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Weldon Writes ... Almost a Blog

The Fear of Reading



Ok, here's the thing. I've never read my own work in public before. You'd think, after freelancing for 30+ years (yes, I know I'm dating myself), I would have taken the opportunity, at least once, to read a short story or excerpt from my writing. To be honest, I don't recall ever even being invited to do so.

Until now.

On April 16, at 2:00 in the afternoon, I will be reading with my fellow Written Remains Writers Guild members in the Community Room of the New Castle Public Library here in Delaware. This is a wonderful opportunity, a learning experience at the very least.

Can you hear my knees knocking?

I'm a bit anxious about the reading. Like most writers, who are typically more like hermits than spotlight-stealers, I loathe public speaking. And how ironic that the story I intend to read is a flash piece titled "Performance Anxiety." Must be something karmic going on here!

The story was originally written for Drabblecast, a weekly audio fiction podcast; the production of the story was posted on the Drabblecast Web site back in 2008. Norm Sherman's reading of "Performance Anxiety" was spot-on excellent. I hope I can do the story justice when I read it.

So, I've been practicing using a handheld digital recorder. The story is flash fiction, right around 500 words. No sweat, right? I've rewritten parts of the story because I tended to stumble over some phrasing—for example, I changed "luxurious auburn hair" to "magnificent red hair." My friends will tell you that I tend to mumble, my brain racing ahead of my tongue. This usually results in a nasty entanglement of words tumbling from my mouth. Think "The King's Speech" with no sense of regality. So, I'm excising any stumbling blocks in the content of the story. I'll do anything to make it easier to read.

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Potchking

The September 2009 issue of Writer's Digest contains an interview with science fiction writer Cory Doctorow (who is one of the key authors now pushing for Creative Commons licensing to allow posting of free online versions of authors' works--but that's a discussion for another blog entry). Doctorow claims that many writers are heavily into potchking, a Yiddish word for fiddling around instead of getting the job done. Poseur writers tend to talk about and daydream about writing, but rarely place butt in chair to actually do it. Then there are bona fide writers who will find every excuse imaginable not to write.

I have to admit, I've done my fair share of potchking over the years, particularly when it comes to writing a novel.  Read More 

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What You (probably don't) Know

I attempted to catch up on my magazine reading this past weekend. I came across an interview with Brad Thor, author of The Last Patriot and other thrillers, in the December 2008 issue of Writer's Digest. (Yes, I'm very behind on my reading!) Near the end of the interview, Thor said, "'Write what you know' is the worst piece of advice you'll ever hear as a writer. If people only wrote what they knew, we never would've had a Ray Bradbury; we never would've had a J.K. Rowling."

I see Thor's point. I'm sure Jules Verne never journeyed to the center of the Earth, traveled around the planet in 80 days, dove 20,000 leagues under the sea, or hopped a rocket to the moon. Yet Verne certainly wrote classic novels on each of those topics.

But I also think Thor's statement is too simplistic.
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Failure to Launch?

Freelance writing is like dancing in a minefield. The more you dance, the more likely you are to lose a leg -- or worse.

In my years of freelancing, I've only been stiffed a few times by magazines either failing to launch or suddenly going under. That's why I typically work only with pay-on-acceptance publications and avoid pay-on-publication enterprises. Problem is, most fiction venues are the p-on-p types, and I love to write fiction. So, I dance ...  Read More 

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