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

Hawke and Moon: The Characters of HawkeMoon

Image Source: https://findtattoodesign.net/designs/884-hawk-and-celtic-moon

In celebration of HawkeMoon’s publication and “cover story” status in Storyhack, Issue 4, I’m delving deeply into the story, its characters, my process, and generally doing blowout coverage through the entire week. If you want to read the original Author’s Note for HawkeMoon written when I had just finished writing the story, here is the original blog post.

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Hawke

So, in the issue, Hawke isn’t actually depicted anywhere that I could see–which is okay–but he is very much the protagonist of the story (at least, in my mind). He is the first viewpoint character and it is his motivation to find the King’s killer that drives the story along initially. Hawke is a strange character as he is the fantasy equivalent of an “African American” in a predominately “European” fantasy world. While I don’t delve into Hawke’s backstory at all in the story, he is described as having dark skin. I would imagine in this world that there is a southern region that functions much like Africa/The Middle East (hot, arid, and the sun beats down on the land increasing the melanin of the inhabitants). The two lands probably rarely interact so I’m not quite sure how Hawke would have come into “The Lands” (the European part of the world). I doubt it would have been slavery or any real world amalgam as that concept is foreign to this world, but he was “cast out” by his tribe, so perhaps he was taken in and expected to work for his meals? Not really sure at this moment to be honest. I do know that he is doggedly determined and highly moral and this has allowed him to rise through the ranks to become Captain of the King’s Guard, which is where we find him at the beginning of the story.

Moon

Moon is the character that has really caught the attention of the editor and the artists, I think. Having read The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb and playing (& finishing) pretty much every Assassin’s Creed game from the beginning of the franchise (except for the smaller 2D offshoots), I knew assassins as an organized group were still pretty popular, but I almost made her a thief instead of an assassin due to the moral implications of killing for money. What I finally decided was the Moon needed to be an assassin as only an assassin would risk an attempt on the King’s life (especially with a feared Captain of the Guard like Hawke protecting him), so I gave her a moral code. She only accepted contracts for those she felt embodied “evil.” While I don’t explicitly get into this in the story, you do get an implication that she doesn’t kill indiscriminately. She is more of a surgical tool and works to make The Lands better through judicious use of her skill set. However, making her an assassin came with an added benefit: she became more than a match for Hawke. Moon doesn’t play “second fiddle” to anyone and her skills put Hawke to the test–again, great for tension and challenging the protagonist. Moon would be considered a “European” (i.e., white) in this world, which is where the artists take her. I personally envisioned her as extremely pale (as in “no sun”), but the artists have made her much less pale and more normalized. Again, this is fine–I’m just noting some of the differences between the way I envisioned her and how others envisioned her. Her crescent blades are also different, but I knew they would be–that mental image was very hard to describe in words. I’m no artist by any means, but I had to draw out what I was envisioning–to my knowledge, there is no real world weapon that is analogous to the crescent blades that Moon wields.

Setting

This story takes place in The Lands. In my mind it is a loose confederation of nations ruled by a King. The level of technology is about mid 1500s to early 1600s society–with burghers and the like from Amsterdam and that area. Again, none of this is explicit in the story, but I wanted to give readers of the blog a peek into what I was thinking when I wrote the story. The Lands have older medieval civilizations, but are much more modern and moving towards more enlightened society. I don’t think there will ever be a full-on renaissance in this world, but I could be wrong.

As mentioned earlier, The Lands represent a “European”-like society, but there is also a Southern area that has people of darker colors. This society and The Lands trade with one another and do not have any animosities towards one another. I haven’t really nailed this part down, though. This would be the first thing that I would work on if I choose to expand this out into a longer work (graphic novel/novel/screenplay).

Well, that’s all that I have for now! I hope you enjoyed this deeper look at the characters and setting of HawkeMoon.

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

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

HawkeMoon is the “Cover Story” for Storyhack and is Available Now!

Storyhack, Issue 4.  HawkeMoon by Sidney Blaylock, Jr. in stylized font.  A picture of a scarecrow like monster in a hooded cowl menacing an Assassin (Moon) who is holding her trademark scythe-like blade with a dead brown tree in the background.
Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

Wow! Just Wow! I honestly cannot believe it. If you’ve been a long-time reader of the blog, or even if you’ve just joined, you’ll know that I’m a “semi-pro” writer. I write (and hopefully, receive payment & get published), but I’ve not yet written any long works, such as novels, so I don’t yet consider myself a true “pro.” The blog was my way of both promoting my work and talking about things I like (in the interim when I had nothing currently in print), but I am also using it as a motivation/springboard to “level up,” so to speak, to get comfortable writing longer, more intricate works. While I’ve been published before (and every time is an awesome feeling!), this time my story is the cover story for Storyhack, Issue 4! This is the 1st time that I’ve ever had a “cover story!”

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

Cover Story

What I can’t believe is that the editor chose my story as the cover/featured story! I knew it was first (based on the galleys), but I never once considered that it would be the cover story! Wow! I almost can’t express myself. I never expected that one of my stories would be chosen as a cover story/featured story. Not only is the cover sweet and presents a really cool and dynamic imagining of Moon, but the story also includes a interior image of Moon as well.

And it isn’t just my own work that’s cool! The whole issue looks really nice and the artwork for the other stores looks awesome. I can’t wait to read the other stories by the other authors who were selected based on the intriguing and awesome artwork included. I can say that this is truly a quality magazine and I am so happy that the editor, Bryce Beattie, selected my work for his magazine.

A Week of HawkeMoon

I hope I don’t wear out my welcome, but I’m so giddy at being selected as the cover story that I thought I’d do a week’s worth of coverage on the story. Specifically, I want to talk about the inspiration for the story, the characters, where I see it going in the future (any sequels, etc.). I’ve pushed back a couple of blog entries that I’ve already done to next week, so (fingers crossed), you might actually get two whole weeks of blog content from me this time, even though school is starting soon. I’ve actually already done an “Author’s Note” blog on HawkeMoon when I finished the initial story, but I intend to go more in-depth about the creation process and the finished product, now that it is available.

Please, please, pleasseee, consider purchasing either the print or the eBook edition–not for me, but to show support to the publisher. This is how we reward quality work and make it possible for people like me to continue to have opportunities to publish. Large corporate publishers are only interested in authors like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling who can reliably deliver large returns of investment, and so they’ll never even look at me, or someone like me, no matter how good our work is because we can’t give them huge audiences. However, if we support small presses like Storyhack, then we give opportunities to good and talented writers to find their voices and get publishing experience to perhaps become the “next” big-name writers–and I’m not talking about just me, but for all those like me who are suffering rejection after rejection for the one Acceptance/Publication that makes their dreams of being a published writer a reality.

Please feel free to reblog this post as/where necessary! Have a great week!

Storyhack, Issue 4 (Print): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1686240082

ebook version: https://books2read.com/storyhack4

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

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

Writing a Novel: DSRV Outrider

Drafts 0-1 with advice for each one on writing novels.
Image Source: https://writingcooperative.com/the-drafts-your-novel-needs-and-why-you-probably-wont-use-a-single-word-of-your-first-draft-c9c84fe0e841

So, one of my colleagues has written a novel and wants help to get it published. Now, I’ve written and published quite a few short stories (I just got a new email from the editor of Storyhack updating me on the progress of HawkMoon), but as long time blog readers know, writing a novel is one of my lifelong goals (one of the items on my “bucket list,” so to speak). Not having actually worked on a novel, I’m giving advice on basic storytelling, but I’m not able to give specifics on novel writing, having never actually completed one.

Those Who Can Do, Do; Those Who Can’t Teach (Not true!)

You don’t know how much this cliche’/idiom burns me up. I hate this sentiment because it ignores the fact that sometimes those who can do, can’t/don’t actually do well). So, knowing full well that movie writers have external pressures (studio notes, etc.), it still rankles that the writer of X-Men: Last Stand got to write Dark Phoenix, and based on the reviews, the latter movie made many of the same mistakes as the former movie (I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll reserve my judgement). So, this sentiment that people who can’t do things become teachers is so very false–sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here that’s probably better suited for another blog post. My point being is that even people who are allowed to do things (like write screenplays in a closed guild system) aren’t always the greatest at doing things.

I feel that I in order to teach writing a novel, I need to follow the advice in the blog post from a couple of weeks ago: To Begin, Begin. I’ve always wanted to write a novel and a major impetus for coming to grad school was to use the dissertation to get comfortable writing longer 100+ page documents, so I figure this is as good a time as any to try to start (“in the background”) writing a novel.

DSRV Outrider–Writing a Novel to help a Novel Writer

In keeping with my “Year of the Shadows,” the novel will be based on my “Ship of Shadows” short story. I’ve already have a “pre-production” idea of the action and character’s growth. The next task I think will be to actually sit down and write a rough draft of the story that I see so far in my head and continue working on this process until I have the full draft story in mind.

The problem with novels is that I (usually) have a beginning and a (sometimes) an ending, but I rarely have all the parts in the middle figured out and I hate writing “with gaps.” I like to know all the pieces/elements of the story before I start writing (its more fun for me that way), but with a novel, I rarely have all the pieces. I’ve been doing research, however, this time around, that I hope will help alleviate some, if not all, of the “gaps” that occur when I try to write a novel.

My collegue is very good with characters, but is (admittedly) less familiar with storytelling conventions. I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. I know quite a bit about storytelling and the elements that make a good story, but I am still learning how to create compelling characters–ones that others want to read and not just ones that I like and ones that feel real and alive and not simply vehicles for the plot to hang on.

I won’t bore you with details, but I will just say that I hope that I can use the research and the rough drafting for my novel to aid my grad school colleague, who is further along in the process, to give solid and helpful advice so that she can get her novel published, while at the same time, learning new techniques that will help me become a novelist as well.

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

To Begin, Begin

To begin, begin--William Wordsworth
Image Source: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/william_wordsworth_120835

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote. It is a quote from Wordsworth and it was on Duotrope’s splash page. I think they rotate those quotes monthly (or so), but this is the first time that I’ve paid attention to it this year. It struck me because of my “Year of Shadow” where I’m trying to branch out into various other mediums based on the short story that I’ve sold a while back (Ship of Shadows). What I’m hoping to do (which I’ve mentioned before) is to really understand my characters more. To me, the simplest way of doing this is to explore my the characters that I create would be to look at their lives at different stages of their live cycle. So, I’ve been brainstorming this for most of the summer and I think I’ve come up with a way to do this–now I just have to “begin.”

Living the Life

So, one of the things that I’m really hoping to do is to simply have fun with the projects. That is one of the reasons why I stopped working on DSRV Outrider because I had already “told” the story in short-story form. I was trying to simply “re-tell” it in graphic novel form, but it wasn’t working. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to really “adapt” the story to fit the new format (and not just do a 1-to-1 retelling of it), so that it would be new, fresh, and exciting–both for the readers, but also for me, the writer, to work on. It’s hard to be enthused about a story that you’ve already done. I wanted to do something new and fresh and that’s where “living the life” came in. I just pretended to be both the character and the reader and what would I want to see the character do as a reader (what would be cool?), but also, what would the character logically do in this situation? This is also something that I thought about and came up with a couple of good ideas (at least, I think they’re good–we’ll see when I start submitting the script).

To Begin, Begin

I guess the reason why Wordsworth’s quote lodged into my brain is that there is no real reason not to begin. So I took a moment to write down my ideas–not just for the Graphic Novel, but for the novel, screenplay, and pilot episode for a TV episode as well. These have all been kicking in my mind, so I might as well write them down and work on them in small notational increments. Who knows where they might lead? For instance, if I’m able to do enough research in my (limited spare time–maybe in between loading a game or a level in a game), I might be able to do enough research to find a basic plot that I want the character to try to go through and if I can turn enough of those plot elements into paragraphs, then come November when NaNoWriMo is happening, I might (just might) have enough to turn those paragraphs into pages. The same with scenes. A scene can be a sentence or two long so that I know how the character will try to solve the problems in a plot. Did you know that many of today’s blockbusters have only 25-35 scenes (and some of those are taken up by intro titles and credits–and these days, mid-credits/post credit scenes). The Lord of the Rings (extended editions) movies clock in at about 50-60 scenes, but these are the exception to the rule. If I can find one major problem for my character (and perhaps one secondary one–or make it an external/internal project), then I might be able to swing a screenplay as well.) Now, all of this is contingent on my availability of time with school & work, but there’s no reason not to begin. Even if I have to “bleed” the Year of Shadow into 2020, I still feel like not trying is worse than trying and failing at it, so here we go!

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

Reworking My Writing

Chart of the Writing Process: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Evaluating, Publishing.
Image Source: https://www.dailyinfographic.com/the-writing-process-infographic

If you take a gander at the “What I’m working On” section at the bottom of this post (and all of the following posts after this one, you’ll see a slight change. Previously, I had been doing a poor job of trying to list the many different projects that I was working on to give you an idea of where I was in my (many, perhaps too many) writing projects. However, due to the sporadic nature of me getting to work on my writing, I’ve found it difficult to keep up with the upkeep on keeping my writing projects current.

Brandon Sanderson Effect

I really liked the way Brandon Sanderson does his “updated projects.” Now, Brandon is one of my current favorite writers. I really like how he provides a “status bar” for his projects that “gamify” his progress on his projects. I’m not nearly that savvy in terms of graphics, so I don’t know how to gamify my writing in the same way. I tried to do it in the same way as Brandon’s site (just without the graphics), but its just not working. So I’m going to change the way I’m listing them at the bottom.

The Mythic Magazine Effect

Mythic Magazine, a market that I’ve submitted to frequently in the past two years (but haven’t yet had a sale to them yet). However, they have a submissions period of twice a year. So, what I’ve decided to do is to list the projects that I’m working on for that market and how close I’m to finishing it (especially in terms of deadline). I really only have enough time to work on two projects at a time (a shorter one and a longer one). The longer one will be listed as well, but it will be the one that I’ve been working on for a while. That one I’ll update quarterly, while the other two will be updated monthly (my preferred working time-frame).

I’ll also keep readers of the blog up-to-date on projects that have been accepted and where they are in the production process. I currently have one project, HawkeMoon, that I can sort of update everyone on so far.

Anyway, its getting late, so I’ll wrap it up now. Check out the new listing down below. I hope you like it!

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

I’ll Let You in on a Little Secret . . . About the Blog

A table set with several dishes of food on a blue and white tablecloth.
Image Source: https://researchinsiders.blog/2017/07/06/moving-beyond-binge-vs-snack-writing/

So, just like the title implies, I’m going to let you in on a little secret in regards to this blog. You know how last week I was able to release 5 blog entries without fail and all of them released at about 8:00 am EST? Yeah well, I did them all on that Sat./Sun. before the week. That’s right, all 5 entries last week were written mostly on those two days (actually, the vast majority of them were written in a single day). I found the process to be actually be kind of enjoyable, especially when I finished the 4th one and I knew that I was going to finish the 5th one in fairly short order.

Binge Writing

Okay, so I’m not really a “binge watcher,” (per se). Unless there’s are run of really good episodes all right in a row, I don’t generally binge watch a show that is on streaming. Rather I “consume” 2-5 (sometimes more, sometimes less) episodes at a time and then I stop for a period of time (which depends on how much time I have that week, how much I’m invested in the show, and how much I like the current storyline). The more I like a particular storyline, the more episodes I watch and vice versa. I am literally 4-5 episodes away from finishing Farscape for the first time (I’ve mentioned previously that this is my 3rd time attempting to complete the series–more on that when I give my review of the series). However, the last episodes in the back half of the 4th Season are really dragging for me–I think I know why, but I want to finish before I give my thoughts.

All this to say that I have a fairly strong will (especially when I can create a “routine” and stick to that routine without a whole lot of variation to knock me off my routine). I found that I really like writing all of the blog entries on 1-2 days and then schedule them to “pop-up” on WordPress every day. When I did it this way, I was able to get my all my posts done and then used the week to do creative writing on The Independent and the edits for HawkeMoon. I was much more productive with just a little tweak to my “system.”

So What Happened?

This week, well I’ve missed two days so far. In my defense, one was a holiday, but had I done the same system, I could have had a shorter post ready for it that simply wished everyone a happy holiday.

No, this week that system didn’t happen because I was a bit sick this past weekend–an all too common refrain for this year. While I was able to get up and do things, whatever I had lead to a general sense of lethargy (in addition to a slight runny nose), so I basically was in bed for quite a bit of the holiday weekend.

The posts that you’re getting this week are ones that I being created on the day they are released–and as you can see, I’m much more erratic when I write this way.

This is the same with my creative writing. When I can carve out a substantial amount of time (regularly), then I’m able to make significant progress on my stories. However, when I only have a small amount of time–even if it is regular–it is much harder for me to get into the “ficitive dream state” and much harder for me to create writing in which I’m personally satisfied. The blog from which I used an image (https://researchinsiders.blog/2017/07/06/moving-beyond-binge-vs-snack-writing/) mentions an idea that I’ve used before: “The Flow.” If I don’t have enough time to write, then I don’t enter this flow (the ficitive dream I mentioned above) and the writing is very unsatisfying.

So, for me, it is better for both the blog and my own projects, to have a regular, discrete amount of time (45 mins to hour and a half) for me to truly create something that I’m proud of as a writer. If I don’t have that time, then it is much harder for me to write and to write consistently. So now that I’ve defined the problem, my task is to work on the solution: finding ways to binge-write consistently.

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)

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