AW Exposed: Birol

This week, Absolute Write moderator Birol stopped by to share a bit about her career as a writer and editor, and also to speak about everything AW can offer its community of writers. So here’s Lori Basiewicz, exposed!

AW Identity

Screen Name: Birol
Post Count: An extraordinarily large number that would embarrass me if I were to actually know it.
Favorite Forum: Absolute Write, of course! Oh… You mean which forum on AW is my favorite? Um… That’s a tough one. I should say Novels, because I moderate it, but probably the non-existent mod room, or the Roundtable (I used to moderate it, too) because that’s where all the different types of writing come together and therefore it’s representative of what AW is all about, or the Goals and Accomplishment forum because it’s representative of what AW can do for writers, or the Freelancing forum because that’s what first drew me to AW, or Bewares & Background checks because that’s where writers learn what to watch out for and where the concept of paying it forward is most readily visible, or… The thing is, AW’s not about the forums. Never has been. It’s about the people. I cannot choose one forum over the other any more than I can choose one person over the other.

About:

In real life, you are… I hope that you’re not implying my career as a writer is imaginary, because in real life, I am very much a writer and an editor, but if you’re trying to get at who I am aside from being a writer and a member of AW, then I am many things. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. I am a student, an administrative assistant, a martial artist, and a bibliophile. I am a dreamer and a traveler. I am someone who is both shy and assertive. I like to be alone in my own space and my own head, and I like to know what is going on out in the world and with others. And, yes, I am also a writer and an editor. In the end, I’m just me, with all the annoying contradictions that involves.
Book title:
Long Way From Tomorrow (to be published in late 2010 or early 2011); Child of Fate (in progress)
Genre:
LWFT is science fiction. Child of Fate would be an urban fantasy?
Blog:
The Commune

We all know you as a member of the AW Mod Squad. Firstly, you must invest a lot of your time on the boards. What drives you to commit such a big chunk of time to the writers, lurkers and learners at AW?

I sometimes ask myself that same question. In the beginning, it was a sense of belonging. Then and now, it’s about being able to pay it forward – yes, I know I’m using that phrase a lot in this interview, but it’s an important concept. When I first decided to become a writer (I was somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12), there wasn’t an internet and a lot of these very basic questions that AW answers weren’t easy to learn. Oh, sure, I could figure out how to tell a story, but the business of selling it? It was a complete mystery that I had to work to uncover. When I found AW – I was in my 20’s by then and the internet was in nearly every home in the United States – a lot of things were answered in a very short time by writers who had come before me, or who were at least ahead of me on the curve. Now, it’s my turn to return the favor. In time, it will be someone else’s turn. Maybe yours, maybe someone reading this. That’s how AW works.

Secondly, you have an insider perspective on how AW works. What do you see as the top benefits (and maybe drawbacks, too) of any writer’s being a part of this community? How has it enhanced your own writing?

Has AW enhanced my writing? Yes and no. AW as a forum helped provide me with a solid knowledge of how the business of publishing works and how to evaluate opportunities. AW as a forum did not help me so much with the craft of writing, but some very special people who I met on AW, and who I would never have known otherwise, became my much-beloved writer’s group and they continue to help me grow as a writer and a person. AW also provided me with some industry connections that led me to opportunities I would not have had otherwise, including my current editing gig.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t people whose writing hasn’t been enhanced by AW. That’s the thing about Absolute Write – each of us get something different from it and leave something different behind for others. For me, help with craft wasn’t what I was looking for when I first turned up on the Water Cooler’s virtual doorstep. I’d already been published in local magazines and was specifically looking for business advice. Others show up at different times in their development, with different needs.

It was also a bonus that it was a community of largely like-minded individuals, people who got what I was trying to do and going through, who could understand what a huge deal a first rejection was, for example, without having to have it explained to them.

The drawback of AW, or any writers’ forum, is simple: They are time-sucks. Time spent on forums could just as easily be spent writing. You’ll often hear me talk about balance and that’s true with AW, too. Yes. It’s great to belong to a community of writers, to be able to talk about craft with them, to be able to hang out with them any time of day or night, but if you’re not actually practicing that craft, then all the talk in the world does little to help you advance as a writer. At some point, writers have to actually write. If all their free time is being spent on a writer’s forum, any writer’s forum, then that’s not happening.

On your blog, you describe yourself as a “freelance writer and editor”. What do you write — and what do you edit?

I’m currently working as a freelance editor for Aspen Mountain Press, a small e-book publisher that is in the midst of going to print, at least partially. As for writing, mainly right now, I’m working on my graduate thesis – if you poke around the internet, you will discover I’ve been working on it far too long – and I really want to get it finished by May. With that in mind, most other writing projects are taking a backseat to it.

After that is finished, I will return to working on novels, short stories, and writing for magazines as well as pursue a couple of other academic projects that have caught my interest. Oh, and I will be madly editing and rewriting my first novel, which has been accepted for publication. That’s the current plan, anyway.

You must write for a variety of markets, but what’s your favorite topic/genre?

I really don’t have a favorite. My fiction tends to be mainstream or science fiction/urban fantasy.

Freelance writers have to be close friends with self-promotion. What are the most important things you’ve learned about finding good markets, building a list, and generating income?

Never stop looking. Seriously, the minute you stop looking for markets is the minute the market you’ve come to depend on goes belly up or changes direction or… It’s just best to stay diversified and keep putting yourself out there.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask. If you hear about a market you’d like to break into and you discover another writer who already has a connection there, don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction or a referral, don’t be afraid to e-mail someone out of the blue and ask for work. If you want to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, you can’t let pride, shyness, or any other hang-up get in your way.

2010 is still brand new: What are your goals for the coming year?

Funny story: I’d been working on my goals and had jotted them down on a piece of paper. Where that paper ended up is anyone’s guess. Mine is the laundry, or the trash. Anyway, here’s a rough outline of what I hope to accomplish in 2010:

  • Finish thesis.
  • Rewrite and edit Long Way From Tomorrow per contract
  • Finish and submit Child of Fate
  • Start either Lily’s Song or The Sorting
  • Edit 12 novels or novellas.
  • Finish next academic essay.
  • Submit at least 2 academic essays for publication at respected journals.
  • Acquire 2nd regular editing gig or regular freelancing assignment.

There’s a few other things I’d like to accomplish, too, but they are less concrete.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “AW Exposed: Birol

  1. Fascinating interview. And that is an awesome to-do list – good and AWE-inspiring, haha. Good point on balance.

  2. That is a great list of things to do in 2010. Time may be your only problem. The important thing in my opinion is the uncontrolable erge to write. I couldn’t stop writing if I tryed. The stories come to me in my day dreams. I can’t stop them. I’m on my fifth book. I don’t worry about any thing as long as my publisher is willing to publish my novels. Good luck on doing your list. I know you will succeed

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