Sunday, July 26, 2015

Writing, Laughing, and Paying the Bills

My first attempt at this essay somehow turned into a short piece of fiction which I had to promptly delete and apologize for not following the rules.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened but that is one of the great mysteries of writing.  Sometimes the work takes control and you get so lost in it that by the time you're done you back away from it like Victor Frankenstein, part fascinated, part horrified.  "What have I done?" you ask yourself, your hand covering your mouth.  Then it's up to you whether to unleash it upon the world or highlight all then delete.  Now that I've vanquished my demon, it's time to make amends.

This mistake, however, spotlights one of the main reasons I write.  You can lose yourself for hours at a time in a whole new world.  And not just any world but one that you created.  Whether it is modern day on Earth or Xorbutt Day on Gemini K26, it is your world.  You decide what happens, what is said, who wins, who loses.  At least, you think you do.  Then again like Frankenstein's monster, your creation comes to life and runs amok, saying things they weren't meant to say and completely throwing your carefully crafted plot into a spiraling cone of fire stoked by the endless reams of carefully researched notes.  How freaking awesome is that?  I continue to write because I'm never certain what I will find once I'm at the mercy of characters.

My next reason for why I write I'm sure will ruffle feathers and cause a great deal of backlash but I'm here to be honest.  As Joker said in The Dark Knight, "When you're good at something, never do it for free.".  I've tried many things in my life to discover what talents I may have.  I can't sing, can't paint, can't build (aside from my super Lego collection, building things has been an art of frustration).  But writing?  Now that I can do.  So far I have not been paid much for my efforts, but considering my efforts have been subpar, I'd say it's about right.  Now don't get me wrong.  I've written a lot.  My issue is with finishing things, novels, mainly.  I've done many short stories and a few screenplays but my hopes lie with writing novels.  It's what I feel I was meant to do.  And when I do start finishing them on a regular basis, I hope to be paid for them.  There has always been a sort of recoil for writers when the talk of money comes around but I don't see why.  I write for money.  I love writing and will always do it, but I also have plans of making a living at it.  I don't see how creativity and cash can't go together.

I've tried writing for free.  I've filled journals but they've never really drawn me in.  I'm not a very introspective guy and it shows in my writing which leads me to my next reason for why I write.  I began writing just for myself.  My first story was an episode of Battlestar Galactica, the original one, thank you.  Yes, I'm that old.  Back in the days before the internet and satellite TV, everyone had to wait a week for the next episode of their favorite show to come on.  For a kid, a week was the same as 'FOREVER!'.  So while I waited, I wrote my own episode complete with sound effects and plenty of Starbuck yelling, "Yee-haw!".  I remember liking it.  But more importantly I remember the other kids liking it, too.  I discovered I got more joy out of others reading the story than I did.  After that, anything I wrote I did with an audience in mind.  My goal was clear: to entertain.  I still hold that to be my number one goal in writing.  I write to make people laugh, or cringe, lose themselves in another world.  I want them to read so they pee their pants, or turn the lights on for safety, or look at the clock and shout, "Oh, shit!  I'm going to be late!"  I've tried coming up with tales rife with moral fiber and life lessons.  They always fall flat and I know the reason.  They are not something I would choose to read, so why would I try to write them?  I read for entertainment.  I prefer genre novels such as fantasy, dystopian, horror, to anything mainstream.  It is just how I am wired so that when I write, I'm hoping to light that spark in someone else.

I write because I can.  Too many people ignore their talents and it is a shame.  I've talked with many people who are retired or about to retire and most of them talk about work like a fond memory and even think about just getting a part-time job for something to do.  It boggles my mind.  I just don't get it.  This is why I write.  I want writing to be my ONLY job.  Sure insurance will be tough going, as usual, but there is no other way I can think of that I would want to make a living.  As with these retirees, they have nothing but time now.  They should be using their talents and pursuing dreams that they've delayed or put on hold.  Write that book, paint that mural, sing, damn it, sing!

Why do I write?  Not because I have to.  I think I would survive if I was forced to stop.  But what kind of life would that be?  I don't write to teach.  My wisdom runs about as deep as a puddle in a parking lot.  I write because I want to entertain.  I want to take people from this world and put them in mine and nudge at them saying, "Hey, hey, watch this.  You're gonna love it."

And hopefully they will.  If you laughed at all reading this, then my job is done.    

Monday, July 13, 2015

Perserverence Beats Up Newbie

I couldn't do it.  I refused to let my story go after putting in so much work.  I'm still not quite halfway finished but I can see the sky beginning to lighten in my writing world.  The dawn of completion is coming, I just know it.

The desire to quit this version will not be wasted, however.  After some consideration, I found how I could use the new ideas for a better book 2 of this trilogy.  So in a way this was all pretty helpful.

Now the only thing I have to contend with is a YA market that appears to be in flux as far as the poopularity of genres.  I've read several articles saying how reality is making a comeback in teen fiction and fantasy, especially dystopian and zombie, are on the decline.  It doesn't make me too worried, however.  I wouldn't consider this story to be either of those (though zombie may be thrown in the way of the writer).  Mine is more of an urban sci-fi story.  It is based in the modern day but with a slight, secretive twist, kind of like the movie, Jumper.  But even if this genre is declining, I believe that as long as it is an intriguing story, it will do well.

OK, enough ruminating.  Back to work.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Running Naked Off The Cliff

I hate to say to myself, 'I told you so', but here I go again.  I stopped working on my latest novel for a week and now I can't get my mind to recognize it anymore.  I've re-read the first 150 pages and there's a lot I like, but it doesn't inspire further ideas or excitement about the scenes I already have planned out.  I have to keep referencing back to my character sheets because I don't recall certain details of them anymore.  The worst part?  I just don't care.

I know the apathy towards my story happens every time I take too long a break.  I've heard many writers say the same thing, that once they stop tending that fire it peters out and no amount of coaxing will bring it back.  Some breaks are unavoidable, most are unintentional.  I kept writing during this last one, just not about my novel.  I wrote a short story and a few flash writing challenges.  But then when I returned to my novel I found it pale and listless.

But all is not lost.  I still like the core premise of the story, a teen derives psychic like abilities from an unexpected source, but I want to handle it differently.  I want less school involved and more action.  I'll work that out this week after giving the main character another thorough once over.  The main character's ability hinges on helping or magnifying others' abilities so I want to focus on who this leads to her assuming a leadership role even though it is the last thing she wants.  She doesn't want to be responsible for others.  She has to learn that most people just need a little help to achieve greatness and if she can, she should be there for them.