Guest Column by Dan Baldwin, Ghost-Writer & Author
I remember the 1950s when conformity in life, belief and culture was not only expected, it was demanded. Most people went along, but there were a few on the fringe who refused to conform. This was before the age of the hippie. (Although of that generation, I have more in common with the beatniks—jazz, writing, being cool as opposed to being loud, “sick” comedians like Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl.) We seem to be living in a retro-fifties era today. The cries for conformity are everywhere. If you’ll watch the news carefully you’ll see that the “free” kids of the sixties, who are now in their seventies, are bringing back the worst of the fifties.
Dan, send me your BANDANA Story!
Will it be scary, salty, bloody?
That’s true in the writing universe, too. As with the “pantsters” vs. “plotters” debate, we have an ongoing confrontation between those who believe in the conventional and those who believe in the cool (originally a beat term).
The conformist seek comfort in well-established, inflexible rules. The cool isn’t afraid to risk pushing the edge of the box or even punching through now and then. For example, the conventional believes with the faith of a 12-year-old Southern Baptist at her first tent revival that a work must—must mind you—be rewritten and rewritten and rewritten until like Goldilocks says, “it’s just right.” The cool, with the confidence in his own ability looks across the uncharted literary landscape and says, “I wonder what’s over there” and then makes the journey to find out.
Being a beat generation survivor, I think of myself as a cool. I send my works to first readers for their input. I listen to that input, evaluate it, and incorporate their suggestions if I agree with them. A conventional writer will automatically submit to the recommended changes of an editor, critique group, best friend, fellow writer, or first reader without hesitation. Why? Because that’s the way it’s done. The rule book says so.
A conventional knows for a fact that the way to publishing success is to get an agent who will get a publisher who will then publish the work. He knows for certain that this is the only sure-fire method. The cool knows that he can take that road or choose another, such as self-publishing. I’ve debated the pros and cons of traditional vs. self-publishing and each side has its share. The amount of emotional attachment some authors have to conventional thinking, however, borders on religious belief.
I am not against conventional writing, publishing or marketing techniques provided they are not employed by rote simply because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ To me, conventional or cool should be a choice and not a self-imposed mandate.
Something to think about, eh? Give it some thought.
Dan Baldwin has been my role model and motivator for the last 15 years. He has penned and ghosted probably more than 70 books. Mysteries, thrillers, westerns, and the paranormal are his favorite genres. In his spare time he works as a psychic detective to let the departed speak through his pendulum. You can contact him through his website below.
Dan on Radio: The Paranormal Pendulum
Never mind the ads–Dan’s interview starts a couple of minutes in.