A vexing night

This is going to be short, sweet, to the point, and a pretty healthy dose of “get your head out of your ass and move on already” for myself. That last bit’s kind of important, even if it’s a little selfish. It’s been a weird night of running into walls, struggling with inner demons, and other meaningful cliches for the headaches I associate with dwelling on the gap between where I’d like to be and where I presently feel I am.

Warning: There be some f-bombs a-lurkin’ in this here post.

I could easily put together a post on how many creative-types are weighed down by their own doubt, fear, self-loathing, and so much more (I came way too close to listing the various Sha there, and I’m not sorry to point that out). That’s very nearly what this would have been, but I couldn’t. It felt wrong and unpleasant. Plus it was the last thing I needed to read in the mood I’m in, and so I doubt it’s the sort of thing anyone else would want to read if they’re trying to muster up the energy to get back to work.

Here’s what I’d like this post to be instead. The instructions for myself and any other creative folks, or really anyone, who find themselves frustrated and feeling stuck.

Create. Don’t force it because it’ll only end in regret, but create as often and as passionately as possible. Build amazing, awe-inspiring worlds and populate them with characters both sympathetic and heroic as well as ones who are irredeemably loathsome. Let them move through lives that are only somewhat guided by the art you create and enjoy where things go. Don’t let the goddamn what-ifs and why-nots, the feelings of doubt and failure, all of the shit that makes creative types like myself into their own worst enemies. It accomplishes no good, and only results in nights spent after long days at work only thinking of the things you’ve not accomplished. What you haven’t done or where you think you should be. All of this instead of celebrating where you are and what you’ve accomplished.

I say this as someone who won a book contract, which should be a big deal for me as a writer. I’ve been so busy worrying about never managing to create something that big again and dwelling on how people will perceive my book being published not based on its merit but because of a contest victory.

Screw that.

There’s a reason the saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” has endured the test of time. My schedule may be a bit all over the place, and I may question my merit as a writer a good deal. I don’t have a five year plan or a ten year plan. Hell, I don’t even have a particularly well-assembled one year plan. While I recognize such things as long-term planning are crucial to being a successful artist, I’m pretty sure there’s more than one way to handle them.

Most importantly, and veering a little bit back from the rather self-centric post we have here, I hope any artist who finds this gets enough of a boost to keep going if that’s what they need at the time.

Going back to my post about almost being to Pumpkin Spice Season/Hot Apple Cider Season – I need to just focus on finding time to create, not worrying about the outcome. Far easier said than done, especially when every fiber of my being is saying to just go to sleep. What’s the point in busting my ass at a 9 to 5 if I’m not going to find time and energy to do what I love most (hint: I’m talking about writing).

So I end with a challenge to anyone who reads this. Create, with or without a plan, but with all of your heart and soul. Make something you think is awesome, even if upon editing you decide it’s not the best thing ever. At the end of the day, you’ve still made something new that wasn’t in the world before that point, and that’s pretty fucking rad.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of down-time

Well-known fact: I have poor time-management skills for someone who works a 40+ hour a week job but also wants to become a relatively well-known writer. Or maybe it’s a little-known fact for some of you, in which case I’ll take a moment and appreciate my good fortune that not all of my readers readily identify me as a terrible, lazy slacker.

Let me ruin that for you. I came home from my first day back at work and napped, off and on, for about two hours. My body doesn’t always appreciate naps, but it seemed like a particularly necessary evil tonight for some reason. Probably because not being at work for eleven days and then returning after a day of furniture shopping makes for a rather tired person who can’t stop thinking “I need a vacation”. During my vacation, which had been filled with plans of creative time while Jason worked and potentially drunken shenanigans while we hung out, I accomplished far less than I had hoped to during my plotting of said vacation. My world-building for the still-unnamed novel project found some good points here and there, and a couple characters were really fleshed out more than I could have hoped. However, this was not nearly what I envisioned myself getting done.

I’m only somewhat okay with calling this more of a success than a failure, if only because failure seems to indicate there was absolutely no movement towards my goals (which included writing multiple short stories, sending them off for consideration, and accomplishing a great deal towards the page count of the previously mentioned novel project). I can’t, even in my magnificent self-loathing, call last week a complete failure, anyway.  Continue reading

Why Intervention matters

My Enabler t-shirt, which states I'm partially to blame for this (this being Intervention 2014).

My Enabler t-shirt, which states I’m partially to blame for this (this being Intervention 2014).

It’s certainly proving to be a rainy, dreary Saturday in Rockville, but that doesn’t seem to be doing anything to dampen Intervention-goer spirits. This is my fourth year attending Intervention, The Premiere Showcase of Online Creativity, out of its five years running, but it still feels like something very new and refreshing experience.

This morning, I attended Onezumi’s panel on marketing. I’m very bad at marketing, and have come to grips with that (and for anyone who needs evidence of these claims, I invite you to look at my inability to really use hashtags all that well). Like with many of the events at Intervention, I feel as though I got a lot more out of it than the short blurb provided in the events program.
Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Forty-One

This is my two-hundredth post on this WordPress. Let’s ignore that I took several month-long hiatuses, and that my posting is spotty at best, and focus on how awesome this sort of milestone is. The only major disappointment I have is that this isn’t also day forty-two of my One Hundred Days of Blogging. Oh well. I’ll just have to celebrate like a hitchhiker traveling the galaxy in tomorrow’s post.

Now I could very easily talk numbers about Misadventures In Fiction, but that would be a pretty short and sad post. And it would interfere with my vacation prep week posts. Can’t very well let that happen. Mostly because my viewing figures are actually on the same level as some reality TV shows, and that’s a little soul-deadening.

Quick update to the intro before I continue (I have methods to my madness and I don’t like deviating from them) – Apparently, as part of the contract I won through Cary Press, I’ll be having a book release party? So that’s mind-blowingly exciting stuff. I have no idea how to react right now other than “Oh wow, holy shit”. Probably the appropriate reaction, right? More details on this, and Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King‘s release, as possible. So exciting! Continue reading

This Week in Misadventures – A Self-Intervention

Oh, hey. It’s Sunday, which normally means it’s time for me to stumble through all of the writing, reading, and other nutty antics I’ve gotten into throughout the past week, highlighting both victories and failures alike. I enjoy those posts, because they were a start to me making sure I was regular (toilet humor goes here) with posting to Misadventures In Fiction while also making sure I kept up with my writing, reading, and…miscellaneous antics? Whatever. Continue reading

Shameless Saturday Shilling: the SciFi Valley Con edition

I feel like it’s been a bit too long since I’ve politely suggested, in the form of throwing links, checking out other great art by other terrific, creative people. After eight hours at work today, I rewarded myself with some time at Altoona’s very own Sci-Fi Valley Con. I’d really hoped to make it for even a little bit, if only to get my picture taken with a replica TARDIS, but I failed to think about the best part about cons like this.

The artists! I picked up a good few treasures today, and have plans to go again for a bit tomorrow. However, for the sake of sharing with those of you who can’t make it, here are some artists worth checking out.  No real order to these, by the way. The general rule of thumb for me: I was far more likely to check out a person’s work, and make a purchase, if they were friendly and engaging to the people passing by.

I didn’t warn these unfortunate, talented people I’d be shamelessly shilling their sites on here. I wasn’t paid for it, either. There were just too many awesome artists at Sci-Fi Valley Con, and I couldn’t help but share with you, my dear readers, because the only thing better than meeting indie artists is sharing them with other people (who, in turn, should buy from said artists).

I’ll update the list tomorrow once I obtain additional business cards. Continue reading

Accepting small failures, and moving on

Or “I’ll admit I’m not some sort of superhero, even if I’m an infallible, god-like being who knows no parallels.” As a related point of interest to this sub-title: when I claim to be infallible in front of my Grandma June, she typically responds by calling me a shithead. If that doesn’t merit sharing, I don’t know what does.

This goes back to my last post a little, and by a little I mean a good bit. I’m not sorry. It’s been a long, tiring day, and my internal clock is telling me to go to bed.

My creative process is far from complex, and will probably sound fairly familiar to some of you. There are days when I’ll manage to churn out pages upon pages of material. I won’t take breaks, not even for food or sleep. Sometimes, I end those days feeling immensely proud of the work I’ve done, and other times I’ll go to bed knowing I’ll spend a good deal of the next writing session pressing down the Backspace key. Regardless, those days are full of creativity, and so they make me undeniably happy. Continue reading

Shameless shilling, because comics and whatnot

Point of clarity: I have no affiliation with, nor any hand in the creation of, Zoophobia, so this is really just shameless shilling of the highest order, and I’m not even a little sorry. Also, I feel a bit disappointed I’ve skipped sub-titling my last couple posts, but can’t justify doing so for them. This ended up being a sort of sub-title anyway, so I guess the joke’s on me. Moving along…

I’m a sucker for fun comics. Something that has a lighter story, while still engaging the reader. Strong characters. Really, I could list different qualities for the duration of the post, but I think just saying “fun comics” gets the point across well enough.

Maybe it’s because I can’t draw to save my life (hello, inconsistent stick figures; I see you’re all looking very, er, something that isn’t really human), but I’m also hugely fond of almost every drawing style ever. I honestly just phrased it that way because I couldn’t deal with the fact I almost said “fun drawing styles”; this is why I’m not actually doing any serious business, sit-down-at-MS-Word-and-focus writing tonight, by the way (my brain’s too soupy).

The short of this is as follows: I just binge-read all of Zoophobia. That’s a link, obviously, and it merits visiting. So much visiting. It’s probably the reason I’m using the word “fun” so damn much, actually, because that’s precisely what it is. Page one onward is a beautifully drawn, highly entertaining adventure for the eyes. I can honestly say I had to set my laptop aside and walk away in frustration upon reaching the last page currently available, because I was genuinely disappointed I’d run out of comics to read (for now, anyway). There are some grammatical issues here and there (and if anyone involved in this magnificent comic sees this, I’m sorry but I had to at least nit-pick a little or I’d have ended up saying Zoophobia is perfect).

I don’t really think I could do this comic justice, description-wise, in my mush-brain state, so I strongly suggest checking it out. The art is beautiful, and the story is both engaging and entertaining. It’s like the comic equivalent of Netflix binging your favorite show; it’s amazing, and suddenly there’s that feeling of emptiness once you’ve run out of episodes.

PS: I’m so sorry I’m so bad at tags. Good god. Anyway, go check out Zoophobia! I even linked a second time so there’s no excuse to not give it a chance, obviously. Read it, enjoy it, and then spread the addiction, because it is brilliant, fun, fantastic stuff.

Reimagining the Bogeyman

Or “How I unintentionally transformed a villain whose sole purpose was to act as a plot device to something I think turned out pretty cool.”

Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean more often than I probably should, I create characters out of need to move the plot forward. Don’t give me that side-eyes look, now, because I’m sure it’s not an even remotely uncommon practice. I’m also, after a bit of fun personal experience, certain it can result in some pretty fun ideas. Continue reading

Check out this awesome talent

I recently asked Paul Kaspick, a college friend of mine who happens to be an extremely talented artist, if he would be willing to do some character sketches of some of the characters in Joshua’s Nightmares. It’s important to note that I have no drawing skills whatsoever, which is why I feel slightly guilty when I’m finnicky about that sort of thing. Which brings me to my point here.

Paul’s art is phenomenal. I feel like, in my moment of smugness, he could not only do my character justice, but he could exceed my expectations of how they would be drawn.

However, I suck at doing his work justice, and so I would like to direct you, dear readers, to his online portfolio/web site.

http://artvarkanimations.com/index.html

Check out his work. Contact him if you’d like. Send him large bags of money. In case you need additional persuasion, here’s one of the animations he’s worked on.