Posts tagged writing
Posts tagged writing
I may be in the minority here, but I am a big Tolkien fan, they are likely my favorite books ever, and Jackson earned a lot of goodwill from me by making the LOTR movies, which I felt were pretty close to perfect, and wildly inspiring.
But I admit, I was very skeptical about the changes to the Hobbit. Every new piece of info just seemed odder and odder to me. I was concerned they were ruining a classic.
But I was completely charmed by the first movie and loved the second just as much. I was more bothered by the constant call-backs to LOTR than new and expanded characters, to be honest. I was more fine with Tauriel than Legolas having SUCH a large roll.
Looking at the novel, I think people may forget how SPARSE it is. The dwarves are barely given any personalities at all, Bilbo is tricked into going, there’s barely a female character in the entire thing…I am just not sure a strict adaptation would have worked. As much as I love it, the book will always be there, there are wonderful audio adaptations, as well.
So they made some big changes and choices and I would say most of them paid off handsomely. Some didn’t, but the spectacle of Smaug really makes the little things seem insignificant in comparison. When I read the book as a little girl, I thought that we were never going to see a film version to match what I imagined. They did that and more.
I am not aware of what ‘sexist fanboys’ are saying about Tauriel, but I liked her story and character, and hopefully her arc pays off in the final film.
And, if I may butt in a bit…
Well, I haven’t seen TH: DoS yet, but there are two things that sprang to my mind when I heard about all the additions and fleshing-outs that Jackson, Boyens and Walsh were doing.
a) The screenwriters of LotR were aligning the events chronologically in The Hobbit like they did in The Lord of the Rings. In the LotR novels, events aren’t presented chronologically for the whole of the narrative, but broken into chunks that follow certain groups during certain sections of the narrative. To make the films of LotR successful, they had to break apart the chunks and realign the timeline and cut between all the different plots to form a coherent film-friendly narrative. (I don’t have a citation for this, but I remember there being a segment about having to do this in the extras included in the LotR Extended Edition Box Set).
So, I don’t feel like the writing team was padding The Hobbit - they were doing the same thing as they did on LotR by showing what else was happening in Middle Earth at the same time as the events of The Hobbit, drawing these episodes from unpublished stories and The Simirillion, and even a bit from LotR itself.
(Though, I’ll admit some judiciouseditingmight not have been amiss. I think the first film was a wee bit self indulgent in terms of length and which episodes of the adventure should have as much screen time as they did.)
b) Tolkien made up the tales of Middle Earth because he felt that England was lacking the sort of culturally important mythic narratives that had shaped other countries and cultures. He mourned for the loss of the stories that the numerous invasions, takeovers, and genocides that littered the history of the British Isles had robbed from his people. (Again, I don’t have a specific citation for this, but I recall hearing this on several different documentaries and read it in articles and interviews. If someone has a specific citation, I’d love to see it, please.)
The Tolkien estate, and it seems J.R.R. himself, do not condone unauthorized sequels and the like, but I feel that the writing team behind this authorized filmic adaptation were staying true to the spirit of Tolkien’s creating stories where there was a void by adding Tauriel.
As Gail points out above, there’s barely any female voices in the entirety of Tolkien’s work, and save for those who are passive, willowy, or make a quick, rare appearance. I applaud what Jackson, Boyens and Walsh did with Eowyn and Arwen, because how is it any different from what Tolkien did to the myths he based LotR on?
On top of all that, LotR is famously also partially Tolkien’s response to Shakespeare. He invented Ents because he was annoyed that the woods didn’t actually walk in MacBeth, and Eowyn because he felt Lady MacBeth could have been a more agressive character who has agency over her own plans in the end. What else is that but Fix-It Fan Fic?
So how can Jackson, Boyens and Walsh have the right to do any less than Fix It themselves?
I think it’s awesome.
Last night was quite gratified to be included in the Brockton Writers Series reading at Full of Beans. There were four authors as we all read for about ten minutes (I read from my new anthology HERO Is a Four Letter Word. Natch)After the reading, there was an open Q&A, and some private discussion, and something that came up more than once is if I, as a published author, thought that taking a writing course was a good idea.
How’s that for a can of worms? The thing is, there’s no wrong or right way to answer this question. I, personally, don’t know the asker’s skill level, nor read their work, nor do I know what they’ve already taken or not.
There’s simply no blanket answer for a question like “Should I Take A Writing Course?”
Well, did I take a writing course? I did take some. I took a short story writing, and a playwriting course while in school. My undergrad major was Dramatic Literature, so there was a lot of script writing and analyzing in those classes. I also did a self-directed screenwriting course, and had a TA oversee the creation of a play from concept to public workshop reading to performance.
On top of all that, I was writing scads of fanfic, and engaging in the community there to learn more about storytelling, editing, beta reading, and characterization. I also worked with a writer’s group when I lived in Japan, and I try to be engaged with NaNoWriMo when I can.
So what are some Pros of taking writing courses?
· Skills and Drills: Each week your teacher/seminar leader/ will probably ask you to read and write something. Just like drilling and learning new skills in a sport, doing so in writing will teach you how you prefer to engage in the physical and creative act of writing. You will learn what kind of spaces you prefer to write in, what kind of time frame you need to carve out, how quickly you can produce something if you hate the story and if you love it, how you need to approach edits for yourself, and of course, you’ll be practicing your punctuation and grammar skills with each piece.
· Practice: They say that you have to write 10 000 crappy words before you can write any good ones. It may not be an exact science, but I firmly believe that the more you produce, the more you understand how you, personally, prefer to tell stories, and that makes each subsequent work easier to create, to bring into reality.
· Networking: Creative Lit teachers are usually agents, writers, or publishers. It can’t hurt to know them, learn about their worlds, and get their advice or mentorship. And your classmates might one day be the very people who help guide your career.
· Learn from others: Every person reads stories and tells stories differently. It’s amazing what you can find in a tale, or produce in your own when you really engage with people of differing genders, sexualities, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, languages, and hobbies than you. And if they recommend a book or author, it could possibly lead you down the trail to a wonderful world of books you might have otherwise ignored or never even known about.
· Learn new skills: In working with your classmates, you might learn something you never knew before: a different storytelling technique, a structural idea, a different way to build characters or plot. And of course, if it’s a course for beginners, you ought to also be learning the foundations of punctuation, grammar, and manuscript formatting.
· Produce some back catalogue: Maybe none of the work you create while in class will ever be published, but you’ll probably have a stack of writing that you can submit to agents, publishers, anthologies, or collections, if it’s quite polished and ready.
· Gain confidence: There is honestly nothing more thrilling than a classmate’s response to your writing. A great note, a scrawled smiley face or a checkmark, a gasp, a small sob, a shout or a yelp, a “No, you can’t end there! Then what?!” These are all gold, and they’ll help you feel confident about yourself and your work.
· Learn about grants, contests, groups: Or maybe form your own writing group out of your peers.
· Can workshop submission packages: You can learn to write and hone a query letter, log lines, synopsizes, and pitches.
· Honesty: Hey, this is a group of strangers. If your work is crap, they’ll tell you so. Hopefully in an encouraging, constructive way, but they’ll still say so. You’ll get a lot of practice with editing, taking constructive criticism, parsing a note to see what the real problem is, working with restructuring and overhauls, and maybe even dealing with haters and trolls.
Of course, there are also cons to taking writing courses:
· General skill level of those around you may be lower than yours: You may be above the basics, or you may find their storytelling ability less advanced.
· Can’t tell straight off if your prof will be a good teacher. Not all professors have taken teacher’s school, or are natural pedagogues. It can sometimes be infuriating if they’re a crappy teacher, or just a self-important windbag. Worse, it’s a waste of your time and money.
· Might kill your passion for writing: Either by boring exercises, mean teachers and classmates, or just oversaturation and too much focus on the writing.
· Storytelling is not entirely a skill that can be taught. It’s something that you have to find within yourself and hone, and develop. You can’t just go into a class and expect to come out a master storyteller in six months. It’s something that never stops evolving, a skill you never stop honing and exploring and learning. (I’ve been writing for 20 years and I don’t think I’m a master storyteller yet. I don’t think anyone thinks they are).
· Imagination is not entirely a skill that can be taught. You need to learn how to play, to twist, to envision and debate with yourself.
So, in the end, I think taking some courses can be great to help you get a good foundation and a set of tools to teach you how to be a good, solid, technically proficient writer. But I don’t think any piece of paper or GPA will be able to teach you how to be a good storyteller. That is something that only practice and sharing your stories with others (both to critique and to praise) will teach you.
Do I think that you should do an entire degree in creative writing? Well… no.
I’m sure I’ll be lynched for this, but I’m not certain what merit there is in doing just creative writing for four years. You need to learn other things, experience and live other things. Writers are not just writers. Writers are biologists, like Julie Czerneda, and scientists like Erin Bow. They are mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, engineers and painters, playwrights and actors, dancers and secretaries, personal assistants and fast food cashiers, janitors and archeologists, activists and bakers.
But maybe that’s just my fear talking. I feared taking a full degree in creative writing because I feared coming out the other side hating it. I feared it would stop being fun and start becoming a chore, like all my other homework. I’ve known plenty of phenominal artists who chose not to get MFAs for the very same reason. But then there are also lots of phenominal artists and writers who did do a full degree, came out loving it and producing amazing work so…
Really, it’s your choice. You know your own opinions and habits better than I do.
So, here’s some actual advice about Writing Courses:
I think they are important. I think they need to be taught and they need to be taken to ensure that you, as a writer, as fully educated in the technical, professional, and skills-oriented foundation of being a storyteller that you can be.
I think the best way to do it is to take courses in the sorts of writing you don’t do normally. Take a class on play or screenwriting if you’re a novelist. Take a class in novels if you normally write poetry or shorts. Take a class in poetry or comics if you write for the screen. The cross pollination of your skill set will teach you many and various ways to tell stories, and perhaps help strengthen your primary story telling set.
Part of the reason The Hunger Games is such a well-received series is the pacing. You start reading the books and you just. Can’t. Stop. Suzanne Collins was a screenwriter as well as a novelist, so you can bet she knew bunches about the three act structure, dialogue, action and narrative pacing, setting up scenes, and things like Chekhov’s Gun. These are all skills that you drill and hone in a screenwriting class. And they are skills that are transferable to novels, poems, short stories, and plays. And fanfiction.
And if you can’t afford a writing course, there are many many books and online tutorials, writing groups (in person or online), communities like NaNoWriMo and AO3, and other resources that are available to you where you can get the same experience and education as you would in your writing course.
I hope this has been helpful!
I feel like I need to talk about this.
I’m probably going to get a hundred million anonymous hate notes, and some people jumping down my throat, but no pain, no gain, eh? But I feel like I need to try to express this, and I hope I manage to do so clearly.
So here it goes.
I am both a professional creator (novelist and screenwriter, though only with publications in the former), and a fan creator. Before I began to write original fiction, I wrote fanfiction as Losyark/Vega on ff.n and Livejournal. Before I was signing autographs and giving readings at conventions, I was attending them in cosplay.
So, I know about passion. I know about a desperate dedication to a world, a show, a character, a ship. I know about literally dreaming about the stories you want to write. I know about the fun of playing at being a character in a show and goofing around with your friends and a camera. I know about RPGing.
I still read fanfic. I still cosplay when I’m not being all ‘respectable and professional’ at a con (and I always dress up for the Saturday night dance). I still squee (usually deep, deep inside) when I get to chat with fellow guests in the greenroom and have dinner with actors, artists, writers and creators I respect and admire.
I have entered, won, and judged both fanfiction and professional novel awards.
I ship McShep and Johnlock, even when I lived a few doors down from David Hewlett and patted Mars on my way to work. I re-read fanfics when I’m feeling creatively drained like some people gnosh on comfort food when they need to feel warm and fuzzy. I like being silly, and making up stories, and talking about my favourite fanfics in public and online.
I am also an academic. I have a Bachelors in Dramatic Literature and a Masters in Communications Culture. I am a social anthropologist, a fandom scholar, and am versed in film/theatre critique, critical theory, and both queer and feminist studies.
I am also in film. I act. I voice act. I am an extra. I have been a PA, a set-gopher/dogsbody, a driver, a handler, an assistant.
So there’s the context.
TL;DR – I occupy the spaces which I will now talk about.
Okay, so. Why are there some people being assholes to Amanda Abbington and Steven Moffat?
So, yeah. I’ve said that I don’t like some of Moffat’s writing. I’ve said publically that I take umbrage to the fact that Moffat doesn’t seem to understand how to respectfully write female characters. I’ve said publically that I am saddened that there are no female creatives on Doctor Who, and that I think Joss Weadon’s brand of feminism is dated and he needs to take the next step in his works now. I have said publically that the quality of wordcraft and narrativecraft in Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey frustrates me, especially since the standard should have and easily could have been higher. I have publically stated that I feel 50 Shades of Grey is a dangerous novel because I feel that it is Kink Colonialism and not respectful of the lifestyle. I’ve mused publically on how I feel that Moffat is a much better writer when he as a rigorous editor or showrunner working above him.
I’ve said publically that there are shows I no longer watch because I just can’t stomach the writing or the acting or the premise any more. I’ve said publically that there are books I’ve stopped reading, authors I don’t respect as people, and creators that I would never want to be in a room with because their personal views clash very strongly with my own and I don’t know if I could be civil if certain topics about which I am passionate arose.
I have acknowledged what frustrates me about many media texts, and sometimes about the personal views and choices of the creators.
But you know what I have never done?
I have never attacked the creator. I have never told a creator to kill themselves and spare the world. I have never threatened a creator. I have never sent them hate mail, or blogged horrible things about their sexual orientation, marriages, skin colour, genitals, perceived education, or lifestyle. I have never sent them letters or cornered them at conventions to expressly tell them why, to their faces, they are a waste of skin.
It is simple to consume.
It is slightly harder to engage with what you consume. It is a bit harder still to engage critically with what you consume, and even a bit harder than that to have opinions and understand patterns and theories in what you consume.
But that is NOTHING compared to what it takes to CREATE.
You think it’s so goddamn easy to create something and then put it out there for people to consume? Then you fucking do it.
You’ll have the right to call creators horrible names and bully them on social media, and talk smack to the actors who are playing characters that you perceive ruin your OTP when your TV show/film/book series is making you the same kind of money and you have the same kind of fame, and it receives the same kind of critical acclaim. Hopefully by then you’ll have realized that you’re behaving like an entitled little shit and that creating something is fucking hard and there’s always way more cooks in the kitchen than you realize and that sending death threats to actresses playing characters that get in the way of your game of make believe is bloody childish.
And if you haven’t by then? I hope you enjoyed doing that one creative project you did. Because nobody else in the biz will ever willingly work with you again.
And before you say, “But J.M., you can’t know what that’s like!” let me correct that assumption.
I mostly got out of film acting because I have been told that I am fat. I’m not fat, I’m pretty on par with the average, if short and curvy. But it’s a very thin-aggrandizing industry. And you know who keeps telling me I’m fat, have a bad nose, am a no-talent hack?
Not directors. Not casting directors.
Audience members. Yup, the very people who I hoped to touch with my ability to inhabit a character and share a story with have all but bullied me out of the profession. Because I decided that I didn’t need to put up with being shamed in order to be able to participate in making art.
I still voice act, and I would love to do more film/TV/webseries acting, but it’s hard to want to put myself out there, to expose my own body to ridicule.
In 2011 I published my first SF novel, and it was named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly, was nominated for two Lambda Literary awards, and was nominated for a CBC Bookie. Sure, some people didn’t like it. They wrote reviews on Amazon that disappointed me. But they were critiquing the story, and that’s fair. Not every narrative, not every writing style, and not every writer will resonate with every reader. That’s expected.
But then a blogger decided that I was a shitstain of a human being. She pulled apart my book, yes, but she also did laughingly shallow research into my life (i.e. as far as I can tell, glanced at my website for about seven seconds), and then proceeded to tell everyone on her blog about how I am, personally, a waste of human flesh and my publisher should burn my work, and that my parents were assholes and I should have been aborted, and that my friends should brain me with blunt instruments and … yeah.
She said such horrible, hateful things that I actually started to have a panic attack. I got paranoid about stalking. I had terrible flashbacks to the bullying I suffered in high school and university. I couldn’t sleep for the nightmares and I felt nauseous all the time. Though I wasn’t clinically diagnosed with it, I actually checked all the boxes of PTSD. I had to take time off my dayjob to get my head back together, and it made me stop writing for a while. I just couldn’t do it without feeling like I was going to vomit all over my keyboard.
And worse still, embedded in all the vitriol and bile and calls to kill myself, there were actually some pretty salient critiques of my writing. She pointed out places where I unknowingly made errors that I was ashamed to have found, and places where I overlooked things where I should have been more clear, or had missed opportunities to be more respectful of ethnicities, cultures, and sexualities.
I learned from those critiques, but not without suffering. And it would have been better all around for both of us if her review had been respectful, compassionate, and professional. Because I read most of what she said (I had to stop eventually, because my hands were shaking to hard to manipulate the mouse), I did take a lesson away from it.
But how many of the hundreds of authors has she abused and bullied and hurt read her blog? How many hundreds of creators who could have engaged in a dialogue with her instead turned their heads away and refused to learn?
Do you see what I’m saying here?
If you don’t like how show-writer X or novelist Y is choosing to tell his/her stories, how, in any way, do you think being an entitled, screaming child about it is going to encourage them to grow and improve? How is bullying, sending death threats, stalking, harassing, and terrifying these people going to turn the media text you are upset and frustrated over into exactly what you want it to be?
This is not a trick question. Here is the answer: it’s not.
The only thing this behavior does is makes a creator stop creating.
You will never get more episodes, the last film, or the final book that way.
The creator will not rewrite their story for you. They will not fire an actor, hire a new one, cut out a character, create a romantic relationship between characters that they never intended to get together, or change the ending just for you.
Even if there’s thousands of you screaming at him/her. That is not how this works, folks.
They make something. You can choose to consume it or not. You can choose to like it or not. You can choose to engage with it or not. You can choose to make fic/art/cosplays/RPGs/fantasies about it or not. You can choose to critique it, discuss it, debate about it, mull over it, and attend conventions devoted to it, or not. You can choose to write to the creators or not.
But you know what? That’s ALL you get to do.
You don’t get to dictate. You don’t get to demand. You don’t get to bully. You don’t get to punish. You can boycott and abstain, vote with your ratings and your dollars, but that’s it. You can write letters or emails respectfully explaining why you didn’t like the media text. You can write reviews. And that’s the extent.
But in dictating, demanding, bullying, threatening, punishing, and acting like an eintitled, passively-agressively consuming little brat, you turn our community into a non-safe-space. And wasn’t the whole POINT of this community to be a safe space for people who want to discus, converse, create, fantasize, wank, play, giggle, sew, dream, and make friends?
In doing those abovementioned horrible things, YOU are the reason actors fear Q&As and conventions. YOU are the reason directors don’t go to symposiums on their own work, or don’t teach at universities. YOU are the reason writers don’t read the fanfic you send them, fear to go on Twitter, live in terror of Facebook and Goodreads.
You make the spaces where we, the community, get to engage with the creators we love unsafe for THEM.
And that STILL won’t make them not tell their stories the way they want to.
So here’s what you CAN do, as a fan:
What you CANNOT Do:
What you CAN Do As A Creator:
(And while I’m on this topic, can we talk about chat show hosts who try to use erotic fanart to shock and titillate guests? Fuck that, okay?
They have no right to take work out of the safe-space in which it was created. It was made for the community, not for shock tactics, and that’s not fair. It’s not fair to expose those artists to bullying, it’s not fair to take the work without sourcing, it’s not fair to force the art out of the context in which it was presented, and it’s not fair to invite the audience and the actor/director/writer to ridicule the artist and by extension the community. Lastly, it is not fair to force that onto actors/directors/writers, to try to ambush and shock the actor.
Some of that stuff could be potentially triggering to the guests. Some of it could be scary to them. Some of that stuff could make it really hard for them to be professional on set the next time they see their collegues. Those are thier FRIENDS and COWORKERS they’re being forced to see in those situations.
They have the right to peruse the fanwork that is made about their show/film/book, and they have the right to comment and engage with fancreators if they so choose, but they also have the right to choose to not to engage with it and chat show hosts are forcing it on them.
And that is humiliating for the creator and the fanartist both, and it is goddamn disrespectful to the fan community. End of.)
TL;DR – So here’s what I’m saying:
Be respectful, okay? Just be respectful. PLEASE.
If you don’t like something, that’s fine. If you want to critique a media text, or a writer’s style and preferred methods of building character and narrative, that’s fine. If you want to discuss publically the problematics you encounter in your media consumption, that’s fine. If you want to tell people why you feel that a media text is flawed and not worth consuming, that’s fine too. If you want to create fantasies and fanworks, if you want to wank, or explore kinks, or just have a laugh using the media text as your foundation, that’s fine. If you want to meet a professional creator and engage in a dialogue about their work (either what you loved, or hated, or what you wish they had done, or wish they hadn’t done) that’s fine.
But please, please do it respectfully.
Don’t scream at the creators. Don’t cajole. Don’t threaten. Don’t embarrass them. Don’t shove your fantasies onto them.
Because you are not the creator of that media text.
You consume it. You love it. You use it as a springboard for your own creativity and that, my friends, is fucking incredible.
But you are not the creator. So back the fuck up.
They made up the media text. They get to tell their own damn story however the fuck they want and you don’t get to scream at them for doing it in a way that doesn’t match what you want.
If you want something different, then make your fanwork or make something original, and enjoy that.
They have worked hard to be where they are. It is not easy to be a professional actor, a show runner, an author, a publisher, a director, a filmmaker, a speaker, an artist. It is not easy to convince people to pay you to make art. It is damned difficult and at every turn there are gatekeepers and higher-ups who are going to critique and demand and snip and add and change. That’s the nature of the business.
But the creators are the ones making it. Not you.
And if you don’t like how they do it, then there’s a very simple solution.
Stop watching. Stop reading. Stop.
And if you are able to accept that it’s not exactly how you wish it was, and still enjoy it anyway, then do. Enjoy it.
And write. And draw. And cosplay. And paint. And play. And have fun. And critique. And discuss. And debate. And speculate.
But do it with some goddamned respect, okay?
Remember Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be A Dick.
Since posting my response on why I choose not to support Orson Scott Card, I’ve recieved a few emails and comments that all ask, essentially, the same question:
If you don’t want to support Card, why not just pirate the book/film?
One commenter, who I will keep Annon out of courtesy, politely suggested this:
Have you thought of looking into pirating pdfs of books by authors you wish not to support? You may be one of those people who prefers hard copies of books, but as a last resort, pdfs are readily available on the internet in ways that let you avoid supporting the author.
Here is my reply:
Thank you very much for your suggestion.
Yes, I know what pirating and torrents are. I used to use them when I was young, before I realized I could stream TV shows legally from the broadcaster’s websites, and that there were cheap, quick ways to get ahold of digital copies of media legally. (Or, in the case of many libraries, for free. I know the Toronto Public Library lends ebooks, emags, and films/TV shows for free. And using the library means that creators, at least in Canada, get Public Lending Rights cheques.)
Pirating sometimes can have a positive effect – in situations where the media text is being passed on because it’s unavailable in a certain region, it introduces a media text to audience members who would otherwise have no access or idea that the text exists. In that way, I see it as no different than handing your friend your copy of a book and saying “Read this, I know you’ll like it.” When passing around a digital copy happens like that, I think that’s fine, because it’s a personal interaction and it’s meaningful. It comes with a reccomendation, a word of mouth endorsement, and the potential for an expanded audience and readership for the creator. Often the pirated media text is later bought, or inspires the reciever to buy other texts by the same creator.
But more often than not, pirating happens in situations where there are many legal means of acquiring a media text, and usually for very little cost or for free. This sort of pirating is the kind that takes money out of the pockets of the Little Guys of Hollywood, or the publishing industry, or the Boots-On-The-Ground jobs in television.
I especially cannot condone pirating as I am a professional creator who relies on people buying my art so I can pay off my student debt, buy my medications and groceries, and keep a roof over my head. And I am friends with other professional artists who require paycheques to pay their mortgages, feed their kids, and take care of their health bills.
I cannot in good conscious pirate films, books, music, or other creative media. Anyone’s. Even Card’s.
(“But JM!” I hear you cry, “These corporations have millions of dollars! They can afford to get pirated!” The answer is – yes, they have millions. And they use that millions to pay the wages of everyone who works on a film/TV show/Book. Which means their pockets are essentially empty when the media text launches. If they don’t recoup that money at the box office/in sales/in residuals and royalties, then they don’t have enough money to make the NEXT project. Which means people having no jobs, or losing the ones they have.
"You hypocrite!" I also hear you cry. "You complain about piracy and yet you want us to boycott Ender’s Game!"
It’s not hypocrisy. The failed box office of one film sends a corporate message to studios, and does not endanger anyone’s job or position except, perhaps, Card’s. Everyone else who worked on that project has been paid and moved on. It’s a bummer for the studio, but now they know that the rainbow dollar is not impressed with Card’s work, and that it might not be a worthwhile investment next time. Every film comes with failure risks and, in fact, insurance in case it fails.
But pirating hundreds of films, shows, albums, and books means thousands of people not getting paid, and not getting paid regularly. Which means they have to stop creating for a living, because they’re not MAKING a living, and have to take a different job to get by.
You love your favourite band/author/filmmaker/TV show/artist? You want more of their work? Pay for the work they have out so they can keep creating. End of.)
TL;DR - So, while I may not choose to buy Card’s work, I will not steal it. I don’t like the jackass’ views, but I’m also not going to break into his house and steal jewelry from his bedroom, or steal the car from his driveway.
Theft is theft. I know how much effort goes into creating an artistic work and I cannot reward the creators whose work I love by robbing them of their rightfully earned dollars, viewing statistics, ratings, and sales. Especially when I want the artist to be able to afford to create more.
In the case of Card: I’m perfectly content to just not read it.
And, forgive me, but now I have to address what a lot of people seem to be saying without actually saying it. What they are saying is this:
“But how can you possibly be okay with such a large and important gap in your reading history. You HAVE to read Ender’s Game. How can you not? How can you hate the book? The book is so good. The book is WORTH READING.”
And… well… no.
Everyone who has commented about how I can read the book and still not support Card if I steal it is MISSING THE POINT.
I don’t WANT to read it.
Everyone seems to be a bit hung up on the idea that I would really like Ender’s Game if only I read it, if only I gave it a chance. Everyone seems to think that it’s a book worth reading, that one MUST read. That I, and every other person who considers themselves a geek HAS to read.
And while that might be some people’s opinion, I don’t share it.
I don’t believe that there is a SF/F cannon of books that one ABSOLUTELY MUST READ OR ELSE.
There are books that are good, and have become championed classics for a reason. Books that are worth reading, worth recommending, worth passing on to younger generations. We all have those books, but there’s nothing saying that all those books will be the same for each person, nor that they SHOULD be.
I believe in the power of a good book to touch many people, but do I believe that there are books that you MUST read in order to become a proper geek – like articles you must understand to get your PhD? No.
Everyone’s personal taste is just that. Personal.
And I personally do not like military SF. I don’t like reading it. Even if Card wasn’t an abominable human being, I would not choose to read Ender’s Game. In fact, before I ever knew about Card’s views, I read one of his books, “Enchantment”. It was good enough that I wanted to find more of his work to try out, but when presented with Ender’s Game, I declined it.
The number of awards it’s won, the number of people who enjoy it and recommend it will not change the fact that it is still militaristic SF and I don’t like reading things like that.
I haven’t read Dune, I haven’t read Starship Troopers. I just barely like Star Trek, and my favourite episodes are the culture-based ones. I stopped watching DS9 when the war started because I lost interests. It’s just simply, and honestly, not my bag.
There are many books that I feel that people MUST read (Shapechangers by Jennifer Roberson, The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley) but would I ever pester and condemn and shame people for choosing not to read these books because they just don’t match people’s taste.
Not every book will appeal to every reader.
As an author, yes, I hope I write a book that appeals widely to a vast swath of readers; as a professional writer whose paycheques pay my rent, yes, I hope it hits big so millions of people buy it. But as an artist I understand that all I can do is create something that speaks to me and hope that it touches at least one other person.
So yes, thank you for your suggestion but I do not want to read Ender’s Game, and I certainly will not be pirating it to do so.
If people would like to choose to buy the book (new, so the money goes to Card, or used so the money goes to a local business), then I don’t see why they can’t. If people want to continue to read and enjoy the content of his work, I don’t see a problem with that.
I would PREFER that they didn’t, because of my above stated reasons, but the thing is, I’m not going to police their behaviour. I will not tell people what and whom they are allowed or not allowed to love. That would make me no better than Card.
It’s their personal choice, their personal views, and their personal taste.
And I, personally, don’t think I could ever enjoy reading his books because what I know now of Card will taint the experience. And I never picked up the Ender’s Game series before because I really dislike reading space opera miltaristic SF. It just doesn’t float my boat. So why would I subject myself to a book that I won’t enjoy because of the author AND because of the content?
I’m not trying to tell people what to do. I’m not coming down on the content of Card’s work. I’m not attacking his talent, or his wordsmithing, or the kinds of stories he chooses to tell, and how he chooses to tell them. Skip Ender’s Game has absolutely nothing to do with the subjective, qualitative “goodness” of the stuff between the covers of the novel, nor between the trailers and credits of the film.
I’m just asking that people make a fully informed choice about business practices. And explaining why I made the choice I made.
And hey, if you liked Ender’s Game, cool. I will never discourage people from reading. Reading is magic. If you can turn off the part of you that knows that Card is a douchewaffle, and enjoy the tale for what it is, then also cool. If that’s what makes you happy, then okay.
I just can’t.
So I got a comment on my personal blog post on why I’m Happy To Skip Ender’s Game.
Here it is:
you’re a sci-fi author… you haven’t read Ender’s Game… weaksauce. very weaksauce.
it isn’t as bad as say, a fantasy author having never read Tolkien, but it’s in the ballpark.
in related topics, since you identify as queer, how would you feel about a large groundswell internet movement trying to get people to not purchase your books based upon your worldview as a queer author?
Because I feel like it’s worth stating again, here’s my reply:
1) There is no required reading to become an author.
There is no university syllabus, no degree, no certificate. Many people come to it in many different ways. I simply did not come from a family of readers; what books and authors I discovered, I did so on my own with very little guidance beyond the odd less-than-apathetic teacher librarian. The back history of my reading list and what is or is not on it, and my individual personal taste in art, doesn’t make me a good or bad writer.
The only defining factor that makes me a good science fiction writer is if I write science fiction books, and they’re good. Period.
And no amount of disappointed headshaking, finger wagging, or muted tutting from people who think that they have the right to define what makes a good SF/F writer beyond the single above stipulation will change that.
I could probably spend time reading all the great classics now, but there are so many books out there that I “should” be reading, and so many books out there that I want to be reading, and so many books that I want to write. And speaking honestly, the ones that I write will pay my rent.
So, when it comes to occupying my free time, I know where my choice lies.
2) I also haven’t read all of Tolkien. I found it dry. It was a fascinating series of text books with excellent wordcrafting and worldbuilding, but rather poor in terms of character identification and a compelling narrative.
You may disagree with me. There’s lots of people who do. Peter Jackson is one of them. (I would never have found my deep love for Middle Earth if it wasn’t for the film adaptations). But that’s the joy of personal taste. It’s personal.
Also, I believe I stated quite clearly that I DID begin to read Orson Scott Card’s work. And that I’m sorry my morals won’t allow me to read Ender’s Game, because I hear it’s quite good.
However, after really enjoying the first book of his I read and researching him to find more, I learned what he thought of people like me. I therefore made a deliberate and conscious choice not to pursue anything else from his bibliography. Not because of his lack of talent, but because I couldn’t in good conscious support his career in any way, shape, or form once I read his personal thoughts on why I, a queer woman, am a shitstain on the panties of the world.
3) If at any point in my career I use the money awarded to me from my royalties to support organizations that strip any of my fellow human beings of their civil rights and their definition as persons under the law, I should damn well hope that there is a groundswell against me.
If there’s anything LEFT of me after my friends and family gets through chewing me out.
Look, the boycott isn’t because Card is a meanie-poo, or because he says bad things about people, or because he is a cisgendered heterosexual Mormon male.
The boycott is not about Card’s personal worldviews. They boycott is not about Card’s personal choices. The boycott is not about Card’s religion, or his marriage, or his gender.
The boycott is because Card takes the money he receives from his work (from books, from films, from speaking engagements, whatever,) and donates that money to charities that support legal actions to deny the queer people of America the right to marry whom they love, to have the same civil rights and liberties of their straight counterpoints.
And anyone who gives Card money is inadvertently funding those organizations.
The boycott is about being fully informed about where your money is going, and on what it is being spent.
If anyone wanted to know which charities I support, and therefore where a portion of the money they give me in royalties goes, they can ask. In fact, I’ll tell you – I donate to Sick Kids, because my brother’s friend died of cancer quite young and it was devastating to us; I donate to Little Geeks, because I feel that access to the internet and therefore information and education is a human right; and I donate both money and time to The Office of Letters and Light because I feel that the arts are important to the development of compassion and understanding of our fellow human beings and that NaNoWriMo is a positive influence on young people who would like to use writing as an art therapy or creative exercise.
I do NOT donate to the Salvation Army because of their policy on queerness. So why would I put money in Card’s pocket so he can spend it on similar charities and organizations? I don’t buy Tony Harris’ work anymore either, even though it pains me because I adore Brian K. Vaughn’s writing and want to know how Ex Machina ends.
Card can say that I was raped and beaten and shamed into being queer all he likes. THAT’S his personal opinion, and he can spend his hard-earned money however he wants. (I wasn’t, by the way. My family is wonderful, and intelligent, compassionate, supportive, and I was raised Presbyterian.)
So while I may not agree with how Card spends his money, I can’t force him to change his mind and change his stance on the definition of marriage. I can’t make him stop supporting organizations that would see me and people like me in the United States corrective-raped, stripped of my civil liberties, or sweep hate crimes under the legal rug.
What I CAN do is NOT put my money into his hands. THAT is what the boycott is about.
What I CAN do is tell people what he’s doing with their money and let them decide for themselves if giving him their money, (so he can donate it to causes that spread hate, slander, and such vitriolic lies about being queer,) is a choice they’d like to make. What I CAN do is encourage people to spend their money elsewhere so that other artists, other writers, who treat queer people like the human beings they are, get it instead of Card. What I CAN do is encourage people to donate to organizations that work towards helping change laws and pass bills in the USA that will allow people like me to live and love openly and fairly.
I am not American, I can’t vote on bills or lobby my elected officials to legalize my lifestyle, to grant people like me personhood with all the advantages and liberties that entails. But I can spread the word and hopefully change some minds, so that the people who DO have that kind of power understand what they are capable of doing with it.
As for the event itself: Skip Ender’s Game was about more than just NOT putting money in Card’s pocket. It was also about sending a message to creators in Hollywood – the rainbow dollar has power. We’re paying attention, and we’re being choosey.
It was also about providing alternatives; each SEG night featured LGBTQ and Ally artists and their work. It promoted them to whole audiences who might otherwise never have heard of them. It celebrated and exposed to the mainstream art and artists who are queer, or create work where queerness is represented and accepted.
So, in conclusion:
Your choice is your choice. If you want to judge me for failing to read what you, whomever you are, state that I have to have read in order to qualify by your personal definitions of what it means to be a good SF/F writer/geek/human being/whatever, then fine. Judge away.
It makes absolutely 0% of difference to me, my career, or my ability to write. But if it makes you feel better, go right ahead. Might as well call me a Fake Geek Girl while you’re at it. I’m super not interested in proving that I have all the right qualifiers to you. I don’t need to. I have science fiction books published, and people read them, and seem to think they’re good enough to give awards to, so I guess that makes me a real SF/F writer. Your judge-y-ness is pretty superfluous.
And also, your super obvious attempt to shame me back into my place was lame, dude.
This blog post is about my choices, why I’ve chosen to support some causes and not others, and why I, personally, made them. If you don’t like my personal choices, or my work, or anything about me, then you have a really easy way to fix that:
Don’t read my work, don’t buy my books, and don’t see my films.
Oh, hey. That sounds familiar…
Where I Write: Advice for NaNoWriMo
With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I decided that my “no dedicated work space in my home” shennanigans must come to an end.
I mean, I’ve been in my apartment for three years now. Time to get a desk, right? Especially since I’ve written three novels and a dozen essays/short stories, etc. while in there.
No more kitchen table/counter/sofa/bed/credenza nonsense.
In the summer, it was okay, because look at how comfy that outdoor space is! But in the winter? In November? No siree, I will not be writing out there!
So, with the help of friends, I cobbled together a desk, put up a whiteboard wall, organized my fanart, and reorganized/made room in my filing cabinet for all my notes, contracts, and important documents.
My favourite part is that any time I get a plot bunny nibble, or an idea, but don’t want to stop what I’m doing, all I have to do is reach into my pen-cup and write the idea on the wall. It stays there waiting for me until it’s ready, and there is an enormous satisfaction in getting to rub it away afterwards.
(But I still edit in pubs).
My recommendations for setting up your own writing routine:
Read more about establishing a routine and location for writing here.
No, I don’t think I’ve spoken about this before.
I try, really, really hard to be a good professional and have a routine but right now I’m hampered by two things: lack of good work space and lately, a crazy schedule. I used to be much, much better when I had a dedicated desk and I didn’t have a full time job.
Right now I write piecemeal – in the space I can scrabble out, and in the time I have free. I actually do feel like this is a detriment to both my focus, my productivity, and my creativity, and I certainly see a difference in the output I had last year, and this year’s output.
When I was unemployed/job hunting, I wrote an average of 4000 words per day, and I could leave my computer on my wee writing desk all the time.
But that was because I had the free time. I spent the morning submitting resumes, and then after lunch I would sit down and write. Once I finished my personal goal of One Chapter Or 4000 Words (Whichever I Hit First), I would then focus on social media stuff like updating my website or interacting on Goodreads until my then-roommate got home. The evening was freetime/socializing, etc. On that schedule, I got a novel done in a month and a half, and a handful of short stories in the month that followed. The novel also went through the editing process pretty quick, and I had it to my agent and ready for submissions within three months of beginning it.
This is the schedule I’d use if I were free to do so.
I started to plow into the next book, deciding to write as much as I could while I had the space to do so, and got 30k into it before I got my current full-time job. I saw my productivity slide way down when that happened. I had hoped that I could write during lulls at work, but the office is so open concept that it’s not possible.
My horrible excuses:
Well, I got a job. So there’s 9 hours a day minimum that I’m not able to devote to being in front of my manuscripts. That also means that now I can only write on evenings and weekends. And unfortunately that also means that the social/marketing things I was doing in the evenings/weekends (such as being a guest a cons, going to pub nights and networking events, or even just playing boardgames and having wine nights with my friends) now suddenly conflict with my writing time.
My job is also filled with walking. I have a desk but I think I’m actually sitting at it for about 3 out of the 8 hours per day I am at work. So I also come home exhausted and a bit frazzled. By the time I’ve chilled and got my head into a place where I could write, it’s darn near midnight and I’m struggling to just stay awake.
And my apartment, while larger than my last one, doesn’t really have any place I can set aside and designate “work space”. At first I didn’t think this would be a problem. I wrote on the sofa, on my deck, on my telephone table, at the kitchen table, wherever I wanted. It was freeing! But the problem with that is that I have to pack everything up when I’m done with it. I can’t just leave my computer on, the document up, my notes taped to the wall or scribbled on the chalkboard above my monitor.
Things can’t stay set up. Whenever someone comes over, or when I have another project that I need to pull out (such as sewing), I have to pack things away. Which means I find myself less inclined to grab those few minutes to jot something down or do up a scene because it means I have to unpack my work space. So instead I make yet another note on the chalkboard (it’s starting to look like kindergartener’s scribble), and return to whatever else I was doing.
So, there’s my really horrible excuses about why I have a rubbish routine.
But, here are the things I am trying to be proactive about:
· I may not have the architecture that allows for dedicated work space, but I’ve bought a giant chalkboard that I use to keep notes on, and I’ve recently acquired a little wee bedside table to sit beside my writing desk where I’ve set up a monitor and a keyboard. It’s not a perfect set up right now, but until I’m in an apartment with a nook or actual second bedroom I can use as an office, it is at least a home for my writing.
· I have a tablet to take with me to conventions and to events, which means my computer can stay in its home-space and ready for me to use. I’m working on finding a portable keyboard to go with the tablet so I can jot down notes and scenes when I’m in transit and email them back to myself.
· I keep lofty word count goals in mind, but I am more realistic about what I can achieve in one weekend. I aim more for One Short Story than my former 10k/Three Chapters goal.
· I’m a bit more of a social hermit and hoarder. I say no to more invitations and I stay home more often, and I keep my laptop on while I’m watching films and doing chores at home incase inspiration strikes.
· I keep a list of all the ideas and half-begun stories/novels/projects I have in a visible place. I’ve got them taped to the fridge so I can see them when I’m cooking; this usually gives me a mental jolt, a little “Oh, yeah, I was going to do that thing with the cannibal lawn gnomes, wasn’t I? Hmmm, I’ll think about that while I’m frying up breakfast. Let’s see where this goes…”
· I carry a notepad and pen, but I also use my smartphone to compose scenes in my email program while I’m on transit, so I can just send it to myself and not need to transcribe it when I get home.
· Carry my writing USB key everywhere, so I can snag time at work on my lunch if the opportunity of having the office to myself arises. I back up the USB key every weekend, and I back up my whole archive every few months on CDs. I also email myself manuscripts and hold them in a folder in my email, and use Dropbox. It seems excessive, but it gives me great peace of mind, which allows me to focus.
My recommendations for setting up your own routine:
· Carve out physical space where your work can stay. Figure out if you prefer things to be filed, in boxes, behind glass doors, or if you prefer to have a corkboard, or a chalkboard, or note paper taped everywhere? Designate a home for the unit you write on.
· Carve out time and mental space for work. Be it weekly or daily, know in advance when and for how long your writing time will be. Schedule it in, and tell people it’s on your schedule in order to both make yourself free then, and accountable to them.
· Figure out how you work. Can you sit and write for hours and hours? Or do you need ten minute sprints? Do you prefer to rain the words onto the page in small doses as you go through your daily routine, or do you need a dedicated time in which to splash down a torrent?
· Figure out your rhythms. Do you need to write every day? Can you? Is it a realistic goal or does real life just not allow for it?
· Set goals and meet them. Tell yourself you have to do a certain amount (either in time or word/page count) and then do it. No excuses. But at the same time…
· Learn to forgive yourself. Sometimes you just don’t hit your targets. It’s okay. Take a day off, watch a film, go for a walk, play with some kids or pets. There’s always tomorrow.
· Write for fun. Don’t forget that while you may be treating this like a job, it’s meant to be pleasurable. Do another project for a while if you need to give yourself a break. Write a poem, a silly song, some fanfic, a blog post, anything. Read a book and remember why you love writing – because you love it.
For each writer it’s different, but for me I need:
· Tea or wine or water.
· Twilight lighting – a bright task light on my workspace, but the curtains half-closed or the other lights dimmed. It helps me focus on the screen, and not the distractions of the room around me. (Like the dirty dishes or the unmade bed).
· Several hours after work or upon waking in order to get zen, have tea, have a meal, have a shower and do some light reading (magazine, newspaper, fanfic on my smartphone); only then has my writer-brain had time to bootup and come online. Once that happens I can focus.
· An hour or two to really get a bunch of the brain-vomit on the page. Usually I don’t go back and edit until a) I have a complete first draft or b) I’m stuck and I need to go back and reread in order to digest then recapture the tone/momentum of the book.
· Scrivener and Final Draft for composing; Microsoft Word and Celtx for editing/finessing
· A self-imposed deadline (for example: “There’s a pub night Monday evening. Today is Saturday – you can go to the pub night if you get a whole short story written and one draft of edits done on it before then.”)
Resetting my Calendar:
I think I’ve spoken to this before, but usually my year in writing goes like this
· October – spend the month writing character sketches, wee scenes, doing research, and generally preparing to write a new novel
· November – National Novel Writing Month; write the first 50k of the new novel.
· December – complete the novel. (Usually adding another 50-90k.) I generally use a few days around Christmas when I don’t have to work to do the final torrent.
· Holidays – Sleep. Let the novel lay fallow.
· Late January – Edit the first draft on my own.
· February – Send the novel out to my crit partners and beta readers.
· March – wait for crit on the novel back; pick up the slack on other projects I’ve neglected like screenplays, short stories, reading other people’s books, or edits for other novels
· April – edit novel based on crit’s/beta’s suggestions. Either send it out again to a different group of people, or send it to my agent.
· May – August - From there it gets a bit wibbly-wobbly. Either more edits are required, or we start putting together a submission package, which may include writing synopsis, pitches, loglines, short stories to accompany the novel, letters, asking for other authors to offer blurbs, etc. Meanwhile I am still catching up on everything I let slide, am writing short stories for anthologies, working on screenplays or audio dramas, and generally trying to get everything I thought up over the year and put aside in favour of concentrating on the novel done and tidy.
· September – finishing up any other projects that might be lingering, generally clearing my plate in preparation for having a clean slate come November 1 and the new start of NaNoWriMo (this year will be my 11th year participating!); get caught up on my reading.
If I were to be writing full time, I would probably try to do two novels a year, or at least a novel and a half per year. But it would depend, of course, on how involved the research on the novel would be, and what happened with other novels/projects. Sometimes you just gotta put something aside and focus what needs your attention now, no matter how much you want to work on that first thing.
(I swear to you that one day there will be a novel version of “The Maddening Science”.)
More WORDS FOR WRITERS Posts
First Drafts: My Advice for NaNoWriMo: Be A Bit Crap
Hard vs. Soft SF: The Balance Between Science-Telling and Story-Telling
Genre: Why Do I Write Sci Fi?
Format: How To Structure A Story
World-Building: Culture-Building, Character-Building, and Finding The Story
Abandoning A Manuscript: Bidding Farewell
Copyright: Protecting Your Work
Have a question you want me to answer?
So, a million years ago when I lived in Japan, there was a group of us gaijin who were aspiring writers. We banded together to for the Fukuoka Writer’s Circle, which was a crit-group, shoulder-to-cry-on, idea-bouncing-board, drinking buddies, and cheerleaders all rolled into one. I was VERY PLEASED to be contacted by Wendy Clark a little while ago, what of my fellow FWCs. She told me that she too had continued to pursue the writing dream and had some books out. So, naturally, I asked if I could introduce Wendy to you! She said yes, so enjoy the below interview. Wendy’s got a great turn of phrase.
1. The worst question to ask and have to answer, but the most satisfying to read is, as always: Why Write? Why be a writer?
I have an insatiable sweet tooth.
Yet, the world seems to be set on feeding me a fat-free diet of extremely bad news. From a young age, I escaped into science fiction (Anne McCaffrey, Keith Laumer) and, later, romance (Nalini Singh, Jennifer Crusie). This was entirely self-preservation. My parents love NPR, and I can only take so many hours of disaster/injustice/genocide before I find myself anorexic for a different kind of content.
For every sugar-free hard fact, I have to take in two scoops of homemade blackberry gelato in happy endings. For every fiber-filled historical tragedy, I need at least one lavender cream cheese cupcake where good triumphs, worthy people succeed, and the best ideas are always awesome.
At some point, consuming wasn’t enough for me and I had to get in the kitchen.
2. What was the instigating moment for you being a writer? What was it that made you think, “Yeah, I want to do that!”
My fourth grade teacher noticed that I was writing pages and pages during free time and suggested, “Maybe you should be a writer.” I still have those 100-ct spiral-bound notebooks. My cursive was way better back then.
3. So far, what’s the been the awesomest thing about being a writer?
Giving the best friend a happy ending! Seriously, how often do you watch a movie and think to yourself, “Hey, that not-main-character is pretty funny. He’s obviously going to die tragically and soon.” Thanks to imagination, I can spend an entire sleepy Sunday rewriting the story, whether it’s introducing a new super weapon to save Bill Paxton (Aliens, Predator 2) or a new super power to save Colin Farrell (Minority Report). I feel like, “Ahh. The people I care about live. The world is at peace.”
Then I import my new super weapon/power into one of my stories—which are not linked to any major franchises—and get two benefits out of one enjoyable brainstorm.
4. What’s been the least awesome thing, and what have you learned or taken away from it? Do you have a teachable you can share with us?
Being self-employed in the United States is like ice fishing during a global heat wave. You pray for good health and/or tie yourself to a day job with benefits, just in case.
Another risk in digital publishing is pirates. I love pirates myself, and I’ve got nothing against sharing a favorite book with loved ones, but here’s how to report to Amazon that someone jacked your book and is pocketing your profits.
As far as personal teachables, I haven’t been in this business long enough to screw up too badly yet. *Grin* Unless the mistake was waiting too long for someone else’s permission to publish, and honestly, I think I needed that extra time to become a better writer.
5. What’s the next big goal for you, and how are you working towards it?
Publishing a full-length book! I am playing with two big ideas right now:
1) A Romeo & Juliet “magnetpunk” set on a desert planet; or
2) A reverse Cinderella romance where a high-class gallery assistant has to get a backwoods artist over his creative block.
I’m story-boarding both right now to see which one I’m most excited about.
In the farther-out future, I’m also looking at enhanced ebooks for bringing a Cyrano de Bergerac/World of Warcraft story to life. It could be a Kickstarter project once I have a cool proof of concept.
The world of publishing is so exciting right now. I’m thrilled to be writing in it.
6. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found yourself researching, or the weirdest fact?
I recently had to look up the statistic of hot tub owners in America. Did you know there’s an International Hot Tub Association that keeps track?
I also really needed to know the symptoms of mercury poisoning at 3am, and the most useful description came from a handbook distributed by terrorist organization HAMAS. I’m probably on a CIA watchlist. And I’m not even writing thrillers. My stories are sweet romances!
7. You and I know each other from the long-lost Fukuoka Writer’s Circle (A group of English-speakers who lived in Fukuoka-ken while on the JET Programme); I know I learned a lot not only about writing and storytelling, but also about critiquing and beta reading and taking notes. What do you think the most important part of belonging to a writing community is, and why should people be part of critique groups? What have you learned?
First of all, a writer always needs an editor. You can’t see your own blind spots. If you are in the unfortunate position of having an editor who does not actually edit (a common state these days in publishing) then I hope you are blessed with a great beta reader who can articulate the missing pieces.
I came to the Fukuoka Writer’s Circle at a time when I needed help with the fundamentals of story. Transmitting images from my head to another person’s via the written page is one of most intimate acts of our modern society, and although I’d been writing carelessly since about fourth grade, I needed guidance to tame my wild ramblings into a story someone else actually wanted to cozy up to at night.
Having said that, I’ve only been a member of one writing group since ours, and it scarred me for life. I need kudos and bonbons to keep me focused on improving, but one member of the group was Edward Scissorhands bent on carving up every piece I offered to her. It got to the point where my stomach churned whenever I saw her name attached to an email. I made excuses not to open them for weeks. What’s the point of having a critique group if you can’t open their emails? Even though she made excellent points and I loved everyone else, I felt a thousand times better the day I gave myself permission to leave the group. Claudia Dain once wrote to be careful not to kill your inner writer-girl. I was definitely running out of bandages!
Now I have an editor, a copyeditor, and a super-supportive fan base to give me kudos and help me write the best possible story. And every one of them is fearless — but gentle—about pointing out my blind spots!
8. Being both a debut and a self-publishing author, there’s a lot of work that goes into building your platform and your personal brand. Can you tell us a bit about what you do to self-market?
The first thing I did was actually announce the publication to my friends and family. I have been published before by an established print publisher (Adams Media) and I even co-hosted a well-attended book signing, but my own fears and the imposter syndrome held me back. So literally just announcing that I AM AN AUTHOR has been a huge step forward for me.
Making a sweetly satisfying story that nibbles at your heartstrings and yet leaves you with a delicious happy feeling afterwards is my number one priority. I ensure this happens by vetting my stories through my award-winning editor Christina (Berry) Tarabochia and my detail-oriented copyeditor before they are meticulously formatted for ebook and print. Being a bit of a tech and graphics geek, I do my own covers and uploading.
Since I am just starting out, I take opportunities for guest-blogging, interviewing, article-writing, and networking as they come. I send out a monthly newsletter to my website subscribers with exclusive freebies and behind-the-scenes. In October, I’ll be signing the print anthology at the Emerald City Writers Conference in Bellevue, Washington (just east of Seattle). You can follow the news and appearances on my website too.
Some experts say that there’s no better advertisement than the next excellent book. With that in mind, I am always writing!
9. Tell us about your upcoming stories and books, please!
“Fatty Patty”, which released on July 15, is the first in a series of sweet romantic short stories set around a five-year high school reunion in the San Juan Islands. Here is the tasty blurb:
“Fatty Patty” is the cruel nickname that followed Pepper to high school graduation. Five years later, she’s back at her reunion to prove it hasn’t defined her. In her slim Kate Spades, she’ll show them all — her underachieving classmates and especially the boy who broke her heart.
But Pepper’s not the only one who’s changed in five years. She’s not the only one who has regrets about the things that were, and especially weren’t, said.
And she’s not the only one who plans to use this chance to rewrite history…
The second story, “Chance of Happiness,” releases on August 15, and the third story, “Artful Dodger,” releases on September 15. Those plus two more stories will be gathered into a print anthology available just in time for the holidays.
The San Juan Island Stories are short stories designed to be enjoyed over a lunch break. They capture the essence that every journey — no matter how far — is about discovering yourself and finding your way back home.
10. Where can we buy your books?
11. Where can we follow you on social networks?
BIO: Wendy Lynn Clark is an award-winning author of romance, young adult, and science fiction. Find out the latest at wendylynnclark.com.
Thanks, Wendy! (So, that book I read half of in 2005… you done that yet? I’ve only been wondering how it ends for eight years.)