Say What?

What’s left to say?

The wonderful thing about being a professional novelologist of some very modest renown is that I have a public voice.  Not only do I have a public voice, but I get paid to have it.  That always strikes me as strange considering how so many struggle to be heard, yet I am heard AND I get paid to be heard.  The information age has given most of us the chance to reach out to our fellow Terrans and share our thoughts, dreams, and witty asides.  The downside is that, with so many voices added to the collective discussion, it’s hard to pick any one out.

This is why self-publishing and e-publishing are not the Holy Grail they’re often presented to be.  It’s true that almost anyone can get a book published at this point.  The word Publish does mean “to make public”.  And anyone with enough determination can write a book and throw it out into the public sphere.  Yet in an endless ocean of books, both traditionally and self-published, it’s hard to get noticed.  Almost impossible.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is either delusional or lying.

My 8th book is coming out next month.  I remain an obscure writer most people have never heard of.  I will most likely remain an obscure writer.  If  I publish thirty or forty novels, this will still be true.  If one of the film options takes off then I’ll probably get a boost, but aside from that, I’ll most probably never be a household name.  It’s a question of scale.  If I manage to sell 300,000 copies of a book one day, it’s still the tiniest sliver of the Terran population.

But I’m drifting from my original point.

What’s left to say?  If you’re lucky enough to have a voice that will be heard, if even only by a few loyal fans, then what do you do with that voice?  Inevitably, won’t you run out of interesting things to say?  Can a person broadcast his thoughts on a semi-regular basis to strangers on the internet without endlessly repeating himself?  Or is there a point where it’s just more of the same?

I like to think of myself as a semi-interesting guy with some unique thoughts to be added to the collective consciousness.  But I’ve been blogging for a few years now, and often, as I sit down to write one of these posts, I find myself wondering if I’m just not stuck in some endless loop.

Ghost hunters?  Silly pseudo-science.  CHECK

Giant fightin’ robots?  Awesome.  CHECK

Games?  Cool.  CHECK

Writing?  Not as hard as you think.  CHECK

And so on . . .

If you think about it, so much of our conversation is just repeats of conversations we’ve already had.  It’s just old conversations with new people.  And that’s fine in real life.  But on the internet, I sometimes wonder what’s the point here?  If someone really cares what I have to say about something, they can just peruse the older posts.  True, those posts were written by the past me, who is different from the present me, who is probably different than the future me.  But some constants seem to remain the same.  Past me loves giant fightin’ robots and Tarzan.  Future me probably will too.

Well, I guess I’ve wasted enough of your time talking about how I have nothing new to talk about.  If you stuck around, thanks for reading.  And if you want to leave a comment on something you’d like me to talk about, even if it’s something I’ve talked about before, then feel free to do so.  I accept that I’ll have to repeat myself as time goes on.  But at least I’d like it to be about something someone, somewhere, is interested in reading.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Kenja
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m in the process of starting up my blog. And I’m sure that one day I’ll run out of things to say, but for now I’m taking themes in my first novel and expanding on them. I love things like animals and faithfullness and good lipstick like you adore big robot things.

    Besides, thats what I love about technology today. It gives us a chance to know what our favorite authors are thinking and what’s important to them instead of just making us stalk them at a writers’ conference. Not that I would know anything about that.

    Finished Divine Misfortune last night. It’s my favorite yet.

  2. Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    You can’t be obscure. I’ve pitched your book to every customer I ever got at Borders. Of course, that may be why I’m out of a job now. Anyway, little old ladies looking for Mrs. Marple got told about Gil’s diner, yuppies searching for historical lit found out about the nameless witch, and old fogies bent on political hooey got told to read Monster! So, you’ve got to at least have sold 300,001. At least!

  3. Bob Bob
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Martinez,

    For a fiction writer, you sure don’t like to fantasize much. I’ve read your entire blogosphere, and you it’s true you, and Writer’s Digest, repeat the same few things over and over again. TELL US A STORY, MR. MARTINEZ. Instead of movies, instead of games, instead of writing, tell us all about your nefarious plot to take over the world via robots. Tell us about some shit you just made up. Complete this sentence, “I am king of the world because today I….”

    Talk to us not of relativistic ideologies–opinions opposed, but we can all get along–bull crap. Who are you trying to impress? Never try to impress us this way, we see through it. Impress us with wild nonsense, with BATMAN IS MAGIC! with Scooby Doo ghosts’ possess people. You’ve become too straightforward. Let your guard down. Or else Haitian Voodoo Priests will abduct you and cause a tumor to grow on the creative structures of your brain.

  4. Posted April 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Obscure? Sir, even here, in Italy, there’s a bunch of people who read all your books and can’t wait to read the next one. (I even wrote a couple of articles about your work in my blog. Hey, someone must spread the good word, right?) Keep up the good work!

  5. Freesamples
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    In all fairness people like repetition. We don’t like to admit that we are still that five year old kid watching their uncle pretending to fart for the 34th time giggling madly for him to do it again. Sure our tastes may be more sophisticated, or at least a step up from fart jokes, but we gobble up things we like over and over again. So basically you sir are my farting uncle and I hope you keep making me giggle. I am sorry if that sounded creepy but I am not that great with analogies.

    P.S.- I recommend your books to all my friends!

  6. Moon
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Well first off, you may be obscure or not, honestly, I’d never heard of you. Then one day I had to wait for a girl at Barnes and Noble. As I wandered to the graphic novel section like I normally do I was in for a shock. It had moved! Unfortunately it had been replaced by a section of Twilight-like books (not a fan of the series, but that’s just me) and somehow a copy of Monster was on the very bottom shelf and surrounded by books with dark (literally, like black colored I mean) covers all around it. So this yellow book caught my eye and I picked it up and after skimming the first and last page (a habit I have), I was hooked. At which point, you became one of my favorite authors who I try and tell people about when asked for suggestions of good authors.

    As for what you write on here, I find myself always interested. Not trying to inflate your ego or anything, but it’s just rare to read any type of blog and have it hold my interest. Robots, writing, Tron Legacy, etc. All interesting thoughts on each of those subjects. Whatever you do write about I’m sure will be appreciated by someone. If you’d like a suggestion for a topic then perhaps, ferrets. Or since I just saw the season premiere, the new Doctor Who series. Time travel. Etc.

    Also, it’s a real treat to have found an “obscure” writer from Texas. El Paso I believe you’ve stated. Especially one who’s written a piece about how not all people from Texas have spurs and cowboy hats and all that. As a fellow Texan, who’s stated similar things to others a few times myself, I found that particular piece quite amusing.

    You keep writing ’em and we’ll keep reading ’em.

  7. Matthew LaValley
    Posted April 30, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Indeed, and my solution to the problem of running out of things to say is to say very little. It doesn’t get you as far as one would hope. So you may never be a Neil Gaiman, with multitudes of people spending $30 a ticket to hear you speak and have them hang on your every word. Still, it is because the world at large is frighteningly unimaginative that it needs writers to dream for it. Writers are smiths who hammer shards of creative thought into something serviceable. Bullocks it is not that difficult. You just commented on what a tight market it is. The world further needs reviewers to navigate the cess pool of story telling. Icons that people can flock to and trust to find new and insightful ideas so people are not just hearing the same story told again, just subjugated to random mutation.

    Writing a post like this is like a comedian going on stage and saying to the audience: “Sorry no new jokes today, do know any?” After the laughter dies down thinking that was a joke someone would no doubt ask “then why are you on the stage?” There are better ways to get involved with your reader if you are looking to do some fan service. If you want advice here it is: Expand your horizons, it will keep your words from going stale… or you could promote Sluggy Freelance, it works for John Ringo.

  8. Posted May 2, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    I have a specific question that leads me to a bigger question. Monster wakes up everyday a new color. Depending on the color grants him some kind of power. Did you go out of your way to give him a power that would help him with something specifically in the plot? Or did you just kind of wing it and see what happens?

    Which leads me to my second question. How much forethought to you put into what’s going to happen in your books, and how much of it is (for lack of an inappropriate literary term) improvised?

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted May 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      It depends. Monster’s random super power was sometimes chosen to be useful and other times just to be strange. I didn’t want it to look like he was always going to get the right power for the right situation, but I also wanted it to be important enough that it didn’t seem like merely a goofy detail.

      How much forethought VS improvisation? Again, it depends on the story, but usually, I start with a simple premise and see where it goes from there. Most of the story is improvised, though after edits, it’s more focused and thought out. So it starts out improvised and then become planned out. Which is kind of weird, but the best way to put it.

  9. Posted May 2, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    You and Scalzi make everything in your blogs interesting. That’s a good talent.

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