The list of attendees for Bouchercon 2017 is up. (http://bouchercon2017.com/attendees/)
The Schedule is also starting to shape up. I know I’ll be there from Friday PM to Sunday and will keep you posted on developments as soon as I get any.
See you there and take care,
Here’s another one of those guest posts I did for my blog tour. The experience was disappointing in terms of reach and sales. But I had put my heart into these posts, so I’m taking them back (*FTW*).
Globalized Culture: How Our Languages Are Changing.
One issue that came up when we were editing A Teenage Suicide was the language I used. It was something that had come up also when I was still in college, workshopping stories and chapters. I come from Montreal. I was born there. I was raised there and it is as “problematic” as it is interesting. (I would also argue it’s part of the city’s appeal)
I was born a francophone but grew up pretty much bilingually. Like most (young) people in this city, I speak two to three languages and try to pick up a little bit of everything as I meet people from around the world. That includes a bit of Spanish, Japanese and I even became friends with a Persian women who speaks Farsi. That means that my English (and French, it is true) is deeply “tainted” by the other languages I encountered all my life.
It’s a well-known fact that languages in Montreal have a specific flavour. Think of it as the difference when you hear someone from New-Orleans or Dublin speak. If they are doing it right, you should know exactly where they are (or aren’t) from. Montreal is just the same in both French and English: you can hear it.
If you look at the history of immigration to Montreal, the story is similar to that of the Eastern US. The first nations were there, settlers from Europe came in and took the best lands. Of course, we had French settlers first and the US had British and Dutch settlers, but once that seven-year war was done, Britain shipped as many Irish and Scotts to Canada as they did the Us. Then came the Italians, the Portuguese, the Jews, Germans and Poles. A lot of escaped slaves settled in Canada, including Montreal, the same way a lot of them settled in the Northern states. Of course, you add to that the wave of Haitian immigrants and the more recent ”global” waves of Asian, African and Latino immigrants, I think we have diversity pretty much nailed.
What that means is that Montreal is a breeding ground for mixing language and I believe it is a laboratory for the globalisation of languages. I have heard the term “Hybridity” in college quite a few times. When you mix so many heritages together, what comes out has the potential to become a new language entirely, a lot like what Creole is to French. If I hear two Haitians speaking in Creole, I will understand a lot of what they say, but not everything. It has become another language over time. This will also happen to English as the cultures of the world collide. Languages will continue to influence one another, expand their vocabulary, change their syntax and integrate regional slangs.
It is probably true that my English could “feel” strange but I don’t see it that way and I know most people in Montreal don’t see it that way either. As far as using “Montreal English” to write a novel, some people hate it, some people love it. The bottom line is that the way I write represent where I live and I certainly am not the first author to do so (I could cite David Fennario and Mordecai Richler as influences)
On my island, the important thing is not necessarily to speak or write “properly” in general grammar terms, but to be understood within a large diversity of accents and languages. For example, when I play in the park with my daughter, there are parents there who are Scottish, Irish, Québécois and British (the “original” four) but also more and more Latinos, French (from France, which is no longer the same as Québécois in terms of language), People from all regions of Europe, Algerians, Tunisians and of course, Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese and Torontonians…
We all pretty much speak French and English and somehow we all understand each other at the end of the day. I think that says something about the future of cultural relations in the world. Of course it is complex, but it is also interesting and if you have any respect for mankind, you know that the human brain is capable of figuring it all out if you train it a little, there’s plenty of hope for the future.
While it’s still true that most Irish are in the south-west, most Italians are in the East, most Haitians are in the North, the Jews are in Outremont (center) etc… the linguistic divide that used to exist in the city is no longer real and it’s incredibly interesting. In Montreal you can meet a girl named Laurie Murphy who dosen’t speak English and a girl named Sarah Deshaies who’s an Anglo journalist. The fringe festival even seriously considers putting a “Montreal Franglais” category next year. Language hybridity is a significant movement, and again, it is incredibly interesting.
I live this on a daily basis and it influences the way I write. Some of my sentences may seem odd to some readers but I didn’t want to take out this “flavor.” I didn’t want to make the novel generic so that more people could feel “comfortable” reading it. It wouldn’t have helped the story and it wouldn’t have felt truthful to me.
The bottom line is this, that whole “globalisation of cultures” thing ain’t going anywhere so you might as well get used to it right away.
Love it or don’t, it’s up to you but to be honest, I’m not gonna change the way I write in the end.
Thanks for reading,
So I wanted to be a self-published author.
I have recently graduated from Creative Writing. Hell, They haven’t even shipped my diploma yet and here I was, thinking that I was going to make the motherload in a minute. There were gonna be readings, parties, Harvey Weinstein…
But lets be realistic for a minute!
I have self-published ONE novella, which most people have not bought although I had some feedback from people who did buy it saying they liked it OH! and “you forgot some spelling mistakes in there.”
“Shit,” I told myself.
But since nothing is set in stone, I can luckily change, adapt and learn. And learn I did.
I was bummed out that I wasn’t making any real sales over this, but then I looked at some hard facts and here’s how I figured it out:
I can honestly write 1000 words an hour. If you leave me alone in a room with no one to bothe me, that is my average. Let’s say I we’ll take an average of 800 words to factor in coffee making, piss brakes and all other necessities of work (I don’t smoke, that 150 more words per minute for me). following that word/hour average, a 70 000 word novels should take me 87.5 hours to write the novel.
“But what about inspiration, preparation, research, editing.”
For inspiration : I have studied writing for year, I have received my diploma and therefore, I can be considered a “professional writer”. I no longer feel the need to expand on my own sentimentality and experiences, page after page in some self-righteous endeavour so that you can become my mommy and I get that cozy warm feeling inside that “I’m no longer alone in the world.” I am thirty fucking years old, worked warehouses and factories… I have a wife and a kid. I don’t WANT to write like that. I write stories to entertain the rest of us, and hopefully I find a balance between street smarts and shit I learned in college. Nuff said about inspiration.
So what about preparation? Look at your average novel, the chapters are between 6 to 12 pages long, the average page per chapter of Dan Brown’s Deception Point is 5,5 pages, give or take a few decimals depending which edition you read. So my own preparation goes like this: I know where I’m headed in terms of plot and characters. I find the beginning and the end. Then I figure out 30 chapters or so, plan an average of 8 pages per chapter (250 words per page) plus room for anything I’ll want to add later on… I have a 70 000 word novel you’ll pay 2.99$ for. I count maybe 10 hours for preparation, that is my objective estimate.
We are at 97.5 worked hours for a novel, not exactly a huge amount of work.
Ok, then there’s research. Most of my work so far has not required that much research. There was a time when writers had to travel and see the land, look for places, visit archives and libraries to do their research. All of that time is now spent on Wikipedia, google street view and online literary archives. I read magazines every once in a while and find inspiration there, but overall, if I need to know when Lenin died, I click on wiki… let’s say, 40 hours for research.
We are at 137.5 hours.
Editing : I counted my own re-writes in my writing time, but the more you write, the less you see your own mistakes. A good run through spell check and then a bit of self-editing, say 20 hours total. But you’ll want to get some external advice (I’ll get to that.) And then there’s publishing. You want to find a book cover editor/graphics designer. I have people I know and I am happy to work with them again. Say, a two hour meeting over a beer of coffee (hardly work).
We are at 139,5 hours. Updating blogs and facebook dosen’t count as work. (OK! OK! I’ll give you a half hour to set up the novel’s page on your wordpress account.) Total work : 140 hours.
The average work week is 40 hours, which means that if I was really working full time on my writing, I would have a brand new, edited novel every 3,5 weeks. Give it a month if you want a longer project, no overtime. That is not that much. The median income for Canadian citizens, according to wikipedia, was in 2007: 25363 if we divide that by 52, then by 40, then the median per hour income for Canadians is 12.19$.
So… say I want to reach the median income by writing novels : 140 hours * 12.19 = 1706.60$. That is the amount of money I’d need to make every month. On Kindle and Itunes etc… I get 2.09$ for every book I sell. Consider 500 dollars for cover design and editing. Publicity is mostly done on blogs or facebook…so I Need an initial sale of 240 ebooks to cover the expense, and an additional 816.55 books to cover the amount of time I spent on the novel. Once the novel is online, there is no upkeep costs.
If in MY LIFETIME I manage to sell 1057 books, I will have made more than the median wage most Canadians get.
That was a nice reminder of how we, as writers, artists or any other type of creative people, need to shut the fuck up about our situation and work harder. If writing is to be my job, then I need to punch in at the typewriter the same way I’d punch in at the factory. I can’t write full time yet but I know I will one day.
That is something great to look forward to.
My next novel is planned for May, until then, try the novella.
Thank you, Ian truman.