In Your Corner: What is Criticism & What Can It Do For Me?

The latent question lurking under the title of this post is perhaps a more honest one, but we’ll talk about honesty versus insight in a moment. You might say we’re going to spend this post looking at:

Can Criticism Be Anything Other Than A Tool Of The Snob & A Misery For Everyone Else?

But as you can see, that title is a bit too long to fit, despite feeling more accurate (to me, anyway. I suppose I’m projecting some of my fears here. Apologies if that doesn’t hold true for you!).

The last time I was in a setting where I was exposed to criticism of my writing from multiple points of view was during my last stint as a student. For many of you, that will also be true, but some of you are lucky enough to have stumbled across writing clubs and manuscript exchanges where you can get some of the same experiences outside of academia. This post is geared towards any author who is looking to develop some serious skills in giving and taking constructive criticism, however, not just those in structured group environments.

Here’s a truth:

No matter how well-prepared you are to receive it, any kind of correction or less-than-enthusiastic take on your writing can fall like a blow. The only times where this hasn’t felt true to me were when I was completely wiped out from pulling all-nighters and didn’t have the emotional capacity to take in what I was hearing. (Don’t be that person. Don’t stay up all night to get this effect! It comes with other problems. It’s not an admirable skill to cultivate.) Accept that it’s going to hurt, or feel uncomfortable, or at the very least come awkwardly.

If you relax too much, you might fall into the trap of being honest instead of insightful.

What do I mean by this? I mean that not everything is useful to hear. I’m being serious here. Not everything is useful to hear. The key to giving constructive criticism is in paying attention to both your own personal needs and to the expressed needs and wishes of your fellow writers. Don’t, for example, spend a lot of time breaking down spelling errors and grammatical issues if the author whose manuscript you’re reviewing has asked you to pay attention to plot holes and characterization. Maybe the spelling stuff can be dealt with later, or will naturally resolve itself as the author moves into his or her next draft. But it’s not something that will help that author right now, so it’s best to focus on what will.

Pro tip: when you’re the one receiving the criticism, you can’t always get people to act this way toward you … but you should always be free to lay some ground rules and boundaries for what sort of feedback you want. I’ve had professors give caveats at the beginning of every semester about how to respect and support other authors, so it’s worth approaching whoever is facilitating your group meetings and requesting this, or if you’re doing it digitally you can store some guidelines as a file on Dropbox.com or Google Docs for easy access. If your consortium is a little more casual than this, maybe take a line from Christopher Nolan’s movie, Interstellar:

 

Cooper: Hey TARS, what’s your honesty parameter?
TARS: 90 percent.
Cooper: 90 percent?
TARS: Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.
Cooper: Okay, 90 percent it is.

But look, you’re not a robot or a space-farer (probably), and you are in need of the support and guidance of your fellow authors. So how do you take part in that community in a way that produces construction (the building of something good and new) rather than a cataclysm of doubt?

Simplicity is the enemy.

Seriously, though. Saying “this story was badly written and I dislike it” is definitely critical, but it leaves no room for construction. Along the same lines, unabashed praise–“I loved it! It’s great!”–creates a similar vacuum of opportunity. A few small compliments throughout a critique may be helpful for keeping morale high, but they’re not your stock and trade. They can’t be your bread and butter, or no work will get done.

So complicate it. And ask for people to complicate their feedback, if it’s too simple.

Giving is as good as receiving, if not better.

Okay, maybe not better. But it’s important, this giving thing. Honing your critical capacities on someone else’s work–and seeing how other authors receive specific kinds of insights–will help you understand what to do with criticism when you’re on the receiving end of it … and it will also help you spot flaws in your own work before anyone else even looks at it. As other, wiser people have said: It’s one thing to develop a nagging sense that something is wrong with a work, but to be able to figure out where that sense of wrongness is coming from–character, language, plot, or something else–and then act to address it is what differentiates good authors from great authors.

 

It’s not personal.

It’s not, we promise, but it will sure feel like it is–especially if, as we mentioned earlier, someone takes a snobby approach (they’re no doubt working on some personal crisis of identity or insecurity of their own). Still, try to put aside your personal feelings, and bring an objective lens to what you’re looking at. Your manuscript and the manuscripts of others are mysteries waiting to be deconstructed and reconstructed. And even if you’re not a fan of the genre of manuscript you’re reading, you can still be useful to the author by putting your personal tastes aside and looking at the bricks and mortar of what makes for universally good storytelling.

Take notes.

Many workshops limit the author being critiqued from responding during the main critique session, but every group looks different. I’ve found that even without that restriction, simply watching and observing is more useful than trying to guide the conversation myself–if I do, I end up missing out on really useful advice I didn’t even think to consider asking for! So … take notes. It will distract you when the criticism is too pointed or your feelings too close under the surface, and it’s also just good advice for retaining detailed memories of the event. You can dispense with any advice that isn’t useful once you’re out and away from the session, or some advice might leap out to you later that didn’t in the moment. Time and distance is a great healer, no?

Lead with the positive.

Choose a handful of things the author did well–specific things–before diving into the rest of your critique. It’s also a good idea to end with a positive, for mood boosting effects. You can’t control how others do this on your work, of course, unless you make it a part of your collectively-agreed-upon rules for critiquing, as mentioned earlier. But remember, specific is vital. If you liked a character, what did you love about her? Was it her snappy dialogue, her peculiar tics and traits, or her back story as a mathematician during the Space Race that fascinated you?

Find your ideal reader(s).

Every workshop has one or two people who really know how to give good, useful, smart, and insightful constructive criticism. Latch on to those people and never let them go. Some of the people who were ideal readers while I was in college are still in touch today, and we still do good work together. There’s something symbiotic about it, of course–they get my work, and I get theirs, so the feedback goes both ways–but these people have become something more than just workshop fellows. They’ve become friends.

 

Joining a critique session is anxiety-inducing, there’s no mistake. But when everyone participates in good faith, it can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life as a writer.

“Don’t trust a mirror that only tells you how wonderful you look.”

― Matshona Dhliwayo

criticism

 

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 11/27/2015

SEASONS Part IV

 

Thomas Edison once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” This clear and truthful statement applies to every writer/author no matter what season of life we are in. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you may remember me writing about Lois Beebe Hayna. This author of poetry, fiction, essay and gardening advice will soon be 102 years young—and she continues to write and publish her poetry.

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So how do we who are much younger (yes, if you’re 92, you are much younger) encourage ourselves to keep writing? How do we avoid looking at the winter season of our lives and write for all seasons? Here are a few quotes I’ve saved to encourage myself. I hope they will encourage you, too.

  • From Laura Ingalls Wilder, who published her first novel at the age of 65:
    • “The real things [of life] haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.”
      • When my characters are arguing with me (the writer), this statement brings them in line.
  • From C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia series and Screwtape Letters, who wrote until his passing at the age of 65:
    • “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.” “Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
      • The many layers of meaning within these thoughts continue to help me create authentic characters. Plus, Lewis’ life-journey and his “collection of author-friends” is an example for all authors to consider.
  • From Alice Ann Munro, a Canadian short story author who, in 2013 at the age of 82, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature:
    • “People are curious.…They will be driven to find things out, even trivial things.” “Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind… When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.” “…if she let go of her grief even for a minute it would only hit her harder when she bumped into it again.”
      • These statements give me even deeper insights into the creation of characters and the circumstances that can be written for them—the corners to back them into.

 

After Munro received her Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy applauded her as the “master of the contemporary short story.” When asked about that statement, she gave writers further encouragement: “I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something that you played around with until you’d got a novel written.”

So it is that in closing this month’s series of Blogs on Seasons, I hope you’ve been inspired in your own writing life. Being a writer is part of our DNA and becoming the best writer we can be is a life-long process—a process that leads us to be published authors at a variety of steps along the way. ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 11/20/2015

SEASONS Part III

 

Whether our writing environment provides us with the blessing of looking out upon nature’s changing seasons or we have set up a laptop on the laundry basket next to the basement washer and dryer, we can always imagine the seasons of setting, plot, and the lives of each individual character.

I must confess that my writing space looks nothing like this beautiful illustration. It is often cluttered beyond my ability to deal with the stacks and I am forced to take-a-day and reorganize it, much to my husband’s delight. You see, he shares one side of the narrow desk in our 10×10 office and tries to demonstrate organization by keeping his side “neat” with everything in its place. However, until I discover a way to keep each of my on-going projects within easy reach (not in closet filing cabinet), my stacking system will remain. I’m one of “those” writers who allows my imagination free reign giving me the opportunity to jump from one project to another at any time of the day. When something I’m researching and/or critiquing triggers a thought relating to another project, I immediately place that piece (concept, website source, person-to-contact) with the appropriate stack.

royalene3

THERE ARE, however, as many writing space concepts as there are writers.  Following are a few that I’ve discovered are helpful to my author friends.

  • BABY BOTTLE READINESS. This space is nestled next to the rocking chair and the crib in the new baby’s corner of the family room. Whether the author is Mom or Dad, when it is their time for baby-watch, they have acknowledged that their creative ideas rarely pause during those specific hours. The “desk” can be an actual writing desk or a TV tray just as long as it provides space for pen, paper, laptop and/or tape recorder.
  • DINING ROOM/KITCHEN TABLE. One of my best friends wrote her plays while seated at her long, rustic-style family table. This space was actually added to the kitchen and designed with windows on three sides. Her view—throughout each season of the year—was of a mountain meadow, aspen and fir trees and the occasional white-tail deer family. She kept her developing projects in a box (emptied of paper reams) and cleared the table every day.
  • PET PARTNERS. Sometime soon, I suggest you do a Google search of Authors and their pets. It will make you smile! There are stories told about John Steinbeck and his standard poodle, Charley. Ernest Hemingway was a great fan of cats and “owned” several—or, rather, they owned And then there is my cat, Sadie, a tabby lady who has shared my writing days from her cushion these past eighteen years. The presence of these critters in our lives can bring about just the right amount of pause and reflection we writers need in order to grab hold of the next complete sentence and/or thought.
  • THE RETREAT or HAVEN. George Bernard Shaw built is own very private retreat, converting a tool shed into his writing space. It worked for him. However there are other get-away locations that might serve your needs. Again, do a Google search of “writing retreats.” You’ll find luxurious places in castle towers or tack-rooms in big red barns converted for the writer who enjoys the scent of horse and cattle for their inspiration.

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Bottom line…don’t hesitate to move about while developing your writing project. Becoming TOO settled, TOO comfortable in one chair or at one desk could stifle your imagination and lock you into one season of writing. ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 11/13/2015

SEASONS Part II

 

Distractions plague every writer. I’ve heard authors bemoan the frustration of an unintentional interruption that threw their story-thoughts into chaos. When I attended the Estes Park writers’ conference this past May, I learned an excellent solution to resolve this problem. Here are a few tips to keep our imaginations focused INSIDE the story.

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Research immersion:

  • Are you writing a memoir? THIS IS AN ADVENTURE that you’ll never regret! Whether looking through a box full of old photographs or reading an ancestor’s diary, researching the lives of family members who have walked this earth before us IS FUN and FACINATING. You become the investigative reporter of the people, places and events that occurred years before your birth, so when you see a photo of Great Uncle George dressed as if meeting royalty, research into his clothing (top-hat to spats) will fill in many of the details that imagination alone cannot. Follow the clues!
  • Have you become so intrigued by time period in that memoir that your imagination is flying with conjecture and answers to your “What if?” questions? There is a NOVEL brewing within.
  • Now the research will go deeper. START a new file and throw in all the data you can find about the lifestyle of each stratum of economics in that time period and place. Clip images—artist pieces and/or historical photos—and begin a visual imaginings
  • Look to other authors who have written about this period of history—and READ their books—whether they are fiction authors or historians.
  • Build your story as if you are living the life of your main character.
  • Wear his/her cloths (figuratively speaking—or literally, if you can find them in a costume shop).
  • Work IN their daily life career path.

From my high school and college days until I became serious about writing, even hearing the word “research” would send me in the opposite direction. However, being an only child, I loved to read and journey beyond my back yard to places I’d could only imagine.  My favorite novels were historical fiction and science fiction. Both are steeped in research in order to provide the authenticity and the feeling of living in that time and place. Now, what I’d learned and appreciated in my youth became a vital part of my writing life.

So, DON’T FEAR THE “R” WORD. Embrace it! Research is a friend that will support your imagination and let it fly! It will build a solid foundation for any genre of writing you choose. Plus, research in extremely valuable in choosing the publishing process for your work—whether you attempt of find a mainstream publisher or make the decision to self-publish. ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 11/06/2015

SEASONS

November brings our attention to how quickly this year will come to a close and we’ll meet the New Year whether we’re prepared for it or not. The self-examination questions begin. Have you finished the last chapter of that novel yet? Have you outlined the sequel? Have you written your weekly blog to tweak readers’ interest in the characters and plot? Did you do enough research so that characters and their environment (setting-s) are believable? Did you select the right independent publisher? Is your best friend really the right person to do your marketing?

 

OR…are you sitting on your front porch watching neighbors collect the remaining Fall leaves and wondering if you should even begin that novel—that novella—that book of poetry—that collection of family recipes—that family legacy memoir?

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NO MATTER what day of calendar year the decision is made to begin writing one or more of those projects, the seasons of creative development are the same.

  • SPRING. The ideas are fresh, flowing and fun. Your imagination holds every detail in high-definition clarity and the words begin rolling onto the pages.
  • SUMMER. Mornings bring bright new ideas, fresh-scented environments and intriguing dialogue for characters. The plot weaves together like intricate palm-leaf shade-hats casting shadows of intrigue and mystery or building your unique style of word-play.
  • WINTER. With snow falling and windows redesigned with ice-crystal art, the first draft is completed. The weather may hold us inside, yet now the manuscript reading Edits and additions, enhancements and deletions are made and the writer’s personal satisfaction grows.
  • FALL. As the leaves color themselves with reds and purples, gold, yellows and rusty crimson, that process of release is mirrored in the pages that fall to the floor and await a new story to be developed around them—the ideas held there already rooted and rich for nurturing—tomorrow.

DO you remember the quote: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today?” There seems to be some controversy about the source of these wise words—Aaron Burr or Benjamin Franklin. However, Franklin added another sentence that strengthens his point. “You may delay, but time will not.”

The illustration (by artsoni) that I selected for today’s blog on this topic suggests that the root of our ideas is available in all seasons of our lives. So the encouragement I’d like to leave with you today is: START NOW and DON’T QUIT until you’ve completed the writing project that is resting in your heart and mind. ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 10/30/2015

THE NOAH WEBSTER LEGACY – PART V

THE LOVE OF WORDS led Noah Webster, Jr. into a life of writing and authorship. While he is known as possibly the most important lexicographer of his time, who author S.C. Roberts (The Story of Doctor Johnson) defined as “a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge,” Webster is also an example of confident tenacity. His passion for developing word definitions and pronunciations that FIT the New World—our United States of America—went beyond “the common passions” to an absolute need to complete his work and be part of something bigger than himself…the birth of a nation. It is my belief that you would not be reading this blog today unless you, too, held that love, that passion, that wakes you up—or doesn’t let you sleep—in order to write one more sentence and make a difference.

local author

Are you re-creating words? Are you developing extended definitions for the words you’re using in the dialogue of your characters? Most writers I know would say, “Certainly not.” “Specific words and their specific definitions are the only way to clearly communicate what writers want to say.” However, I challenge you keep this question in the margins of your thoughts as you write. Words and additional definitions are being added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary every year and no one else would be happier about that that Noah Webster who deeply understood the concept of language as a living thing. Just a few examples of his work include transforming such words as:

  • defence to defense: “Anything that opposes an attack; The Almighty is the defense of the righteous.”
  • gaol to jail: “A prison; place for confinement; also, something written very improperly and as improperly pronounced.”
  • musick to music: “Melody or harmony; entertainment; the science of harmonic sounds;”
  • nabor to neighbor: “One who lives near another; an intimate or confidant; a fellow being;”

In the Preface of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary he writes: “It is not only important, but, in a degree necessary, that the people of this country, should have an American Dictionary of the English Language; for, although the body of the language is the same as in England, and it is desirable to perpetuate that sameness, yet some differences must exist. Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas, they cannot retain an identity of language.” Webster’s two-volume work of more than 70,000 entries became the first truly American dictionary. He eliminated Old English words that were not useful to Americans and included words specifically used in the U.S. such as squash and skunk.

Building and enhancing the world of words is now in our hands and the editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary invites our participation. Their website www.merriam-webster.com tells us that they “scour books, newspapers, magazines, electronic publications [and more] in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings, and inflected forms–in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary, understanding what it means, and determining typical usage. Any word of interest is marked, along with surrounding context that offers insight into its form and use.” It is also made clear that for a word “to be included in a Merriam-Webster dictionary, a word must be used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time. Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.”

SO, Dear Author, write your book, your articles, your blogs and tweets and BE CREATIVE. Who knows, one of your uniquely developed terms may just be added to the next edition of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Just think of the publicity you could glean from that in the promotion of your work! And, don’t hesitate to self-publish. Make Noah Webster, Jr. proud! ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 10/23/2015

THE NOAH WEBSTER LEGACY – PART IV

Following Webster’s legacy path, we discover that ESSAY and ARTICLE writing are a great way to exercise your creative muscles while dropping bread crumbs that will encourage Readers to discover the books you’ll write. Noah Webster wrote many such pieces which he says (in the preface of his Collected Essays) will naturally allow the writer to “give himself up to his feelings and his manner of writing will flow from his manner of thinking.” How might that translate into today’s world?

 copyright

  • Webster took a season of his life to edit periodicals—the American Magazine for one year (1788–1789) and the pro-federalist American Minerva (1793–1798). Is this a skill you have, a natural talent that could build your portfolio? Seek out both paper and Internet magazine formats that interest you and begin submitting articles (400-700 words in length) to them. Follow their guidelines to a “T” while maintaining your natural and unique manner of writing and thinking to flow.
  • Webster continued to write and publish (self-publish) pieces that he knew to be valuable to the general public. Between 1802 and 1806 he issued the first three volumes of Elements of Useful Knowledge, schoolbooks to enlighten and educate the growing population of the United States of America. What subject matter interests you to the level of being passionate about it? Have you accumulated a level of knowledge about it that you could be labeled an “expert?” Too many people shy away from writing on a topic because they cannot see or accept themselves as a knowledgeable person in that subject matter when, in fact, their unique perspective is needed to advance deeper understanding.

Also, Webster wholeheartedly believed that writers—and the ideas presented in their work—needed protection from “theft.” He had experienced firsthand, and witnessed the works of other writers become plagiarized, misrepresented, and “hacked to bits” too often. In the fledgling United States “national copyright protection” for Webster’s SPELLER was limited to a period of fourteen (14) years. Although that seems like a very short time, it worked out well for him because at the end of that interval he sold the entire rights to the American Spelling Book (for its third copyright period 1818 to 1832) to Hudson and Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Those finances allowed him to focus on his major work: An American Dictionary of the English Language, which was published in New York in 1828.

ALL AUTHORS need to keep themselves informed about current copyright law. Best source: www.copyright.gov. Copyrights DO expire after the death of the author (—plus 70, 95 or 120 years), so our heirs need to be aware that when that time comes, they may be able to sell that copyright as income to support our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Our friend, Noah Webster, Jr. continues to teach us about this challenging author/writer career. His persevering work ethic not only kept him and his family fed and housed, it has sent ripples into all future generations. Your work is just as valuable! Whether you’re creating textbooks or books of poetry—cookbooks or photography books—car manuals or political speeches—the words that you are placing together in concise structures of communication are necessary elements of life. Keep writing! Then…PUBLISH! ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.