August 19, 2011 at 06:09 (Thoughts, Writing)
Tags: adversity, fear, feedback, Writing
Writing IS fear. I can’t even begin to list all the things you can be afraid of in writing, because it spans from acceptance, to quality, to expectations, and so on. If it’s an aspect of writing, you can damn well be certain you might be afraid of it at some point.
Being afraid of doing something wrong is actually easy enough to overcome. You can make weird concessions to nullify half of the fear. And eventually, it seems like every writer comes to the same conclusion: you have to be willing to be bad. We all suck, and that’s cool.
But what about when you’re afraid of being good? That’s a little trickier. Everyone’s bad. We have terrible days, we can’t write for peanuts, we make mistakes. But not everyone is good, are they? That’s a little higher. That’s above the mark. And it’s terrifying for many people.
It can be really hard to find someone who relates to you, understands your plight, and is willing and able to be your support group. They aren’t the types who will just endlessly cheer you on, but they will also rein you in when you’re being a bit crazy, and will be honest and heartfelt with you. They are the ones who will be able to say, “You know what? You’re strong enough for success”.
Even so, getting over any fear is largely up to you. After all, at the end of the day, you might even be afraid of trying, and disappointing those supporting you so well. Or you might be afraid (irrationally!) of proving them all right. Who knows! Fear is crazy! So you have to make your mind up to ditch the fear. There’s a time and a place for accepting your fears, acknowledging them to see if they hold any validity. Sometimes the thing you’re worried about is legitimate, and you can fix it ahead of time.
But usually, you just need to look it over, realise the fear isn’t serving you, and release the emotion for better things. Say goodbye to your terrors, and embrace enthusiasm and love. It’s all in your head, and it’s all up to you!
August 16, 2011 at 22:01 (Thoughts, Writing)
Tags: books, bookstores, e-books, Julia Munroe Martin, print, Writing
Everyone already knows that certain big-name bookstores are closing down. What a sad state of affairs. This post was originally in response to the beautiful Julia Munroe Martin of wordsxo, but the reply got so long, I figured I’d just turn it into tonight’s rant! You can see her entry, then read on. Borders: It’s Personal
Part of the problem is, big chain bookstores have so much extra to factor into costs at the get-go. Rent/property tax, utilities for the big store front, employees both on the floor and out of sight. But the nasty part is the profit margin they are expected to turn, because that becomes mark-up for the consumer to bear.
In this day and age, we know what kind of money is going back to the writer, and their agent, and the editor at the publishing house. The publishing execs make their profit (for themselves and the stockholders). Then there’s the workers at the print factory, the binders, the general production costs. We know that half the work at a publishing house is done by unpaid interns. We know that the bosses are looking at that profit margin, no matter which company it’s going through. At every stop, someone is adding that little extra, but once you reach an actual store, their “little extra” heads upwards in ways that are no longer fair to the average consumer.
Who can afford new books from big chains anymore? I’m not going to buy e-books exclusively when I finally get an e-reader (I will always want a physical copy), but the cost is a very real factor. If the writer, the person whose creation you’re reading, is finally able to get a better cut of the cake, that’s a good direction for us to be stepping.
But electronic media is by nature very non-capitalist; a computer file is infinitely reproducible at negligible cost, so what are we really paying for? There is the stipend to the writer, as a thanks for their creative work, and to cover the costs they incurred while writing and editing and hiring an artist to make some very nice cover art. Then even by buying through online stores, we pay to keep that store online (staff, bandwidth, their office overheads). But they don’t need a big, expensive store front, with high-exposure to a main road. They don’t need nice carpets or a flashy sign out front. They can sit in their respectably comfortable offices and still provide us with the same end product, for less cost to us.
If we were able to drag our society away from the superficial appearance-driven stores that cost so much to run, would they remain viable businesses? Or would the top-tiers of each company still drive the cost outside of a profitable range at all? An e-book ultimately isn’t a superior product to an actual paper print, though it has considerable advantages (and don’t get me started on the paper industry, we will be here all night). I think the physical book, and indeed the physical bookstore will persist beyond this electronic age, but they need to grow and adapt.
August 14, 2011 at 20:26 (Other Writers)
Tags: books, N. M. Martinez, Nina Martinez, post-apocalyptic
Ruin is a brand new post-apocalyptic themed book by the ever entertaining and insightful Nina Martinez (as seen in my Favourite Reads sidebar as “Write Your Own Story”). You can support this awesome lady by checking out her website through the following link and purchasing her e-book.
Click here for Ruin
August 14, 2011 at 20:04 (Thoughts, Writing)
Tags: books, genre, language, random thoughts, rules, themes, Writing
There isn’t actually a “right” way to write. Even spelling, grammar and punctuation can be massacred for the appropriate reasons. Half of the characters in the Redwall series speak with an accent so heavy, Brian Jacques just made up his own spelling. Stephen King has a short story in Nightmares and Dreamscapes where the mental and physical capacity of a character degenerates to the point that his retelling of events becomes indecipherable gibberish. It’s my favourite story in the collection and never fails to make me cry.
Then there is slang and invented language, which doesn’t have any fair rules to break. It’s true that using slang or modern language will “date” a story, but so does proper terminology. I have been accused far too many times of writing, and also speaking, with archaic words, like they can somehow lose their meaning given enough time? I suppose so, but communication is all shaky ground anyway.
Things like this are the reason why so many people say rules were made to be broken. Because there’s always at least one instance of where a cardinal rule has been so completely disregarded with such amazing skill that you can’t imagine that work being written any other way. If there’s no clearly defined “right” way to throw words at a page, how do we know when we’re doing a good job?
Different people want different things from their reading. Some people like ongoing description that tells you every last thing about a place. I once counted twelve consecutive pages in a book solely of description regarding the landscape and farming in the locale, and absolutely nothing happened in all that time except a lot of info-dumping. This was in a very popular and successful author’s book, too. So some people like it when you’re wordy and droning. Others like sharp, fast-paced writing, where the sentences are short and punchy and there’s no real downtime in the story.
Each genre also has quirks that make a story “suit” the general target audience. Where you might be able to get away with a rushed description of a character in one genre because other things are more important to the story, you could find another genre that practically requires lengthy, gushing language about the people in the book.
So I come back to the question, how do we know when we’re doing it right? Take a look at any top selling books list and you’ll find titles such as The Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Gone With the Wind, The Chronicles of Narnia, And Then There Were None, Black Beauty, Twilight, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Wheel of Time, Lolita, Discworld, it goes on and on. What do these stories have in common, beside being written works? They are vastly different books with varying degrees of appeal to every individual. They all did something right, but that right thing for each story (or series) was almost unique to itself.
August 11, 2011 at 21:23 (Thoughts)
Tags: nighttime, random thoughts, seasons, weather, Western Australia
The clouds which fill the sky are like a thin layer of silver-grey mud, laying dried and cracked over the dark blue expanse of night. Our waxing gibbous moon shines with such intensity that there is a rainbow halo pushing through the clouds. In the gaps between greyness you catch a twinkling of stars here and there. I miss being further away from the city, where the sky seems more starlight than darkness. The more alone you get, the more together and reachable the universe seems.
Somehow the air is clear and crisp, not a trace of mist or haze, and the lights across the river are reflecting brightly. A radio tower with a blinking red light at its peak is the silent sentry over the night. It stands upon a hill and casts its crimson glow into the air. Toward the middle of the river is where its reflection falls, and the water is ruffled, dancing for its own inconceivable reasons. If I had the time, and an inclination towards impish frivolity, I might even take one of the small boats tied by the water’s edge for a joyride. But no, I’m just too well-behaved for that.
There is a surprising lack of people around. It’s early enough that there should be someone still practicing sports on the playing field nearby, but the oval is empty and unlit. It’s too cold for the smell of grass to carry over to me, there is only the scent of chilled moisture. Even though the first whispers of spring show during the day, I still need a coat. Two trees in my yard are bursting with flowers, one covered in yellow, and the other ranging from white to purple, the petals changing colour as they age on the branch.
The six seasons of Australia are always most evident the harder I wish for winter to stay around. To the local native people, August and September is the time of Djilba, the warming season. No amount of European/English classification will change what Australia gives me. The cold rains have mostly passed until next year. There won’t be many more opportunities to lay by a fire and read while a freezing storm lashes from the west. Time goes on, and indeed, everything is changing.
August 9, 2011 at 23:03 (Writing)
Tags: adversity, changes, characters, editing, new stories, planning, plot, worry, Writing
My novella project is the first time I’ve put a lot of effort into planning a series. It’s alien and frightening, and every time I come up with some new perspective on the story, I’m afraid that half way through writing the whole set, I will understand something new and want to change something.
Usually an author will begin publishing a series before all the installments are complete. This is understandable, since a novel often takes a year or more to write, and no one wants to wait ten years to start publishing something they’ve completed. This means that the overall theme has to be well established before they send out book one, because once it’s printed, there isn’t any “fixing” the story.
I thought I had done most of the important planning aspects for TDM, laying out plots and important events, characters which won’t be involved until several books in, the list goes on. My notes are extensive and the outlines were poured over until a cohesive plot was made. I really believed I was in a good position to just write these and expect things to turn out the way I planned. But as I progress through the edit of book one, and drafting book two, I realise that little things can change, and indeed sometimes need to. I worry what this means to my series. Do I need to go back to the planning stage and make the outline even more detailed? Would that be so much different from just writing the drafts and working from there?
At the end of drafting book one, I realised some of the mistakes I’d already made. In some places, I had written the characters to behave in ways I had never intended, and some of the scenes were really unsuited to both the characters I was creating, and the story they needed to tell. Not only that, but it wasn’t until the full first draft had been completed that I understood some of the events I rushed to include too soon when I planned the stories. They shouldn’t happen in book one. They need time to get there organically. My enthusiasm for this series was driving me to cram too much in right away.
Maybe I deviated from my outline too much, even though I really didn’t change many events in the first draft. At the same time, one of the added ideas was so solid and brought together all these other elements, I start thinking I just need more time to get to know my characters and reassess how they will respond. Maybe I haven’t done nearly enough planning. This is an interesting learning curve. It’s hard not to worry about it.
August 8, 2011 at 10:24 (Blogging, Thoughts)
Tags: anime, Blogging, distractions, random thoughts, vacation, weather, Writing
I make plans to blog on Sunday, and that’s fine. I forget it’s Sunday when it is. I remember, and half-write a post. I get distracted and irritable, then watch anime for four hours (finally got around to watching Darker Than Black, and it’s all kinds of awesome). I forget it’s Sunday again, or forget I meant to blog, I’m not sure which happened anymore.
Monday morning, and I look back over the past week of taking a break from most major writing. I’m feeling the urge coming back, but I still have a handful of other responsibilities. I ignore half of them, and read the internet to see what other people were doing while I was asleep. Then I remember to blog, and come to write this post.
After walking beside the beach yesterday, I want to take a little more time. Relax, hang out. We’ve got something vacation-like booked in a week or thereabouts, but as with all organised holidays, it’s never really that chill for me. There are Things that we Will Be Doing. It’s planned. I enjoy going to new places, and it’s awesome that my husband gets so excited to be doing something different, but it won’t be the same as just sitting around outside.
Some people write long blogs, and I could do that. Keep going, talk more in-depth about my thoughts, my work, whatever comes to mind. But I write short, as just a window into my daydreams. As with all the best intentions, I’d like to go laze about under the rain, but I’ll probably get back to writing a story soon. I can feel it building.
August 4, 2011 at 21:13 (Thoughts)
Tags: birds, network, random thoughts, tattoos
I was graced with the beautiful presence of the boobook owl who lives at my workplace. He sat on the balcony’s handrail, peering left and right, fluffed up against the wintery night chill. He would turn his head to inspect new sounds, but he was content with me sitting and watching him from just a couple of metres away. Of course the sun had set and the few external lights are dim, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have been sitting there, so I couldn’t get any photos of his gorgeous form. In the darkness, I could still see his large shining eyes, and the typical “frowny” look of his kind.
I feel such contentment and affinity with owls, but after seeing the boobook, and hearing him call so frequently, I love them even more. They are a special and sacred creature (though I really do love all animals!), and while I sat with him, I just wanted to snuggle his feathers. My husband insisted that the owl would bite my fingers right off if I pet it, to which I fondly agreed. Of course he would bite them off. He’s that kind of owl.
I’ve been thinking of getting a second tattoo, one featuring an owl. Tattoos are really important things, and I would take a very long time in deciding what I want (just like I did with my first ink, my little bat). This might be done to mark my first publication, and of course, because I just want to.
In other news, I’ve updated my sidebar links/Favourite Reads to include a few more of the blogs I read frequently! I kept forgetting I needed to do that, what with my head being filled with too many stories. But now there are new additions, and there will undoubtedly be others again in the future when I find more awesome people and places around the internet.
August 2, 2011 at 21:30 (Writing)
Tags: books, characters, distractions, editing, Horror, inspiration, names, new stories, Writing
I have been absolutely consumed by a new story.
I was doing so well! A strong start on book two of the novella series, getting through a quick edit on book one, then all of a sudden I’m just hit with this idea. It came to me almost fully-formed, ready to go. Characters popped out of nowhere, with flawless interaction, solid personalities and reason for being. I kept interrupting work to write parts of it, and as soon as I arrived home, I got right back into it.
At this stage, from what I can tell, it’s probably another short story. Horror, maybe a little more “typical” than my other horror works, which tend to be very psychological with minimal blood and gore. I don’t know an approximate word count yet, but I’m hoping it won’t take too long to write. I was genuinely enjoying the novellas. The characters in that series are really exciting to write about, and there is so much potential. This, though… this is just stuck in my head, and I’m certainly not going to let it go to waste by working around it, even if I am somewhat torn between my stories.
There’s a good chance that I’ll write part of the story and come to a point where I don’t need to continue right away; there are plenty of others in my project list that have taken that route. Of course, with it already started, I shouldn’t have any trouble coming back to it at a later date to finish it off. On the other hand, I might just be stuck with the idea until I’ve written it all out.
One of the funniest things about this story? The characters came to me with names already, all except the main character. I have no idea what his name is. Maybe it will never be revealed. Maybe he is to remain nameless. We will have to see as it all pans out.