about as good a time as any to get on with it.

First, this is likely to be my last IWSG post. Unless something just grabs me and tells me "I am an IWSG post!" it will be. To a large extent (and I've talked about this before), it's because IWSG is completely misnamed. There is no actual support in or from this group. It's an encouragement group, and there's nothing wrong with that other than that it should call itself that. Encouragement says "Good job!" and "You can do it!" and this group is all about those things. Support does more than it says (things like buying indie books and reviewing them rather than only ever talking about the big, mainstream traditionally published stuff), and it's rare to find other indie authors doing things that support indie authors.
Sorry (not sorry), it's just the truth.
Oh, and sporting links and announcements for books you haven't read is also encouragement not support. Yeah, I know some of you are disagreeing with that, but, really, how many people do you expect to buy a book when what you're doing is this:
"Hey! Buy this book that I haven't read and am never going to read! I'm sure it's good because this person I (sort of) know wrote it."
That amounts to "good job" and "I believe in you," not actually doing anything that supports the author.

Disclaimer: Yes, some of you out there do do the actual support things, but there aren't very many of you, and you don't do it because of IWSG. It's just something you do.

Which brings me to what is the point of this post: being more offensive. Yes, there is the part of the title that is going on the attack, and I mean that, too, but a lot of it has to do with not holding back anymore. Conventional wisdom is all about how "we" shouldn't be controversial or do things that could alienate readers or... whatever. It's all about the things we don't say and never speaking our actual minds because we might offend someone. Well, screw that.

Okay, before you screw that, let me be clear about something: I'm not talking about using "honesty" as a tool to be mean to someone. That's just being mean no matter how many people try to tell you it's just "brutal honesty." Those people suck and are liars. There's a difference between saying:
"This manuscript is full of grammar and punctuation issues." (truth) and
"This is the biggest piece of trash I ever read." (brutal honesty)
You should never resort to "brutal honesty" (unless it's at Snow Crash or Peter Jackson). Or unless you're talking about people in general, because general people are pretty stupid.
So, okay, if you're going to be brutally honest just own it and say you're being mean or something. I mean, seriously, I'd really appreciate the opportunity to be brutally honest with Peter Jackson.

All of that said, very often people are offended by the truth, but you should never let the fear of someone's offense stop you from saying the truth, even if that truth is only your own truth. And, really, despite what I was just saying about Peter Jackson, there's a difference between speaking the truth and just being mean (though, with him, I'd make an exception and be mean along with my truth (give me a break, the guy sleeps in money; he can take it)).

Basically, you can expect to see more things which could be seen to be as controversial here on the blog. Or maybe they won't be; I don't know. All I know is that I don't plan on holding back in the things I talk about anymore. Yeah, I know. Some of you out there are thinking, "He's been holding back?" Crazy, right? But it's the truth. But no more of that here!

Oh, and also...
I never really meant to have a schedule here on StrangePegs, not when I started, but I developed one after tracking patterns of page views. I settled into what seemed to be the optimal days. No more of that either! Yeah, that's right out the window. I'm just going to be posting whenever I feel like it from now on, so you'll have to be paying attention, I suppose. That is if you stick around to be offended in the first place. Being on a blogging schedule, though, has been being confining. For a while, now, actually, so it's just time to move on from that. The blogging is not the writing and, when it starts getting in the way of the writing, you have to get rid of it.
Not the blog, just the schedule.

All right [And, just by the way, that's the correct way to spell "all right;" it's two words, not one, so quit putting "alright" in your manuscripts.], there you have it. Changes and stuff that just so happen to coincide with the new year, but, hey, as much as I like all (most) of you writer types, you're really not my target audience. I can tell by my sales. Which is not to say that I want you to go away, but I have to start appealing to, well, to people who just read.
Or pissing them off.
Or something.
I guess we'll see how it goes.


  1. Sorry you won't continue with the IWSG. Perhaps it is just encouragement, but Insecure Writer's Encouragement Group just doesn't have the same ring to it.

    1. Alex: I feel like I need to move away from posts that are aimed at other writers. It's not a good marketing strategy.

  2. We can't change the name because I finally got it right in my head. For the longest time I switched it around "ISWG" = InSecure Writers Group. Yep, I'm an idiot.

    As far at the truth, well, truth hurts sometimes. But, it is a learning experience is it not? I'd rather be told the truth than force fed a lie. How will I learn to grow and change if all I'm being told is how fantastic I am? I won't. I'll become stagnant and stagnation sucks.

    I think it's all about how it's delivered though. Like you said, there's no need to be brutal. You can get the message across in a polite way and not crush the person.

    Oh, and schedules? I did the same thing. I threw mine out the window. When I want to post, I post. Even on the low traffic days. People will read me or they won't. No biggie. I'd rather post when I have time to comment. If that's not on a Monday, so be it.

    1. Elsie: I'm not even talking about critiques and stuff; that was just an example. It's more about topics.

  3. Yes, we should just call it "being mean" because Thumper pretty much had it right. I think everyone has a different perspective of the world and life, and what one person's honest opinion (because that's all it is) would be completely off base for another person. Regardless, they balance each other out in the end. Theoretically. Unless you stumble into a den of "honest people" (aka, haters). And actually, alright has become accepted in English circles. There are different times and different uses in which both spellings are accepted. (My, this evolving language... But hey, etymology proves language is constantly changing.)

    1. Crystal: Hmm... Well, things aren't always just opinion. And that's not an opinion. 2+2 is always 4.
      And "alright" is always a misspelling. At least for right now. It's not an accepted usage. Not in any actual English circles, maybe amateur ones.
      That said, sure, it could one day be accepted, but, right now, "all right" is -always- the correct option.

  4. Fun post as usual. So much that you've said here that I can comment on but it would probably make as much sense for me to write about 50 or so posts on your topics on my own blogs. You sure know how to get those rusty brain cogs cranking.

    Firstly though, I've kind of always seen the IWSG moniker to be somewhat satirical in a New Agey pop psychology sort of way. I think you're right about "support" in the sense that you're looking at it, but the way I see this it's more about moral support--or encouragement or whatever--to keep us upbeat and just unload mental or emotional crap or whatever strikes us.

    Personally I like to play with the concept and use it for my own purposes. I'm not thrilled with reveling in my insecurities or listening to anyone else whine about their own. I can understand that you might want to stop posting these as it can become a repetitious topic as insecurities often can remain very similar from one month to the next. I prefer to think of it all as a creative challenge to come up with something relevant or at the very least newly stupid. But, yeah, I can see a revolving door of my own same themes and it can be tough to keep things novel (almost as difficult as it is for me to finish a novel, but I digress in my insecurity).

    Anyway, maybe I need to go to my blog calendar and whip up some ideas from your post for my future posts. I can add them to the couple hundred that are already there (or should that be all ready?--now I'm confused which is certainly nothing new).

    So be mean, controversial, vicious. funny, snarky (oh, how I hate that word!)---keep us fired up and thought provoked. You'll turn some people off I'm sure, but you'll be interesting with brain jabs that make some run and some think. Hooray for thinking!

    Love this kind of stuff. Now I'm smiling!

    Tossing It Out

    1. Lee: Well, I'm glad I made someone smile.
      And I hate snarky, too. It's one of those words that doesn't mean what people think it means and is constantly used incorrectly.

      As for the IWSG posts, it's more about audience than content. I don't think I've hit repetition with them, yet, but I really need to get away from posts aimed at other authors. I think, at this point, even once a month is too much.

  5. "because general people are pretty stupid" you had me laughing on that one, and THANK YOU for clearing the "All right" mystery, it seemed as if I'm the only one writing it hat way and so sometimes so I don't look odd I wrote the one word, but no more of that fellow :)

    1. Haneen: There's actually a lot of research to back up the general stupidity of people as a group, especially when grouped. So it's funny, but it's funny because it's true.

  6. The world of painting/gaming is very different from the general blogosphere. You can post whenever you want and people show up and are kind. We have a code of conduct that is understood. We exist simply to share the hobby with each other.

    We all have forums that are specific to our area of interest. The forums are where we go to get honest critiques. And those are brutally honest and are welcomed by us. Blogger isn't the place for that and hard line critiques are considered offensive and are not tolerated.

    I will say this about your idea of honesty. It can come off as arrogance born of a deep seeded psychological insecurity. A secure person does not need to proclaim their superiority by correcting others in their chosen field publicly. A secure dominant animal never does that. Only an insecure dominant animal engages in those behaviours. Alex for example is successful. He leads with quiet confidence because he is secure in himself. You can court controversy if you will, but you may find yourself shouting into a void.

    When I come to blogger it is to get a respite from the brutality of the real world. And that is my honesty.

    1. Anne: Here is my honesty:
      Sometimes when you comment on my posts, I wonder what it was that you actually read, because what you say has nothing to do with what I wrote.
      And, yes, I see your insinuation that I'm insecure, and that's a lot of rubbish. Also, you have no idea what you're talking about in relation to dominant animals. Seriously, take a look at the animal kingdom and how the dominant member of a pack treats those beneath him. Those animals are NOT insecure, but they will put other members in their place before the other member even knows what is happening.
      Not that any of what I said in my post has to do with that.
      Because none of what I said in my post has to do with going around and correcting people. If you're inferring that from my example of grammar corrections, I used that example because this is a "writing" post. The actual topic of my post has to do with topics, which I think is pretty evident.
      So, you know, if I want to talk about gun control, I will do that without worrying about which of my readers I might offend.

      Also, honesty, I think the term you were looking for is "deep-seated."

  7. Okay so I too am going to be honest with my reply. First, I think this is my favorite post that you have ever put on here. I guess I'm just drawn to all this honesty, because it's actually how you feel. I'm on board with that. And second, I can't really find much to disagree with here. Keeping a blog schedule is mostly done to have consideration to regular readers but I get the whole I'm going to blog whenever I want to thing. It's probably a breath of fresh air. Bravo to you, sir.

    1. Michael: I agree with you about the schedule thing, which is why I've tried to keep to one, but keeping to the schedule has been getting in the way of doing other writing and, well, no one is paying me to blog. I'm just re-prioritizing, and blog writing has to come behind fiction writing.

      And, thanks, by the way.

  8. Luckily, your blog is in my reader, so I don't have to worry about missing a post. Good luck with your changes. Writers are supposed to use social media to connect with readers, but most of us (myself included) just use it to connect with other writers. Which isn't bad, but doesn't do much for our books.

    The fact that you use "all right" makes me want to jump for joy.

    1. Jeanne: Well, then, you should jump for joy. Get up and do it. Yes, now. Jump! Again! Jump! Jump!
      Now, didn't that feel good?

  9. I don't mind controversial. I started my blog a long time ago just to have a Name to comment on blog posts I found interesting. I don't self publish, nobody in the blogs reads my publications, and yeah, I blog encouragement because I'm a whiny bitch most of the time and want to be someone else on a regular basis.

    Honesty is ok. Go for it Dude. Alright?

    1. dolorah: I tend to think that if you want to be someone else that you should become that person you want to be. Yeah, that's much more easily said than done, but it's that kind of mindset that got me to writing in the first place.

  10. Did you just link back to yourself on your own post? That is so meta.

    I love rocking the boat. Brandon and I have both agreed that we need to offend people more. Needless to say, I love this post.

    I couldn't agree with you more about the promo stuff, and that's one of the things that absolutely kills me about the blogosphere, especially with other writers. Every writer wants to sell their own books, which is fine, but they don't want to buy and support the books of others, which then creates this infinite loop of half-assed promo leading to half-assed sales.

    Example: Author Bob wants to sell his book, but he won't buy any of his friends' books. He'll only "support" them by posting a very half-assed, "Here's a book I haven't read, but it's written by a blogger I know, so check it out!" That leads to approximately zero sales for his friends, because no one cares about those posts.

    Then, suddenly, Author Bob wants to market his next book. He reaches out to all of his blog friends, but since Author Bob never bought any of his friends' books, all of his friends just post the very same half-assed, "Here's a book I haven't read, but it's written by a blogger I know, so check it out!" ... which also leads to zero sales. And then everyone idiocally wonders why blog promo doesn't work.

    I mean, what do people expect? That doesn't work in the real world, so why would that work in the blogosphere?

    "Hi, I'm NFL great Peyton Manning, and I've heard that the new Subaru Outback is great. I haven't driven it, and I've only barely glanced at the exterior. I can't even tell you what kind of engine it has or if it gets good gas mileage. But you should buy it, because I'm kinda friends with a guy who works at the Boulder Subaru dealership."

    Dear people reading this: the only way this whole Indie thing is gonna work is if we all support each other. Yes, you probably think your book is the exception to the rule and is better than everyone else's, so you don't need to buy the books of others. Sorry to break it to you, but it's not. There's a LOT of talent out there, and the only way it's going to be seen is if we actually support each other.

    Paying lip service doesn't f***ing count.

    1. ABftS: I did! I feel like I have to do that every so often just because it's fun.
      And, heh, I agree with you agreeing with me.
      I think we're going to have a metapocalypse.

  11. I love this post! And that is my honest opinion.
    .."very often people are offended by the truth, but you should never let the fear of someone's offense stop you from saying the truth, even if that truth is only your own truth"...Stand still! I can see it on a tshirt! lol!
    I got sick of worrying about offending people a while back. My goal in my writing is usually to give people something to laugh about, or at, and worrying about the offense someone might take is not something that enters into it. What people are offended by is none of my business.

    I haven't done a IWSG post for probably a year or something like it.
    When I started participating in IWSG I thought it would be something that it didn't turn out to be. I was seriously expecting actual support for and from actual writers...I would have made mention of it being a let down if it had occured to me...instead I did a very Canadian thing, and just let it go without a mention as to why. I'm probably stupid too, along with most other people!

    1. Eva: See, I wonder how many other people have felt the same way about IWSG.

      And I have never worried about offending people I'm standing in front of, so to speak. I only started "worrying" about when I thought it might affect my readership, but I've decided that that really doesn't matter.