Lying for Fun and Profit: Annie Bellet

Annie Bellet is one of those mythical beasts, the full time writer.  She’s been published in places like Contrary Magazine and Daily Science Fiction.  She has also graciously accepted my offer to become the second victim participant in my Lying for Fun and Profit interviews.  So without further ado, I give you lies from a professional.  Don’t forget to get clarifications ask follow ups in the comments!

When did you decide to become a writer?

Well, after I dropped out of High School, I held a lot of odd jobs. And I kept seeing these huge bookstores, like Powell’s Books here in Portland, with all these books on the shelves. I’d been forced to read some books in school (thank jesus for Cliffnotes!) and started doing the math in my head. I mean, somebody wrote all those books, right? And they sucked at it. I’ve never read a book I liked. But I learned to write in like first grade, so I got to thinking that hey, I could do that. So I looked around for a rich husband, married a nice jewish man, and then quit my job to be a real writer.  It was the bookstores that decided me, for sure. So many bad books that I just had to show the world what real creative genius looked like.  It took me about six years to write my first work of genius, but it was so brilliant that it was worth the hours of laying around doing nothing while my brain thought really hard about the next perfect sentence.

You do a lot of self publishing.  How do you think the kindle and self publishing is going to change the publishing industry?

Unfortunately, I think self-publishing and the Kindle are going to kill the whole reading thing and take the publishing industry down in flames. No one can find anything good to read now. Not that they could before. I mean, most books are derivative crap because publishers only care about what’s “big” not what’s good. I know this, because publishers rejected my 2,000 page brilliant book about the History of Cumin and a family of spice sellers that goes through massive internal changes thanks to an encounter with an Angel. That’s the only reason I self-published. And I make all my work free, because I want to reach the biggest audience.

I think that people will just stop reading. I mean, who wants to read on a screen? And who can find anything good in the sea of terrible books now? Even with my book free, only like 50 people have downloaded it. I keep tweeting and buying ads and sending out emails to my subscriber, but nothing works. It’s too hard to find my brilliant giant novel book.  So I think the publishing industry is going to die and reading is going to die with it.

What does your normal writing routine look like?

I get up about noon, eat breakfast, then take a notebook out to the hammock overlooking the ocean. Then I lay there working on my tan while I wait for the muse to touch me.  Sometimes I help the muse by drinking martinis or mimosas, I mean, if alcohol was good enough for that hack Hemingway, it’s good enough for me.  I usually get a sentence or two done every day, because I like to be consistent about work.  It takes grueling hours to get ten or twenty words down though.  Sometimes I just don’t get any words down at all, but I know I’ve been working really hard, so that doesn’t bother me.  There’s also the research, but I have an assistant for that. I don’t want the details or too much reality to inhibit my creative juices or scare away my muse.

You’ve been to several big writing workshops.  Share some thoughts on the value of workshops to writers early on in their career.

Writing workshops are a great way to spread your genius to fellow writers.  They are also excellent if you like making stupid people cry.  Most writers are hacks and it is sometimes very difficult for them to accept that they are hacks and can’t really write anything original or interesting.  Writing workshops can really work to help show writers how much they can’t cut it and weed out the terrible ones.  They are also a good way to make money. I intend to run some, I just haven’t found the time yet (see the writing schedule, I’d hate to mess that up in case my muse abandoned me).

If you go to a writing workshop, the first thing you must remember is that you are brilliant and that everyone else is terrible.  Don’t listen to anything they have to say. You aren’t there to learn from people who are new and suck, you are there to show them how awesome you are while telling them, in constructive but honest terms (lighting manuscripts on fire is optional) that they don’t have what it takes to be a “real” writer like you.  If the instructors don’t like that, well, if they were successful writers, they wouldn’t be teaching, they’d be hanging out with me in my villa and sipping cocktails while the sun sets over the palm trees.  Most likely, your instructors will be among those hacks that fill bookstore shelves and who are helping contribute to the death of true literature.  But workshops can be a nice diversion from the hum-drum grind of being genius in a hammock, so if you must do them, just keep my advice in mind and go to.

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