Biting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face: #OwnVoices

Hands of many colors
Image Source: https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/agents-renew-call-diverse-books-ownvoices-submissions

Many blog readers know that I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Well, really its a mostly love-dislike relationship. I know that social media can sometimes be a positive force–alerting us to injustices, uniting us against unfair situations, or keeping each other informed (especially where family members and friends are far-flung and this is the only easy way of keeping in touch). However, in many of my own personal use cases, the toxicity of social media and the results that play out in real life often discourage me from adopting it with any great zeal.

However, I’m not a Luddite and I recognize that sometimes various memes and platforms can be a touchstone for change, but after an encounter with it in the field of writing, I still find myself ambivalent, even when the social media movement benefits me.

#OwnVoices: Pros

So, on Saturday, I was trying to find a place to send out a story that I revised: Starlight, Starbright. And one of the markets that I came across was one that wanted stories by authors of the same race/group as the main character–and they were looking for authors of traditionally marginalized groups (People of Color, etc).

Now the main character for Starlight, Starbright is an African-American male, and as I am an African American male, it (at first) seemed like a perfect fit. Here was a market that was looking for the stories that I was writing. So, the pro is that I have (at first glance) a ready-made market for my story. So I sent it to them, right?

No, I didn’t . . . and I don’t think I will.

#OwnVoices: Cons

Well, why the heck not? Weren’t whinging on about not being published/not having enough markets to submit to about 2 years ago on this very blog? Well, yes, that’s true, but the more I thought about it, the more something about the #OwnVoices movement doesn’t work for me.

You see, The Independent has an African American female as the main character, so even if they took Starlight, Starbright, then they’d never take The Independent as they would assume that I, as a male, don’t have the qualifications to write the female point of view and I just don’t believe that to be the case.

Setting aside for the moment that I’ve had several stories published with a female lead (Skin Deep, Sister-Knight, and by the nature of the story, Moon shares equal billing with Hawke in HawkeMoon), the main character in The Independent is an African American female based on my grandmother.

As I lived with my grandmother for my entire life until she passed away in 2013, I feel more than qualified as a writer to base the main character on her–in fact, it is more than just qualification at this point, it is an honor–but I digress. The point is, while I was not her, I listened to her stories, to her dreams, both fulfilled and unfulfilled, her aspirations, and her relating history, both how it affected her, as well as her own personal history, and this makes me uniquely qualified to write from a woman’s POV in this case as the main character shares a couple of very important character traits with my grandmother.

Now, to be clear, Ryn, my main character, only shares a couple of traits and is not a recreation of my grandmother in story form, but to assume that I’m not qualified to sell the story to this magazine that adheres to the #OwnVoices paradigm because my gender is wrong, just feels wrong as (to be honest) The Independent fits that magazines’s mission statement even more than Starlight, Starbright does.

Biting Off Your Nose to Spit Your Face

So, this is probably an expression that won’t travel well. I know it from my grandmother and I (assume) that it is a Southern US saying that basically encapsulates the idea of doing something that ultimately hurts you when trying to hurt someone else or a larger group/context/etc. Unfortunately, I think this is what the #OwnVoices movement is doing. They’re trying to be helpful, but ultimately, they are either doing harm, or no good at all. Yes, I’ve read stories where I know (from the author’s picture) that wasn’t an African American male even though the main character was and I remember how inauthentic those characters were (more ciphers than characters), but I’ve also read moving and touching stories by authors of different races and genders that have affected me deeply.

To refuse a writer the opportunity to explore the richness of characterization by limiting that writer’s choice of subjects doesn’t really seem to be in the best interests of the art, even if it opens up avenues for publication for those who might not publish otherwise.

In the end, #OwnVoices just isn’t for me. While I understand the appeal, I feel that since my grandmother can no longer speak for herself, so it is up to me, her grandson, to articulate what she wasn’t given the chance to articulate in her lifetime.

To deny me the opportunity to do that, is to (in my way of thinking) deny the very voices that movement claims it wants to hear.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

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The Patient Application of Force

Image Source: http://www.thr3escapes.ca/pages/science_pages/rocks.html

Quickly–so sorry for the infrequent nature of blog posts. School has started and I’ve had an absolute nightmare with the financial aid office (and to be honest, I’m still not completely “safe” yet. More on this morass if and when it all get’s straightened out.

If a Tree Falls . . .

So, a tree did fall. Well, several trees. Well, several tree limbs. They fell into my backyard several years ago (2? 3?). Every summer that I’ve been here at MTSU I’ve tried to take a saw (I don’t own a chainsaw) and cut them down as well as cut down the overgrowth that has occurred on the back fence, and one of the two side fences on my property. And every year, I’ve failed.

Until this year.

What was different about this year? Instead of trying to do 4 or 5 massive Saturday “brush runs” where I’m out there everyday (sometimes in the mornings, sometimes in the afternoons, sometimes in the evenings), but it was always huge amounts of time that seemed to make no difference no matter how much brush I cut down and piled up–and those massive tree limbs, well, they never seemed to get cut either. Sawing manually takes a LONG time and is VERY tiring. Why not a chainsaw? Well, let’s just say that I know a former school mate who lost part of a toe in an accident with a lawnmower, so I prefer manual equipment when possible (no, I don’t own a manual lawnmower, but rather a gas one, but because of that incident, I try to be as careful as possible).

This year, I simply have gone out for an hour or two in the evenings and worked until it was dark and in all that time, I’ve cleared two of the three fallen limbs, and I’ve cleared most of the back fence. In other words, I’ve used what has been successful for me in the past, “Patient Application of Force.” I do a little at a time, but I do it consistently, and over time, that little bit adds up to a lot. I’ve put more time into the project of clearing the brush by putting in less time on a daily basis, but doing it consistently week-over-week.

Implications for My Writing

So, what I’ve learned is that I need to use this for my writing. The standard writing advice is to write everyday. Well, that’s not going to work for me because I have school, I have work, I have papers, I have deadlines, and I have reading and other things that simply must done. However, what I can do is find some time, specifically on the weekends (maybe even the time in the winter that I would have used in the summer to work on yardwork) when I can consistently write. For me, even if it isn’t everyday, the true nature of writing is consistency. As long as I’m consistent in what I do, then I tend to finish things and be successful in all the myriad of things. It is when I stop and start and try to do long sessions where things don’t work like I envision.

Right now, I am working on The Independent. While the draft isn’t likely to be the “final” draft, I feel that it is close. I’m 3000 words in and I feel that I probably have about 1000 to 1500 to go. I worked on it last weekend for the first time in almost 2 months and I’m hoping to work on it this weekend as well. I have the Graphic Novel to work on after that. Then I have another short story that I’m planning on rewriting as well.

Basically, what I’m coming to learn about myself (in general) and my writing (in particular) is that I simply need to be consistent in all that I do–otherwise, it doesn’t work. So that’s what I’m working on now–learning how to be consistent in all that I do. The blog returning after a nearly 3 week hiatus is one manifestation of this concept.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration

Image Source: https://meshgh.com/2015/10/18/weekly-quote-genius-is-1-percent-inspiration-99-percent-perspiration-thomas-edison/

Before I start today’s blog, I just wanted to say thank you to the many readers who read and responded (and “Liked”) yesterday’s blog entry. It was really gratifying to see that others responded to what I was trying to express. Thanks again, everyone!

Today, I just want to take a moment to talk about what makes writing (this blog & creative writing) so much fun for me. And it comes down to a simple quote that was attributed to Thomas Edison, an American inventor who, famously, invented the light bulb. I basically follow this particular formula for every major project that I work on.

1% Inspiration

This is my favorite part of the writing process. For me, getting that initial idea is one of the best feelings that I can experience. When I’m figuring out plot, characters, themes, emotions, and the story world is both invigorating and fun all at the same time. I love coming up with ideas in my writing and I love seeing how wild and outlandish I push the concepts that I write. For example, in 20s I used want to be a Role-Playing Game designer. Every summer, I would sit outside in the scorching 90+ degree (Fahrenheit) heat and just work on a section of the RPG that I’d come up with that year (I also did the same with short stories–this is how The Ghost and the Shadow was written). Obviously, I never did anything with these RPGs, but that wasn’t the point–I was more than happy to just work on the “cool” concepts that I’d come up with for the games. Even now, I have folder after folder of concepts that I want to create stories, novels, comics, movies, etc. from because I absolutely enjoy sitting down and coming up with the ideas and the world and all the things that make the story world so exciting. This feeling lasts (for me) all through the concept phase, the creation phase, and even into the “rough draft” phase–where I put a simple version down on paper. This even applies to blog entries–I currently have 14 “drafts” in my drafts folder in various stages of completion (more than enough to have put together enough to have put out during the previous two weeks) So, what happened, where does the writing process go “wrong” for me? That (of course) is the next phase.

99% Perspiration

Okay, once I get to this stage, the enjoyment of the project wears off quite a bit. I guess, for me, its because at this stage that I realize that the project is never going to reach the actual “potential” that I have in my mind for it. No, that’s not true. Reflecting back, I think that it is more that now I have to continually “shape” the work in order to get it to match the potential that I think it had when I created it and I that “refinement” process isn’t nearly as easy and as “fun” as it was during the inspiration phase. In the inspiration phase, ideas seem to flow, like water from a fountain, and my pen/pencil, or my computer can barely move fast enough to get the ideas out. However, once we move to the perspiration phase, then its really like work, trying to “dig” ideas out and get them to work correctly. For the most part, I push though this phase, but it is hard. This one isn’t nearly as fun nor as enervating as the inspiration phase. For example, Dragonhawk was based on a book cover that I’d had since childhood and I had the idea for ages. However, I did a lot of work for that story: I wrote multiple outlines for it, I “built” it from the ground up (sentences to paragraphs to sections, meaning that the outlines went from bare sentences, to more elaborate paragraphs, to still more elaborate sections), I wrote character sketches for the two main protagonists, I revised it heavily to get its word count down, I stuck with it even when there were sections that didn’t seem to be working well and fixed those before sending it out, etc. (all which speaks to the quality discussion of yesterday’s blog). I remain convinced that it is the only story that I’ve ever had accepted on the 1st try because of the work that I put into making it into the story that I’d envisioned in the inspiration phase (and tangentially because I actually took the time to write out my characters and created a character sketch for them). This happens in my blogs as well–I don’t just treat these like “tweets” and quickly throw them up on the site just to get them done, but craft them like mini-essays. While necessary in order to get anything done and not be a “dreamer” like I was in the days of my (many) failed RPGs, this phase is simply work and isn’t as much fun as the other phase.

1% Catharsis

So, yes I know, this now adds up to 101%, but (for me) this is also a necessary step that Edison didn’t articulate, but probably should have. This is the phase when the project is complete and has been published (or turned in or posted). The sense of catharsis that I feel is akin to the euphoria that I feel when I originally began the project. The release of tension and the successful completion of the project is something that a writer is always trying to capture. I can only say that it is probably akin to the “runner’s high” that marathon runners experience as well. I felt this after my first publication of The Ghost and the Shadow and I’ve always trying to recreate this experience. I will say that it never quite reaches the level of when I first start a project–I suppose because of the tedium that I go through to actually get the project written in the first place, but still, this final phase is an important part of why I chose to write in the first place. The euphoria of beginning a project and the euphoria of finishing a project help to give me a buffer to get through all of the hard times actually working on the project. Without the inspiration and catharsis phases, I doubt I enjoy writing nearly as much as I do.

My goal now is to take what I’ve learned over these past two years and to apply them to longer and longer works so as to move into the realms of novels and books and become the writer that I always dreamed I might become. Crossing my fingers that it happens, but I’m also putting in the 99% perspiration to try to actually make it happen as well.

Hope you have a great day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Unintended Vacation

Image Source: https://me.me/i/when-youre-overworked-broke-with-no-social-life-and-someone-3cb5624d1d1b41ef8a97ec1e8d5378c7

Sorry for the last two weeks. I haven’t actually been on vacation–far from it. I’ve actually been simply overworked in the last two weeks of the Summer semester. I’m great (no false modesty here folks), but I’m slow. I’ve discovered that when I blog, I essentially must do one of two things: 1) set aside an hour every day in which to blog (not ideal, but the way the blog mostly gets written) or 2) write the blog entries over the weekend and set them to “pop up” on a daily basis (ideal, but at an hour an entry that usually means 5 hours out of my weekend–which after a rough week like last week, is hard to do).

Why So Slow

In a word: QUALITY. That’s the one thing that my friends (those who know me) can’t understand about me. I like to take my time with things in order to make sure that I get them right. Yes, I’m an American, but you wouldn’t know it. This is going to seem like a slam on my nation, but it’s true: Americans prefer speed over quality. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but it’s true. If Americans can get both, then they will, obviously, but as someone who’s dealt with the public for 17 years, I can say that many (obviously not all) prefer the quick answer to the right answer. Americans hate wasting time and are always rushing hither and thither and they hate to be slowed down by anything, even (in some cases, by the truth/correct answer). Sure, if the quick answer is wrong and costs them money, then most of my countrymen and women will be angry, but just as likely, if there’s no money involved, then they’ll take the wrong answer just because its quick.

That’s just not me.

Advantages and Disadvantages

So, in American society, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to being slow (or preferring quality over quickness). The advantages is that I tend, over time, to be as good, if not better than others in whatever I put my time into. Doesn’t mean that I’m automatically (automagically) going to be better, but because I take my time, start from the ground up, learn deeply, take the “hits”/”mistakes”/disappointments, and then keep going, I usually have a better average than others. Of my circle, I’m the only one who is technically a “professional” writer. Sure, others have publications or who have written full novels, but none have actually faced rejection upon rejection, revised their stories, or dealt with the realities of the publishing world, over and over again until their work sells. They dismiss the level of difficulty of what I do because, since I’m so slow, they never actually see all of the hard work and the stages that it takes to get things done. For instance, I have to teach an English class in about 2 weeks; first day of class is the 26th. However, my final paper is also due on the 26th as the professor wanted a paper that would be great and one that we could use to present at a conference. So, instead of doing 1 thing like my contemporaries, I have to do 2 things. There are some who have already finished their one thing (prepping for school or finished their paper). I, on the other hand, am in the middle of working on both of them. They will be ready on time and will be at a high level, but I’m sure there are others who would look at me and think that I’m not capable of doing the work–everyone else is already finished, they would argue, why aren’t you? Nevermind that I have a blog, a short story, reading (personal and school), yard work, housework, a weekly 4 hour commute, church, errands, and any number of other commitments in addition to trying to rest and recover from the work week–and that doesn’t even cover the work I’ve done to get set up in my school’s brand new class Doctoral Readings (which could be its own blog entry).

The Price of Quality

There is a price to be paid for quality, though. It means that there is never enough time to do everything that you want to do, in the manner that you want to do it.

The editor of Storyhack sent a link to the proofs in a dropbox file about 2 weeks ago–just before my inadvertent vacation from blogging. I glanced over them and told myself I’d get back to them as soon as I could, but wasn’t able to do so. I’ll look and see if they’re still available to edit (I doubt it mightily, but I just didn’t have the time to do it properly until now), so if it gets published, it probably won’t be the way I wanted it. Again, this is a source of frustration–why couldn’t it have been sent earlier in the summer when time wasn’t at so much of a premium? I don’t know, but I do know that it came in at exactly the wrong time for me to give it my full attention, so I’ll just have to shrug and have it printed not like I wanted.

Still, there’s not a whole lot that could be done. If I’d done the edits on time, then I wouldn’t have completed my Annotated Bibliography (which earned an A, btw) or the Final Exam (haven’t gotten the grade back yet), so I have to prioritize. And if that ticks people off, well, then I’m sorry, but that’s simply the way my life works. I’m still working on the Work, School, Life Balance and maybe one day, I’ll get it figured out.

Well, I’d better wrap this up. I’ve been writing now for almost an hour and a half (this one is as long as 2 normal blog entries), but I thought I should explain my absence. To be honest, it will probably happen again sometime around Aug. 26th or so, but hopefully it won’t be as long this time.

Have a good day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Spoilers! How I HATE Them! Do You Hear Me, IGN?

Man putting his fingers in ear to avoid lady telling him spoilers with the text: "La-la-la-la! No spoilers!"
Image Source: https://tenor.com/view/spoiler-not-listening-no-spoilers-b99-gif-14042783

So, having watched Captain Marvel last night over the 4th of July Holiday here in America, I thought that I was in good straites so as to watch Avengers Endgame when it releases at the end of August for streaming (for the American Labor Day Holiday which is the unofficial end of summer here in the U.S.). Now, this morning I’d just watched a video in which a YouTuber patiently and elegantly described the “Clone Saga” of the mid-90s for the Spider-Man comic book series. It was so good in fact, that it inspired me to watch another Spider-Man video from IGN ranking the Spider-Man movies now that Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse and Far From Home were released. I thought–yes, let me take a look as I’m planning on doing a re-ranking myself because I’m pretty sure Spiderverse will be my new #1 (just need to see it again to be sure).

However, what do I find when I click on the video? A MASSIVE FREAKIN’ SPOILER FOR AVENGERS ENDGAME????!!!!!

Please tell me in what world do I click on a video about Spider-Man and get an AVENGERS ENDGAME spoiler? ARRRGHHHHB!!!!!

IGN Editors, I (mostly) Love You, But You’re Killing Me Here

Okay, so you want to talk about Spider-Man in all his appearances (even though you’re video title suggests that you’re only going to cover his “mainline” movies)–I get it. Spider-Man is popular, so you want to be sure you mention the thing he’s been in most recently, right? While I’m not a fan of that particular logic, I can still relate.

BUT.

And this is a very big “but” (which is why it is in bold/all caps), can we not show A LITTLE DISCRETION and put it at the BLOODY END of the video??????? Why in the world would the FIRST freakin’ thing in a video RANKING SPIDER-MAN MOVIES BE A SPOILER HEAVY RECAP OF AVENGERS?????? That makes absolutely no sense to me? Had the video been entitled: Learn Spider-Man’s Fate in Avengers Infinity War as We Rank His Movies Appearances then I could have understood it. Yes, you say that you “NEED” to mention Endgame, but nowhere in the title do you reference it.

Yes, at the beginning of the video you mention that you (and I emphasize that this actually a want, not a need) to talk about his Avengers appearances and yes, you also put up a Spoiler Warning (which I didn’t see the first time, but saw when I scrubbed through to get time markers), but this does me no good if I’ve been called away from the TV by a phone call and couldn’t see the warning, nor get back to the Apple TV remote in time. If you’re going to spoilers for something that is spoiler-heavy, then:

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY–PUT IT AT THE FREAKIN’ END OF THE VIDEO.

Give people time to enjoy the content that’s In the title of your video and then allow them the opportunity to click away if they so choose.

Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

I put the blame both on you IGN, but also on myself. This isn’t the first time where poorly placed content has negatively impacted spoilers for me in the past on IGN. Even now, IGN already has a video up discussing the FREAKIN’ ending to Season 3 of Stranger Things which just released yesterday on Netflix. Yesterday. I had to mentally prepared myself to dodge that video (& was considering turning off autoplay for YouTube, or otherwise it was going to pop up in the rotation some time in the near future). However, I’ve now solved that problem in a more permanent way (see below).

Again, I get it. You need to be timely and relevant in order to get clicks and for users to see ads in front of the videos you produce for the money it generates because of YouTube’s unfair algorithms. However, I support (well, now its the past tense, supported) you by NOT skipping the ads even though I could have. The LEAST you could do is to follow the same model as podcasts where they talk about the relevant content FIRST and then keep any Spoilercast discussions until the end, giving their listeners a chance to “keep going” or to “peace out” as they so choose.

I scrubbed back through the video (with the sound off) and found the offending (AVENGERS) spoiler 56 seconds into the video. Now, considering that this is an 8:25 (SPIDER-MAN) video, I take real exception to this.

Unsubscribing to IGN–Hate to Do It, But You Leave Me No Choice

So, I’ve officially Unsubscribed to one of my favorite channels, IGN. I hate to do it and I hate having to call it out, but “spoilers” are anathema to me. I don’t go around spoiling movies, books, and shows for the readers of this blog (nor when I’m out in “real life”), so I have very little tolerance for people, places, and organizations that do this. I just recently blocked (and I do mean blocked) two YouTube channels from my feed: Mr. Spoiler and Mrs. Spoiler (and yes, these are, as I writing this, two legitimate YouTube channels, and I pretty much block anyone these days who post “spoiler” thumbnails in their feed.) And back to IGN for a moment–I already know that there is at least one person who has made it clear that he doesn’t understand why people hate spoilers. While I’m not implying that he had anything to do with the video (I’m pretty sure he didn’t), it just boggles the mind they can’t see the relevance of moving spoilers/spoilery content to the end so that their users can decide how to engage with the content.

In closing, if the blog had a “spoiler tag” which would hide spoilery-content as I’ve seen on many discussion boards’ software AND if I could be 100% sure it worked with all browsers (or at least the ones the VAST majority use with the blog), then I would use spoilers and I could talk more in-depth about the content (give examples/justification for my ideas/scores/etc.), but since I don’t, I’d rather err on the side of caution and NOT risk interfering with someone else’s enjoyment of something they might be looking forward to or might discover quite by accident (or even something they might discover because they found it intriguing because I discussed it without giving too much information away).

The old saying in 80s/90s with VCRs was “Be Kind, Rewind.” With the ’10s/’20s, the new saying should be (some variant of), “Life is all Toil, So Please Don’t Spoil.”

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

4 Days = 4 Chapters (Reading)

Word Cloud for Multimodal texts: Multimodal, learn, student, texts, create, words, knowledge, language, ideas, develop
Image Source: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/digital-writing-portfolio1/concept-2

So, I don’t have lot of time today, so this post will be on the shorter side. I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday because I don’t have internet at my apartment anymore and since it rained and downpoured most of yesterday, I decided not to get out in the mucky weather since I didn’t have to do so.

Multimodal Composition: A Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte

I’m reading/rereading a book that I was given to help me with my Prelim exam–more on that at another date. The book in question is Claire Lutkewitte’s Multimodal Composition. Some of you with eagle eyes or elephant’s memories may notice that this book has been in my “currently reading” section down on the side of the blog for a long while now. I haven’t forgotten about that “widget,” but since I rarely log in to Goodreads nowadays (I just don’t have the time), I don’t really get a chance to update it like I should. Well, I told myself that once summer started, I would read a chapter a day from the books on the reading lists in order to be ready for the next preliminary exam and dissertation and so far, I’ve stuck to that plan. I’ve read 4 chapters from the book and will start on Chapter 5 on Monday. As there are 29 chapters total, I will be reading this book through the most of May.

Reading and Writing: Summer Edition

There are, of course a number of things that I want to read/write over the summer. I won’t take the time to enumerate them here, but as I start on them (and most importantly, finish them), I will most definitely list them here and do a small blog post about them. There are a ton of things that I hope to accomplish over the summer, but I know that if I start talking about them, so how they won’t get done, so it will probably be better for me to wait and talk about them once I’m deep into them, like I am with Claire Lutkewitte’s book. I need to remember what works for me, which is starting small and then working my way up to bigger and more extensive projects. Finishing a book may seem hard, but at a chapter a day, well, that’s not quite as hard and who knows, if I have extra time on the weekend, I may be able to squeeze out an extra chapter or two, meaning that I can finish sooner, and if not, then I’m still on schedule to finish by the end of the month. So my goal for this summer = break down as many projects as I can into smaller chunks and get as much down as possible (while still enjoying the summer sun)!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

One Shoulder or Two?

Man carrying ac backpack on one shoulder walking next to some rails in a city on a cloudy day.
Image Source: https://www.filmsupply.com/clips/man-carrying-a-backpack-on-one-shoulder-walking-next-to-some-rails-in-a-city-on-a-cloudy-day/99647

Question . . . do you wear your backpack (if you actually wear a backpack) on one shoulder or two? This is something that I’ve noticed over my years at school. If you wear your backpack over one shoulder then you are (probably) of an older generation (Gen X or early Millennials), but if you wear it over two shoulders then you are (probably) are of a younger generation (late Millennials or Gen Z). Now, obviously this is a gross over-generalization, and not at all scientific but this is just something that I’ve picked up on lately.

One Shoulder

When I was in college, starting in 1991 (& early when I visited college campuses in the late 1980s), the standard placement of backpacks was slung over one shoulder. It really didn’t matter whether it was over the left shoulder or right (probably corresponding to the handedness of the person wearing it), but I found that this was pretty much the standard. I think, at the beginning, I experimented with wearing the backpack with both straps, but it felt so unnatural to me, at the time, that I pretty much slung it over my right shoulder and that was that. As long as I didn’t overload the pack with too many books for class, it wasn’t really an issue. This pretty much was standard all the way up through 2008 when I started my 2nd Masters Degree in Education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (UTC). However, I think that began noticing that some students (maybe 40% or so), now wore their backpacks over both shoulders.

Two Shoulders

Fast forward to 2016 and then I came here to MTSU to study for a PhD in English. Now, pretty much EVERYONE wears their backpacks on both shoulders. The style of wearing the backpack on one shoulder is pretty much non-existent. I do see one or two people, every now and again, who wear their backpacks as I do–on one shoulder–but I would say this percentage is very, very small (sub 5% and probably closer to 1%), and (generally) consists of “older” students (students not in the 18-22 age range). Again, none of this is scientific, but as someone who remembers what a lock the style of “one shoulder” had on college campuses (the ones that I visited at least), I can say that the turn around is quite surprising and just shows that generational differences can be real.

What does it Matter?

In the great scheme of things, not much. However, it does have implications as it means that the style (norms) have changed and that differences that ascribed to different generations may have validity–that these differences are not necessarily made up. While actual research would have to be done on the attitudes and norms that people have in various states of their lives (and as they age), one can’t simply assume that one generation will think the same (act the same, do the same things) as another generation. Knowing what values, norms, and attitudes informs one generation could be helpful in ascertaining and predicting the ways in which another generation might act. For instance, I’ve tried the “two shoulders” regime when I first noticed this in 2016/2017, but it doesn’t work for me. Even though the weight is evenly distributed with two straps, because I didn’t get use to walking with this distributed weight, the bouncing of the book-bag actually throws off my stride and makes it uncomfortable to walk. Although all the weight is on one side with the “one shoulder” approach, I’ve learned how to walk so that it doesn’t affect my gait. As such, no matter how “uncool” it might look in today’s society, I will never move to the “two shoulder” approach. Such a difference marks me as “out of step” with my younger contemporaries, but so be it–I’ll put comfort over style any day.

This, I’m sure, isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but it is interesting to note that generational differences are out there and may actually affect the way people of one generation may act in regards to other generations. Just something to be mindful of as we all try to coexist through this thing we call “life.”

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Gone Dark

Image Source: https://www.rhinohub.com/silence-is-golden/

So this is the first post that I’ve made in approximately two weeks (maybe 2 1 /2 – 3 weeks). I’ve attempted several posts (my “Drafts” folder in WordPress is up to 9 drafts–this one is actually up to 10–but after it gets published it will be back down to 9 again). It seems like I’m always apologizing for stepping away from the blog, but that’s just the way that my mind works. I have to have enough time to work on my projects, personal or school related. That’s what I discovered trying to write “piecemeal”; I can do it, but it isn’t very good–it also isn’t (for me) a very rewarding way to write. I also discovered that I need enough time to make the drafts come out the way that I want them. Without both of these elements–time enough to get through a complete section (as I define it), then the work isn’t as good or as fun. That’s why my “drafts” box is filled with partially completed drafts–it isn’t that the ideas behind them weren’t good, but rather, I didn’t have enough time when I started them to get them where I thought they needed to be to publish them to the blog. Now, I look at them, and the idea is still there, but I’ve lost the desire/impetus to actually work on them.

Coming Back to Life

This blog post represents a resurgence in my writing life. Primarily, this summer is a “reading” summer. I have quite a few things I need to do this summer and nearly everything has reading involved. I have a book that I’ve been trying to read for nearly a year and a half (Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte) beside me right now and my goal is to read at least a chapter before I go home for lunch today. This is going to be much of my summer–read, read, read. Of course, writing go back to being a thing. I should be back to my daily blogging routine and I should put time on my writing projects daily. As long as I have enough time to complete some “section” (like the goal of reading one chapter today), I should hopefully find that by the end of summer, I’ve managed to be a successful reader and writer.

Seeing is Believing

I’ve seen quite a bit of media, but one of the most affecting things that I’ve seen is a YouTube video (TedTalk) that I really found powerful and helpful. I will link to it at a later date and create a blog topic about it, but I really thought that the message was one that I could follow as it talked about making marginal improvements in order to make life-altering improvements. This is something that I don’t mind doing–if something is broken, I want to fix it, but making changes for the sake of changes doesn’t really help me (and usually makes things worse in the long run). However, it I “tweak” things, so that the changes are small and meaningful, then things seem to work out better for me, for example, working on characters before I start to seriously draft the story which was a small change that I feel has paid dividends to my writing. This is something I will be working on all summer.

Well, I’ve nattered on for long enough–this chapter isn’t going to read itself. Hope to talk to you all much more this summer and hope not to “go dark” again any time soon.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Year of the Shadow

Arched Shadows on Italian Wall
Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/shadows-arch-urban-city-sunshade-1456887/

This has been an idea kicking around for a while now, but I haven’t really been able to decide how to make it work until this year. I wanted to start it earlier this year, but was so focused on my preliminary tests that I didn’t really give it the time it deserved, but I finally figured out a way of making this “Year of the Shadow” work, so I’m going to work at it on the weekends and we’ll see what comes of it.

What the heck am I prattling about?

I’m talking about “The Year of the Shadow.”

Year of the Shadow

So what is the “Year of the Shadow.” Well, the short version is that is where I develop a character that I’ve already published in a story somewhere into multiple projects throughout the year. The long version is that when I was talking with Toni, a fellow Graduate Student and a Writing Consultant at the MTSU Writing Center, I felt that the stories that I’d already published meant that there was something there that intrigued editors enough to buy them and publish them and I should probably use those stories as starting points to help me create longer works with those same characters. She agreed and thought that would be a great idea. I started with Tana from my short story “Ship of Shadows.” This is where the idea for the Graphic Novel came from. However, I got stuck shortly afterwards because I didn’t really know where to go with. I thought I was “unstuck” a couple of weeks ago, but when I tried to write it, I found I still didn’t know what the purpose of the story truly was and discovered that I still felt lost in the story.

Year of Tana

I could have almost entitled this the Year of Tana because my goal is now to focus on the character Tana from Ship of Shadows. In the short story, Tana is a “pilot” of a DSRV. My graphic novel will (hopefully) show how Tana goes from a pilot to a captain. The novel that I’m planning for her will show how navigates being captain and being her own independent contractor/small business owner as she struggles with both crew issues, finding ways to make money, and external issues. I intend to branch off and do a “variant” version of Tana for a screenplay where we see an alternate version of Tana and see her parents for the first time. Finally, I hope to finish off the year with a Pilot for a TV show going back to the novel and using Tana’s adventures there as my guide.

52 Weeks

I’m already 16-17 weeks behind schedule, but I didn’t really have plan earlier (or rather, I had a very nebulous plan), so I can’t really worry about the time lost. All I can do is work hard to make sure that now that I have a plan in mind, to devote time each weekend to making the plan work to the best of my ability. So, while I’m about 17 weeks behind, “The Year of the Shadow” has now commenced.

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