Guest Post By a Non-Fiction Writer
The previous parts of this series on Marketing Fiction in a Changing World are indexed here:
Here is an account of the experiences of a very creative person who found that fiction just was not the right venue of expression for her.
When she redirected her creativity to non-fiction, she had a different experience.
I fell into writing for a living.
I was in a chat room, and a "Famous Writer" dared me to submit a story to an anthology he was editing. I did so, and the story made the cut.
So did the next four stories I submitted to various anthologies. I know it is not the norm to have four sales before your first rejection, but there it was. I had the sales.
Having the sales meant I was a baby pro writer. I was working in a field that is open to fans becoming pros - often with the mentorship of pros who had once been fans.
I next worked on expanding one of the short stories into a novel. That didn't work, even with the wonderful mentorship of Ms. Lichtenberg. The failure was mine. I wrote myself into a corner that I still - 20 years later - have not been able to resolve.
The thing is, I never felt comfortable writing in the sf/fantasy field. I did not have a lot of spontaneous ideas to write about. Inspiration did not come in a flash. I was not given to the "What if...?" that seemed to spark for many of my colleagues.
If an editor gave me an assignment, I could run with it, but left to my own devices, ideas were few and far between.
I did not stop writing, though. I went through copywriting for various websites, and I started my first blog. That blog was about financial basics and recovering from personal debt.
Over the course of that blog on personal finance, I found that my meter was blogging; I was an essayist by natural talent.
Here is an example of a blog reprinted to LinkedIn.
If I Ran the Zoo…(Just how important are proper spelling and grammar, anyway?)
This is a repost of a blog entry I wrote on 21 Aug 2008 in my very first blog, "The Dangling Conversation."
I continued to blog until about two years ago, when health issues interrupted my life. At the time I had to stop, I had four separate blogs, each of which was gaining in subscribers and views.
And here is one from my blog titled, "Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian"
I have not forgotten the satisfaction I got from writing essays. I am still working at regaining my health, but I find that the urge to blog again is rising. Writing in your own voice is one of the most satisfying things you can do. It may or may not bring financial rewards. It will definitely bring authenticity to your work.
Writing in your own voice is taking responsibility for what you put into the world. It is one of the most powerful things that you can do as a writer.
For me, it is the only way I can go forward.
Think about Deb Wunder's experience as you decide what is the best vehicle for what you have to say. It might not be fiction.
That is the flip side of the commentary I developed in Part 17 of this series on Marketing Fiction in a Changing World
Non-fiction is a much more lucrative field than fiction in any variety (except perhaps TV or film), and the work in non-fiction is apt to be much more steady.
Journalism is still a growing, thriving field, even though news printed and distributed on paper is a dying industry. Even with blogging and online newspapers, someone has to go out there and get the story, and bring the facts to the public. Someone has to think about the maze of conflicting information and suggest ways to group information so readers can craft a personal opinion. Someone has to know that not everything posted to the internet is actually true.
Even today, the best fiction is ripped from the news headlines -- not always the news of today, but news.
"News" is pretty much defined as facts that require changing your opinion.
In Romance novels, the fact that comes to light requiring a change of opinion is the possibility of a serious Relationship.
"I'll never marry!" changes to "Well, but maybe I have to re-think that."
Meeting someone, discovering the fact of their existence, an impossible-to-imagine person who is real and standing right in front of you -- that is NEWS. It changes everything, perhaps even your own identity.
So, while creativity might be a prime element in a person's character, he or she might not be a fiction writer. Creativity is necessary for ascertaining facts - as one must first imagine what questions to ask, where to look for missing facts. Creativity is necessary for compiling facts into a narrative that makes sense of the world. And after the sense of that narrative is established, creativity is necessary for formulating usable opinions.
At heart, a fiction writer is not all that different from a non-fiction writer. They are not incompatible fields. But each writer will find one, or the other, or some combination is the best vehicle to showcase their creativity.