I No Longer Follow Dale L Roberts

© Can Stock Photo / tangducminh

There are good people out there giving good advice for writers and those who want to become writers. Some, like yours truly, have traditional blogs. Others, such as Dale L Roberts, use YouTube. I stumbled on his channel when he posted a video comparing the print quality of several well known POD (print on demand) book printers. While I was there I clicked on the subscribe button as he had some good information. However, I have unsubscribed from his channel, and I did so for a very good reason.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am very much opposed to using AI software of any kind for writing books. In fact, I recently wrote a blog article called, AI Will NOT be Writing my Novels. Another reason why I am opposed to AI is because AI cheapens our profession.

Once was a time, if you wanted to be a writer, you had to have talent. You also had to learn your craft. In other words, you had to pay your dues. Now, thanks to AI, any would-be-if-they-could-be can buy AI software, and with a few clicks of a mouse, have an instant book that they actually didn’t write. A machine wrote it for them. They’re just putting their name on it and saying they wrote it. No, this isn’t the same as using a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is a real human being who also paid his or her dues.

So this morning I’m on YouTube, and here’s Dale L Roberts touting the latest new AI software for writers which allegedly mixes human creativity with AI technology. Gee, Dale, I’ve only been writing books without AI for about twenty years now. How did I possibly manage to do it on my own, using real human editors and proofreaders, and not use AI?

So, once again, I point out in the comments that real writers have talent, and if you want to be a writer you should take some writing classes. So, he attacks my comment. It’s his platform. He is free to attack me if he wishes. However, I don’t have to take his crap! So, I deleted my comment, and unsubscribed from his channel. I am also speaking my mind on my platform, not his, and if Dale L Roberts doesn’t like what I have to say then too freaking bad.

AI does not make you a better writer. AI just makes you a lazy writer. Or a fake writer. Let me say it again, just for you, Dale. AI cheapens our profession. If you’re serious writer, you do not need to use AI. You already have the talent, and the skills, to write your own original content in your own, unique writing voice.  You’re also the kind of writer who doesn’t believe in using software which can plagiarize other writers’ work.

If you want to follow Dale L Roberts on YouTube you are certainly free do to so. However, because I am very much opposed AI writing software for the reasons I have mentioned above, I can no longer recommend him as a good information source. If you want to be a writer, take some writing classes. Join professional associations. Network with other authors and learn from your peers. As for me, I’m standing by my principles. I worked damn hard to learn my craft. Therefore, I will continue to write my own unique content without using AI software of any kind, and without Mr. Dale L Roberts’ approval.

Gayle Martin

From the Writer’s Desk is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244

No, I am Not a Hobbyist

Whenever I log into Facebook I always look at my memories page. It’s interesting to see something I posted years ago. Sometimes it’s bittersweet. I’ll read a comment, or see a like, from a good friend or family member who has since passed away.

The other day I found something notable on my memories page. It was something I posted back in 2018 about how artists sometimes have to deal with people who disrespect them and refuse to pay them a fair price for their services. One man commented that perhaps the problem was supply and demand. He thought there were simply too many artists out there. Therefore, we should give up our art.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person who is giving their opinion is right.

My arts are writing and photography. They are my life’s passions. My art is what defines me as a human being. It’s what gives my life its meaning and purpose. Other artists, whether they be writers, musicians, actors, or painters, will tell you the same.

The Myth that Artists are Merely Hobbyists

It’s age-old misconception that way too many people seem to embrace. Art is nothing more than a hobby. People who are serious about earning a living need to get a “real job.” Whatever a real job is.

Some artists are lucky. They’re able to make a living full time with their art. Or they may find a career where they can use their artistic skills, such as a copywriter or graphic designer at an advertising agency. Most, however, will have to find a day job, and they are not alone. There are teachers, office workers, and others who have to work second jobs in order to make ends meet. So why are they not called, “hobbyists?”

They Would Be if They Could Be

There are some who get into the arts, not to express themselves, but because they want to become rich and famous. I recall once talking to a man who told me he was going to write a book, but he refused to tell me what his book was about. All he would say was he had come up with an idea that was so unique no one in human history had ever thought of it before. Therefore, his book was going to be a runaway bestseller. Hollywood would want to buy the screen rights to his story. This was why he couldn’t tell me what his book was about. If he told me, I would steal it from him.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face. I asked him how far along was he in writing his book. He said he hadn’t started writing it yet. Of course he hadn’t. No surprise there. So I wished him the best of luck. He will need it.

The man was a total fake. Real artists aren’t trying to impress anyone. They’re much too busy creating their art. The others, the ones who would-be if they could-be, are just blowing hot air about what they’re going to do. Someday. When they have the time. Right now they’re just too busy. I’ll give the man credit. He became the inspiration for a feature article called, The Author Myth, which is posted above the blog banner.

Some people do enjoy dabbling in art simply because they enjoy it. To them it’s strictly a hobby. They’re not interested in becoming professionals, and that’s okay too. However, they should never be confused with other artists who are professionals and are paid for their work, even if they have other jobs.

So What Defines an Artist?

An artist is someone who creates art because it’s their life’s calling. They will do whatever they have to do, including working day jobs, to pay the bills so they can continue being artists.

I consider myself an artist. As I mentioned before, my art happens to be fine art photography and writing contemporary romance novels. I’m an author with a good following. I also created my own publishing company, Good Oak Press, LLC. Many of my fellow independent authors have done the same.

We’re in this gig because writing is our life’s passion. We’ve put many, many years of blood, sweat and tears into learning our craft and becoming the people we are. As far as we’re concerned, anyone who thinks we should, “give up our art and get a real job,” is woefully ignorant.

 

The Cure for Writer’s Block

Image by Gayle Martin

It happens to all of us at one time or another. We run into a proverbial brick wall and suddenly find ourselves unable to come up with something to write about. Oh, no! It’s the dreaded writer’s block. Ugh!

Creativity is a funny thing. We can’t  turn it on and off whenever it’s convenient. This can be particularly frustrating for fiction writers who have to juggle their writing between work and family time, only to end up staring at a blank screen or paper and wondering what to do with it.

Sometimes switching gears and writing about another topic can help. I have friends who typically work on two or three different books at the same time. If they get stuck on one they simply set it aside and work on another one. However, if you’re like me, and you only work on one story at a time, then you may have to get a little more creative. Try stepping away from the computer and doing a project that’s been on your to do list for too long. Those nagging issues really can effect your creativity.

If that doesn’t help, then why not take a break and do something you enjoy doing? Bake some cookies. Play a round of golf. Go to a movie, or a ball game. Take a day trip somewhere. Read a book that you haven’t had time to read. Call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Taking a time out and doing something different, particularly if it’s something you really enjoy, but don’t get to do too often, gives your mind a chance to focus on other things, giving your creative muse a rest.

Don’t worry about your story. It’ll come back. And when it does, you can pick up where you left off.

Gayle Martin

Learn to Set Your Boundaries

© 2021 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

If I’ve learned one thing as a writer working from home, it’s this. I have  to set my boundaries.

Working at home is certainly convenient. The commute time is less than a minute. You don’t have to worry about who used the restroom before you. You can work in your sweats, assuming you don’t have a Zoom meeting. If you do, then wear a nice top with your slippers and sweatpants. Going to lunch is easy too. It’s only a short walk to the kitchen.

Convenience, however, has it’s drawbacks. You miss out on watercooler conversations. There’s no coworker saying it’s five o’clock so let’s go grab a beer. It gets lonely at times, and you can easily put in sixty or eighty hours a week. Sometimes it’s necessary. Especially when you have a deadline.  However, if you’re not careful, you could easily burn out. And for creative people, burnout can be a career killer.

If took me a while to figure it out, but I eventually came to realize that I had to set boundaries for myself.

Learn to Set Boundaries

Family time, and time for yourself, is as important as the time you put into your work. Perhaps even more so. Kids grow up fast. You don’t want to miss school plays or soccer games or other family time because you were too busy working. You also need to give your creative mind time to recharge itself.

I set my first boundary when I decided to get my nails done every week. A little pampering does wonders for your self-esteem, and a manicure isn’t that expensive. Now every Wednesday afternoon is my time for me, and in spite of it all, I still get things done.

Another boundary is ending my workday at five o’clock. I define a workday as doing paying gigs and activities related marketing and promoting my creative work. However, writing contemporary romance novels is one of my greatest joys in life. I live for my creative writing time, so I don’t set time limits on that.

Weekends are another boundary. I don’t open my business email account on weekends or holidays. If brick and mortar offices are closed on weekends and holidays, then my home office can be closed on weekends and holidays as well.

How and when to set your boundaries is entirely up to you. What’s matters is keeping things in balance, and making the time to do the things you enjoy doing.

Gayle Martin

 

From the Writer’s Desk is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244

Pirating Really is Stealing

© Can Stock Photo/ paulvinten

Every once in awhile I’ll come across someone who thinks intellectual property should never be copyrighted. Or they believe that everything on the Internet is public domain. Most of them understand copyright law. They just think they’re entitled. According to them, the movie studios, record companies and book publishers have plenty of money. Therefore, they shouldn’t have to pay for the music or book, and they see nothing wrong with pirating an artist’s work.

No matter how many times you try to explain to these people that pirating an artist’s work is actually stealing from the artist, they don’t care. Their argument is that books, music, and other creative works are merely ideas and nothing more. To them, it’s simply wrong to put a copyright on an idea. Creative works, however, are more than just an idea. They are the result of someone’s unique interpretation of an idea, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into creating it. This is why creative works are considered intellectual property.

I’m not an attorney, nor am I giving  legal advice. However, it’s common knowledge that a creative work belongs to the person, or persons, who created it. I’m also going to explain, in layman’s terms, what pirating, and plagiarism actually are.

Pirating

Pirating means you are obtaining a copy of someone else’s creative work  in such a way as to circumvent having to pay for it. A perfect example would be borrowing a friend’s CD and copying the music onto your computer. And yes, pirating is also illegal. Making copies of someone else’s creative work without their permission is illegal too. This is why, for example, a church cannot photocopy songs from a single songbook so that each choir member has a copy. If they were to get caught they could end up with a hefty fine. They would, instead, have to provide a songbook to each choir member.

Regardless of how the work is pirated, the end result is the artist who created the work it isn’t paid by the person using it. Pirating is stealing. Period.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is another way of stealing. It’s taking someone else’s work, putting your name on it, and then claiming the work as your own. This is why scholarly works include footnotes and bibliographies. It’s also why our teachers and professors would gave us failing grades on term papers if we didn’t properly credit our sources. There have also been cases of plagiarism in music when a riff used in one song may have sounded too much like a riff used in another published song.

For more specific information on copyrights, fair use, and other intellectual property law, or if someone has used your work without your authorization, please consult a copyright attorney.

Gayle Martin

And Now for a Time Out

© 2019 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

I’ve finally completed my latest Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel. Now I’m ready for a much needed break. In fact, I typically go on hiatus after a new novel is published.

Writing truly is one of my life’s passions. However, I’m also aware of the thin line between creativity and burnout, also known as the dreaded writer’s block. Burnout can happen when we overextend and push ourselves too hard, although sometimes we’re so into what we’re doing we’re not aware we’re overdoing it.

Once I finish one novel I’m already formulating the next one in my mind, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is starting page one the day after my current novel goes to press. Like the tide, creativity ebbs and flows, and none of us want it to ebb unexpectedly. I’ve learned, through experience, that the best thing to do after finishing a novel is to put my creative writing muse on the back burner, even as ideas for the next book pop into my head. Or, should I say, most especially when those new ideas are popping into my head. I’ll jot them down, and perhaps start working on a treatment, but I won’t take them any further anytime soon.

I enjoy my down time between novels. It can last for a few weeks to a few months because I’m no longer on a time schedule. Then, when I feel I’m ready, I’ll start my next book. Until then, however, it’s my time for me.

Gayle Martin

Let’s Stop Putting Labels on People

© Can Stock Photo / Medclips

I will never forget the time when I attended a business networking meeting, and someone’s guest asked me what I do. It was a fair question. The whole idea of networking meetings is to exchange information and refer business to one another. I told her I was a novel writer. Her response, however, was appalling. She looked me in the eye and said, “Oh, so this means you have ADD.” (Attention Deficit Disorder — a mental illness.)

I was completely flabbergasted. How could a so-called business professional make such a hurtful, hateful, and not to mention, stupid, remark? I looked her in the eye, and without even thinking I said, “Well, in my line of work, it would actually be considered a job requirement.” It shut her up. She walked away with egg on her face as well she should have.

Are creative people somehow less worthy than other people? 

Few things make me bristle like people who insist on putting stigmatizing labels on other people. Why must they do this? Is there is some narrow definition of normal out there? Do creative, imaginative people not fit into this so-called norm? Is this why creative people are stigmatized? Or is making other people look bad how they make themselves look good?

I suspect the answer is all the above. There are people out there who simply don’t like creative people. Period. I recall once reading an article telling parents how to “reprogram” their children if they showed any sign of being, “right-brained creative.” It was as if being creative was a mental defect that needed to be nipped in the bud. 

Imagine a world without art, music or literature. No doubt it would be a dull and dreary place. So what defines us as a people? Among other things, it’s art, music and literature. And who creates art, music and literature? Well, certainly not the bitch at the business networking meeting.

I refuse to apologize for who I am

I happen to be one of those right-brained creative people. I’m the person the so-called experts don’t want your child becoming. And do you want to know something? I’m damn proud of it. I am the person God meant me to be, and, in spite of what some people may think, I’m actually mentally confident enough to perform my job. Not only do I write novels, I also I run my own book publishing business. 

So, Miss Smart-Alec, who the hell are you to think you have the right to pin your scarlet letter on me and label me as somehow mentally deficient? My job involves using my God-given creative skills, and I’m so sorry it makes you jealous because you don’t have any. Oh, and here’s another thought. Why don’t you worry more about your own life and stop judging people you know nothing about.


Gayle Martin

Outline or Treatment?

© Can Stock Photo / katielittle25

It’s a perplexing question for authors, particularly newbies. Do you write an outline, or a treatment, before you begin writing your book? Or do you just sit down and start writing?

Outlines vs Treatments

Outlines are recommended for nonfiction books as they can be more precise. However, this blog is for fiction writers, so I’m going to talk about what is the best approach for us. When writing fiction, it’s best to write a treatment.

A treatment is a short summary of what your story will be about. The amount of detail you wish to include is entirely up to you. Some fiction authors may choose to write treatments summarizing each chapter. Others simply write a brief one or two paragraph description. It’s all a matter of personal preference. We’re creative writers, not technical writers, and the keyword is creativeFor us, writing is an art, not a science.

My treatments tend to be short; no more than a page to a page and a half. My objective is how I will begin my story, and how I will end it. I used to fret over what to include in the middle. However, experience has taught me to keep it brief. The details will come after I begin writing. In other words, my treatment is my launching point.

What about the characters?

Some fiction writers write bios for their characters, which is certainly okay. However, I don’t do it myself. My characters come to life rather quickly. Once it happens they have minds of their own, and they will define themselves. (It may sound freaky to non writers, but trust me, every fiction writer experiences this.)

Some authors like to refer back to their treatments as they write, which again is perfectly okay. I prefer to put my treatment aside once I begin my story. As your characters come to life you may want to go in a different direction than you originally planned. Other ideas may come to you as you delve deeper into your story. Again it’s okay. We’re creative writers. This is how creativity works. 

Once my manuscript is complete I like to go back and look at my treatment. My books never end up as described in the original treatment. They always turn out better. It happens because I let my creativity flow as I write, and many new ideas will pop into my head as I go. My favorite example would be my Marina Martindale novel, The Reunion.

One of my supporting characters, a young man named, Jeremy, was intended to be a rogue character. He would do his dirty deed and quickly exit the story. However, Jeremy was also Ian’s, the leading man’s, son. As I got into the story, I quickly realized Ian would never have such an evil son. So, Jeremy went from rogue villain to a rival, competing with his father to win Gillian’s affections. This made for a completely unexpected twist in the story which resonated with me, and my readers. 

In conclusion

As I’ve evolved as a writer, my treatments have also evolved. They’ve become less detailed and more generalized. However, as I’ve stated before, how you choose to write your treatment is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. 


Gayle Martin