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Aug 14, 2011

Won't you be my neighbor?

So I'm in the process of editing my upcoming book "Scary Dead Things" and that means a break of sorts for me. Don't get me wrong, editing is far more tedious and tiring than the writing itself. However, it's like it uses a different part of my brain. While I'm in the middle of vomiting up a story, my imagination is working overtime to churn out concepts (and bad jokes). Once the editing starts, though, the ole imagination gets a vacation and the part of my brain that handles the spreadsheets and the taxes takes control. I try to never combine the two. I'm sure some writers can. I just can't. Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with the occasional multitasking, but editing one book, while trying to give birth to another...well that's just the sort of thing to cause my head to start smoking. I have enough issues with that as it is without purposely trying to douse my brain with lighter fluid.

However, this "break" does give me a chance to muse on things a bit. One such thought is on the state of this whole writing thing. While I've known for years that I love to write and that one day I'd (maybe) give the whole thing an actual go for real, I never considered how interacting with other writers would be. As a professional with well over a decade of both corporate and self-employed business experience, I had originally assumed it would be a lot like any other business: i.e. HULK SMASH COMPETITION!!

After all, if I sell air conditioners and you sell air conditioners then if I somehow manage to convince the customer that my air conditioners are better than yours (since yours are no doubt powered by the souls of all those dead puppies you keep buried in your backyard), then it's your loss. I win / you lose, ha ha and vice versa.

What a breath of fresh air it was to discover the same is not true in the writing world. Via twitter and email I've rubbed shoulders with a good many other writers, some who sell less than me and some who sell books in numbers higher than I can count to. The wonderful thing I've discovered: most of them are really cool. Maybe it's just that crazy knows crazy (writers and nuttiness go together like Kool Aid and Jonestown). Or it might be because this is one of the few businesses where competition is not a black and white thing. As a reader I can understand this. I don't pick up author A's book and discard author B's book into the trash pile, never to view it. I read one book and then move onto the next in the list, rinse and repeat. Thus who cares who gets read first as long as you're somewhere on that person's to-read list. It's like a line at an amusement park. Sure it might be long, but there's room for all of us on it. I takes the cutting out of the cutthroat aspect of the business.

In my 'other' life, I've hobnobbed with the competition at various conventions and meet and greets. No matter how friendly it gets, there's always that (insert bad Austrian accent) "I MUST DESTROY YOU!" undertone to things. How refreshing it is to step into another world where that sentiment instead becomes "It's ok if they read you first. They'll get to me eventually."

I like this. I like this very much. In fact I'm eyeing a nice little corner house in this neighborhood. I could see settling down here for a nice long while. It looks like a nice place to raise the kids, have a BBQ, and sit out on the back porch to enjoy the sunset. Oh and should you decide to move in next door I'll be there to welcome you with a friendly handshake and a batch of fresh baked cookies. The wonderful thing being: unlike in my 'other' life, these cookies won't be poisoned.

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