Monday, August 25, 2008

Information Overkill

You know, since I haven't written in my blog in close to a month, several ideas squirmed around in my brain itching to barf all over a blog. But, I choked them back and honed in on a topic brought up in a post I read today at another blog.

The poster stated that they'd read something that made them feel gloomy. I imagine it was an article about the publishing business, because Publishers Marketplace Lunch was mentioned.

I've never read the aforementioned mag. These days I limit my knowledge base to reading only Writers Digest. Oh, I know that seems extremely narrow-based of me, but sometimes too much of something really is a bad thing. At least it was for me. I used to surf the internet, read blogs about writing, the publishing industry, agent blogs and the like, but I found myself so saturated with information that I let it remove the joy of writing.

Too much how-to, how-not-to, what to say, what not to say, here's what so-and-so market wants, was too much. After three years of immersing in it all, I was ready to vomit on my manuscripts because every time I thought I was writing the next Greatest Read, I'd read a blog, article, or other informative smack and BAM! my writing went down the toilet. It got diluted, turned into drivel like yesterday's gruel.

What fun is there in writing with a focus on "what's hot?" None as far as I'm concerned. I've come to realize that by the time I finish my absolutely fabulous manuscript, send it around to the lucky agents dying from reading all those "what's hots" they'll see mine and say, "Hot damn! Something fresh! Let's sign this girl up pronto!"

So if I let every article, blog, etc., influence what I'm writing like I have been, I'll never see the lights of New York City. I'll be chasing my own tail trying to keep up with all the how-to, what-not-to-do, don't stop at Go and collect $200.00.

To me it's important to keep it real based on my interpretation of reality - and reality is different for everyone. And to let those somewhat negative articles/blogs have their way with me just ain't gonna happen.

I already allowed that to happen. It's one reason I sunk to new lows and drifted away from blogging for a bit. It was implosion time - I was eying the straight edge, just one slice away from the pearly gates. And then I woke up one morning (after griping, whining, etc. to my hubby) and mysteriously felt better. I like to think that by unloading on my hubby, the Universe listened, too, and ran to my rescue.

And do you know what? Strangely on the day I was starting to feel that "pink cloud" of euphoria, I received notice that I placed FIRST in the Single Title category of a writing contest (The San Francisco Area RWA's Heart to Heart). Stranger than that, I had forgotten I entered. I'm viewing it as an unexpected gift, or maybe it was a sign from the Universe telling me that I'm going to be a-okay, to get off my ass and be the fabulous writer that I am.

Too much information about publishing and all the other do-dads of writing mucked up my days. Now I take small bites because I think it's important to sniff around and stay up on the latest what-nots. Writers Digest once a month - that's all I need. That's all I'm allowing myself. And if too little information keeps me out of the game, so be it. Better to keep my personal edge than eye the straight one.

Thoughts, remarks? Too much information good or bad?


Caryn Caldwell said...

YES!!! I have felt exactly the same way sometimes. Reading too much about the industry not only takes time away from writing -- which the main ingredient to getting published, after all -- but sometimes I end up on information overload and feel like I'm not doing anything right. Then I freeze up. Yes, it's good to know about structure and craft, and to have an eye on the industry, but the main focus should always be the writing.

Oh, and once again, congratulations on your first place entry. I am SO pleased for you. I have no doubt it is more than well-deserved, and it's definitely a sign that you're on the right track. Write on!

Kath Calarco said...

Caryn, thanks for the congrats! Truly, I'm still stunned that I placed...FIRST!

You are so right about losing writing time to spending too much on keeping up with the information highway. Precisely what you said - writing is the main ingredient to publication. It's important to know the craft, but it's more important to have the time to spend on it.

And I'm so with you on the freezing up. I can't tell you how often I thought I had just written something brilliant, to thereafter read something on "the trends" and thought my stuff was total crap.

Yep, I'm sticking to Writers Digest once a month.

Robin said...

First off, congratulations for placing first in the Heart to Heart contest! Woot! I'm so happy for you!

I feel the same way you (and Caryn) do in regards to reading about the industry. It's mind boggling how much information is out there, and it's easy to let it seep into your mindframe in a negative, rather than positive way - at least for me. I'm hard on myself without having any external influence so I've lessened the blogs and published material I read too. I've just got to write.

Happy writing!

Kath Calarco said...

Robin, thank you for the congrats. Who knew I'd ever see the tumblers fall in my favor. I just hope it continues.

I'm a true believer in "less is more." The less I read about the publishing industry, the more I'm going to write.

Anonymous said...

Hell yeah!! Information overload is NEVER a good thing.

I've heard so many writers say that writing is a solitary craft. Like that's a bad thing. If I need information about the publishing world, I know where to get it. That's good enough. I don't needd to go there every single day like I'm going to miss something important. If so, I'm not spending enough time writing like I should be.

Not so much the contest win, but the fact that you forgot about it, tells me you're on the right path. When you get to the point where writing consumes every moment of your day, it's time to take a step back and learn how to live again.

You go with your bad self! ;-)

Edie said...

Congratulaions, Kathy!!!! That's fabulous!

I think there's information overload. I'm No Mail on most of my loops. I'm thinking of dropping one group I'm on and not getting a lot from. But I do get a lot of great info from the RWA AskAnAuthor loops, and some of the classes are great.

Kath Calarco said...

Marcia, I am going with my bad self, and maybe take a few bad friends along for the ride.

Writing is a solitary event. Seriously, how many people does it take to write your story? I thing it's good to have someone whose judgment you value read your stuff before you submit it around, but for me, just one additional pair of eyes works.

Kath Calarco said...

Edie you found me! LOL Thanks for the congrats. I was so completely bowled over by it, you have no idea.

I think that as far as too much overload is concerned, I think it's best to stick to the sources you've relied on in the past and that have worked out best for you.