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This could be a terrible blunder

If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.

Lillian Hellman

An ill-advised and vulgar combo?

Welcome to Informed by Failure, a small low-key blog–perhaps proto-blog is more accurate–about writing and authorship, reading, book publishing, and my favourite vices.

My name is Todd Besant. I’m an author, book publisher, writer, editor, and deep reader.

I’ve made my career in the book world for about 30 years as a bookstore clerk and manager, journalist, book publisher, etc. I’ve read heaps of publishing and writing advice books and magazines, blogs about publishing and writing, reviewed endless stacks of manuscripts of all kinds and learned more than I could have imagined, formally and informally, about writing, publishing, marketing and promotion, new technologies, etc.

And there is always something new to learn.

So, yes, my beard is grey. I’ve experienced and adapted to the many changes–some great some not so great–that have happened and continue to happen in the book industry. (Contrary to popular belief, book publishers and writers are dynamic and often early adopters of new technologies.)

Clearly, I’ve had the double privilege of being a white guy able to get getting a 360o tilt-a-whirl view of book publishing in the late 20th and early 21st Century. Anyway, you can read some of my “official” bona fides here.

If you do random click-about on Informed by Failure you’ll find it’s an ill-advised and occasionally vulgar combination of opinion blog, ersatz freelance writing website, and a showcase of my published fiction.

I intend this blog to be uncomplicated, thoughtful, and honest. (But intentions don’t matter at all.)

I’ll focus on encouraging people to look, listen, read, and think before they write, as well as musing about my own writing practices, successes, and failures.

Because I can’t or won’t resist the impulse, I will also comment on wider issues related to publishing and writing.

As for my worst intentions, well, as Melville wrote, “This is my substitute for pistol and ball.”

Being my own fucking weirdo

Truthfully, I’m hesitant and maybe a little skeptical about whether the world wants another blog about writing and publishing. But I kinda think it needs one. And, full disclosure, I acknowledge I’m launching this blog to learn how to blog.

As Jane Friedman wrote in the best blog post ever on writing and publishing advice, “people want the secrets to success and a positive spin.”

Well, I’ve worked in the book world long enough to know there aren’t any secrets to writing the perfect “proper” sentence or guaranteeing your book will be a “bestseller.”

There isn’t one perfect way to manage a writing career or get a book published, or, well, provide commentary and offer advice.

The writing and publishing blog assembly lines churn out so many opinions it’s a take what you need or can use and ignore the rest situation.

The second best writing advice I’ve read is to be your own fucking weirdo and understand you deserve nothing.

Don’t emulate or envy other writers. Don’t simmer in a pot of jealousy or despair. Be grateful you possess a writer’s mind and you know your way around the QWERTY enough to have some kind of creative output.

This is what I’m aiming for, honest, realist, sometimes blunt, and sometimes cranky–especially when I’m presenting information that conforms to my creative and professional preferences and opinions.

The best I can hope is to offer and someone will find a useful nugget or two in what I’ve learned from years of working in the book world.

And along the way, I hope I can grasp a few new handfuls of knowledge and information, too.

I want to have fun too, using this blog as a creative project. The ideal would be a meta-blog, but I don’t think I’m that clever and I’m prone to slipping into the self-indulgent crevasses. (I won’t apologize for that.)

I’m going to give myself room to be my own fucking weirdo and to remember deserves got nothing to do with it.

As well, now that I’m an “old”, I live in fear of missing out on what is probably the biggest writing boom in history, so I’ve decided to prioritize my writing, uh, career. (Perhaps writing careen is more accurate.)

Of course, this could be a terrible blunder, ending in the alienation of family, friends, professional peers, and driving a stake through the weakening heart of my writing ambitions, bring me kinds of unwanted attention, and end with a few eyes poked out.

I know this blog isn’t needed or wanted by anyone, except by me. (Maybe.) And I tried this blogging thing once, very briefly, and failed.

Perhaps the best I can hope is it doesn’t die quietly from neglect.

Keen on a sweet sinecure

So, I guess that’s it. I want Informed by Failure to be worth your reading time. And I appreciate you dropping by.

When or if you come back, please make suggestions, ask questions, and the like. And if you have a sweet sinecure vacant, please drop me an email right now!

But if what you read here makes you want to set fire to your shoes and run away screaming, I won’t take it personally. But please don’t scorch the patio bricks on your way out.


All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: rachaelvoorhees on Visualhunt

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This blog is written and produced on Turtle Island in Winnipeg, MB, on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and is the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation. All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.
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