Being a hack

Donna Barr posted a few things on Facebook recently about being a hack, which she says is a good thing. I tend to agree. Work is work, after all, and 99% of what we all do is not Great Art or Great Literature, as the case may be.

Decades ago, Harlan Ellison wrote the introduction to a short story in a collection of short stories. He said that he’d hated the character, hated the story, hated the resolution, and sold it to a magazine he didn’t normally do business with… but he made 3x as much money for this as he would’ve otherwise. His final paragraph of this brief exposition was “Moral of the story: I may prostitute my art, but at least I’m not a cheap whore.”

John Ciardi once wrote:

“Dear Virginia:
See the poet.
The poet is fat.
The poet is fifty.
The poet is making a living.”

There is no sin in hackwork. It pays the bills. Sometimes, rather handsomely.

A Heinlein quote worth repeating

Everyone’s heard Heinlein quotes. When we were younger, we may have even quoted them with a straight face. Frankly, they’re a little embarrassing because you tend to sound like a teenage boy when you say them and they’re a trifle hackneyed these days as well.

However, I read today a really first-rate Heinlein quote that I’m happy to repeat:

The best sentence in the English language starts
“Pay to the order of….”

Clouds of words is a juicy little nugget for the literarily inclined. Wordle generates word clouds from text that you provide it by analyzing the frequency of words in the text and then assigning a greater prominence to the words that appear more frequently. You can then change the cloud by changing the colors, fonts, and layouts. It’s really quite fun! Feed Wordle the text of your latest article, or a manual draft, or that novel you’ve been working on. Or go to, say, Project Gutenberg, and grab something and try that out. It’s a great time-waster, as if I had time to waste these days.

Blog: I’d Rather Be Writing

Tom Johnson is the guy who told me about WordPress. All about WordPress: I took a great seminar from him at this year’s STC conference in Dallas and it was what triggered me to move forward on setting up a professional blog.

He’s got a great website for writers and technical communicators, called I’d Rather Be Writing. If you’re reading this blog, you’ll likely enjoy Tom’s blog, too.

The Online Etymology Dictionary

There’s an online etymology dictionary that my beloved drama teacher from high school turned me on to. They describe themselves thus:

This is a map of the wheel-ruts of modern English. Etymologies are not definitions; they’re explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.

New blog: “Connecting to Content”

Peggy Harvey, a wonderful technical communicator from the RTP area of NC, has started a blog called Connecting to Content. It’s aimed at technical communicators with an emphasis on how people can connect through content. Peggy’s always been an articulate speaker and Tweeter and I’m looking forward to what she’s got to say.

More on Lavacon 2010

If you enter the keyword HEDTKE when you register, you can get a $50 discount!

Go on witcha. Go register.

Lavacon 2010

I’ve always recommended Lavacon for technical communications professionals, but Lavacon 2010 is going to be particularly useful.

The focus for Lavacon this year is on social media, particularly for marketing, building your brand, and creating effective alternatives to more classic options for creating and distributing documentation.  There’s a long list of impressive speakers.

Lavacon is in San Diego this year (another good reason to go) at a fabulous hotel (ditto!) and it looks like it’s going to be a real relaxacon.  It’s also very reasonably priced. Take a good look at the Lavacon website and you’ll see what I mean.

First post

This blog is for writers and authors. I will be posting a considerable amount of information about being a professional writer, being an author (mostly about non-fiction, but there will also be information on fiction writing), and the business aspects of writing.

If you’re a professional writer who wants to add skills, you’re interested in becoming a published author, or you just want to know more about how to make a living writing, this is the blog for you.

BTW, I am still setting up features, getting my sidebar lined up, and so on. The header banner isn’t right yet, either.  Please excuse the chunks of plaster lying around.  This should all take rapid shape, honestly. I know most of what I want.