Showing all 5 results
Jan 12, 2009 8:16 pm
Creative highs and lows are not uncommon, regardless of the chosen profession. Sitting at an easel sometimes pays me with rewards, and sometimes pure frustration. There really is no system to nail down and isolate, it’s purely at the mercy of our minds.
But, I’ve often found the Cure to be a good remedy… 😉
Jan 12, 2009 9:50 pm
@Erik You get a prize… um… for being the first commenter here. Except I have nothing cool to offer you except *confetti*!
Jan 13, 2009 2:08 pm
Oy, I haven’t cleaned the confetti left over from New Years eve yet! 😉
Jan 13, 2009 5:41 pm
I feel your pain, frustration, befuddlement. Funny thing, though, you seem to be okay with the duct-tape fix, moving through it and getting writing done. Period. I have a conflict with wanting the duct-tape fix, the just do it attitude, but I get mired in the description you gave of the organized person–I want to pick apart some reason why, chart it out, avoid coming to that obstacle in the future.
This year has claimed the resolution of “the year I shall unjumble myself.” Writing is sure to follow once the kittens making the mess in my mental health yarn are banished! HA!
Can’t wait to read more here from you!
Jan 13, 2009 7:27 pm
I wish I could give more concrete advice as to how to move through. The truth is I have no friggin’ idea how it actually works. I do know that for years, when I was with a Wrong Person, I couldn’t write. It didn’t happen. Not that it’s a Wrong Person in your life, but there may be some sort of block that’s not allowing the creativity to flow as it ought. Like, mental feng shuei or something. 🙂
Jan 14, 2009 10:12 pm
I call it the “Creative Suckerpunch”. That unexpected moment of clarity, where it all just sort hits you and you cant get it out of your head and onto the paper fast enough. I’ve had a couple of these myself, and one of the worst things is to have it while sitting in at your desk, during an 8 – 5 office job.
…And like you described, it fades kinda quick. Think of it in terms of seeing stars or your ears ringing after the punch; eventually it wears off.
So, two bits of good news: You are NOT crazy (or in danger of it), and eventually it WILL hit you again…
Jan 14, 2009 10:34 pm
The Blogger – ME
Jan 14, 2009 11:30 pm
Awesome! I laughed my butt off– and then I went over to Twitter and started following Wil Wheaton. 😀
Jan 15, 2009 3:43 am
And then there are those of us who just misuse twitter, for lack of an attention span. 🙂
Jan 21, 2009 1:21 am
I, too am a writer, and I too, feel your pain, joy, aguish, frustration and passion! It’s nice to know I’m not the only sanely crazy person in writerland! And my husband will appreciate this too!
Jan 21, 2009 2:08 am
Kristen – Yes, we feel for you here in this house. And when my son is old enough, I’m sure he’ll wonder what the heck is wrong with his mother and wish she was a boring receptionist somewhere. But alas, it’s not much of a choice for us!
Jan 21, 2009 4:13 am
Hee! Yep. That’s about it in a nutshell.
Oh, also, the inability to get rid of reference books. Even if those reference books are guides to the plants of the Bible, or a 1940’s reference to Iberia that’s been falling apart for so long that the cover is torn and the binding is in four pieces. You may have never read the book, even, but someday, someday, it will be important. And surely, when that day comes, the library will not be good enough!
Jan 21, 2009 4:16 am
@eliza OH yes. I have this problem with collecting books. In fact, I may have a fear of getting rid of books. It is indeed a serious problem! Unfortunately my husband is the same way; the bulk of our moving expenses usually result buying boxes to put the 100s of books in. Someday I want a whole library. Just for books.
Jan 21, 2009 2:25 pm
So many parallels, I cant even begin… This post inspires me to write a similar blog post of my own, only from the perspective of living with an artist…
Jan 21, 2009 3:16 pm
I think it’s a common affliction among artists of all disciplines. As a sometime musician I’m often struck with melodies I can’t shake, and compose symphonies in my head as I go about the house work. Must come off a bit weird, admittedly.
Jan 21, 2009 3:01 pm
It certainly helps when your partner has a bit of the writerly streak in him/her. That said, all writers are different. For instance, some of them don’t leave their teabags sitting on the counter. 😉
Jan 21, 2009 3:15 pm
Ahem. Yes. All writers are different. And I was podcasting last night! I was distracted.
Jan 21, 2009 4:05 pm
[…] was inspired to write this after reading Natania Barron’s post, Living with a Writer. When dealing with creative people, there are some universal aspects that are common to all, […]
Jan 22, 2009 6:05 pm
Terry Goodkind is not involved with the TV show. He thought he was going to be but it never happened. He’s busy writing his new contemporary book(s). Ken Biller is the head writer for the show. The show is still filming, only 9 episodes were finished before the premiere last Nov. 1. Craig H. said on an interview they will be filming ’til April.
Hopefully this show gets picked up for a second season ’cause I love it!
Jan 22, 2009 8:35 pm
@skritek Oh, I had read somewhere he was going to be–ah well, at least we know he was open to this particular vision, anyway. I forget where I read it, but he basically said to his fans not to expect the exact book, but to be open to interpretation. I think that’s a great way to go about translating the story, personally.
And I do hope it gets picked up as well!
Jan 27, 2009 10:05 pm
I love this post, by the way. I keep forgetting to say that.
Jan 28, 2009 2:07 am
I used to love it. There was nothing like knowing that you can work on your story whenever.
And then around 60,000 words, it was suddenly too big to save in a single file. That, and me writing book-style, with indents on the sides that started getting taken out… well, it killed it for me.
Jan 28, 2009 3:30 am
@elizaw The indents thing is really annoying, but I’ve sort of worked my way around it. As to the file size, eek. Thankfully I write in chapters now, after years of doing otherwise, so it isn’t an issue for me. I think with a little work they could make it really THE place for novelists, but I’m sure we’re not their target market. 🙂
Jan 30, 2009 7:19 pm
Jeez. Spoiler alert for the Song of Roland, Natania. 😉
Jan 30, 2009 7:35 pm
I’m not adverse to killing characters when it needs doing, but killing them just for the sake of killing them as some authors do is just wrong.
If they are bit part characters, then it isn’t so bad, but for main characters then there deaths better be worth it and help to move the story along.
Jan 31, 2009 7:55 am
Back as a teenager, I would cackle and dance when I killed a character. Last year, I would announce the percentage of my main cast that made it through alive with a very near-smile on my face. Almost like a superiority complex. My villains were tough enough to inflict casualties. My lackeys could hit the broad side of a barn. Grit and danger, and I’ll prove it! *slays a character*
Now… this last draft let me spare a few more people. I still kill off seven or eight major and secondary characters, though (including villains).
The problem is, you can’t reuse them again. It’s like destroying your tools for the nifty explosion… it could get you somewhere, but it all depends on the book, tone, setting, and the plot to make sure that it’s worth it.
I remember a YA book in which a character told her son, “If you’re going to be rude, do it for a reason and get something out of it.” (Patricia C. Wrede, “The Enchanted Forest Chronicles”.) Like using straight black in artwork, take care, and feel out the composition. If it works, great. If not… make something more interesting than death happen.
Jan 31, 2009 3:01 pm
@qorvus Precisely! I’m not advocating keeping everyone alive in a fairy-tale like setting, but make it interesting. Killing for killing’s sake is never a good idea.
@elizaw Yes, exactly. I know that feeling well. And I love the Wrede quote. Characters are like tools. Heck, I’m irritated right now because one of my characters is unconscious and I can’t use her POV! Not to mention someone just got tossed from a rather impressive height. But part of the tension is also leaving your readers wondering if and when and how people are going to die. Answering those questions bolster the quality of your narrative, I think!
Feb 3, 2009 4:50 am
Just an addendum to early comments. One of my favourite authors is a man called Bernard Cornwell who, amongst the books he has written, has a twenty something book series about a British rifleman called Richard Sharpe set during the Peninsular War mostly at the time of Napoleon.
Early on, before he realised just how many books he would write I guess, he killed off the main villain, a truly nasty piece of work called Obadiah Hakeswill. The man was evil with a capital E. He wrote after that he truly regretted doing so, and while he replaced him with another villain, he was no match for Hakeswill.
Later on he wrote some prequels which allowed him to use Hakeswill again, but it was the only way to use him as for the rest of the series chronologically the man was dead.
Feb 3, 2009 4:54 am
@qorvus I love Bernard Cornwell! And certainly that’s a great example of how even some of the most established writers can make that same mistake.
Feb 3, 2009 11:06 pm
Another Bernard Cornwell fan – awesome. His works inspired me a lot, so much so I took the fantasy world I had been writing in and advanced it technologically to the time period he wrote in in the Sharpe books, resulting in a sort of fusion of fantasy and the Napoleonic era.
Feb 4, 2009 3:38 am
@qorvus I’m a big fan of his Arthur books. One of the best on the subject, IMO, in recent years. There’s something brutally honest about his storytelling style, and simultaneously captivating. And no one describes action like him, either. I need to get to the Sharpe series one of these days, too!
Feb 4, 2009 4:47 am
I’m impressed! That’s a lot of words written and it sounds like you’re on a roll. Keep writing everyday. I know it can be hard sometimes, because there are many days when I don’t produce much myself. Have you ever tried the 3-Day Novel Contest? Google it if you haven’t. I like any 3-day weekend to devote to my writing. I don’t have to enter the contest to get my writing done, but the idea of the contest is a good one.
Feb 4, 2009 6:37 am
I haven’t read the Arthur books, though I used to read quite a few about Arthur by other authors when I was younger. He also recently put out one on Agincourt I’d like to read.
The Sharpe books are rather brutal – they are war stories after all. And a lot of them (21 to date so far I think.) But I’ve read the series through three or four times now I enjoy them so much. (Its also worth keeping an eye out for the BBC series based on the books, staring a young Sean Bean as Sharpe. Its a rather more PG version of the books as well.)
Given they are war stories, a lot of people do die in them. There are a couple of deaths I wish hadn’t happened. One was because I liked the character, but they had to die as the books where not written in chronological order and this character was written later, but appeared chronologically early then the first books he wrote. Given the character never even got mentioned in the first books written, they kind of had to die. Still doesn’t make me stop wishing they hadn’t.
Feb 4, 2009 2:28 pm
I came to the realization the other night that writing is a process as well as a practice. It’s about discipline and coming to the page prepared to work. I’ve spent the last 10 years making excuses not to write, or thinking that I need a deadline. Now, I’m making my excuses to those things that keep me from writing.
If you are writing to escape, at least you are finding a constructive and creative way to do so. And you’re right, February is the cruelest month!
Feb 4, 2009 10:27 pm
That is some serious writing being done there – by my count I haven’t hit 35K in five weeks of writing, much to my chagrin.
I’d love to be able to put out that kind of output, but everything seems to conspire against it.
Feb 4, 2009 10:38 pm
@qorvus Wish I knew what kicked it on for me, but two things helped I know for sure. 1 – getting to know other writers, and getting involved in their processes. Whether it’s on Twitter, on a blog, whatever, getting to know writers and examine how they do it. (They don’t have to be published but that can help). 2 – try to eliminate the worst distractions. Video games, appointments, commitments, beer. It’s different for everyone. I had some pretty big roadblocks, mentally and personally, and I was able to gain a bit of insight into myself by eliminating them. The truth is, I was often my biggest roadblock.
Feb 5, 2009 1:46 am
That is the trick I’m still trying to beat – eliminating the distractions and getting past the self-made roadblocks.
Feb 6, 2009 8:05 pm
You and my father have very similar perspectives on this. While he is not a novel writer, he loves creating worlds for fantasy based gaming. One of the most important things to him was making magic rare, have it make sense, and have it come with a cost. It flew in the face of the standard fare that you might expect to find in other places, like D&D for example.
But, there’s a weird balance to strike when approaching magic like this. Part of the allure of fantasy is the fantastical element of magic, the part that cannot be explained. Getting into the nuts and bolts nuances of the very origins of magic can sometimes rob the reader of that “mystery”. I’ve attempted to do this once before in a world I was working on, and in the end it wound up feeling more like science than something mystical.
Feb 6, 2009 8:30 pm
@Erik I see what you mean. I think the danger is going in any direction too much, at least without a good explanation. I mean mystery is great, but it’s also got to make sense in the framework of the narrative. I’m just a little tired of magic existing and solving problems “just because.” But I also don’t want to overthink it. 🙂
Feb 6, 2009 8:49 pm
When I wrote my first fantasy novel (I was thirteen, and it was more of a novella– never to be shown the light of day) I was thrilled with myself, and at the same time, very, very confused. As a long-time fantasy nerd who won’t go out of the genre, I had forgotten to put in any magic. Instead you had a border dispute, a political frame, and a wayward princess who kept a menagerie in her bedroom and pulled lots of pranks. I couldn’t stop shaking me head, wondering where that had come from.
It’s funny. I’m almost doing the same thing, with another ten years worth of experience tacked on. Ultimately, I think that I do this not because I don’t like magic, but that the creation of circumstance and self-built settings feels so much more powerful. Magic is a weapon of choice… does it really need to be part of the story-proper?
Feb 6, 2009 9:00 pm
@elizaw Yes, I had a few novel attempts that were magic-less (including old Westerns), and it was confusing. It’s one of the reasons I love G.R.R. Martin though. Magic is dangerous business in his books, and though they’re fantasy novels, they’re not typical. He messes with our minds with all the swords and politics, before we realize, “Hey! Where’s the wizard in the pointy hat!” Magic shouldn’t be the cake; it should be the icing.
Feb 8, 2009 5:59 pm
I agree that most writers are stubborn and have little time to write. Some people write just because it is fun, not because they want to be published and change the world. If writing is something that you love and you want to continue with for a long time, spend time perfecting the craft. If you realize that it really is just for fun, then use it for fun. I think that you still have many feelings to sort out.
Whatever you choose as your approach to writing, stay positive.
Feb 8, 2009 6:54 pm
@Ceylan Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love writing. But, for me, loving it isn’t enough for me to be prolific. Success isn’t a big deal for me, but sharing my stories is. And that I’ve done. Whether or not I can make a living at it is up for debate; it doesn’t matter, in the end, for me. What matters is that I did what I set out to do: I wrote books.
Feb 11, 2009 3:27 pm
I still can’t make my mind up on Netbooks. So far, the Samsung NC10 has the best keyboard I tried (better than Eee, by far), but I haven’t tried all models yet. I especially wish to check out an MSI Wind. The NC10 doesn’t come with a Linux option, and not all hardware is supported by Linux yet either, which is a huge disadvantage.
How big is the PSU? How long does the battery last (and what is the capacity you have)?
Feb 11, 2009 7:43 pm
@Nils I’m afraid I don’t know some of the specs (or, haha, where to find them… this is Linux for you). It’s got 4G altogether, which means that the OS takes up about 50%, while the original took up a whopping 90% (I will likely upgrade this in the future for performance reasons). It also has an SD slot, which is neat. Basically it’s a souped up PDA. Which is actually what I was looking for; I don’t need more than this honestly. I knew I couldn’t afford much more than this, and I’m quite happy. As far as the keyboard is concerned, I’m a gal. I have small hands and fingers. Mostly it’s just a matter of acclimating myself to it. Now when I go to type on the MacBook I feel like I’m in Giant Land. 🙂
Feb 12, 2009 7:09 am
I’m trying to settle into a daily regiment. But it’s really tough! I fall into some of the pit traps Cory wrote about. *sigh*
I heard there’s a program that shuts off all your other programs for a set amount of time so you can focus on writing. Maybe I should find that and give it a go…
Feb 12, 2009 1:47 pm
@cirellio Unfortunately it’s never fail proof. I hit my goal yesterday, but it was crud. Not to mention instead of writing I ended up going to bed. To sleep. It was that kind of day! The most important thing is that you try, that you make the effort. Eventually, if you keep working at it, you’ll hit your stride. I find the “mini-rewards” to work really well! I guess I’m just a Pavlovian writer.
Feb 12, 2009 3:37 pm
My Lenovo netbook shipment was delayed. I hope to get it by the end of the week, for Ubuntu install/partition and getting things situated. I’ll let you know what I think once it arrives.
Tyrol is a great name, BTW.
Feb 13, 2009 3:20 pm
You sound like me – I fell in love with the idea of magic after reading Tolkien (of course! LOL) but the more I tackled the idea of having a magic system in my own world, I started asking what was the basis of it, what was the thought behind it…and because I also had experience in theatre, had to ask the inevitable question: what was their motive – beyond acquiring something or trying to get out of a situation. I still grapple with that – what does magic mean in my fantasy world. Im also having trouble with the various kinds of races.
Feb 16, 2009 7:55 pm
I think there are two ways to go about a “remake” or re-telling. There’s the Peter Jacksons and the Ron Moores of the world who play a given hand with finesse. Keep the name, the characters, the themes, but deliver it in your own way. Then, there are those folks who adapt a story or myth, breaking the bones of a skeleton to make it work for their purposes, in order to get the story told. To use an example from Arthuriana, something like Mists of Avalon by Marian Zimmer-Bradley.
And you’re right. We’re all re-telling stories. Even with the films I know the endings of, having read the novel or understood the myth, it is the unfolding of the story that keeps me coming back, the finesse.
Feb 17, 2009 2:07 am
I know it’s a bit stretched from the original myth – and I’m hardly an Arthurian aficionado – but if you’re looking for an interesting retelling, I really enjoyed A. A. Attanasio’s The Dragon and the Unicorn. Strange at times, but epic on a far grander scale than pretty much anything I’ve ever read.
Feb 17, 2009 3:00 am
@Jenn Definitely. I think that’s sort of what I was getting at, however un-eloquently. I had a child chasing cars under my legs while writing that earlier today. I guess my point is that we have to take the good with the bad, and even sometimes we can learn a heck of a lot with the bad.
@thejinx I will check that out! I can’t say I’ve heard of it before, but books usually have to leap of the shelves at me in order for me to notice them. I spend far too much time in my own, and my last few reads have been due to insisting individuals or shrewd commenters, like yourself. 🙂
Feb 17, 2009 3:12 pm
Interesting question. I guess most books have personalities, since it’s very hard, as an author, not to put a big chunk of yourself into what you’re writing. There are lots of authors out there who have ever written only one book, regardless of how many volumes and titles they published – all of their volumes are, when you get down to it, the same book written a bit differently.
The reverse is also true, but it happens a lot less frequently: books with altogether different personalities, by the same author. It takes real skill to accomplish that, I think.
There’s also the case you mentioned: a book that changes personality as you read it.
So to answer your question to the point: yes, I’ve noticed 🙂
Feb 17, 2009 9:39 pm
Can’t say I’ve ever really thought of it that way. I never really analyze books, simply read them for the enjoyment of the story.
Okay, I have noticed that books are written in different styles and ways – just never thought of them as personalities.
Feb 18, 2009 2:04 pm
@readitonline I suppose what just gets me is how immediately a book can set itself apart, even when you (or I) have read hundreds of others. Bull’s book has done that to me. I read voraciously, then run away to write some more. Strange how they’re connected like that!
@qorvus You are lucky, in a way. After Graduate School I’ve never looked at a book the same way. I’ve become jaded, picky, and prejudiced! Oh for the love of a good fantasy novel that I could read without rolling my eyes!
Feb 18, 2009 3:49 pm
If you had to single out one eye-rolling feature, which would it be?
Feb 18, 2009 3:56 pm
@readitonline Ugh! I don’t know. Usually it’s a combination of things. Orphans, stereotypical female characters, unexplained or inconsequential magic, silly magic items, talking animals, “nice” characters that are one-dimensional. I mean, all of these things can work if done well, but lately so many books I’ve picked up have unforgivable quantities of both.
I understand there’s a fine line between stereotype and trope, and it’s important that fantasy follow guidelines; part of what appeals to me in the genre is the journey, etc. What I can’t forgive is a lack of creativeness, an unwillingness to answer the hard questions and simply rely on the expected to get a book done. I think fantasy literature has come too far for that.
Gripe over. You said one thing. So I’ll say orphans. Seriously. No orphans!
Feb 18, 2009 8:17 pm
There is no way I can bring myself to disagree. As a last resort I compared orphans to wanton cruelty to small furry animals but orphans still wins.
Feb 18, 2009 9:41 pm
Not saying I don’t have opinions on what a bad book is, but I don’t actively seek to pull apart ever little nuance, line and thought. I just read it and if there are enough glaringly bad parts I’ll just look on it as a sign that if something so bad can get published then it sign that surely I have a chance..
Feb 18, 2009 9:44 pm
@readitonline Excellent! Not the wanton cruelty, of course, but our agreement. *nods sagely*
@qorvus Consider yourself lucky. I’ve been known to toss a book after one chapter. Ugh! Since having a child I just don’t have the patience I used to to make my way through something that doesn’t catch me pretty much right away. Maybe I should be in publishing!
Feb 18, 2009 11:00 pm
I don’t think I’ve ever tossed away a book after one chapter (though there were a couple we had to study for English Lit I wish I could have.) There have been a few series that I’ve given up on half way through as I wasn’t interested in finishing them now that I think about it – too boring or just didn’t interest me.
Feb 18, 2009 11:55 pm
Oooh! The mermaid helm was fantastical. Great find– I need to start keeping up with DRB again.
Feb 19, 2009 1:21 am
I never really caught onto the whole knights in shining armour thing – I read a bit of King Arthur, but always preferred the older Romano-Celt version of him, without the heavily armoured knights.
Deliberately avoided using it in my world as well – the cultures and climate didn’t really lend itself to knights to start with. Mostly they wore chain or leather, with the odd breastplate thrown in, but no full suits of knights armour.
Feb 19, 2009 1:36 am
@elizaw Yes, the artistry is really breathtaking. Having studied Medieval art a bit, it never ceases to amaze me how much could be done with (seemingly) so little!
@qorvus I don’t know, something about armor gets me. Of course, what riles me more is when people write with armor and yet forget how inconvenient it all is! In my world, full armor is used only in necessary circumstances, and often in the Tournament. But like the weapons of the time, armor was super-duper heavy, and required years of training to get the hang of. There’s that great scene in Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee where the protagonist is describing sitting in armor in bad weather, I think… Thankfully, the protagonist in my Arthurian tale is a woman, so the armor issue is skirted. Hah! Pun intended.
Feb 20, 2009 4:57 pm
My experience was entirely differnt, but with the same effect. I was about 25 when I decided that I would be the person to write the definitive screenplay. I read the novels over and over, at least three times a year up until the first movie came out. Then I gave up and had to find a new life’s work.
Feb 20, 2009 5:50 pm
@Jeff Actually, somewhere in a box in my attic is a screenplay I started at 17 of Fellowship, as well. Thought I couldn’t for the of me cut one word of Bilbo’s farewell speech. It would have made for one hell of a boring film!
Ah, what could have been.
Feb 20, 2009 9:08 pm
Strangely enough, I started LotR with the Two Towers as well, as the first book wasn’t in the library at the time. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings was what first really inspired me to write fantasy.
Feb 21, 2009 2:22 am
I know this feeling well, albeit in a different way. As a fellow “former misanthrope” from the days of Jr High and High school, I gravitated toward fantasy pretty early. However, it wasn’t Tolkien that found me, it was Weis/Hickman of Dragonlance. However in my case, what drew me the most to it was the artwork on the covers of the Chronicles trilogy.
I devoured those books, and when I was done, I still found myself studying the artwork on the covers. I kept telling myself that if I had my way, I would one day be able to create images of such detail, that conveyed story with a single image. That artwork, and all the others by that artist had the same effect on me that reading Rings had for many others. It was my mental escape, my inspiration, and eventually became the “yardstick” by which I measured my endeavors as an artist.
I wanted to meet and get to know the man who created them, to pick his brain for all the valuable information that must be contained inside. At the same time, I was terrified of the prospect, worried that my modest abilities would somehow be found wanting. In short, the mental picture I had of the man was the one I was most comfortable with, and I was concerned with disillusionment.
Fortunately I did eventually meet him, and now have the extremely good fortune to be able to call him friend and teacher. The hopes I had as an awkward teenager still exist for me, stronger than ever.
Feb 22, 2009 12:07 am
How hard is it to endlessly debate on JRR?
There are a lot of valid points. It’s just a matter of emphasis and open-mindedness.
Correct me if I’m wrong.
Found interesting opinions on the Colleen Lindsay page; the one I liked best is by “usedbuyer 2.0”
@Natania, did anything happen to your blog’s webdesign?
Read It Online
Feb 22, 2009 1:32 am
@readitonline Yes something did happen. I’m fiddling with a new design, will hopefully get my banner resized and up so it doesn’t look quite so bare. Forgive the dust, as they say. I’m a terrible tinkerer, and I want to get it just right… but I made the change, then ended up abandoning it in lieu of, well, getting suddenly crazy busy!
@erik Gosh, what a great story. I love it. 🙂
@qorvus AH! Someone else who read it in the order I did! You know, I had no idea that Aragorn was a human. I thought he was some strange “ranger” being–like, a green elfish person. I figured no human would hang around with an elf and a dwarf, now would they?
Feb 26, 2009 2:47 pm
I’ve found that sinking my teeth into a good story revitalizes that spark of desire within me to write. It happened when I first started reading Jordan’s Wheel of Time, again with Martin’s Song of Fire & Ice, and most recently with Butcher’s Dresden Files series.
My teacher says you get a nickels worth of knowledge from every artist/writer you meet. I’d say that statement is true, only incomplete. I say in addition to the nickel, you get a quarter’s worth of inspiration.
Feb 26, 2009 2:59 pm
@Erik You know I think George R. R. Martin was a little too encompassing. I don’t think I wrote a lick of anything while I read his series. All I wanted to do was read! But his influence certainly was far-reaching. The neat thing about Territory is that it’s standalone. It’s not a huge series. I’m always thinking of writing in terms of series, and it’s overwhelming; I’m writing a standalone (though it could expand) and I think being invested on a smaller scale is a huge help for me right now.
Feb 26, 2009 10:23 pm
What is human progress if not building on top of your predecessors’ work?
But let’s not forget: big house is like big woman, hard to embrace all at once.
Feb 27, 2009 7:57 pm
I am one of those readers who will pick up a book based only on the title. That’s pretty much the only way you can get me to buy a book without any sort of reference. “Heroics for Beginners” is one I picked up just because of the name. “Dealing with Dragons” another. I don’t mind if there is a key word in there, that just tells me its the sort of book I like. You have to have that keyword and a twist.
Now if you put that quote on the back of the cover…that would sell me. I can tell its the sort of book I’d read, not from the title but from your writing style.
Feb 27, 2009 8:01 pm
@uninvoked Oh, definitely. I think words clue us in to what we love. I just joked that there are so many “Kingdom of the…” and “King.. Sword” stuff. It’s kind of humorous. Doesn’t mean it isn’t good! I love a good many of them. And I’m glad you like the quote! I was excited that it happened like that. I’m at a part in the book where the whole narrative is going topsy-turvy, and that came out of it. Glad you’d pick it up, too! 🙂
Feb 27, 2009 8:38 pm
I’m afraid that as writers (and readers) get older, it becomes harder to get lost in a book. You know how it’s done but you also know the world better. You can still find companionship but not those mythic loves.
Feb 27, 2009 8:41 pm
@Margaret That’s spot on. There’s a certain unadulterated amazement we have in our youth that allows us to just consume books… frenzied, fantastic. We get swept up in the stories so completely. I love the term “mythic love”–it is so like that.
Mar 2, 2009 6:00 pm
Have you thought at all about self-publishing through Lulu.com?
Mar 2, 2009 6:03 pm
@Phillip Lulu is an option for some writers, but usually they self-publish once their novel has failed to find an agent or a publisher, or just don’t want to deal with the system. I’m perfectly happy working with the system, myself. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it, I think. Just takes time! I’ve just started out on my journey, at least from the perspective of publication. Some agents won’t touch writers who have self-published, but there’s always exceptions, however.
Mar 2, 2009 9:14 pm
Best of luck on the journey! I hope to hold a printed and bound version of your book in my hands one day…
Mar 2, 2009 11:20 pm
@Erik Aww, thanks Erik. Hopefully I’ll see your artwork in the same way 🙂
Mar 3, 2009 7:53 am
*applauds wildly* Way to go! On to editing? Or is it done-done?
Mar 3, 2009 2:35 pm
@elizaw Oh, it’s definitely a draft–but it’s a good draft. I think it’s the strongest draft I’ve written yet, and won’t require a full overhaul. Which is a good thing, since that tends to take longer than the actual writing for me!
Mar 3, 2009 9:24 am
I know the end aim for me is to get the magical publishing deal – but I’m not so sure that I fall into the confident or delusional camp. When i was young (ie back in high school) I was probably delusional, certain I was to be the Next Big Thing, but that wore off as I got older.
Now I’m a realist (with a touch of cynic and a dash of skeptic). Am I likely to get that deal? Probably not, at least not in the short term due to the slow disintegration of the world’s economies and the effect that is having on publishers. In the long term? Maybe, but I know I need to do a lot of work to have that chance.
It isn’t a reason not to try though, nor to stop telling stories. I enjoy telling them, and if all that happens is a few people read them on the ‘net and get some enjoyment from reading them, well, it is something.
Mar 3, 2009 3:32 pm
@qorvus I think we all come to confidence by way of delusion in a lot of ways. When I was a kid I wrote compulsively, but I never thought about the end product–i.e. how the stories would get into the hands of other people. It just didn’t seem like something I had to worry about while I was creating worlds. I don’t think I thought about the Big Time at all… it was just something I did.
Then I went to college, and kept going to college, hoping that I would find myself immersed in academia. I didn’t. I ended up finding the answer to “what I want to be when I grow up” in my kid’s face. Because, honestly, even though I’d continued writing, I did it almost shamefully; I considered a waste of time. But my son, even at the youngest of ages, helped me learn how essential honesty is when it comes to yourself.
And the process has been long. I’m not there yet, completely. I’m getting there. This is just another step in that direction. Finishing the book is just the first step toward a very long, arduous journey. It’s a little scary, but I’m hoping it’s also worth it in the end.
Mar 3, 2009 11:40 am
I am overcome. Seriously, this is awesome.
Sorry the circumstances surrounding this success are bittersweet, but all will find it’s way in time. Escape if you must, for that art may offer you much more in a future return.
Mar 3, 2009 2:34 pm
@Jenn Thanks so much, hon!
Mar 3, 2009 2:27 pm
Congrats! Of course now I hate you, well not really. I am a bit jealous though that you’re finished. Enjoy a bit of a break before you get into editing, no need to burn out in zealous desire to finish it entirely. You’ve earned a break.
@JL Coburn Take a break? Me? Naaaaah. Okay, maybe a little one. But I have a whole kid-less week ahead, and I’ll be putting it to good use.
Mar 3, 2009 3:12 pm
A kid-less week? Now I really hate you. Not really but let’s run with it. Wanna come give me a break? Just one day, that should be all the sleep I need.
Mar 3, 2009 6:13 pm
And yikes! I misspelled Konrath’s name like, three times in this post. Fixed now. Apologies. In the middle of writing this I had some very distracting news, and clearly didn’t check as I should have!
Mar 7, 2009 12:08 am
Fascinating glimpse here. I’m curious to know more about this story.
Mar 8, 2009 9:49 pm
@thejinx Thanks! I’ll be putting together a little more of it later… trying to get the ideas to clarify a bit in my head. Short stories are always so challenging for me. I’m too darned long-winded!
Mar 8, 2009 9:08 pm
First of all. Thank you. I just came across the Writing tag and your post was the first one I clicked one.
Awesome and incredibly helpful post. And I’m going to visit your blog more often.
I too have been busy with a novel and have been editing longer than actually writing it. I generally have absolutely no idea on how it’s going to get out there but this post made damn well sure I’ll never quit!
So twitter huh? Next step!
I just saw another title on this blog, “Confessions of a newbie novelist” and I’m going to read it right now!
Mar 8, 2009 9:48 pm
@Rey Awesome! Glad you found it helpful. I kind of clacked that post out in the middle of a hundred things this morning getting ready to leave Irvine, CA for San Jose–on my netbook, nonetheless.
Becoming part of a community of writers really is so essential for success. Sure, some writers will manage without it. But if you’re anything like me, the difficulties of writing and editing are enough to drive you bonkers in the first place. I am so grateful for the connections I’ve made in the last year or so, and Twitter had so much to do with it.
Feel free to Tweet me, too! Its @nataniabarron.
Mar 12, 2009 8:02 pm
I’ve finally joined up to this whole twitter thing myself – may even figure out how to use it properly one of these days 😛
Mar 18, 2009 1:05 am
A fellow Scrivener user, eh?
So, I love it, what’s your 411 on the app?
Mar 18, 2009 1:11 am
@RG Sanders I adore it. Love it. Probably lust after it a little, from a textual standpoint. I’m having issues a little trying to get used to the netbook, and writing stuff there, then moving it to Scrivener. It just doesn’t feel done if it’s not in Scrivener.
I owe a huge amount of novel success to Scrivener–and honestly I just scratch the surface of what the product is capable of. But all five (five? yes, it’s five now) novels in various states of completedness are housed in Scrivener. It’s the single most amazing tool a disorganized nitwit like me could ever wish for! 😀
Mar 18, 2009 1:17 am
Nice, and what about backup? That’s the only thing I’m not sure what to do with. Do you save the .scrivener file to a disk, upload it somewhere, or just take endless snapshots of all your text documents?
Bar my unsure stance on backing it up, as it’s a specifics file type, I too love it.
Mar 18, 2009 1:18 am
I back it up through TimeMachine & on a thumb drive… seems to do the trick. I like walking up to my husband and waving the thumb drive around and saying, “Everything I’ve ever written is right here.” I am a huge dork.
Mar 18, 2009 1:24 am
No, no… when I finish a good stretch of writing, I like to wander around like I’ve just won a Gold Cup in something. I think it’s a quiet victory to us.
Mar 18, 2009 1:25 am
Hmm… I don’t tend to strut. Maybe it’s a guy thing? Good writing from me usually warrants a very geeky happy dance that is embarrassing enough to mention here, let alone actually recount!
Mar 19, 2009 5:33 pm
When I started reading this post, I wanted to tell you that I have always been the same way and that I personally believe feminism has to do with choice rather than the attempt to totally avoid men in every manner. But then, you said it!
My sister, who is the same age as me, has three children and loves staying at home with her kids more than anything else. She weirdly gets a lot of grief from people, and I’ve had to tell her several times that these people bothering her are not feminists just because they say they are and they hate “holly homemakers”, because she has made the CHOICE to be home as often as possible and focus on the home and her children. The women of past generations fought for our CHOICE, not for our total separation from man. That’s just silly. Equality does not mean uniform, it just means equal! She then thanks me for being crazy and feels much better, and she should.
In any case, I used to stay away from female authors, too, and I still have problems with “womens studies” as a required course in college. Why do I care that they’re women? Unless it has something directly to do with a civil rights movement wherein women were the civil group with no rights, or something similar, I don’t care if they were a woman. I care only that they were a writer.
What I’m trying to say, with my drug-addled brain, is that good on you for being happy. Yes. Oh, and Austen is definitely an author you must be in the mood for, no matter her sex.
Mar 19, 2009 6:05 pm
@tintri I think of it like this: every time I pick up my pen, I’m indebted to the women writers who came before me. Because, even fifty years ago, women had a much more difficult time saying “I want to be a writer” or writing at all. What’s intriguing to me is how much of what I write has to do with concepts of feminism and gender issues, even though it’s not as conscious as that. It’s just become a very big part of what and who I am.
The problem with reading all women as only writers comes in to play with pre-20th century writing (and art, music, drama…). Because many women didn’t have access to the kind of education seen among men, most of what they wrote is not considered “as good as” men in the canon. What happens is that professors and teachers decide to read Keats and Wordsworth over Charlotte Smith because, technically, they were “better”. However, to gloss over someone like Smith would mean that many people reading Romantic poetry would believe there were no female contributions, which is false, of course. 🙂 Sometimes it is important to read a woman’s work because she is a woman.
Mar 19, 2009 8:07 pm
Oddly enough I’ve read the book, and seen the movie a few too many times, for which fact I blame my sister. She used to watch it all the time and so I saw it by osmosis. Strangely I kind of came to not mind it after all that…
Ah yes, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The movie is based on the book – which isn’t out yet. Jane Austen is public domain now, no longer subject to copyright, and someone decided to rewrite it but with zombies in it. Obviously one of those types who believe anything can be improved if they put zombies in it. 🙂 Some movie exec heard about it and obviously thought it’d be a good idea for a movie. I made a post about it a while back when I first heard about it. Could be worth seeing.
Mar 20, 2009 12:08 am
You’re right, sometimes it’s important to read a woman’s work because she was a woman in a particular time where women weren’t supposed to be able to do that sort of thing. I think that was in my “or something similar” idea. Nyquil should be a controlled substance.
Mar 24, 2009 1:47 pm
Agreed. I tend to move pendulously through these extremes. Like, right now, I’m totally a hedgehog. But a month ago I was feeling pretty cocky. That’s how the whole of my life is now, however, and maintaining balance at a middle point seems so unlikely (at this very moment). This is good advice, and my heart knows it. Thanks for “just sayin’.”
Mar 24, 2009 1:49 pm
@Jenn I am by no means innocent of either, and I used to be much worse. I would be a hedgehog for months, then cocky and arrogant for a few weeks and write the hell out of something, then leave it alone. These days I spend a lot of time talking to myself: “Natania, get over it. Just get over it. Sit down, and write. Even if it sucks.” Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Springtime is distracting me as of late!
Mar 26, 2009 9:17 pm
Maybe it is a guy thing. I tend to go stand outside on the stoop with a cup of coffee — although I’ve been told that I look quite smug when I do it (as opposed to the times when I do it when I’ve not been writing or the writing isn’t going well).
Mar 26, 2009 9:25 pm
@Mari I like that approach, the coffee. I tend to reward myself if it’s a big deal (like a whole book completed). However, I promised myself a tattoo for the last two books, and have yet to do that…
Mar 28, 2009 12:38 am
I get happy over little things. 🙂
Mar 28, 2009 12:39 am
@Mari I’m learning that’s a great approach, too. Lots of little things often add up to remarkable large-type things! And celebrating all along the way ensures every day has a little more brightness to it…
Mar 28, 2009 12:43 am
It’s a lot like living with a gamer. 😉 I don’t game any more – I don’t have time – but my husband still does, and when he’s running the game or working on characters, our days and evenings go pretty much the same. 😀
Mar 28, 2009 12:45 am
@Mari Absolutely! Mine is currently playing Oblivion while I edit the crap out of something. Thankfully we’re both night owls, and we can happily work in concert as well.
My oldest boy has chronic kidney failure. That put everything into perspective. 😉 Don’t fail to celebrate the small things – we may not be around to celebrate the big things.
Mar 28, 2009 12:49 am
@Mari I’m sorry to hear about your son. My sister is currently fighting cancer, my mom’s a breast cancer survivor, and dad’s been battling a long term immune disease. Even so, I find sometimes time moves too fast for me to put on the brakes. Which is, honestly, why I decided to quit the “real” job and stay at home/write. So far, it’s been awesome. I’m definitely in a much, much better place. And I notice every blossom. 🙂
Mar 31, 2009 2:54 pm
“Seems” is one of my personal peeves, as well as “really” or “totally” to emphasize an adjective. As you point out, this is part of my own conversational tone being injected into the work. I cannot tell you how many times I start to write either of those words and immediately delete it. So annoying!
Another thing I look for in the editing process is the word “to,” as it often indicates use of an infinitive verb construction, which is passive. On that note, all the derivatives of “to be”–would, could, should, was–with the exception of “is,” shall be located and weighed in the same way you recommend with “seems.” These words can easily make an active voice passive, which is good for some characters, but not for the whole work.
Mar 31, 2009 2:55 pm
Oh, and reading over this again just now, I see another culprit, “so.” Fine for this conversation, but not so good for a narrative.
@Jenn Yes! I was contemplating an entire post on the passive voice, as I do it all the time. The biggest offender of all: it seemed to be! NOOO!
Apr 1, 2009 2:23 pm
As for what to do whilst taking a break, I would suggest reading, of course. Perhaps reading something outside your genre, something altogether different, will help you actually feel as though you are taking a break.
Apr 1, 2009 3:05 pm
Passive voice is someone I keep trying to part ways with, but he keeps finding me! o.O
one could edit and re-edit until the very end, and still not be happy with the result
Oh, I’m like that with Midnight, but I think just the first six or seven chapters are my enemy at the moment. Am considering printing them out, hacking them to bits, then rewriting them completely from scratch. Who knows. It may be just what the muse ordered. And may be the only thing that will make me happy with the entire work.
Ugh. I think I just gave myself more work. LOL
I weed for “that”, “felt”, and “of course”. John Urbancik first brought my attention to my overuse of “that” three years ago, and I can’t thank him enough. He also gave me some fantastic feedback on my MC – which I’ve unfortunately lost and want to weep every time it comes to mind (stupid hard drive crashes, misplaced files, you know how it goes). :sigh: The first draft of Daybreak is an “off course” mine field.
“Do you mind if I sit on your shoulder? I’d feel a bit better. You seem unseemly tall from this particular vantage point.”
This made me giggle.
I had a great laugh when I got back the edits on Midnight from a reader last month. I had changed a character’s name from Allen to Adam – and had used find/replace all to do it instead of find/replace as i come to it (along with ‘whole word only’). All through the manuscript, I had little gems such as “fAdam” and “chAdamge”…o.O Those I had to go through and pick out by hand; for some reason, I never could get find to pick them up. Fun times, that. 😉
Apr 1, 2009 7:20 pm
@Mari LOL, yes. There are plenty of other words I should add to this list. I could do a post on each. I admit to being really terrible about “felt” as well, especially in the last book. It was third person limited, and felt is (almost wrote seems) a crutch for me in that case. I’m trying to learn to be a good editor to myself, hoping that I’ll be less of a pain if and when my books get into the hands of editors.
And yes! I had the same problem once. I changed my main character’s name from Lex to Peter. He was often “perpPetered”.
Apr 1, 2009 11:00 pm
Personally, I think I’ve been humbled by the lessons I have learned from being married and having children. Perhaps without these reminders that I always have to try, nothing is perfect, you can always learn and I am human, I could become disconnected with the reality of who I am and begin believing in my own hype – which would, I feel, destroy my passion for writing and turn me into a literary robot looking for a sale, instead of a quality story.
Apr 1, 2009 11:12 pm
Nothing kills tension for me like;
“yadda yadda, or so it seemed…”
If a writer is to put that, then just turn it into a comedy already;
“yadda yadda – it wasn’t, but they didn’t know that and shush, don’t you tell anybody I told you!”
Also @ Jenn, I share the hate of using totally or really, or any other word that’s become a popular ‘passive’ contemporary slang word; “He was really tall, like totally big.” Go away already.
But then I also don’t speak like that… really. 😉
Apr 1, 2009 11:13 pm
@RG Yes, I like that. “Or so it seemed…” *cue suspense music!*
Apr 1, 2009 11:16 pm
@RG Yes, I agree. Family makes a big difference. Keeps you in check. The biggest inspiration to me, and the reason I push myself (sometimes to the point I’m… a little over-extended) is my son. I look at him, and want to leave something important behind. Something that proves–even if he doesn’t read it–that you can do the things you dream of, if you just put your mind to it. Corny? I guess. But I’m allowed. I did give him life.
Apr 1, 2009 11:36 pm
Apr 2, 2009 8:03 pm
This speaks to me deeply as it appears we were similar little girls. While I didn’t have quite the bond with my brothers that you had with your sister, I was lucky enough to have three wickedly imaginative girls around my age in the neighborhood. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a sister, and I’ve only had one friend who was that close for too brief a time. This shed some light on that beautiful relationship and even made me miss it.
I used to lie a lot too. Sadly, this carried on into my early adulthood, far longer than it should have. Rectifying, coming clean, was embarrassing and depressing at the time, and I thought for sure I would lose everyone once I confessed, but I didn’t. I was lucky, but I realized the whole time that it was a way of storytelling, only with more risk. If I can become as emotionally invested in my storytelling on the page as I was for all those years in my storied life, I’ll be set!
Thanks for sharing this personal insight. Send Llana my best wishes, won’t you?
Apr 3, 2009 6:44 pm
@Jenn It’s hard to believe that something so detrimental in childhood could come in handy as we grow up, but that seems to be the case here. I think imaginative kids are sometimes in danger, because our brains are always making connections and improvements as we observe the world around us. Later in life, we learn to reconcile what we see and what we imagine, but early on, we think if we imagine it hard enough it will come to be.
I will surely tell the sis, as well. 🙂 Also: need to see you soon. I’ve been made of fail lately between falling ill, and everyone else falling ill, etc. 🙁
Apr 2, 2009 9:33 pm
When I was a little boy, they called me a liar. But now that I am grown up, they call me a writer. Isaac Bashevis Singer
Apr 3, 2009 6:42 pm
@Mari Oooh, I love that.
Apr 2, 2009 9:56 pm
but it takes a certain kind of writer to create a world that seems unfettered by those changes
I hope I’ve been able to pull that off in Midnight. I had one reader write me back a couple of weeks ago with, “Just curious why cassettes as opposed to CDs….I have seen you use cassettes instead and I am wondering if there is a reason? In the age of ipods and mp3s, mentioning cassettes seems like another time period!” I guess I hadn’t made it clear enough that the story is set in 1985! o.O
Then again, I had more than one person ask me about book two (which is set in 2004), “Why aren’t your characters using cell phones?” They find it hard to believe that cell phone reception in Harlan County, Kentucky, was (and still is) poor at best. :eye roll: Hello, very uber-rural, very poverty-striken, very mountainous area. Still, people don’t get it.
Sometimes it’s good to write without the constant temptations of Twitter and my RSS feed
Thank the gods Geoffery has a “wi-fi off” button right beside the “power off” button! And it works just as well as flipping a light switch. 😉
But with the writing, they’re clearly proud, but definitely distanced
My mom has never read one thing that I’ve ever written. My mother-in-law, however, when I sat her down on a bench at the book store and handed her a copy of the anthology with my short story in it, jumped up and down and did a little dance! 🙂
Apr 3, 2009 2:33 am
@Mari Yes, writing in the present day or the recent past is always tricky. I was just editing something recently that was sort of today (ish? thinking more like 2006 or so, but…) and I wondered if I wasn’t being techy enough. I only go so far as to mention the Internet and cell phones. I just feel like going too starts to sound forced, like, “She went and checked her Tweets.” Too soon? Garsh, I dunno.
As to family and writing, I think some people have very supportive families. I even have one friend who says everyone in her family is a writer, and it’s almost expected that you write a book. Not so in mine. Even the literary types don’t read the kind of stuff I write, and that’s okay. In some ways it’s more freeing, more mine. We in the SF/F realm have never been known for our super broad appeal. Maybe that’s why the SF/F community is more welcoming in some ways than lots of others. I dunno!
Apr 3, 2009 7:50 pm
I like to break from what I am doing by thinking about new projects – but not ones I will start any time soon. Rehashing old ideas, playing with those ones at the back of my mind. Then getting back into the current WIP can feel like a return to something you know – and you see how well you /do/ know it.
Apr 8, 2009 2:09 pm
Apr 9, 2009 6:01 pm
Apr 15, 2009 1:08 pm
Yes, but this is where I truly think you succeed with the Sibs in Aldersgate. They are enough like us, and enough unlike us. The imagination of the reader decides whether or not they are monsters or the ideal race. They are fantastic, unexpected, and yet, their existence logical. Far better than even the most realized elves.
Apr 15, 2009 1:10 pm
@Jenn Wow, thanks Jenn. Haha, I don’t think I was thinking so much about what I write, as what other write, but it’s a good point. Nothing I have written as an adult has Elves or even dwarves in it; perhaps I’ve avoided it because I don’t like it. However, it’s not to say it can’t be done well. I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon on that count. It’s just that it’s so often done badly!
Apr 15, 2009 2:15 pm
I have to agree that mainstream fantasy has become way too formulaic. Like you, I have been keeping an eye out for something that goes back to the oldest traditions of fantasy, long before Tolkien popularized it.
In my experience, there are two kinds of fantasy readers. First are the ones (like us) who really invest their imaginations into it, and care about it enough to accept the kinds of things we are looking for. We like the idea of exploring new concepts in the fantasy genre, and are easily bored with repetition.
The other fantasy readers are the one a day readers, who burn through fantasy novels like some go through romance novels. They’re not really investing themselves into it, and get very little out of it in return. However, they do have expectations for it, and that old familiar ground established by Tolkien is one of them. This group is also probably the largest, making up the “mainstream” audience that fantasy has. Since they are the largest target audience, publishers will cater to them, which is why the formula for fantasy has endured for so long.
Unfortunately, the kind of fantasy we’re looking for exists in extremely short quantities, tucked away into hidden corners. They get drowned out in a sea of cookie-cutter fantasy stories, and a lot of authors I’ve read either don’t have the skill or the courage to “go the other way”
Apr 15, 2009 2:17 pm
@Erik Exactly. I concur 100% with the dual readers of fantasy literature. I think a good deal of writers (myself included) worry about not adhering to the norms of fantasy literature; and even some of the best writers I’ve read recently are, like you mention, consigned to the shadows. Unfortunately, I don’t see the average reader getting any smarter these days… alas. Still, tally ho. We keep going.
Apr 15, 2009 3:45 pm
What I neglected to mention in my earlier comment was that the first author that comes to mind who successfully bucked the formula trend was the late Robert Jordan with his “Wheel of Time” series. That series ranks very high on my top ten list of favorite fantasy series of all time, and nary an elf in sight…
However, something tells me you have already read it, so I’ll keep looking… 😉
Apr 15, 2009 3:46 pm
@Erik Actually… I haven’t read it yet. I’ve purposely saved a few series and books not to read to I have something to read later. It’s weird; a kind of novel rationing. But I don’t want to blast through everything and have nothing. 🙂
Apr 15, 2009 4:02 pm
I understand that well, speaking as someone who perpetually is looking for something worthwhile to read…
However, so far, Wheel is about 11 books, at an average of 900 pages per. the 12th book is being split into 3 due to it’s size. Suffice to say, it would take a while to blast through it…
Apr 15, 2009 7:27 pm
My vampires don’t sparkle. Neither do they live forever. Nor do they ‘splode in the sunlight.
Apr 15, 2009 7:51 pm
@Mari Which makes them awesome! (I’d love to nibble on their story one of these days!).
Apr 16, 2009 2:51 pm
Once I get the first revised and ready to shop, I’d be happy to send a copy around to you. 😉
Apr 17, 2009 9:34 pm
I’m about a month away from finishing the dissertation, and then I’m looking forward to checking out Aldersgate.
I tend to shy away from anything with elves & such in it. Tolkein, of course, wrote with a great knowledge of Norse & Anglo-Saxon literature and folklore, which grounded his stuff to a certain degree. Vampires are different, for me at least — I’m a sucker for them (no pun intended). It seems that their “otherness” is something great to play with. Anne Rice turned the tables and made them the normative and mortals the “others”. Joss Whedon made vampires complete others, evil demons, but then twisted the expectations by throwing in the characters of Angel and Spike.
I’m really getting into steampunk right now, but it seems that a lot of it — perhaps more the fashion/subculture than the literature is a bit too uncritically Anglophile, without taking into account the colonialism that kept the British Empire running in the 19th century. I am Irish-American and my wife is West African (we refer to ourselves as the “Irish Mandingos”), and I think I would like to write a steampunk story sometime from the point of view of the colonized.
Anyway, great sites and I’ve been enjoying your tweets.
Apr 17, 2009 9:48 pm
@Liam Absolutely. I was very close to being a professional medievalist myself, so your Twitter account was of immediate interest! And I totally agree with the issues in steampunk. I’ve had a lot of trepidation myself with the “culture” as of late, with the majority of people far more interested in the clothing than the meaning behind it. And there’s little interest in the literature, from what I’ve seen, comparatively. Not that it doesn’t have its merits–the maker culture in particular is amazing. But the working man and the colonized individual’s plights are often undermined for the refined and sometimes overly romanticized upperclass… As Jenn points out, I do explore it a bit in the story–much of it has not only to do with Otherness, but also the struggle of people living within a strict caste system.
Thanks for coming by. And I love your name. My two year old is also a Liam. 🙂
Apr 20, 2009 2:50 pm
It’s funny… almost two years ago to the day I wrote a blog post on this very topic…
Apr 20, 2009 5:48 pm
@Erik That’s a great post! Thanks for pointing it out. All: read Erik’s post, too. 😀
Apr 20, 2009 4:49 pm
Still a neat premise. I think having this dragon as a character, and finishing her story, is still viable.
Apr 20, 2009 5:49 pm
@Jenn Thanks, Jenn! It was pretty good in comparison to some of the other things I wrote. The next section talks about the Dragon’s brother, named Emry. How’s that for amusing?
Apr 20, 2009 4:59 pm
Well said, indeed. It’s amazing to me how much people take for granted in the worlds of the Internet. I think what we hear in our childhoods, whether it’s called The Golden Rule or just playing fairly, treat others as you wish to be treated. I don’t want to be involved in a flame-war, I don’t even like hinting I have a negative opinion of something/one. Kindness is key, in pixel or in person.
And if we are Luddites, we are neo-Luddites, and not in bad company–William Gibson and Neal Stephenson avoid the ether, mostly due to the fact that it is a time suck.
@Jenn Yes, it’s all because it happened so fast, and has given voice to people who, likely would never have had one before. Which is good. I just think it’s often taken too far. I love technology, but I’m more and more leery of what its ramifications are in regards to the general population.
Apr 22, 2009 4:42 pm
YES! This is a great list. I am a fan of “Crusher, not crushes,” especially.
Apr 22, 2009 4:46 pm
I’ve just caught up with Legend of the Seeker (thanks, hulu!) and I’m hooked. Some of the episodes have some goofy bits, but for the most part, I like them. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that about fantasy t.v.
While Goodkind is not working on the show, Stephen Tolkien IS. That’s pretty cool. AND, there are runes everywhere, and Latin, and, yes, awesome costumes (to include the same riveted plastic chainmail we came to know and love in LOTR, though there are no WETA credits at the end of the show).
Apr 22, 2009 4:48 pm
Oh, and Bruce Spence was also the Trainman in the 2nd and 3rd Matrix films…there are a lot of Matrix re-castings, as well as a who’s-who of Aussie and Kiwi actors.
Apr 24, 2009 12:30 pm
@Jenn Yes! It is an awesome show on very many levels. I’m more excited than I have any right to be about it. Not to mention I have a huge crush on Bridget Regan. Ahem.
Apr 24, 2009 1:05 pm
Yeah, I had to tell everybody to just be quiet because I was going to be in the eleventh century for a few years.
Apr 24, 2009 10:13 pm
@Liam I tried that in graduate school. It still didn’t really work.
Apr 24, 2009 4:56 pm
Husband keeps going on about how he wants to work out, and I keep thinking, “Yes, do! Craig Horner abs, I can has?”
Apr 24, 2009 9:39 pm
Nicely put. I wonder why we all write such similar things in these lists?
Apr 24, 2009 9:40 pm
@Bill Collective writer consciousness? I dunno. Collectively cool people 🙂
Apr 24, 2009 9:55 pm
You might enjoy China Miéville if you haven’t read his stuff already. Perdido Street Station did some interesting things with non-human characters, and the world is believably old and vast.
Apr 24, 2009 9:56 pm
oops. posted to the wrong entry.
You might enjoy China Miéville if you haven’t read his stuff already. Perdido Street Station did some interesting things with non-human characters, and the world is believably old and vast.
(re-posted to the right entry)
Apr 25, 2009 1:12 am
I have two characters in particular who never shut up. In fact, the other night I dreamed that they, a daughter, a husband, and I were on TweekDeck having a really in depth conversation. That was so bizarre. But cool at the same time. LOL
Apr 28, 2009 2:23 pm
I’ve done the stop writing all together thing. In fact, I spent about 4 years not writing before getting back into it. I think it’s natural, part of growing as a writer…or something like that, I think.
BTW, Peter of Windborne sounds awesome 🙂
Apr 28, 2009 2:43 pm
@Paul Yeah, we all have ebbs and flows. But I think for a lot of writers, we have to hit a point where we get it, where we decide to do the work, too. Sometimes it takes a few years of kicking around.
Glad you like the sound of it. I’m still trying to make it stop rattling in my brain, and dusting off all the cobwebs. 🙂
Apr 28, 2009 6:45 pm
This was a very encouraging post, thank you! I’m returning to a novel after a six month break and am still trying to figure out how to tie it all together. I hope that the time away will help, but it’s early days yet. I’m very glad that your rewriting is going well and hope it continues to do so 🙂
Apr 28, 2009 6:54 pm
@Helen Glad that it was encouraging! I think we writers often labor in the dark, and forget that we share a common creative process. Writing is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. Best of luck to you!
Apr 29, 2009 1:21 pm
Unrelated to the post, but I like the small changes you made to the site’s appearance!
Apr 30, 2009 12:33 pm
Yeah am prepping Midnight to shop – and omg. :dies: I’ve grown so much (overall) since I wrote this and shelved it that I hardly recognized it. :/ It’s ended up getting a complete overhaul…Is going out to the last reader over the weekend. :bites nails.
Apr 30, 2009 1:02 pm
@Mari I am trying, and failing, to teach myself to edit without the demolition. I just can’t seem to. I try, but I want to rewrite everything… which, yeah. Maybe I’ll learn eventually? It is exhausting!
May 1, 2009 11:12 am
Yeah, it’s very much a learned skill. It took me a long time to get there. It pays off in the end. Promise.
May 7, 2009 12:50 pm
wow. what a swirl. what a maelstrum. thanx for sharing
May 14, 2009 3:13 am
So what did you end up choosing?
May 14, 2009 9:35 pm
Actually started work on another project, and it’s helped. Contemplating other angles in the meantime. Sometimes my best way out of a rut is just writing enough to fill it up!
Still haven’t decided what to do about the edit, however. We’ll see.
May 15, 2009 4:26 pm
Just elbow dropped on your blog for the first time. 🙂 Yeah, rejections sting, I still moan about short stories, let alone writing a novel and getting rejected. Anyways, wanted to say a quick ‘Good Luck!’ 🙂
May 15, 2009 4:53 pm
@wowmya Thanks for coming by and… thanks for the well wishes. 🙂 I appreciate it.
May 15, 2009 4:48 pm
Y’know what comes to mind when I hear about things like this? The studios that passed on the Star Wars movie when Lucas was shopping it around, or the many publishers who politely told Rowling and her little boy wizard to go away.
Betcha they kicked themselves later…
This is one of the things that scared me off from being a novel writer in the first place. The publishing process is so subjective, it makes you want to tear your hair out. That little point of intrigue “they” didnt like, was probably due to a single person (the reader in question) simply not getting it.
I wont claim to know how the publishing industry works, but it would make sense to me to have multiple people at a publishing house to read and review a submission, before rejecting it, rather than the opinions of a single person. More work and time consuming: yes. Less chance for a good story to get tossed aside because of a single person: yes.
When I was a senior in High School, there was a competition to design the senior class t-shirt. I entered a design, and the student body voted on it, an my design was chosen. However, there was one (rather loud, I might add) person who voiced her dislike of the design. It bothered me at first, but then I let it go because the body at large had already voiced their own approval, and she was but one person.
I’m pretty sure that if the “body at large” dictated things in this case, you’d already be in print. Don’t burden your mind with the foolish assumptions/opinions of a single person.
May 15, 2009 4:52 pm
@Erik Yes, not everything is for everyone. I can deal. It just was an odd point. But, not the end of the world. Like I said: the timing was terrible! Now, onto other things.
May 16, 2009 6:09 am
One rejection doesn’t spell disaster 🙂 But I would look at that point carefully before sending out your next round of queries. Because it might seem minor to you, but it was obviously serious enough to stop the agent reading on.
And that’s a killer.
Ask yourself if it’s really important. If you think it is, fine, keep it, but certainly give it some cold, hard consideration first.
May 16, 2009 6:23 am
@Merrillee Oh, certainly. I’ve already been looking at it. It’s one of those things that isn’t necessary in the plot, and must have came about more important than I meant it! There are a hundred ways I can tone it down, but I’m actually leaning toward revealing it further on in the MSS, where it’s explained beforehand…
May 17, 2009 12:01 pm
I have just stumbled upon your blog (by an ironic coincidence, having just read this post!)as I was searching for those who DO write about their illness,and specifically cancer. Personally, I find that writing about it helps me make sense of my own experience. Cancer strikes a severe blow at our sense of self and our sense of past, present and future. The apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis shakes our sense of identity to its very core and nothing will ever feel certain again. I believe that as we tell our story, we rebuild our wounded selves, learning to integrate our past, present and futures selves. The benefit of reading others stories is that by learning how others walked this path can enrich our own journey of discovery. Well, all that aside, it is a happy coincidence that I stumbled upon your blog and I will be looking forward to reading it in the future.
May 17, 2009 4:43 pm
@JBBC Absolutely, I agree with you. My sister, who is fighting Hodgkin Lympoma, is writing about it and she’s found that not only does it help her figure things out, but it’s a great way to reach out to other people. As a writer of sf/f and fiction, I don’t often have the chance to write about illness, and it’s not usually something I talk about. Of course that doesn’t mean it won’t change! I’ve always wanted to write my family’s story down.
May 18, 2009 3:43 pm
When I wrote the first draft of Midnight, the narrator/MC was me. Very cathartic. Anybody who’s ever read that draft knows what happened (minus the vampires lol) in my life from July 1994 through March 1996. I healed a ton of wounds.
On the first rewrite, however, she demanded her own story, as it should be.
May 28, 2009 12:38 pm
Now and then I think, “I’ll take up podcasting.” But then reality strikes. What on earth would I talk about?
May 28, 2009 12:46 pm
I use the podcast to share my draft, and honestly it’s garnered some of the best readers in the world! Or, I should say listeners. If it were up to me just to talk about “stuff” I’d talk people to death. Haha. Best stick to a script.
May 30, 2009 1:16 pm
That’s a good idea. I’ll have to think about that. It may be a plan…
Jun 1, 2009 12:14 am
Jun 1, 2009 12:21 am
Why thank ye 🙂
Jun 2, 2009 6:27 am
How about heroic characters that don’t go about toting twenty-first century ideology? When the villains are historically correct and your heroes are time traveling ‘sensitive’ sorts… This drives me crazy.
I was actually getting a post ready about heroines that impress me– they’re really, really hard to find in any genre. I had to take my examples from movies. In fact, anyone who’s trying to pass off a woman as a badass usually makes her a hero-copy with boobs… not a trace of femininity left intact. Why is it that we can’t have a woman be a real character, with real attributes?
Jun 2, 2009 11:53 am
@elizaw Definitely. It’s hard to separate our mindset from the mindset of our characters, and I struggle with this too. Right now I’m working on a project that has a whole lot less gray area than anything I’ve written before, and I’m finding myself a bit frustrated with the niceness of some of the characters. But I do also tend to inflect my opinions on them, and occasionally this ends up being really artificial feeling.
As to women, yes: my biggest gripe of all, save likely #1. It’s not just the whole hero-copy with boobs” slant that gets to me, it’s not explaining it. (Or explaining it by saying she was abused, raped, or whatever by a man, and then becamethat man.) I just don’t buy the backstories most of the time. Not to mention so many of these books have one or maybe two women. How about a handful? How about a variety of intriguing women, all with different backgrounds and strengths? Just like we do so often with men?
Jun 2, 2009 11:41 am
Although I don’t do a lot of fantasy reading per se (the closest I come is steampunk and Lovecraftian weirdness), you have a good list here that could apply to a few different genres. The dialog question is big — it’s one of the reasons that as a historian I approach historical novels with a dark sense of foreboding (that and the related question of mindset that Elizaw brought up). It’s like the pompous pseudo-English accent amateur actors use in community theater productions of Shakespeare — It’s way too obvious and evokes plastic swords and cardboard backgrounds.
I like how Scorcese dealt with the problem in the Last Tempatation of Christ. All the Jews sounded like they came from Brooklyn and all the Romans had English accents.
Jun 2, 2009 11:56 am
@Liam Yes yes! I think this is the primary reason that I stray from dialect in general, especially the “upper class” and “lower class” British type. Just have the reader figure it out, or do it in a way that isn’t rife with artifice. It’s one of the reasons I stay away from historical novels as a whole, and generally cringe reading too much dialect in fantasy novels. In a film you are free to interpret, and I think that’s what made Scorcese unique; however, overextending the dialogue in a novel just comes off as a) difficult to read and b) forced.
Jun 3, 2009 5:35 pm
When I first started Midnight, I was going to write the dialogue in dialect. Then I lived in Harlan County three more years. What I learned was that in that tiny corner of the world, if you stand still in the middle of Wal-Mart or Don’s SuperSaver, you can pick out which end of the county, even which holler someone is from just by listening to him speak. So that idea went straight out the window. We won’t even begin to detail how problematic putting any Kentucky accent on paper is …
Jun 2, 2009 8:25 pm
I agree with most of this.
Interestingly, ## 1, 2, 8 and 9 are often different versions of a failure of the imagination, if we assume that the author is a Western, straight, white male. That is, the author fails successfully to imagine and embody times/places/characters that aren’t him/his own.
#2 (or the “hero-copy with boobs” problem), in the case of a female author, is a much more interesting problem. One could spend all day, I suppose, weaving “false consciousness” theories about that.
The problem elizaw identifies may, ultimately, be insoluble. It’s all well and good for historians to admonish us not to engage in “presentism,” but readers (especially since about 1970) have been inclined to dismiss / be offended by characters whose attitudes deviate too far from their own. The casual racism, sexism, antisemitism etc. that you would find in pretty much any realistic European character from — well, pretty much any time before now — is a turn-off to a huge group of readers. Mary Renault’s Bagoas may be the darling of those who yearn for sympathetic gay characters, but his attitudes towards women (realistic for the period) make a lots of readers throw the book down. Main characters / heroes, we keep being told, must be “sympathetic”, must give the reader a hook. One needs to be a much better writer than I am to have the reader sympathize with, much less like, a protagonist s/he’s going to find fundamentally offensive. I think we live in a comparatively intolerant era that way. Thus Sam Raimi’s Hercules becomes Mister Let’s-All-Get-Along, which couldn’t be further from the tower of rage we see in the myth.
As for how characters speak: They are going to speak either in a manner that the reader recognizes, or a manner she doesn’t. If the former, then you’re going to signal to the reader certain cultural tropes and shortcuts that may help (or hurt) the impression you’re trying to create. Inevitably that’s going to be “false,” if you’re really trying to be somewhere/sometime far away. If the latter, then the reader may have no antecedents with which to work, and won’t get the jokes (or understand the pathos) of what is being said until 100 pages into the book. Viddy well, little Alex.
On the other hand, judicious use of philology may be helpful. One could, for example, write dialogue in which every word uttered by the characters was of Anglo-Saxon (rather than Romance) origin, or where you never used words longer than (or shorter than) a certain number of syllables, or where aliteration is key (as in the case of Middle English poetry). One could use only words that have a stem in Indo-European (e.g., never use the word “sea” or “ocean” or any synonym for it). One could limit or alter one’s grammatical constructions so that certain tenses, cases or persons were never used. (My favorite example is Robert Silverberg’s A Time of Changes, in which no one ever uses the first person singular except as profanity.)
Well, okay, now I’ve talked myself out of it. Having dwelled on it, I now think that you can create a sense of being somewhere else using dialogue without resorting either to tired old cliches or modern signals. Must go out and try it…
Jun 3, 2009 1:48 pm
@Ken You’re right: it’s no easy fix. And it’s complicated. And readers are resistant to the challenge. But as our world has changed, so too can the minds of readers. But a great deal of it does have to do with publishers, and what sells…
The language issue is tricky. I’ve tossed books for being both too “fake” sounding and too 20th century sounding. As well I’ve tossed books for just being inconsistent! I mean, once I read an Elizabethan-era novel where people were saying, “Sure, okay.” Just grated on me. The closest I’ve ever come is having to find a pronoun for people who were neither male nor female–I ended up looking to Middle English to find something.
I certainly admire writers who work to create a total feeling of another language. It just sometimes can come in the way of the actual story, which in my mind anyway, is the most important part of the whole book. 🙂
Jun 3, 2009 12:30 am
Great post. I have wondered about the England thing myself.
Jun 3, 2009 1:16 am
My biggest irk with fantasy is that it almost always seems to be set in a medieval European time frame and hasn’t changed from that for thousands of years – as a history geek that really grates.
Oddly enough a lot of the points you’ve raised I’ve tried to avoid in my writing and world.
2) I’m not a woman, so obviously I find it easier to write about men, but I do have three women heroes that aren’t sex-crazed, violent, moody man chasers or man haters. Fairly normal. Okay – perhaps not so normal, otherwise they wouldn’t be heroes 😛 But they are intelligent and skilled in their fields.
3) Okay, I have dragons. Its hard not to. But they are not standard dragons, looking more like winged versions of Thorny Devil lizards and they are barely ever seen, keeping way in teh background.
4) Werewolves. Check. Minotaurs. Bigger check. Both figure prominently. Zombies, not at all. Vampires, sort of – but the race that stands in for them also fills in for the elves. Elves are evil. Yup, the elves are evil in my setting while minotaurs, werewolves and goblins/hobgoblins, normally on the side of evil, are the good guys.
5) Check. People die, even main characters (but main characters need to go out in style) . They also don’t win every fight, and even in winning fights many are wounded.
6) Okay, the good vs evil stuff is there, but it is background stuff that most characters are unaware of and really impedes on events in the world. There are wars fought over land, power, trade and not because one side is evil and the other is good – there are even wars where the nominally good side looses.
7) A lot of dialogue I use is much as I speak – Word tells me off all the time for it not being ‘correct’ grammar either. Of course it does vary a bit between characters – some are prone to the more proper modes of speech while others say whatever.
8) There is nothing that really looks like The Shire in my setting. There is a lot of desert and arid land around, there is hill country and snowy regions and a wide gamut of others, but nothing that really leaps out and says good old misty England
9) Some groups have elements of real world cultures I will admit, and those mostly human, and even then are more often than not a combination, while others are fairly unique.
10) I’ll let you know when I actually finish something.
Jun 3, 2009 1:41 pm
@qorvus Wow! Good work. Sounds like something I’d like to read! But unfortunately I’m not sure if people want to see change. As in many genres, readers get very comfortable. You need only browse the SF/F section at any local book store to see that bikini-clad barbarian princesses still sell books, and innovation isn’t exactly the name of the game. It’s one of the reasons I often defect to the Victorian/steampunk side of things. But it looks like you’re on the right track, anyway!
Jun 3, 2009 4:56 pm
I really like this post.
Regarding number 2(oh, that doesn’t sound right): In graduate school, I took a course on Feminist Science Fiction. I didn’t really know it was a feminist course until we started, but it was a rich, rich experience. Here a few titles from the course that may feed your need. They rock:
He, She and It by Marge Piercy
The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper
Bloodchild by Octavia Butler
Wildseed by Octavia Butler
“The Women Men Don’t See” by Henry Tiptree, Jr.
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh
Numbers 6,7,8,9: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville——This novel is original.
As for stories that are touching (I don’t weep on my books that much. Must maintain macho facade), Orson Scott Card knows how to strike one’s core. I recently read a story in Maps in the Mirror titled, “Unaccompanied Sonata.” Beautiful, beautiful story.
Thanks for stirring my brain!
Jun 3, 2009 11:57 pm
I have to believe that people want something different and not always the same cheap, derivative knockoffs, otherwise I’d go mad.
Of course then you see drek like Twilight and Eragon out there and despair.
Jun 7, 2009 1:41 pm
Natania – A good post about a subject I’ve been reflecting on a lot. In a way, I’m starting to think writing is like “method acting,” where you have to get in the skin of the character and the character becomes you. I’m working on a story that each day by noon I’m exhausted and I spend the rest of the day thinking about the character. I think the deeper you try to go, the harder it becomes. Good luck.
Jun 7, 2009 3:15 pm
Natania — certainly carry on. Sometimes sluggishness may a sign you’re going in a direction you know on some level is working. But in this case it seems you’re having to deal with something more challenging because it’s more powerful.
Jun 12, 2009 4:21 pm
Funny. I googled “facing rejection letters” and this blog was at the top of the list. I was curious and wanted to read about some more wails in the darkness.
Rejection letters suck. And like you write, the wise move is to let each one go. As James Baker Hall said, “Let it go into one ear and out the other. If anything’s good about it, let it stick.”
But it’s entirely possible for the mind to construct a Rejection Demon out of all those pieces of paper and computer bytes, who leers and breathes the black fire of writerdeath into one’s skull.
One must be careful and burn the Rejection Demon.
Jun 12, 2009 8:05 pm
Natania, I’m right there with you. With the first couple of drafts of my novel, my characters were too flat, either too much one way or too much the other way ( light or dark if you will), and I tried to broaden those characters, and oftentimes didn’t like the decisions they made or the manner in which they acted. It’s still something I feel I can improve on. Like you said, “heroes can’t always win” (never more true than with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), but in truth, that’s what makes the characters more tangible, more human. Keep plugging away at your writing!
Jun 16, 2009 2:52 am
I’m juggling a huge crew in the fourth Harlan book. I stopped working on it two years ago, though – my son had kidney transplant surgery and a bunch of other stuff was going on (including the prequel in my head that sat up and begged and demanded to be put on burner 1). I created this sheet (which contains character spoilers :cough:) to put at the beginning of the story:
Cast of Characters
Harlan County, Kentucky
Michael “Mick” Devon II – Anethdraeg Primus
Sarah “Brooke” Devon Clark – Mick’s daughter and Anethdraeg Heir
Justin Clark – Brooke’s husband
Hannah Young Whitley – Mick’s grandniece
Todd Whitley – Hannah’s husband and donor
Elizabeth Whitley Dalton – Hannah’s and Todd’s oldest child
Blaine Dalton – Elizabeth’s husband
Samantha Mills – Elizabeth’s oldest child; called “Mandy”
Chloë Devon – Mick’s great-granddaughter
Liam Devon – Chloë’s older brother
Toby Partin – Hannah’s third cousin
Tristan Partin – Mandy’s fourth cousin
Byron Crawford – Mandy’s boyfriend
Beckley, West Virginia
Joseph Devon – Mick’s third cousin. Anethcigfran Elder
Kenneth Devon – Joseph’s grandnephew and heir
John Devon – Mick’s fourth cousin. Anethbluth Elder
Natasha Devon – his wife
Jennet Devon – John’s granddaughter and heir
The list for the previous story is just as hairy, imho (which also contains character spoilers :cough:):
Samantha “Sami” Young – Anethdraeg Elder
Stephen “Steve” Young – Sami’s husband
Destiny Bradford Sawyer – Sami’s only child and heir
Michael “Mick” Devon II – Sami’s brother and heir
Jeremy Bradford – Destiny’s father
Jacob and Andrew Bradford – Jeremy’s sons
Renée Young Devon – Steve’s daughter, Mick’s wife
Devon Young – Steve’s son
April Young – Devon’s wife and donor
Brooke and Blake Devon – Mick’s children
James Sawyer – Destiny’s husband and donor
Emily and Laurel Sawyer – Destiny’s and James’ children
Debra Devon – Sami’s and Mick’s cousin
Bruce Devon – Debra’s husband
Brandon Devon – Debra’s and Bruce’s grandson
Phillip – Sami’s lover and donor
Kenneth Devon – Sami’s and Mick’s cousin from Beckley, West Virginia. Anethcigfran Elder (House of the Raven).
Joshua Devon – Kenneth’s son and heir
Rodney Devon – Sami’s and Mick’s cousin from Farragut, Tennessee. Anethbluth Elder (House of the Wolf).
Jordan and Randall Devon – Rodney’s sons
Although in this one, there’s not as many scenes crowded with ten and twelve people at a time. :shudder: That’s another reason I shelved Daybreak – it got too much for my brain to handle.
Jun 21, 2009 4:25 pm
As a fantasy artist, I’ll admit that I was a bigger fan of Lee and Howe’s work than I was of Tolkien’s actual writings (I find him almost unreadable). As a result, I didn’t know the ring trilogy the way others did when the first movie released. I went to see it because, well, everyone was just so damn excited about it. All through the movie I spotted various scenes, that when taken as a still, could be almost a picture perfect representation of one of Lee & Howe’s works.
When the credits rolled on the first movie, my first thought was “what? already?”… I’d spent all two plus hours in my seat, and hadn’t moved or even thought too. For someone who had bought a really big coke & was a smoker, that was saying something.
The ring trilogy films was something that, in my opinion, hadn’t happened since the original Star Wars movies were in theaters. Despite any glaring flaws, eps 4, 5, & 6 are practically timeless, in that they can be watched and enjoyed over and over again. I think in a lot of ways, you & I both consider the ring trilogy to be the same way…
Jun 23, 2009 12:26 pm
@Erik Well done trilogies can have that effect. I agree with Star Wars; sadly, the reboots were beyond disappointing.
Jun 22, 2009 2:20 am
I can’t believe it’s been that long already! Woah …
We bought the extended versions of the movies as they were released on dvd and have them in a box on our rack … I have these “fits” ever so often when I will sit and watch them back to back – yes, all 666 minutes … Saturdays are good for that for me.
Jun 23, 2009 12:25 pm
@Mari Awesome! We’re thinking of having a party and doing the whole shebang, extended edition. Was pondering doing it on September 22, too… Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday. I is huge dork.
Jun 23, 2009 10:24 am
I’m still waiting for a movie version of The Silmarillion, by far a superior work than Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately I doubt I’d ever see it.
I was blown away seeing it on the big screen – finally a decent fantasy movie done well. That it was LOTR was even better. Of course there were changes, some fairly significant, but I still enjoyed it immensely.
Well, apart from the treatment of the Dwarves. Give me Dwarves over pretty boy Elves any day of the week. Though Tolkien gets a pass for the Elves seeing he was the first to portray them in that manner.
Most of the characters were brilliant in their portrayal, especially Viggo as Aragorn and Sean as Sam. The music was superb. And I still get a shiver at teh appearance of the Rohirrim at Pelennor Fields.
Jun 23, 2009 12:27 pm
@Andrew Yes, I have issue with the dwarves, too. I’m actually most looking forward to them in the Hobbit film, and really hoping that del Toro treats them with the respect they deserve. Thorin Oakenshield is one of those remarkably enduring characters. The end is so tragic, too… ah, we shall see!
Jun 23, 2009 6:56 pm
I join the chorus of “Wow, eight years, really?” Pretty amazingly well-done films. I loved the architecture (also pretty much the only thing I liked about the more recent Star Wars films). I’m sure everybody has their complaints — I have to admit Frodo looking wan and Sam looking concerned began to get on my nerves — but still, a great epic set of films.
Jun 26, 2009 2:38 am
@Liam Yes, I know what you mean. I actually skipped over a Frodo/Sam part to get to more Merry/Pippin stuff because, honestly, they’re always where my allegiances lie. I read TTT first, and so have an affinity for the two of them and their stories. Plus, as I said to my husband, “I want to see more kickass battle scenes!” Which, of course, doesn’t mean I’m hard-hearted. No, I cried through most of the third film. Pretty much about every five minutes.
Jun 25, 2009 5:41 pm
This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I’m not a woman, but I happen to love women, take part in women’s studies, and I’m a feminist (is pro-feminist man the correct term?). It has bugged me since I was a little kid that the only viable female protagonists in a fantasy story are Disney’s princesses, and any female presence in other stories is relegated to either the love interest, the eternal helper or the amazon who exists to threaten but be defeated by superior male warriors. The latter is especially true in anime, which is full of violent female characters whose defeat of male characters symbolizes the *weakness* of the males, not the strength of the female.
I’m hoping to get around these pitfalls in the story I’m working on, but as you said it’s difficult to break the pattern sometimes.
Jun 26, 2009 2:34 am
@stofoleez It is a challenge, and significantly complicated. Not to mention, much of it is simply due to the perceptions of the reader/writer. I mean, I don’t think many readers of anime and fantasy are particularly concerned. But the concern does grow, and I hope, will inspire some better literature.
Oct 17, 2010 7:16 pm
Hey ..i intent do amke a film on a Female Warrior …so do help me if u have some notes of historic female warrior figure.
Jun 25, 2009 7:47 pm
Part of this, I think, is because fantasy tends to mimic a historic medieval or renaissance setting. A lack of female warriors doesn’t pop up too much in urban fantasy, at least, not to the same extremes. And you must admit, woman tend to be smaller and physically weaker than men. I’m not exactly a helpless damsel, nor out of shape, but that doesn’t save me from having to find the nearest guy when a jar refuses to be opened. Sometimes men can do the job when rubber bands, hot water, and my small hands can’t.
The presence of female warriors in fantasy can depend largely on the setting and circumstances you place them in. You’ve mentioned George R.R. Martin’s Brienne, yes, but she’s a clear exception in her setting. Consider the wild women beyond the wall (certainly warriors), or even Mortenson’s isle, where they once described the mural with of the bare-chested woman with a baby in one hand and a weapon in the other (was it a mace? I forget). Women tend to be warriors up in tho north because it is necessary.
Jun 26, 2009 2:35 am
@elizaw It’s been so long since I read the books, that I’m getting fuzzy. I hadn’t thought about the women in the north. In general, I like Martin’s approach on women; in particular it’s Brienne’s character that bothers me. But, likely, it’s just personal preference!
Jun 25, 2009 9:59 pm
I can’t recall a lot of women warriors in my writing, mainly, I think, because it tends towards the realism end of fantasy (for as realistic as you can get with dragons and minotaurs and magic that is…).
Not to say I don’t have any – I’m writing a short story now which features an escaped female gladiator, and there is another one in a darker fantasy story – but they are the exception.
I do have a number of female adventurers and heroes though, but they tend to favour brains over brawn and none of them are depicted as sexpots..
Jun 26, 2009 2:37 am
@qorvus I think the rule of thumb is simply to write good characters. Women can be sexpots or crazed warriors, but there’s got to me more than shock value–it’s got to come from somewhere, and mean something in the end. Otherwise it’s just the old stereotype of the hot chick in a metal bra.
Jun 29, 2009 3:17 pm
Jun 27, 2009 4:02 am
Joss Whedon is very interesting in this respect. From Buffy to Echo, he never apologizes or develops elaborate backstories for making the women powerful — that’s just what they are.
Jun 29, 2009 11:59 am
[…] Notes on the woman warrior, fantasy literature style […]
Jun 29, 2009 8:15 pm
Just stumbled upon your blog – it’s so nice to hear of another woman who’s a fantasy addict. I have tried to keep my Inner Geek hidden, but it always comes back out. I studied Medieval Literature in my Master’s program and loved it. My husband just rolls his eyes, but more women should get into this genre. I have always wanted to write the Epic of all Epics, so I wish you the best of luck. I’ll be following your feed and look forward to the day you publish.
Jun 29, 2009 8:25 pm
@tcookmatranga Yay! Glad you found me. The internet is an intriguing place, but it certainly brings us closer together as geeks. I agree that more women should write epic fantasy! I’m working hard at it. It (like much of fiction, unfortunately) it testosterone-laden. Thankfully my husband loves fantasy as well, so we do share that together… now, to get back to writing before the little one wakes up.
Jun 29, 2009 10:08 pm
Oddly enough I made a post just the other day touching on some of this, well being a fantasy geek at any rate. I don’t think i ever bothered to hide the fact, nor that I liked writing it.
Though I have read my fair share of the book stopper fantasy epics, I’ve never really tried to write one. When I was a teenager I thought about it and wanted to write the Epic of all Epics, it never really happened.
The stories I plan seem to be one off ones, and while many of the characters are the same and there is sometimes a background arc going on, they don’t form part of an epic series.
Plus I don’t write pure fantasy sword & sorcery style, which counts against doing Epic Fantasy.
Jul 1, 2009 1:19 pm
@qorvus I can’t say what I’m writing is “pure”. I mean, there are no Elves, Dwarves, dragons… so I suppose in a way it’s more sword and sorcery (though the epic part has more to do with the scope of the whole tale). Since I write in lots of different flavors, I’m trying to approach this the same way I’ve approached everything else. But since, technically, I’ve been writing this particular story for the least ten years, intermittently, it’s a little bit of a challenge!
Jul 1, 2009 9:19 pm
I don’t have the elves, dwarves, dragons etc bit – well, not much – either.
By pure, I mean the typical style of setting, something akin to medieval Europe, with knights and castles and the like, or maybe a touch earlier.
The story I’m currently writing is set later than normal technological (though isn’t steampunk), takes place in a part of the world where the main human culture is decidedly non-European – and then ventures into an even more alien culture, that of a centauroid insect-man species.
Jun 30, 2009 1:58 pm
I’m kind of having that feeling of “been there” with the book I’m currently reading. Thing is, I never really had much money to spare, nor access to a decent library or knowledge of what would be good fantasy books to order in to a not decent one, so I actually haven’t read a whole lot of fantasy in my life. What I’ve read in recent years has mostly been handed to me, usually in the way of free ebooks, and not much of that has been of the sword and sorcery/fantasy epic variety.
So, I’m coming to a part in this current book involving elves – they’re not called that, but it’s clearly what they are – and the immortal, magic-imbued forest denizens, the latter to an almost extreme extent, just seems done before. Maybe it’s just the way this author is handling it, as well as the last author I read who had pretty much the same thing. Maybe it is just a cliche. Maybe there are good elves out there and I just haven’t met them yet.
Regardless, you’re certainly a competent writer and I’m sure you’ll do the genre justice. After all, it’s not about the formula, it’s about how it’s followed.
Jul 1, 2009 1:17 pm
@thejinx Yeah, fantasy can be that way. I mean, in a way it has to; in a way we need it to be familiar. It stems from a mythological past, after all, and how many myths resemble one another, right? But you’re right: it’s the deviations that make the stories unique, that give us pause and truly are effective. Too much of the same, and it’s watered down and boring.
Jul 2, 2009 1:21 pm
Isn’t the reason Steven King isn’t doing it because he tried it some years ago and it flopped rather badly because the culture wasn’t used to such things yet?
Jul 3, 2009 2:37 am
@park Actually, I had no idea. I used Mr. King as a random example, I suppose. Just making the point that most established writers aren’t jumping to get their books into Lulu…
Jul 3, 2009 2:17 am
I think in many ways the traditional route to getting published is changing. Look at Amazon with their Kindle reader and growing publishing arm. They already own the book retail market, so how long before they begin dictating conditions to the publishers (as Walmart did to their suppliers). The fact that a hardcover costs $25 or so is ridiculous. Amazon can drive that cost down to near zero via electronic distribution. Sure, for now, not everyone wants to read on a digital reader, but given time (and as older generations die off), digital readers will become more and more mainstream. I’ll even go so far as to predict a time when children grow up in a world without paper books! OK, that’s a bit off-topic… anyway, I think the route of self-publishing is losing some of the negativity. JA Konrath has been blogging a lot lately about the Kindle and how it has the potential to break down the traditional publishing paradigm. I have, too, but he’s a published writer, so his words carry more weight than mine. 😉
Jul 3, 2009 2:39 am
@scottmarlowe Oh, absolutely! I agree with you. It is changing, and there’s a lot of really exciting things happening in the way of publishing–especially in the digital aspect (not to mention things like Creative Commons, etc). I think my point is that new writers, unpublished writers, are often too quick to self-publish and, in the end, it can be detrimental to their careers. If we move from paper to digital, publishing will still be a business, no matter what. New writers often have big dreams and yet are resistant to the work involved getting those dreams realized, and the short of it is: self-publishing isn’t a cure-all! 🙂
Aug 3, 2009 1:02 pm
Agreed! We still have to maintain quality, and I could see how self-publishing could essentially jump over some of the hard work it takes to achieve that quality.
Jul 7, 2009 1:12 am
Hi Natania — I’m so glad you saw the conversation on self-publishing on my blog. I would be really thrilled if you’d consider adding any of this as a comment — or even as an additional post — to the conversation on A Writing Year.
Jul 7, 2009 2:46 am
That’s hilarious. 🙂 Though I’m a little surprised that they match up at all, especially given the space between rewrites. My current draft of my novel is my second blind rewrite (three disconnected drafts), and each time the plot reshaped itself.
Jul 7, 2009 2:48 am
@elizaw Yeah! I’m surprised, as well. I mean, the difference is (I hope) rather obvious, from a writing quality standpoint. But a few of the details I suppose are just so vivid that, well, I guess it stayed with me. I even had an encounter earlier with two guards–and I rewrote it nearly verbatim. Same guards, same outfits, virtually same conversation. Weird. I guess I’ve internalized more of it than I thought!
Jul 7, 2009 3:28 am
Natania Barron writes about her rewriting process in which she does not refer to the previous draft. At all….
Jul 7, 2009 12:19 pm
The similarities are striking, but I love the details you’ve added to the hall in the re-write. The description of the beams in the hall made to look like trees had my mouth gaping, like when I first read about Lothlorien…just awesome.
Jul 9, 2009 3:17 am
I remember the stories I wrote when I was young, full of intrigue and impossible situations. But you kept on writing and I gave up. I had an art instructor who taught that a person has 200 bad drawings in them. They can draw them all this week or take a lifetime. I feel it’s too late for me but I do all I can to make sure my girls have encouragement to live creatively , to explore their interests, to do their 200 drawings. They are 22, 16 and 11. they are writers (22 and 11), artists (11 and 16)and performers ( the 11 yo). I hope I am giving them the tools to succeed . I know one thing, they are way smarter them their mom. Although ,I can make a really cool Halloween costume.
Jul 10, 2009 2:18 am
@Jill Absolutely! There’s a theory that you have to dedicate 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, which is right along those same lines. We do have to grow, and maybe I’m a little more harsh on myself than I ought to be. I sometimes think I had a little too much encouragement! But, I suppose there’s a reason that most writers don’t find success until at least their thirties. Art of any kind is always worth working at, in my opinion. It’s all from the same root! 🙂
Jul 10, 2009 5:14 pm
The exact trouble is rewriting a 75K exceptionally mediocre story into something around 120K that has a lot more grit and substance.
I went the opposite direction. From a manuscript started in 1996 and “finished” in 2004. Two editing cycles between 2004 and 2007. Last Fall I decided I couldn’t give up on it and gave it the most thorough overhaul I’ve ever given anything. And I went from a 122k manuscript to an 87k manuscript. :phew: I took out a ton of garbage that just had no place in the story and/or did nothing for the story. I also completely rewrote the beginning and the ending — and highly spit-and-polished the middle. I have a much better manuscript and fuller, more complete story now.
Did I send you the PDF? Am always happy to share. It’s sitting at MacMillan New Writers currently. If I don’t hear anything by August 27th, I get to ship it on to someone else.
But scenes are, by and large, constructed from what I remember. And if I can’t remember? I re-create.
I thought about doing that. The thought made me sick to my stomach, so I just didn’t. But then I got brave and chopped off the first eight chapters and wrote a completely different opening. Then I chopped off the last chapter and wrote a completely different ending. Go figure, right?
The most amusing side-effect is the similarity some of the passages have, in spite of the fact that I’ve not re-read
That’s awesome. 🙂
Jul 19, 2009 5:56 am
Just discovered Legend of the Seeker on Hulu…it’s awesome.
Jul 22, 2009 1:32 pm
Couldn´t agree more, Natania. I felt the same way you did a few years ago – I even considered giving up writing for good. Thing is, I simply couldn´t. So I had to face it – and do something about it.
2009 has been so far a kind of “re-debut” (reboot?) year for me. I´ve been writing every single day (even if it´s a couple of lines, a paragraph, 500 words – whatever I can get). It´s been hard – but so far the rewards have outweighed the costs, so to speak.
Right now I´m writing my first novel in English. It´s quite a challenge, but now, after all these years, I know I can do it. It´s the path I chose for myself as well.
Jul 22, 2009 4:53 pm
@Fabio Congratulations! Absolutely. It’s about being resolute, and going on. So many writers let anything and everything get in their way; heck, even I do sometimes. But I find being stubborn about it really does help to champion on in spite of crap. Props to the English novel, too! I was throwing around the idea yesterday of writing something in French, myself (which was my first language) but I think I’ll start with some poetry!
Jul 25, 2009 3:04 am
Dude! You talked to him? *bounce*
I just finished ‘The Blade Itself’, and I’ve been in Abercrombie-adoration mode for the last few days while I figure out some way to get the rest of his books (it’s looking like driving forty miles to the nearest city is the only fast solution).
He sounds like a fun guy. I hope I’ll get to meet him someday. … And if I ever do meet him, I hope that I’ll have something more intelligent to say than Captain Luthar going ‘guh!’ at Ardee West.
Jul 29, 2009 11:37 pm
It’s almost as if I need literary companions on every writing adventure I take, but these days I’m looking over their resumes a little more carefully.
VERY interesting. For myself, I am still reading, but my lifelong affair with fiction has taken a sabbatical. It has been completely replaced by my rabid consumption of nonfiction as it relates to writing, publishing, design, formatting and marketing. As I write this, my desk buckles under the weight of a stack of manuals waiting to be digested.
But, that’s okay for now. In time, I will return to my first love. Until then, I will have to satisfy my love of fiction with the stories in my own head.
elizabeth @ March Books
Jul 30, 2009 5:03 am
You raise some valid points, but I think you have overlooked the upside to self-publishing. First of all, new technology has brought self-publishing options to a new level.
Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing is not necessarily the easy option, but it can be the best option, for a number of reasons.
One of those reasons is control, control, control. If you want to retain control of your baby: title, cover, format and even content, the only way you can do this is by self-publishing.
Another reason is compensation. This book is your creation. You labored for six months, a year or more to bring your story to life. Now you are going to step back, with your hat in your hand, accepting the 5% that the publisher is willing to give you. For most first time authors, any advance will probably be meager and there will likely be little if any budget for promoting your book.
So who, I need to ask, is publishing out of vanity?
There is, without question, a lot of bad prose out there – books that should never have seen a printing press. But, you should judge each project on its own merits. Condemning all self-published books is like condemning all cars because there are some bad drivers.
The new technology that is available is a tool, nothing more. Some will use it with skill and others will chop off some fingers. I’m not, nor would I ever, argue that self-publication is for everyone, but it is a viable option that merits consideration.
Jul 30, 2009 6:31 pm
@marchbooks I believe it can be a good idea. I’m just not convinced it’s “there” yet, if you know what I mean. And the post was really more for new writers, totally unpublished writers, who feel the need to run to LuLu the second their book is finished. I feel that the life of the book, in some ways, really starts when it’s done. And for people looking for a quick buck, self-publishing isn’t the way. Not unless you want to tirelessly champion your cause, and sink a good amount of time and money into it.
The publishing industry has a lot of room to grow, and I do see self-publishing as a threat–especially in a few years. The way publishing works, for instance, with its huge losses, destroyed copies, etc, is just a broken practice. Technologies with total print on demand, for instance, are already in practice in some areas! I just worry that new writers feel like they can slight the (admittedly flawed) system by self-publishing, when in some cases, it actually diminishes their chances for future publishing-house publication.
Anyway! I’m not a control freak, and so it doesn’t bother me. But again, I’m just starting out, myself, wading out into the fray and dangling my books around hoping to get a bite. Sometimes it really is like fishing…
Jul 30, 2009 9:47 pm
I agree with you. What it comes down to is this – no matter what stage you are at or which path you take, you have to do the work. The overnight success is a fantasy.
I went through the whole process. I didn’t stay in the submission stage for very long though. For me, my decision was based on the thought that if I was going to put this much time and effort into getting someone else to publish my books, then I might just put that effort into furthering my goals for myself.
I don’t regret that time. I learned a lot about the business and some of the conferences I went to provided me with some invaluable knowledge and experience. The turning point for me was when I found writing.com and started posting my writing there. The sheer volume of positive feedback I got there convinced me that the people I was really interested in reaching (the common guy, not the literary agents) were enthusiastic about my writing. So, it was off to the races.
What I find exciting about the self-publishing field today is that it can conform to any need or energy level. You can stay totally hands off and let someone else do everything for you (not my choice, because these are my babies and where they are concerned, I am a total control freak) or you can essentially become a small publisher, in every sense of the word. These are doors that were not open to us only a few short years ago.
It is an exciting time to be a writer, but that does not absolve us of the duty to write the best and cleanest prose we can. Sadly, a lot of people don’t take that part of the commitment seriously and that, in my opinion, is what gives self-publishing a bad rep.
Aug 4, 2009 7:43 pm
Firstly, that was funny about Heroes. Truly cannot be unseen, even if we want it to be so.
I did not read the books, but did (for the most part) enjoy the series. I thought the first half as a whole was stronger than the second. Maybe I am influenced by the Mord Sith who I just thought were stupid fetish stuff.
Craig Horner is certainly sticking to his diet plan, although he struck me as a little small for the role. The show was interesting, at times exciting but not always fun.
Here is my take on it with a little humor and lots o’ pics if you are interested.
Aug 6, 2009 12:58 pm
My blog has died a horrible death.
Aug 6, 2009 1:44 pm
@Mari I don’t think it’s dead, really. Just… at the moment I have so much going on, I’ve got to pick and choose. And if coming up with blog topics is taking too much time, then it’s gotta be on the side-burner for a while. I’m sure I’ll eventually have something to say. Words aren’t usually my problem! Sorry to hear about your blog though 🙁
Aug 8, 2009 12:16 am
My problem is that what’s going on in my life right now is so intensely personal – I refuse to blog about it. That and I don’t want or need a string of posts that say nothing but “Submitted Midnight to X publisher or X agent this morning.”
Aug 11, 2009 2:06 am
That’s really an interesting perspective. I’m toying with the idea of becoming a writer myself, so I’m taking the first step of telling myself that “I’m a writer” (I even have a Sticky on my Mac desktop to remind myself). Somehow I doubt that you intended this as advice, but it makes damn fine advice anyway 🙂 It’s also inspirational, so thanks for sharing your story.
Aug 11, 2009 4:33 pm
@Will Good! Glad to hear it. I honestly think if I had spent less time whining about not writing and more time actually writing, I’d likely have finished a book earlier. A lot of the process is just a state of mind. Good luck!
Aug 12, 2009 8:12 pm
I say there’s no crime in it. I’ve often referred to the BSG remake as a superb drama that happens to be sci-fi. It sounds like that’s the same direction you are taking with your writing as well. It may go against the grain of some conventional fantasy fans out there, more still will accept it and appreciate it for what it is, just like people did with BSG.
Aug 12, 2009 8:33 pm
@Erik Thank you! That was very thoughtful… and lucid. Which is more I can say for my utterly inane attempt!
Aug 12, 2009 8:45 pm
Honestly, I find it interesting that you have to do such explanation for what you write. If ever it comes up with me, all I have to do is say the F-word and an “oh” ends the conversation there. (Not often so terse, but the outcome is more or less the same. I’ve gotten used to it.)
Aug 12, 2009 8:48 pm
@thejinx This is a good point. I wish it were so easy for me. Alas, it’s not. I come from a family of either non-readers or English professors, and neither are particularly fond of the genre. So I tend to oscillate. Years of programming and all that. I’ve gotten better, but I still get frustrated; not just with me in the genre, but the genre in general! Ah, well. Maybe it’s a good thing?
Aug 13, 2009 12:37 am
I finally waffled around enough that I finally settled on a genre. Paranormal / Gothic … Took me five years to figure it out. ROFL
Aug 13, 2009 2:06 am
@Mari Yes, I think self-definition is important. So, realist-heroic fiction? Or, something… Nope, still not working.
Aug 13, 2009 2:05 am
I sometimes have this debate – I was ruthless as one stage hacking out anything vaguely cliched – and then went off in a direction that ended up so far from conventional fantasy as could be whilst still remaining in the fantasy genre.
Dragons still make a minor appearance and some non-humanoid races as well – just not the normal elves/dwarves/orcs – so it still classifies as fantasy.
Aug 13, 2009 2:07 am
@qorvus We do all have to find our own voices within the genre. I mean, otherwise, we’d all be writing the same books over and over again!
Aug 13, 2009 10:01 am
Somedays I think I started too late in the game – Tolkien has already written my book 😛 The Silmarillion in this case, not the other ones. 😉
Of course my voice in the genre may be a little too obscure to be much more than a niche, which is never a really good thing where publishers are concerned.
Aug 14, 2009 8:16 pm
I know precisely how you feel. I’ve had a lot of trouble writing similar traveling scenes for the sake of pacing, and it’s probably one of my least favourite things to write. (And yet, it ends up being one of the most common, due to the exposition that needs to come out somewhere.)
Aug 16, 2009 2:51 am
There’s one of those rules out there… if you’re bored writing a scene, aren’t your readers going to be bored reading it?
I sympathize with you. I’ve had scenes where I just want to be done with it and move on to something more interesting or exciting. Of course, more often than not, I fall back on the rule above and the scene ultimately gets axed.
Aug 17, 2009 2:15 am
I don’t think there’s a group. But I do remember seeing, somewhere on the web, a list of SF/F writers who had supportive attitudes in their fiction about these issues. The criteria appeared to be characters who were subtly or overtly in alternative relationships of any type, and a general attitude of positivity there, ranging from matter-of-fact acceptance to outright exploration of the ideas.
It was a big list.
Some of the top authors, off the top of my head, on that list were Barbara Hambly, Lois MsMaster Bujold (whose work I can’t recommend enough; specifically to this subject, Ethan of Athos, but her entire body of work also), Heinlein of course, Robin McKinley, Robin Hobb, etc etc etc.
I would so join this group.
Aug 17, 2009 1:48 pm
@kathleen I definitely think bringing it one step further than a list, by helping to provide a network of pledged writers, would make a big difference. It’s not just for writers, either, but for readers of SF/F. Knowing that there are intelligent, thoughtful and respectful writers out there for your cause really could make a remarkable impact.
Aug 17, 2009 9:33 am
What Scott said. Besides, you can always write it and trash it and redo it later. Been there. Just plow through it. Or skip it and come back to it. But this is me – Miss WriterlyOutofOrder McWriterlyOutofOrderSon.
Aug 17, 2009 1:46 pm
I’ll join. Let’s be in touch about what needs to be done and what I can do to help. I’ll link over to this from the M-Brane blog also.
Aug 17, 2009 1:47 pm
@Chris Absolutely! I think I can lay some of the groundwork, put a blog together and get some basic design, but any help would be sincerely appreciated. Thank you! 🙂
Aug 17, 2009 1:52 pm
[…] This post was Twitted by mbranesf […]
Aug 17, 2009 2:11 pm
If you can get the basic groundwork going on, I will commit to contributing some blog content as well as promoting the group at my own sites. If there are any sort of activities that the group will eventually undertake, I am into assisting in whatever way I can. I’m going to be trying do a lot of outreach to LGBT-interested readers in the coming months anyway since I have this gay sf anthology coming out soon, so I should be turning up at least a few more people who would like to join this alliance. Let’s stay in touch about it.
Aug 17, 2009 2:12 pm
@Chris That is awesome. I truly appreciate it! I will definitely keep in touch.
Aug 17, 2009 5:02 pm
This sounds like a great Idea dn something that would probably be a lot of fun too. If there is anything I can do to help out, please let me know, even if it is just spread the word etc.
Thanks for the motivation you express and the time you spend making such things happen. I’m with you 100%.
Aug 17, 2009 8:43 pm
@Mike Wonderful! The more the merrier.
Aug 17, 2009 8:39 pm
We’d be willing to help support this too, over at Brain Harvest.
@caren That’s excellent! I will be in touch in the next few days as I ramp this up. We’re working on getting a name, then getting a domain, etc… I’m excited. 🙂
Aug 17, 2009 11:21 pm
[…] blog post is not about John C. Wright. Author Natania Barron posted on her blog a really interesting call to create some type of group for LGBT/Queer sci fi and fantasy writers that can help respond to these types of posts. But more importantly, Natania is asking that us […]
Aug 17, 2009 11:36 pm
Hey Natania, I am also willing to contribute my help. I can provide writing/publicityhelp, as well as grass-roots organizing to build the community and mission. I blogged about joining the effort over at my blog in today’s post. You can read it here http://cesartorres.net/blog/?p=1164.
Aug 18, 2009 1:48 am
I’d be a member.
Aug 19, 2009 1:25 am
This sounds like a wonderful idea, would love to be involved.
Aug 19, 2009 1:37 pm
I’d be willing to join. My orientation, not that it matters, is bi leaning toward hetero.
Aug 19, 2009 3:18 pm
Yay, Barton! Go to the new page at http://outeralliance.wordpress.com/ and you’ll see a link to join and get on the mailing list etc.
Aug 31, 2009 3:23 pm
Congratulations, Natania! I’m so glad this story was recovered and published. I enjoyed reading it quite a lot.
Wishing you continued luck!
Sep 1, 2009 2:03 am
[…] Barron – Peter was wrested out of contemplation by the jostling of the door above… Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The clock is ticking…New MOMocrats Post 165the […]
Sep 1, 2009 2:51 pm
Thanks so much for having this idea and starting the group, Natania.
Poor Peter! But good for him for not compromising because it’s expected.
Sep 1, 2009 8:03 pm
@Julia Thanks, and thanks! Yeah, it’s a bit on the dramatic side for an excerpt, but it was short enough to cut, and I liked the scene anyway. I’m having such a blast putting up all of the posts, but now I’m behind. *runs to put more up*
Sep 9, 2009 9:42 pm
Interestingly, of course, in real history, rather than history filtered through the glasses of 19th and 20th century writers, female warriors were not unknown. Most notable is Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, who may not have mown down Romans from a chariot with scythes on the wheels, but certainly was a military leader in at the kill. This fact alarmed Roman civilization, but, interestingly, also intrigued it too. We know that there were female gladiators (gladiatrix to give them their proper title) as their graves have been found and, naturally, it was felt most appropriate that these women were recruited from Britain (or, if from elsewhere, at least pretend to have been).
There are records of female soldiers taking part in the Crusades too. We know of at least one female archer and one mounted knight who was a woman. Women were allowed to join the Knights Templar, more as patrons in a kind of honorary membership role for fund raising, but certainly on the frontline in Syria and Palestine there were women fighting. Due to the tenuous nature of the Crusader Kingdoms, women enjoyed far greater rights there than back in Europe. To some extent Sybilla in the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ movie illustrates this, but that portrayal, in fact, does not go as far as many noble women did in the Frankish kingdoms of the Levant at the time.
Medieval women played strategic as well as tactical and combat roles, most notable is Queen-Empress Matilda who fought the 12th century civil war as military leader to try to gain the throne of England to add to her other domains. Given these scraps that we have, it is safe to suggest that there were in fact probably many more female warriors written out of history; the valkyrie might seem exceptional, but their portrayal must have stemmed from actual fighting women.
Of course, much of our understanding of the Middle Ages is through Victorian perceptions and they overly emphasise the weakness of women and their lack of martial role in previous eras. The difference in physical strength is likely to have been far less in earlier times than Victorians believed. If you think about it, anyone who managed to survive infancy in medieval times, whichever gender they were, had to be very tough and manual labour and fighting built physical strength further. All people were smaller five hundred years ago than now, you can see from the buildings that remain, but there is no suggestion that a woman could not have worn armour or hefted a sword just as well as a man and a grown woman probably better than the average squire.
People also forget that in a time with a high mortality rate, women were often left in control of estates when their husbands/brothers/fathers were off warring on crusade or were killed and it would be them seeing off the brigand raids as well as keeping the accounts. Until the 10th century reforms, monasteries, which then generally housed men and women, were always overseen by abbesses of noble or royal blood. It was only later that abbots became common.
It is not only simply western culture from which we know real warrior women, they appear in Japanese culture too. I wish I could remember the names of the two Japanese samurai daughters who trained to take revenge on their father’s killers. One specialised in the naginata (effectively a sword on the end of a pole) and the other in the complex chain-ball-sickle weapon. Three women warriors appear in the Chinese classic ‘The Water Margin’ (admittedly there were 105 males in the group of nine dozen heroes) and they would not have been accepted if that was far away from the reality that audiences knew.
I think if we read contemporary fantasy work to medieval audiences they would be surprised when women were given the roles that the Victorians assigned them and projected back on to medieval eras. At the moment, the culture being pressed on children here in the UK, is, as Stofoleez highlights, emphasising the passive and demanding (in terms of demanding consumer items) princess role for girls and in turn emphasising to boys that men are not men unless they are strong and violent. This has been going on long enough in this country to see the outcomes in adults, men who fight in car parks every weekend and women who do not feel it is their role even to put up their tents on a female-only camping trip!
Warriors of any kind have to be used carefully in fiction as we do not want to live in a warfare state (too many people still do), but there is a lot that can be communicated to readers both male and female through warrior characters, about taking initiative and above all, the one thing so many young people shirk, with dire consequences: taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Sep 14, 2009 10:15 pm
[…] Becoming an atheist of the muse. « Natania Barron nataniabarron.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/becoming-an-atheist-of-the-muse – view page – cached tags: inspiration, muses, writing, writing advice, writing and inspiration, writing theories, writing tips by Natania — From the page […]
Sep 14, 2009 11:56 pm
I never thought of muses in the classical ‘inspirational’ sense. I only got clever ideas when I daydreamed long enough, and I only have the burning need to write when I’m supposed to be doing less pleasant tasks. My ‘muses’ tend to be a variety of characters that pop up in my head to make comments about my life at inopportune moments, like the robots in Mystery Science Theater 2000. Usually, it’s the clever or snarky ones. You’re going to keep those, right? 😀
Sep 15, 2009 12:35 am
@eliza Characters? Oh yes, they’re still here. They follow me around daily. Lately, it’s been this woman named Orlanne… Anyway, to me, they’re very different. The muse was this made-up Source of Inspiration. The thing that made the characters talk, that pushed me to write, that somehow was the Well From Whiche Everythinge Floweth. But it’s not like that, I realized, after a long fight. It’s just… well, excuses. Besides, I like the idea that I’m in charge of my own inspiration a hell of a lot better.
Sep 15, 2009 1:21 am
:giggle: I combine the concepts. That way they can tell me how good I have things and nag me into being productive. It’s like inspiration, but a lot more effective.
Sep 15, 2009 8:27 pm
Personally, I find the “muse” – never really thought of it that way, just as inspiration – more useful in developing a story, rather than the later and somewhat simpler task of writing it.
Sep 17, 2009 6:32 pm
Sorry to hear it’s been a tough week. Hold on, things will get better. Life mantras are similar to writing mantras.
If you’re last statement is at all true, I SO want to read that book!
Sep 17, 2009 7:57 pm
It’s my NaNoWriMo book 😀
Sep 17, 2009 9:32 pm
[…] be enlightening on the subject. Except I started thinking about how pissed off I am when I read excerpts of the pertinent emails and conversations. It’s not the professional writers’ responses […]
Sep 18, 2009 12:24 am
I see a lot of what you are talking about, but luckily most of the people I surround myself with are not these folks, but like the weeds to mention, some people do need to be yanked. Purging people from Twitter, Face Book, email lists etc, should be a mandatory bi-monthly task.
Sure being a new writer is tough and it is certainly tough to make money or fame or even fans, but conversely there are so many markets out there now. “Oh magazine X didn’t like my short story…oh no that means there are only 199 more magazine on this list to send it too.” I say relax, take a deep breath, and get to know some nice people along the way, isn’t that the goal of our lives anyway. (or at least one of them.)
Sep 18, 2009 12:26 am
@mdg17 I absolutely agree. I’m lucky, I don’t know many people that fall into this category. But, unfortunately, they are loud and obnoxious! Making good connections is great, I agree, and I tend to think that many of these real loud-mouths don’t have very many friends to begin with.
Sep 27, 2009 6:19 pm
Sep 23, 2009 7:19 pm
I think there’s a poem here. “I don’t believe in muses anymore.
I’m sorry. Does that sound harsh?” I enjoy your sparkly style!
Oct 2, 2009 8:05 pm
Very Cute :3
http://www.theouteralliance.org/ not quite loading for me…
Oct 2, 2009 8:07 pm
That would be due to my bad link. Fixed now! .. and thanks!
Oct 6, 2009 2:05 am
Word. I quit my full time job in May, and I’ve been happier and more productive since. I still work part time (per diem), which is kind of stressful in its own right, but… yeah. Quitting that job I hated was the best decision I’ve made in the last 5 years.
Oct 6, 2009 2:29 pm
Well said, indeed! I was so glad to have seen it with you. We were teary in many of the same places, with some differences. I haven’t seen a film to make me outright cry in quite some time. Lovely review!
Oct 13, 2009 8:54 pm
Speaking as a writer, I think writers are the problem. Too many want to tell their story /to/ someone (including both new and established writers) than just plain telling the story. When you want to tell it to someone, you’re going in with expectations that cannot help but be crushed. If you’re really a writer, you’ll tell your story and find your voice and you’ll do the best you can rather than lecturing someone (established writers, I’m looking at you) or pestering someone (new writers, this is for you).
Ah. Damn. I’m lecturing. Looks like I need to go back to writing. But thanks for writing a very insightful piece. Perhaps there should be a required course for all writers called “Rejection 101: How not to devalue yourself after the inevitable false starts.” I could sure use it 🙂
Oct 15, 2009 2:32 pm
Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading about how you discovered your character was gay. It takes courage to really listen, and to follow your heart – in both life and in our fiction.
Oct 18, 2009 1:22 pm
[…] Natania Barron writes about discovering her POV character was gay […]
Oct 28, 2009 7:20 pm
Very interesting! I am more a fan of Modern Armor, but this still makes me shudder in my nether regions!
Oct 30, 2009 10:40 am
I’m in too! This will be my 4th (and looking to make it the 4th win). I will be finding snippets of time, getting up early, taking breaks at work and writing while the kids watch Phineas and Ferb to squeak across the finish line…I’ll see you there!
Oct 30, 2009 2:15 pm
I’m doing NaNoWriMo again as well. Still have you on my list there, so, good luck to us both! 😀
Oct 31, 2009 10:11 pm
I’ve not done NaNo since 2006. I’ve not had the time.
Nov 6, 2009 12:40 pm
[…] to finish up, I’ll link to this rant. She puts it into words better than I […]
Nov 11, 2009 4:56 pm
Hear hear. There’s not a single one of those I can disagree with. And my computer crashed last year, right in the middle of trying to finish both a manuscript for myself and a newsletter for a client. Having autonomous back-ups saved my butt, but I lost time and work due to not having it up-to-date.
Nov 11, 2009 4:59 pm
@Jaym Yes! That’s exactly what happened to me. I had detached the laptop from the external hard drive, then had a writing binge… and lost it all. Eventually I snapped out of it, though. Thankfully.
Nov 12, 2009 10:31 pm
Reading your posts almost makes me want to look at Uninvoked once again, and see if perhaps there is a message or two in there at what my life was like. Maybe it is. Food for thought.
Nov 13, 2009 1:38 pm
I agree that writing can be a means of survival. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, as well as a bit about Queen of None. May you continue your edits and find the healing peace therein.
Nov 15, 2009 6:15 pm
Until I rewrote it and got all the junk out of it, Midnight was my story / Sami’s story was my story – with vampires tossed into the salad. Writing that book was more cathartic than any journaling I’d ever done.
Nov 23, 2009 1:50 pm
Sounds like a great season for you! I plan on attending Some Assembly Required–can’t wait actually. Looking forward to reading the two shorts, and more Arthuriana!
Peace and abundance to you and yours.
Dec 7, 2009 2:13 pm
Can’t wait to read it!
Dec 8, 2009 6:36 pm
Thank you for the update post.
I love the new header.
Dec 9, 2009 1:23 pm
Can’t wait for this December series! Sounds like Queen of None is an excellent redux.
Dec 9, 2009 5:59 pm
I’m not in control of my characters. Quite the opposite.
Dec 14, 2009 6:00 am
I can understand you completely. I am contemplating whether or not I should leave my manuscript stew for a while, because while the words come and I move the story forward, I am not feeling it. It’s like an off tune piano and I can’t seem to get it tuned right. I am hoping to wrap it up as draft as it is and then during edits pin down the voice of the character.
Stay strong and PS: I love the new layout better. I have been reading you for a long time from Google Reader, so I didn’t catch the change.
Dec 14, 2009 1:57 pm
@Harry Thanks for the well-wishes. It’s not half so bad, really, to start over again sometimes. In some ways I feel extremely liberated from that sub-zero draft, as it was really feeling like quite a burden. If a draft feels like that it’s probably a good sign it’s time to let it alone for a while, or start again. Starting again is usually my approach. While not the most time-effective, I think it definitely works out best for me in the end.
Dec 15, 2009 5:46 am
I am seriously contemplating that myself and I think it sounds better and better for me if I try and do the same with this one, though I would just want it to be done and not have to worry that I am one of those leaving projects hanging. It’s my sort of thing I did and still do, barely finish anything. The tendency is changing, but then again the procrastination gene just tempts me.
Dec 14, 2009 10:16 pm
I love your rule #1. I’m going to have to remember that when I start asking for critiques (eek).
Dec 16, 2009 4:47 pm
I haven’t had time to do more than skim the book, but oh, I agree so much! A phenomenal resource!
Dec 17, 2009 3:35 pm
Booklife is on my wishlist. Any time I can learn from the experience of others and reduce my suffering and angst (if only by a little), I’m all in. I hope you keep on enduring and writing. Thanks for the post!
Dec 20, 2009 1:38 am
Dec 30, 2009 6:25 pm
[…] this bit from a post called “The creativity curve, and time for the cure” from January 12, 2009, regarding my inability to sustain the writing groove: Sure, I go […]
Dec 31, 2009 4:48 pm
Thanks for this! As you well know I’m trying to put words to paper myself. My own philosophy about the magic vs work of art is much the same as yours. But I’ve had trouble applying this wisdom to my new endeavor of *gulp* W R I T I N G. Nice to be reminded that we are, all of us, constantly growing in our crafts. 😉
Jan 4, 2010 6:52 am
To be honest 2009 was a poor year for me and writing, so I am certainly changing everything. I will be performing better this year however. I owe my ideas that much.
Jan 9, 2010 3:46 pm
You’ve actually inspired me to try using twitter. O.O I want to share!
Jan 27, 2010 2:59 am
Natania failed to mention RE: #2 that while in Boston she will meet the wonderful and talented editors of Crossed Genres in person for the first time. We can all forgive her and simply assume that she was including them in #5.
Jan 27, 2010 3:00 am
@Bart Yes, yes, in fact you are in #5. And of course I will see you in Boston. And we can all have WINE.
Jan 27, 2010 3:07 am
That is a huge load of awesomeness. So much awesome, I am surprised nothing is exploding from trying to contain it all.
Jan 27, 2010 7:28 pm
That is a whole lot of awesome!
Feb 7, 2010 3:42 pm
Let me know if I can help with the typing. Or anything else.
Feb 11, 2010 1:21 pm
@northwindsasawoman – Dearest friend, thank you! Eventually this will blow over… so far I’ve been able to manage a little bit a day. Baby steps…
Feb 11, 2010 8:40 am
I linked through Justine’s blog. I sooooooo relate to the hand/wrist/forearm issues and the mega ideas/desire to write! I wish you the best with that. Rest and ice and somehow jot or record those ideas…..ya never know which ones are going to sprout in the subconscious mind!
Feb 11, 2010 1:22 pm
@Stephen Yes, my mind seems to be going into overdrive coming up with new ideas. For someone who usually cranks out 1K or so a day in fiction, it’s been a very difficult week! But all things must pass, so quoth George Harrison and others. Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂
Mar 6, 2010 6:18 pm
I’ve never considered this, but I’ve been on twitter for awhile. But I love the idea that a wip should be shared. As writers we tend to be cautious about what we share, or at least I do. And I feel like sharing makes us more accountable to ourselves almost.
Mar 9, 2010 8:51 pm
Sympathies on this. My partner’s been having severe typing issues for a while now and she has had to wrestle with using wrist braces as well as speech software.
And me, I’ve had medical challenges of my own trying to get back into regular writing habits! I’ve had to scale back my expectations for what I can produce in a given day, too. It’s very frustrating and crazy-making! Good luck and hope you’ll be able to keep producing words in a way your hands can cope with.
Anna, from the Outer Alliance
Mar 9, 2010 9:07 pm
I hope you figure something out soon. You’re an awesome writer, and it sucks that there is such a roadblock now.
Mar 11, 2010 3:34 am
Good luck with this. I had some problems a couple of years ago and an ergonomic keyboard (and a thumb trackball instead of mouse) went a long way toward helping.
Mar 14, 2010 5:22 pm
What a great idea! I’m fairly new to Twitter, and I love this. I already follow #amwriting to get inspiration to get to work, and this will give me a peek into others’ creative process.
Mar 14, 2010 8:23 pm
[…] it has a couple of similar points to the ones I have made, but it also offers a few new points too: Six Ways Twitter Can Make You A Better Writer Comments […]
Mar 14, 2010 8:39 pm
been thinking about doing this for a few weeks but I decided it was useless. Thanks for posting this because I’m certainly going to try it!
Mar 17, 2010 1:29 am
I hope your issues fade away and we say loads of creativity from you this summer.
Mar 18, 2010 2:29 am
What a great post and a great subject too. I just came across it flipping through blogs. Thanks!
While I agree with you in part, this does bring up a question for me: is it never correct to try and massage a connection? I happen to be completely unable to do this, because it’s simply not in my disposition; but I often wonder, if I were better at marketing myself, what I might achieve. I guess the real question is, isn’t it sometimes right? Don’t some of us actually have great ideas?
(I haven’t had mine – yet! – but if I did…) I’m not sure what’s right. It’s always struck me that the literary world is about greasing hands. Myself, I’m mostly a copywriter for hire; my creative work hasn’t gotten to the point where I am ready to market it, beyond the usual routes.
Thought provoking, in any case.
Mar 24, 2010 2:16 am
Hey, my name is also Netania! Any advice for this writer? I know what I want to write about but I can’t find the right words to say
Mar 31, 2010 10:41 pm
Just get things roughly on paper, expand ideas and with time just revise and improve them.
If you keep a white page in front of you for too long, it will intimidate you. I believe it’s called a writer’s block.
If you’re writing on a computer, I recommend http://docs.google.com/ – it’s really awesome, easy to use, keeps revisions, safe as you won’t lose your data if your hdd crashes or so and you can even use it offline (with google gears enabled, the green arrow on the upper right), oh and free! You also don’t have to install the app and you can write from any computer, even share the document with people or work in collaboration.
Mar 29, 2010 10:50 pm
I’ve been working on a story for years, on and off. I started at about 14 and my plot was little more than every cliche about a fantasy world smooshed together and poorly formatted. i wrote two chapters and an outline and then developed a social life. My book went on a shelf. Now, half a decade later, i have about 18 varied plots, new characters, settings… Its essentially an whole new story now, but the characters are developing, and the plot is intriguing. Its different. The names are the only real constant left. I have been on a quest for overdone plot and character aspects, and morphing my story to build beyond that. So far, its going well, and I am excited to see it done. Its as though the story is its own conscious being, growing as I do, but using me only as a conveyance.
Apr 1, 2010 8:29 pm
Hi! I’m so sorry about your wrists. I had a carpal tunnel scare last year, and being unable to write for almost a week was unbearable. I wish you all the luck, and hopefully speedy healing!
Apr 6, 2010 3:42 pm
I hear you on the difficulties of small-sized writing. I’ve been doing drabbles (100 words only) a lot lately, and I swear being forced to put a story into 100 words really makes me think harder about what’s important and not, and makes me a better writer in my real life where brevity, but good content, is highly valued (science). It sounds like you were great!
Apr 8, 2010 4:13 pm
i’d rather shove iron railroad spikes into my eyes than write synopses.
Apr 12, 2010 1:45 am
“Liquid courage”. I’ve never heard ink called that before.
Seriously though, the really good thing about submitting short stories (I find) is that you deal directly with the the people who publish them. No agent-intermediary to add another layer of rejection. You get right to the source and you can actually see – from what they’ve been publishing lately – just what they like to publish. And when they give you comments in their rejections, you know that this is the horse’s mouth speaking, not someone who’s trying to second-guess what the horses are buying these days.
Apr 12, 2010 4:21 pm
That is a good point! Having read slush I know how varied (and often terrible) the submissions can be, and you’d think that would help. But sometimes it just feels a bit pointless.
Apr 12, 2010 3:23 am
I heard that there was a guy down on Fitch Street, selling liquid courage from a roadside shack. Might want to take it with some fruit juice though, I’ve heard that it has a terrible aftertaste.
Aside from the time of just WRITING the short story (My turn-around on shorts is about two weeks, while working on other things as well.), the time-consuming nature of the rest of it. Researching markets, researching guidelines, formatting, submitting, waiting…when it comes down to it, short stories are terribly inefficient.
But fun. That’s where I have to take it from. I write a short story when I feel that I have one to write. Forcing them just doesn’t work.
Yeah, the fun part is getting there. I think I’m finally getting it, or something. I just want to turn everything into a novel. I’d say half of the short story ideas I have I abandon because they are novels, not shorts. Ah, my brain. 🙂
Apr 12, 2010 1:51 pm
I can’t write short stories. I’ve tried, but they’re always too big to fit into the word limit. I can write flash – a vignette, a single scene – but to have a full story with plot and everything … 5000 words is damn near impossible.
So I don’t. There’s no rule as says you have to sell X short stories before you can sell a novel. So to heck with that. Imma write my novel.
Apr 12, 2010 4:25 pm
I’m learning to. I’m trying to think of it like a challenge… boiling down my long windedness into a few strong pages. It does help to write better, to learn how to do that. Doesn’t mean I have to love it, though! 😉
Apr 12, 2010 5:08 pm
Heh. If I had the time to spend on that, I’d be less stressed 😉
It’s not even that I’m long-winded (I forget things like descriptions); I just get these big, swirly plots that take a lot of space. I write a lot of political stuff, which just doesn’t fit in little space, you know?
Apr 14, 2010 2:18 pm
I’m right there with you. I have two published shorts and one looking for a home. But jeesh. They’re pains in my hind end to write. I just don’t write or think that small.
Apr 12, 2010 3:02 pm
The mental wall against resubmission: oh boy do I hear you on that one. Even with the rejecting market’s encouragement to shop it around, it just… sits. Waiting for revisions, maybe, or something. Waiting for me to stop making excuses, more likely.
Researching other markets does take time, but it’s a worthwhile investment. (I need to remind myself of that.)
Best of luck with your new plan!
Apr 12, 2010 4:26 pm
Thanks! Yes, I’m not good with the research part, either. I just sort of… submit to places I’m familiar with. Which sometimes works, but mostly doesn’t. I know of writers with spreadsheets and all that… Like Jaym said, the time alone invested in something like that is a bit overwhelming. And with so many other projects, for me the time just isn’t there.
Apr 14, 2010 2:24 pm
I have a spreadsheet for all the places I’ve sent Midnight – that way I don’t send to them again and I know who hasn’t responded to me (so I can write them back and say, um, it’s passed your deadline, what gives?). After a year, it’s only 21 lines long. 21 agents and publishers. Am still waiting to hear back from 8 of them, and a small handful of them are quick approaching their “if you’ve not heard from us in X amount of time, consider yourself rejected” date. The sheet includes the name and contact information for the person you write to if you’ve not heard from them and need to submit a follow-up. And of course I have the “no response / no interest” noted in there too.
Apr 13, 2010 1:21 pm
It is hard to have something you spent so much time on rejected. I, too, have bouts of self-doubt and paranoia (Maybe I don’t have any skill at all! Maybe everything I do write is complete and utter crap!) Give that inner editor any fuel and it will pick you apart in under 10 seconds.
I think the important thing is to pick oneself up again, say “frack you” to the inner criticism, and keep plugging along.
Apr 15, 2010 11:03 am
Can I be of assistance? Maybe it is all about the way you perceive short stories, why don’t you draft them out just as a chapter from a novel. Trick yourself in believing that you are writing a novel and just pick that one scene and go with it. That can help?
And yeah, rejection sucks and I still have to see a piece of mine published in a paying magazine.
Apr 21, 2010 1:56 am
Yeah, I’m always reminded of interesting things on facebook with their “people you may know tool”. I’m glad you shared that story, because I think we’ve all had that moment at some point (Mine was high school, science competition, I held it together even though I hated the boy who won with a passion). Also, I have always adored Flight of Dragons and recently made my husband buy it for me to watch, hooray!
Girls Are Geeks
Apr 21, 2010 12:19 pm
I have a similar story with singing that I’ll tell you about sometime. It’s amazing how one’s hopes can be utterly dashed, then, in hindsight, we realize how much we needed it. I needed my ego taken down a few rungs, but I blamed everyone else in the cast, the director, everyone but myself. (Not to say that my audition was not mind-blowing, just that it was high school and everyone should have an opportunity to have the starring role.) I know that was one of the best “failures” in my vocal career, because it taught me how to take criticism, how to pick myself up and move on. Sounds like your “failure” did much the same for you along the lines of conditioning.
Thanks for sharing this story!
Apr 23, 2010 9:40 am
Nicely written. I could almost feel your raw emotions at the point when you were awarded winner of the category. I think not achieving what we aimed for forces us to understand how how badly we wanted it.
Apr 23, 2010 5:24 pm
I LOVE this post. I have tried explaining this phenomenon to so many of my non-writer friends, and they think I’m absolutely insane. I like to look at it as we have a viewing window into something that’s taking place on its own accord. These stories and characters are happening somewhere, and we are just lucky to see them. Maybe I’m weird.
It’s nice to know there are others out there 🙂
Apr 23, 2010 5:27 pm
@Kristina Absolutely! It’s very much like being crazy. Except really (REALLY) you’re not. (Right…?) I feel the same way, like I’m often channeling something, tapping into some story vein of silver. It’s just a matter of thinking it out, of grasping all the details and getting it right. You’re not weird; you’re a writer!
(Consequently, last night my husband and I had this conversation while I was writing: Me: “Did I tell you about the squid GPS thing in the book?” Him: [long, kind of uncomfortable pause] “No, no you didn’t mention that.” — I eventually explained it to him and he liked it. But still. It’s those moments… hehe.)
Apr 23, 2010 5:52 pm
I have moments just like that! Oh wow, I feel like I’m at a support group meeting for not-so-much-recovering writers. I was talking to my roommate two nights ago about a book I’ve been working on (fantasy, Gaiman-style rather than Lackey-style) and I started going off about a character of “mine” like he was a real person. It took me a second to realize why she was looking at me funny. Oops. I’m glad I can be entertaining for my roomies, I suppose 🙂 And I’m sure your husband finds those conversations entertaining, as well!
Oh well–if we’re crazy, at least we’re in good company!
Apr 23, 2010 11:00 pm
I’m a total panster! I can’t plot to save my life. Gods help me if I ever have to.
Apr 24, 2010 1:51 pm
Ah, the honeymoon stage. I am feeling your love as if it is mine. I love it when something reveals itself in such a way. I am a plotter, but the point, where I know the ending. From then on the novel dictates the way to the ending or whether the ending will be valid.
Apr 25, 2010 2:29 pm
Apr 25, 2010 2:55 pm
Clockwork wolf with a library…tell me more!
Apr 25, 2010 4:22 pm
Yeah, it’s… um. Different. But you’ll get to see soon enough!
Apr 26, 2010 6:12 am
[…] Post on Rejection: The Long and Short of It: A Cowardly Writer […]
Apr 26, 2010 6:59 pm
I’m a fan of weird, and that sounds really interesting! I always vote for let the weird come, and see where it goes!
May 4, 2010 2:21 pm
Bonus points for the Muppet title! That song is on my running playlist, surprisingly motivating!
It will probably be great to get those two free days a week, I love kids, but I love ditching them for a while too!
May 7, 2010 1:54 pm
@rosalind It’s been magic, honestly. I love my child more than anything, but the peace and quiet has been a dream. 🙂
May 6, 2010 11:29 am
What I’ve done this week while Thomas has been in ADT? SLEPT.
@Mari – Indeed, and probably well-deserved sleep!
May 7, 2010 3:31 pm
Stress wears me out. I retract that. Life wears me out. lol
May 7, 2010 1:40 pm
Ick, I never got any shots (maybe because I was on worker’s comp since work causd my carpal tunnel), but it was definitely months before I was able to function with little enough pain to be vaguely productive. And even after that, I had bad flare-ups for well over a year. Nowadays, it mostly behaves itself, only occasionally poking at me to remind me it is there and willing to come back at any moment. Try not to get too frustrated and just ride it through. You’ll eventually reach a sane point.
Apparently some people react to these shots with a terrible, horrible, no good flare up. Apparently that person is me. Was hoping it’d be gone this morning, but not so much. The hope is that in a day or so I’ll be like, some insane writing machine. Or something. 😛 Ah, the risks of our trade!
May 7, 2010 3:36 pm
oooh i like this theme!!
May 7, 2010 4:22 pm
Mmmhmm…works kinda the same with knees, too. I’ve got arthritis in both of ’em, and the first time I got injections I was told that some people have a flare up, but not many, and sometimes, *rarely*, the cortizone will crystalize and that can hurt a bit. “Hurt a bit” is a massive understatement! I woke up needing a wee at 3 or so, and as soon as I put my weight on my leg, excruciating pain shot through my knee – so bad I nearly collapsed. I’d got one of those *rare* crystalizations. My husband had to go dig out my mother’s old walker for me to use. Got back to bed and cried myself to sleep, it hurt so bad. But, it was better the next day, and subsequent injections haven’t been bad at all. I hope it works out well for you, though – hopefully it’s only a temporary thing!
May 7, 2010 7:37 pm
@Mary YES. I had no idea it would hurt this much. Copious ibuprofen has helped today, but holy moly. Knocked me only arse. I am waiting for it to get better–right now I’ve got weak/clumsy fingers that hurt when I use them. It’s got to get better 🙂
May 8, 2010 8:58 am
you know i envy anybody who can take ibuprofen. i’m in the “1% of the 1% of all users” in which it constricts our bronchial tubes (am also allergic to aspirin, so there you go). it’s the pits. ibuprofen kills pain so well – but i don’t need it to kill me in the process. i learned this the hard way. LOL
i’ve had arthritis in my hands for a while now. preston keeps joking that i’m just a cat and that eventually due to evolution my thumbs are going to fall off!
May 15, 2010 6:10 am
Thanks for this. I use twitter and have found the word games and petry tags useful for jumpstarting the noggin, but the #wip tag is a great idea. It also gives you a chance to refine a sentence when you’re limited to those characters. I just rewrote a line that looks much better now without the baggage!
May 15, 2010 6:27 am
I really like your idea. Although I will only write feature articles and not novels, I will still utry to use this. Also, i will now search for #wip in Twitter and try to help other writers.
And, I really don’t wanna sound like an A-hole, but since you are a writer yourself, I had to point out a mistake you made.
“If there’s nothing–absolutely nothing–for you to share, chances are that I’ve done something wrong”
Here, you start the sentence with ” you ” and even though the latter part implies the same person being wrong, you change to ” I ” Changing of voices/first-person and second-person like that is wrong, isn’t it?
Think of it as a correction to your #wip 🙂
May 15, 2010 6:10 pm
Hah! oops. I fixed that. Slip of the old fingers. 🙂
May 15, 2010 9:56 am
Thank you for your encouraging words and I will give your idea a go!
May 16, 2010 4:03 pm
This was really interesting. I never thought of twitter in terms of anything except a social networking site. Thanks for your perspective. I particularly liked the bit about how if you’re shy it can be way to show just a tiny bit. Thanks for sharing!
Jun 4, 2010 12:55 pm
I just stumbled across “Dead’s End to Middleton” yesterday, and really enjoyed it! Any chance of reading about more of the Sutherland Girls’ adventures in your other work?
Jun 4, 2010 3:58 pm
There is a bit of a project in the works with the girls. I’ll keep you posted as to what happens! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. It was a blast to write. 🙂 (Um, literally.)
Jun 13, 2010 10:49 pm