Monday, October 25, 2010

Words For The Wise

I’ve been seeing a lot of something lately that I want to talk about this morning. An author on a group I belong to asked about this the other day, and I’ve seen countless authors doing this. It’s something that happens all through authorland and a lot of writers, mostly new to the game, never give it a second thought it seems. Even after a warning from someone who has been around a lot longer, they keep doing it.

Okay, cut to the chase Tess—enough damn warm-up already, will ya? I know that’s what you’re thinking. Hey, I’m a writer, I’ve got to capture your interest, don’t I? HA! So here it is: Authors posting full chapters of their works in progress, a complete summary/synopsis of their unpublished books, or the entire book itself. Even a blurb can be a bad idea.

When you do that, you’re just begging for someone to come along and steal your work and make it their next best seller, or the book that breaks them into the business. If you were a scientist, would you put your creative genius out there on display for everyone to see? All your chemical formulas that may be the next best thing since Jello? I think not.

What you write is YOUR creative genius. Guard it well.

You can’t steal a plot. Most authors know this. After all, there are only thirty-some odd plot points you’ve got to work with. However, it’s the combination of plot points---those sub plots and all the unique twists and turns you give your story that make it special. And that’s what sells your book. So does it make sense to give your imagination away?

Okay. Most of us are honest. I am. I’ve never stolen a thing in my life. Well, I take that back. I was with a group of friends way back when, and we’d been out bar-hopping. We were sitting in this late-night breakfast only restaurant, and for some odd reason the conversation turned to stealing. I’d never stolen anything. They were in awe. All of them had stolen something—there was a big group of us too—like a dozen. Their thievery ranged from cash from their parents' wallets to cash from their employers to actual shoplifting. Yeah, I know—I should find better friends. Lol Don’t worry, I did. But at the time I was still a little tipsy from all that fun we’d been having, and I left the restaurant with a set of salt 'n' pepper shakers. I know, I know. That was pitiful. And you know what? I NEVER went back to that restaurant. (The restaurant is still there to this day—all these years later—and every time I see it, my stomach knots—not lying. My guilt runs deep.)

Okay, enough about me.

As an editor I’m in tune with writing styles. For authors I’ve edited for, worked with, or read quite a bit of, I can spot their style a mile away. Good writers have a signature. It’s oftentimes very very subtle, but definitely something I can spot. Heck, I can sometimes read a book and just know for a fact that even though there is one pen name tied to the book, at least two authors were involved in the writing.

Not too long ago I read a book by an author I’d only read once before. Said author had switched up on her style in the second book I read. And that in itself is okay—nothing wrong with it. I have three writing styles/voices. It all depends on what tone I want to use for a book. But this author’s voice stood out to me as someone else’s voice. Not only that, I noted right many words and phrasing that were just too similar to that other author’s, and I was very put off by all of that. Mimicking the style of someone you know that is successful is done all the time. Works for some. But for me, you cross the line when you take words/phrasing from that author. Was it enough to say the author plagiarized? No. Just enough to let me know that the author WAS indeed “taking”. Sort of like that cheap little salt ‘n’ pepper set I stole that time.

There’s a publisher that sells books which brandish titles similar to NYTBS books and blockbuster movies. And if you read those books, you’ll quickly discover that the plotting is incredibly similar to those best-selling books and blockbuster movies too. I purchased one of those books a while back out of curiosity. E-book format, of course, and that was the only thing that kept me from throwing the book against the wall. Honestly. Sure, the characters had been changed and some thin thin thin disguising was used. But that story was nothing more than a rip-off of someone else’s creative genius.

I’ve had three authors complain to me in recent months that an idea of theirs was stolen. Again, you can’t steal a plot. You can’t steal a title either. You’re not breaking copyright laws in any way when you do this. In order to plagiarize you have to take another’s work and copy actual lines. But still, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you write about something and all of a sudden author Jane Doe comes up with the same story, doesn’t it?

You only hear about plagiarized work when it comes to big-name authors. But it happens a lot more than you’d think with the lesser knowns and those just starting out in the writing business. I honestly think that the Internet is responsible for more and more of this too. It’s easy to post a blog that gives away your story ideas. Easy to post a chapter or several. Easy to post a blurb or synopsis. There are workshops that ask you to post bits and pieces of your work. Critique groups that do the same. Groups where authors post the synopsis of their story—the beginning, middle, and end—in hopes of a publisher reading it and asking to see the manuscript. Ways to share our work are all around us for sure.

One author said to me: “Nobody wants to steal my work. I’m not that skilled.” Oh, I beg to differ and told the author that she might not have down all the bells and whistles of writing yet, but her story premise was solid—unique. That author listened and took down the overall summary of her work.

If you’re a new author and trying to blog and promote yourself, take a snippet of your work—a short scene or a few lines only and post them. Five hundred words or less—and I say do that ONLY if you’re hell bent on posting something. I’d never post anything. Instead, blog about the writing process, the people you meet online, about who you are and what you like to do. Don’t give away your characters, your storylines, your precious words. There are lots of ways to announce you’re an author without giving away something you hope to sell. Write a free short story and put that on your blog or website.

An author should also take into consideration that publishers aren’t too keen on having work published openly that is later submitted to them. If you post a huge chunk of your story online—and I’ve seen entire books published on sites, and then later submitted to publishers—your work has been previously published and the publisher has a right to know. Some of these writer websites where authors post their work to get feedback have right many views/hits. Those are sales a publisher won’t see. Sales YOU the author won’t see. Why buy the cow when you’ve already gotten the milk for free. Now this doesn’t mean, of course, that a publisher won’t consider a previously published work. Lots do. It’s a well-known fact that some books have low sales. But what I’m talking about here is when an author posts a story on a free site for readers, and then submits that same story to a publisher.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably never stop saying it. Writing is a business. Some may see it as a hobby, something they don’t really worry about or consider as a real career opportunity—if they get published they get published, and if they don’t, no worries. They write for the love of writing. But writing IS a business. And in business you have the good guys and the bad guys.

Protect your work. It’s an asset just as sure as the money you make with the day job—no different than that flat-screen TV you own. Your work has value and you should treat it like gold. Lock it up.


Unknown said...

Wise words, indeed. I won't publish a single syllable of a WIP. When asked about future works I say things like "I have a contemporary erotic tale set in Paris" or a "pirate story set in 18th century Jamaica." Not one detail beyond the general is getting out until it's under contract and becomes a soon-to-be-released title with the publisher.

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

Thanks so much for the advice. I never really thought about this before.

I always thought you had to catch the readers eye with somthing.

Tess MacKall said...

Hi Melissa. Good for you. Not one syllable. I like that. And you are exactly right with how you should present your WIP. Vague is the key word here.

Tess MacKall said...

Catching the reader's eye is a definite, Abigail, but you have to catch it with something contracted, and soon-to-be released just like Melissa mentions in her comment.

Try for a free read to show off your gorgeous voice. Keep the stuff you want to sell under wraps.

C. Zampa said...

Fantastic blog, Tess!

I'd been so carefree about posting my unpublished work, anxious for feedback.

I began to feel the same way that you've talked about. Uneasy, wondering if another author, more advanced than me, could take my idea and use it.

My fear? In truth? I was terrified, because I had to admit to myself that a better writer than me could take my idea and make it even more powerful than I ever could. That's an humbling thought. But it triggered me to think...why not build my skills and then I can make that powerful story myself? Why hand it over to someone else?

I HAVE seen ideas duplicated. Most really good writers should never have to copy, because part of being a good writer is being able to create a scenario. But it DOES happen.

Good, good advice, Tess.

Judith Leger said...

Excellent advice. I make sure I never post anything that will affect my chance at having a book published. I've always been told that when you post your work then that messed with the first rights issues. Thanks for posting this. It's a topic everyone needs to be aware of.

Robyn Clark said...

It seems like something so obvious I'm surpirsed that so many people do it. I did some fetish modeling from 2003-2004 and had a similar experience: the webmaster (or breastmaster as he liked to call himself) would post too many pictures as "teasers" that it was hard to get people to subscribe to our pay sites. It

Tess MacKall said...

CZ...first off, I wouldn't worry about anyone being more advanced than you. I've seen your work.

And this "taking" of ideas, isn't just advanced writers--already published writers doing this. It can happen to anyone. Anytime.

Good writers not having to copy? That's what I thought when I read that book from the author who had basically shanghaied a NYTBS plot. The author could actually write. Really quite talented.

So why? I guess in this case it was the lure of having that similar title and catching the eye of readers. But for me, it was just a bad move.

When I open a book to read, I do expect similar plotting--especially in romance. But I also expect the writer to be talented enough to give me words/phrases that are unique to that writer and twists and turns that put a new spin on a the plot.

Keep your books to yourselves. Only trusted crit partners.

Tess MacKall said...

You're so right, Judith. It's not just a matter of keeping your work safe from those who might "borrow" from it. But also to keep it marketable.

Publishers look for fresh material for the most part.

Tess MacKall said...

Interesting comparison, Robyn, but it works for me. When it's all out there, why buy it?

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

You are so right, Tess. What excellent advice, not something everyone would consider when they're discussing something they love, namely their writing. When I talk about my WIP in a public forum, such as my blog, or FB, I am very vague - I post my progress in terms of words, I may refer to it as a certain kind of story, eg Halloween or Christmas, and may even mention my heros by name - names are easy to come by! - but only my friends know any more, and that only privately. Sometimes I post the pictures I use for inspiration, since they don't belong to me either, and I like to share pretty boys.

Sad, but true, people will steal.

True but funny story - When I was still a noob at such things, I posted a fanfic at, but I did it wrong by posting under my daughter's name, I think.I ended up reposting it correctly, under my name instead, and was accused by someone of plagiarism. lol Of my own work!

Regina Carlysle said...

Such a good post. Couldn't agree with you more, Tess. The only people who see bits of a WIP are my closests friends and in a private setting. Now if something is unedited yet contracted, that's different. I feel comfy posting a few words of something like that (as long as labeled 'unedited'). Don't do that often, but I have.

I think newbie writers who have finished their first and are shopping it around have to be really careful. It's exciting to build that first website and you are DYING to put something significant on it but DON'T. Resist the urge because thieves are lurking.

As to 'copying a plot'? There aren't any original plot lines just the individual writers twist on them. To think....OMG I have ANGELS in my story and so and so just put ANGELS in HER ridiculous. I DO notice similar words and phrases and you are right, it's not plagiarsim but to avoid any accusations of that, I NEVER read in the same genre in which I'm writing. If I'm writing a light hearted contemporary, I trend toward reading historical or paranormal, for example. Often I'm so paranoid about it, I won't read anything at all if I'm in the middle of something.

Fran Orenstein said...

I totally agree with you, Tess. Until a book is published or copyrighted, don't give it away. You are unique as a writer and storyteller, so if you must, tell your friends or family and get it off your chest, but don't tell the general public. Okay, I'm not the most trusting person, but when in modern history have we been able to trust?

Elizabeth Black said...

I see a lot of what you said at SF/F conventions, Tess. Wannabe writers especially discuss their plots and titles in great detail to anyone who will listen, which is a HUGE mistake. Granted, some of those plot ideas are really horrendous but some actually perked up my ears.

I've seen people online post entire chapters as well of their WIPs and I always cringe when I see it. I'll be vague about my WIPs on Facebook and such, such as giving a word count for the day or saying "Here I am again, writing yet another sex scene..." but I don't go much farther than that. Sadly, too many people do. I haven't seen a plot lifted yet but I fully expect to see that some day soon.

Tess MacKall said...

Jules, good way to run a blog. Posting inspirational pictures and simply speaking in vague terms about a work in progress.

LOVE your plagiarism story. What a hoot!

Ana Lee Kennedy said...

Oh wow, I've seen this happen so many times and have had so many authors email me and ask how to approach so and so who seems to have stolen their idea. I'll ask if they posted a blurb or excerpt of a WIP anywhere and most of the time the answer is yes.

My reply: Never, ever, ever, ever post anything not published anywhere that someone can steal your idea! Now it's your word against theirs.

Lisa Troy said...

Exactly! I so agree with you, Tess. I always wonder when I see other writers publish the plot of their WIP's on their sites. Aren't they afraid someone will steal it? I admit that I thought about it when building my own site, because I'm not very fast at finishing a book, so I thought: what if by the time I'm done, someone else has seen my idea, finished their version of my story and pitched it to an editor? And I'm just a newbie. I can't imagine how best-selling authors feel.

Tess MacKall said...

Hey Regina, how's that cold? You bring up a good point. I, too, worry about reading something and then transferring it somehow to my own work. I've never deliberately done it, but you know if a word or phrase stands out to you, you just might.

Great idea about not reading within the genre you're writing at the moment. A bit more difficult for those who write strictly one genre, though. You just have to be very careful overall.

And yep, no one has the market cornered on angels or demons, werewolves, vamps, etc. Something has to be incredibly unique in order to yell foul. And unless you can prove it was deliberate? Then whose to say two authors can't come up with the same "unique" idea? That happens too.

And all of that is why the law sticks to copying lines outright. Much easier to pinpoint.

Annabel Joseph said...

Great post, Tess. I have a couple trusted beta readers but aside from them, no one sees anything but a two line blurb until the work is ready to come out.

With that said, I wrote a screenplay a couple years ago I was really proud of. Never found a buyer, but a book called "One Day" is on the bestseller list and being made into a movie as we speak. Same exact premise and plot. So you know, what can you do? I wrote another screenplay where there was a big hook around the words "I see you well" being a way to say "I love you" in certain languages. It was great. Then Avatar came out and used the whole "I see you well" so I pretty much had to throw my script in the trash. You know, there are only so many ideas and people often end up having the same ones. It only sucks if someone else makes a billion dollars for it before you can, LOL. Oh, and then I started a new title about a cellist and I really wanted to have a scene where she flipped out and trashed her cello. I just HAPPENED to start reading Lisa Valdez's Patience at the same time and near the end I was sickened to see that there's a scene where...yep...the heroine flips out and destroys her cello. Back to square one with my book--and I had such a wonderful scene for it in my head. I literally cried. But people would have assume I had copied Lisa Valdez, so...

What heartens me though, is that no one can steal my author's voice. That is totally unique to me. So while I get frustrated about these other situations, my voice is totally my own.

Tess MacKall said...

You're right, Fran. If we look at the odds of it happening vs. not happening, odds are it WILL happen. And there are so many thousands and thousands of books out there, chances are you might not ever know, too.

A change of title, character names, a different publisher? Your unique idea might be someone elses too.

I'm not a trusting person either. The world can be a scary place in general. We lock up our houses. Our work should be treated the same.

Tess MacKall said...

Lizzie, discussing plots is just more of the same, isn't it? I bet some of those who have live to regret it too.

Posting word count and what the parts about writing you love and what you don't love is another good discussion topic for your WIP. I do hope some authors who are just starting out are taking note of these great WIP blogging suggestions.

Tess MacKall said...

Hiya Faith! I know you've seen this. You've been in the biz a long long time. It's the unheard story, really. Not much you can do about it. Once the barn door is open, the horse is out, doesn't do any good to close it, does it?

And sue? Good lord. Can you imagine the money involved and the proof you'd need? Not an option. You can have a copyright all you want, register it. But it does no good unless you can prove that Author Jane Doe deliberately took your work. You'd have to prove they'd actually seen it. And even then, your idea would have to be the most unique story premise around since you can't steal a plot.

Tess MacKall said...

Lisa...I was tempted to do the same thing with my very first website. But I posted free stories instead. An author, can't remember who right now, but someone who'd been around a lot longer than me told me not to. I listened, thankfully.

Now after being around in authorland as long as I have, I certainly know why she told me NOT to do it. lol I'm grateful to that author too.

Tess MacKall said...

Oh, Annabel, I feel for ya, hon. That's awful to know you were writing all of this just to have to toss it away.

But you're right. Some people do come up with the same ideas. It happens.

I've got a western historical I'm working on. The family name in the story ended up being too similar to the last name of a family in another western historical by a very well known author. Oh honey, I couldn't change that name quick enough. lol Yep, I would have been a copycat. And hadn't even tried. I'd never read the other author's book. But a trusted friend who is also my crit partner, pointed it out. My heart almost stopped. lol

Thankfully, that's all I've had to deal with. Much more and I'd have a stroke!

Happy writing to you, Annabel.

Laura G. said...

Excellent post, Tess. And a great way to get the word out to those who don't know this.

Tess MacKall said...

LG!!!! Enjoying your book, girlie. Just slow at it. Life is a zoo right now.

I do hope this post and all these comments with war stories and great suggestions for blogging about WIPs help someone.

Elizabeth Black said...

One practice I've seen is a well-known and respected author doing an exercise with his fans, asking them to post either the first line or the first or last paragraph of their WIP, mainly as an exercise to see if they have a good hook. I've read those posts with great interest and they've helped me develop my own catchy hooks. He's right - if you can't grab a reader in the first sentence or first paragraph it's very hard to keep their interest. He's not in my writing genre. He writes horror and dark fiction.

His exercise might be a bit risky but it sounds pretty good to me. Plus you don't reveal a lot about your WIP and it brings attention to it. I can see why some people might say "don't post ANYTHING of your WIP online", though. That's very good advice. Maybe post your first line/paragraph after it's unedited but contracted.

Tess MacKall said...

When I was teaching at AWH, we did a lot of excerpt posts for critiquing. I always posted my work with a copyright disclaimer. At the very least, authors should always do that when dealing with workshop activities in general. Keeping up with different versions of your story--working on them in MS Word so you can have time stamps helps. But the best thing is to simply not post.

I like that exercise you're talking about, Lizzie. We did a lot of interactive things like that at AWH as well. Writing prompts were always the best I think. I got a full-blown novel out of a writing prompt. lol And have another one in the works. But I can't tell ya about that one--it's not contracted. LOL

Mary Suzanne said...

Great informative blog, Tess. I've been guilty of posting excerpts from WIP and didn't think a thing about it.

I've learned my lesson.


Mary Suzanne

Tess MacKall said...

Glad you stopped by, Mary. Oftentimes writers don't give posting WIPs a second thought. We're all so used to the Internet that it seems like a neighborhood. But as with any neighborhood, bad guys lurk around for opportunity.

Natalie Dae said...

Gosh, I'm guilty of doing this, showing parts of a WIP. Whoopsie!


Tess MacKall said...

You and your whoopsie, Nat. It's just a matter of be safe instead of sorry. And all the protection in the world doesn't keep it away either. People can take parts of your published work too.

As a practice, I just never post anything much of a WIP. And really, nothing. You'll hear me say I'm working on a specific genre and word count, but that's pretty much it for me.

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

I couldn't resist, after reading your last comment.

Practice safe writing now - protect your WIP!

Anne Rainey said...

I do have info on my website about my WIPs. However, a WIP doesn't necessarily mean it's not under contract, it just means the ms isn't finished. Once that sucker is done, then it gets shifted over to my coming soon page. If it's not under contract, then I will only share a few sentences about it.

Tess MacKall said...

LOL Jules! Condom anyone? LOL

Tess MacKall said...

Good point, Anne. You CAN most certainly be contracted on proposal and have a WIP.

I can see you posting snippets of that WIP to garner attention from your loyal followers. Giving them sneak peaks--a tried and true way of promoting. akes sense.

Books can be copied long after they are contracted too. After all, nothing is sacred, is it? Just look at those books I mentioned in my post. Books that are definitely just a take off on already best sellers.

I guess the only fear I'd have in posting an already contracted work that has yet to be released would be that someone could jump the gun and get it out faster than my publisher.

I'm probably a real purist with all of this too.

Anne Rainey said...

So you don't feel authors should have blurbs and excerpts of their upcoming releases on their website?

Tess MacKall said...

No, not at all, Anne. There comes a point when you have to. Heck book ideas are "taken" long after they are published.

But if you mean NOT posting excerpts of a WIP that has been contracted? Then I'd have to say yes, I believe that for the most part a WIP should stay under wraps. As I said in my post, snippets only--less than five hundred words. And preferably taken from a section that really could never give anyone a hint as to all the twists and turns you have in the book.

I just put a coming soon blurb up on my own website. Nothing wrong with that. I won't put up an excerpt until much closer in and after the editing is finalized though. Pretty much just a couple of weeks prior to release.

Blurbs, while about the book, don't tell as much as an entire first chapter would---or should.

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks for the advice! :)

Tess MacKall said...

And with all things in life, you've got to do what is right for you. I offer opinions, advice. Nothing--absolutely nothing--is set in stone. Well, maybe the love we have for our children. But that's about it I think.

Traveler said...

Excellant post! Thank you for taking the time to point this out. I'm a new writer that recently started a website. I don't have alot to share but wanted some feedback. I hadn't really considered the idea that someone might be interested enough to take my ideas and run!
I'll be more cautious now. Thank You

Tess MacKall said...

Hi Traveler,

You're more than welcome. I hope you read the comments and picked out some things you can do that will promote your WIP and YOU as an author without exposing your actual manuscript.

Thanks for commenting.

Shoshanna Evers said...

Good advice, Tess! I don't tend to post anything other than the official blurb and excerpt, and that's after it's been bought. But when I'm blogging, I will talk about "a post-apocalyptic erotic romance set in New York City" or something along those lines. This is a great blog, btw. I'm bookmarking it!

Tess MacKall said...

Hi Shoshanna. so glad to see you here. And thanks for the kudos on the blog and bookmarking us.

I think what you do with a WIP is just perfect. Speaking of it in vague terms makes sense to me. You can always pique a reader's interest that way.

Madison Scott said...

Thanks for the advice, Tess. I always have struggled with If/what/how much to post and when.

Brindle Chase said...

Absolutely agree. As a new author myself, I am thankful for the same advice I received from seasoned vets. Don't post your WIP anywhere. There are some great writer's forums out there, but they encourage their members to post their WIP publicly. They put them in password protected forums for the sake of calling it a private post and not first publication, but all you have to do take the password that is posted publicly as well. The trade off is, if you do post, you'll get some great advice, from a lot of published authors. But you open yourself up to thieves. And they prey on those forums. I post tidbits now and then when I'm struggling, but no longer entire chapters, or worse, entire stories.

I learned very quickly only to share my work with trusted critique partners, and my editors (of course).

Brindle Chase

Tess MacKall said...

Interesting look at how some of those sites work, Brindle. I agree, passwords might help, but not entirely. I've been on some of those sites out of curiosity and the two or three I visited were not password protected though. All you had to do was simply register. And it could be a fictitious name of course.

Lots to think about for sure. And again, better safe than sorry.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tess MacKall said...

Madison...yes, it's difficult to sometimes know where to stop. It's always tempting to get more feedback on a WIP.

Tierney O'Malley said...

Cool post, Tess. Thanks for the advice. I'm not into posting my chapters of WIP when promoting or bragging. But I'm guilty on posting my blurbs.


Tess MacKall said...

Hi Tierney. Blurbs are not nearly as bad as posting excerpts or summaries of the WIP or just saying too much in general.

It depends on the blurb, really. Some blurbs discuss a bit more of the plotting than others. I always go for shorter blurbs whenever possible. A blurb of under one hundred words and grabs attention, but doesn't really give away too much.

I find that I'm getting more and more into piquing a reader's curiosity and less and less into giving examples of work in general.

Try for a short verb that doesn't reveal too much.

Bekki Lynn said...

Sometimes, I think we share because we need feedback. We don't think of the dangers. But I wanted to point out that it's just not posting WIP randomly in open forums, that could be costly but also within critique groups.

I once had a critique partner who went on to publish her first story. I was so thrilled for her I was close to the first person to buy her book when it came out.

I read it even though I critiqued it throughout it's process. By the time I finished the book, I was so angry I've not spoken to her since.

She had taken elements from two stories she critiqued for me and incorporated them into her story. Very poorly, I might add, they stick out like a sore thumb. I've not purchased another book of hers that I critiqued for fear I'd see more of my work.

Trust and honesty is a major issue with me and I have to admit, sometimes I'm too trusting and it usually bites me in the butt.

Tess MacKall said...

Hi Bekki. Yes, I mentioned those crit groups in the blog. I've heard the same sad story you just posted about a bunch of times. That type of thing has happened to several authors I have chatted with over the years. It's not that rare. And for those who think it can't happen? I hope they read your comment.

I'm very sorry that happened to you. I have yet to have that happen to me. But I'm using the same crit partner I've used for a while now. I have a very small small group of close friends who read for me. I don't venture out in the "trust" area at all.

I did, however, in eighth grade have a friend who sat in front of me in class steal one of my poems and turn it in as her own. I remember how devastated I was by that. You feel gut punched.

So hell no I wouldn't buy another one of your "friend's" books or speak to her. That's a major snake in the grass for sure. An author I don't wish any success for.

My heart truly goes out to you on that, hon. And I wish YOU much much success in all your writing endeavors.