The Fictorians

Posts Tagged ‘writing life’

A Life of Passion

24 February 2015 | Comments Off | Frank Morin

Life of PassionWho do you love?

What do you love?

Everyone needs a little passion.

The interesting people in story, and in life, are those who embrace what they love with passion. It might be a spouse, family, work, or hobbies. We love people who are excited about what they do or who they are. We respond to passion. Easy example is when people tell us about a recent book or movie that we haven’t read or seen yet.

If they say, “It was all right.” No matter what our previous anticipation level might have been, it now falls a notch.

What if they say, “It was awesome! I’m going to camp out at the movie theater right now and wait until it opens tomorrow so I can see it again”? We can’t help but absorb a little of that passion. It’s contagious and exhilarating.

People do need to find balance in their life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still feel passion for each component that makes up who they are and what they do. They just can’t let that passion lead to excess and stupid decisions.

One of the most tragic things we see in literature and in life are people who won’t follow their passion. They won’t ask the girl on a date, won’t apply for their dream job, won’t take a chance and LIVE their lives. Thankfully, this character flaw is seen most often only at the beginning of a story to highlight a hero’s dramatic character arc.

A great example is Walter Mitty in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Here’s a guy who has buried his passionsWalter Mitty so deep, he has to escape life in lengthy ‘zoned out’ moments where he dreams of doing great things. He has shackled himself to a boring job and refused to live, even though he dreams of it. The story is beautifully told, includes breathtaking scenery, and excellent music as Walter begins to break out of the repressed life he’s lived for so long and embarks on an amazing adventure that changes everything. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

In real life, it can be hard sometimes to chase our dreams, to live passionately. Are we Walter Middy before or after the moment where he decides to live?

How many times do we hear someone say, “I’d love to do that!” Only to then banish the thought and turn away. If it’s not illegal or immoral or likely to prove fatal, maybe they should reconsider.

Are you holding back, suppressing your passion?

Fear of failure is often the cause. Sure, we might fail, but at least fail while trying. Failure is a way to learn so much, but society has made failure taboo. The problem is, life is full of failures. Why not fail while doing something we’re passionate about instead of failing at life because we lack the courage to try? Here’s what a few famous people had to say about failure:

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” (Michael Jordan)

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” (Bill Gates)

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” (Thomas Edison)

We don’t like stories of cowards, of those too repressed or afraid or timid to live. Usually in stories, cowards are either killed or, if they’re a main character, their initial cowardice is overcome as they rise to become a hero. There’s a good reason for that. Readers don’t buy stories that lack progression.

Not surprisingly, it was hard to find great examples of characters terminally afraid to live their lives, afraid to embrace their passions.

One example that came to mind for me is Pierre Gringoire, the struggling playwright in The Hunchback of Notre Dame who is saved by Esmeralda, but lacks the courage to do anything productive. He is about as completely useless a character as any I’ve ever read. I’ve hated him since I was first forced to read this dark, depressing book as a kid. Pierre refuses to fight for the beautiful woman who saved his life, refuses to fight for anything useful, and eventually slips away from all conflict, taking along Esmeralda’s pet goat, Djali, the only creature who seems capable of dealing with his pitiful life.

So be Walter, not Pierre, and embrace your passions.

What are you waiting for?

Love it. Do it.

25 December 2014 | 1 Comment » | Frank Morin

Do What you loveMerry Christmas!

This is my favorite time of year. I love Christmas and everything it stands for. It is a time of good cheer, family, and giving, regardless of religious belief. I am religious, so I celebrate that part too.

It struck me this week that Santa represents one of the best examples of someone making a crazy career choice and turning it into a successful, long-term enterprise. Many people regard writers in the same not-quite-connected-to-reality category as Santa Clause. And when we first start out, it can be hard to see past the detractors and the naysayers and keep pursuing a passion that has absolutely no promise of producing any financial return.

I’m a perfect case in point. I’ve been writing for almost ten years, and my expense-to-income ratio so far is so lopsided, it’s laughable. And yet here I am, still writing.

I love it.

I love stories. I love consuming them in every form, and I love creating them. Not only do I love to write, but I’ve set ever-challenging goals to drive myself along this writing path. It may be a long road, but it’s a road I’m happy to travel.

I’m not the only one who believes that working at what we love is the best possible work choice.

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Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

~Ray Bradbury

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There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.

~Wayne Dyer

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If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.

~Billy Joel

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2014 was a banner year for me. I set extremely high goals, and succeeded at many of them. But what really made the year was that I managed to work more hours writing than I did at my consulting job. I’ve been working toward this milestone for years, but I reached it almost without noticing. I was so busy writing and doing, that I didn’t pause to reflect until I had already made the shift in my schedule.

The purely pragmatic side of me admits to nervousness as I allow my consulting business to trend downward to make more room in my life for writing. My computer work is still how I pay the bills and support my family, and it’s a job I really enjoy. However, I LOVE storytelling. Despite long success in computer-related fields, I made the choice to move toward writing as a full-time career. It’s taken a very long time to get to this point, but to me it’s worth the effort.

Loving this work means I Work at it. This year, I completed three new novels (I set the goal to complete four), along with a lot of other work, including a frantic juggling act preparing novels for a fast-approaching publishing blitz.

2015 will be even bigger. Eight novels published in eight months is the goal, and I’m doing everything in my power to reach it.

I love writing.

So I’ll work harder at this job than any other.

Do what you love. Commit to it and let nothing stop you or convince you that you can’t.

It may take a while, but the time’s going to pass anyway. Why not use it working toward a goal that means something to you?

Who Stole the Goal Posts?

2 December 2014 | Comments Off | Ace Jordyn

THEY say, “Goals are not set in stone; goal posts can move; better to have a goal and fail then to not have one and achieve nothing at all.” But THEY never said, “Sometimes the goal posts disappear and you’re out of the game!”

So imagine my surprise when my goals to complete a novel, and revise another and research a third disappeared. I was devastated. All my energy was required to heal a broken ankle compounded with a severe sprain. Ten weeks in a cast, three extra months to learn to walk and the energy drain exacerbated my chronic fatigue. Zheesh! “This is a great opportunity to write,” THEY said. But the energy drain left little for creativity and critical thinking. So now what?

I didn’t fight it. Not one bit. Frustration and anxiety bear no fruit. Putting words down for the sake of it and then trying to revise nonsense later made no sense either. Searching for stolen goal posts was counterproductive. So I went on a holiday! To New York, Iraq, and other cool places on this world and others. Even outer space! Yes, I read books and short stories and loved every minute of it.

Isn’t that why we write? So that others will enjoy the tales we tell, become immersed in the worlds we create and form relationships with the characters we give voice to? I threw away the critic’s hat, no learning the craft for me and I went on a holiday of pure literary pleasure!

Somewhere along the way I made notes for the novel in progress. When I felt more rested and energetic, I proceeded to revise another. And now I’m back – revising. creating. blogging and yes, still reading.

Being forced to fail, which is what a health complication can bring, brought me balance and new joy in the world of words. And for that, I’m grateful and I’m on a permanent working holiday now.

So, I practice my three R’s of the craft – Read to learn, wRite, and most importantly, I Read to enjoy!

Happy reading and writing!

Don’t Break Your Promises

26 November 2014 | 1 Comment » | Frank Morin

Break PromisesAs authors, we make lots of promises to our readers. What genre is this book? Is it going to be a fast-paced adventure or a slow, character-focused drama? Is it funny, horrific, or simply entertaining? We set the tone in the opening of the book and the reader picks up on those hints and sets certain expectations for what to expect.

Betraying those expectations shatters a reader’s bond with a story and leaves an angry residue, no matter how good other aspects of the story might have been. This happens both in books and in movies. Sometimes false expectations are set in movie trailers or book jackets as a marketing ploy to suck in a wider audience, but any short-term gains will be lost in the long run as people realize the trick.

One movie that did this to me was Cowboys vs Aliens. The trailer made it look like an action comedy and I entered the theater with that expectation. Some parts of the story were well done, but I kept waiting for the punchline that never came. It wasn’t an action comedy. It was more like an action horror movie. Despite some quality acting and a halfway decent plotline, I left the theater feeling betrayed.

Another movie tried the same ploy. The trailer showed a hilarious scene that made it clear, this movie was a comedy. It wasn’t. It was a terrible flick with no redeeming qualities. Unlike some of those dumb comedies I remember fondly only because they made me laugh, this one was just dumb. Another betrayal.

Books are worse though, because we invest so much more time in them. A couple examples jump to mind. One novel, by a well-known author, started as a very interesting fantasy adventure with high stakes and a hero in deep trouble. I read on, drawn by the intrigue of how this hero could ever escape the predicament. I was looking forward to being amazed by the character’s wit and cleverness in escaping certain death.

What a huge disappointment when the climactic showdown resolve itself without any of that. The ‘magic’ saved them, the same magic that had been blocked in a thoroughly explained way that prevented it from coming to the rescue. The lame excuse offered by the author was that the hero just figured it out and boom – the magic solved all their issues.

I’m a fan of great magic systems. I read and write all types of fantasy, so magic is an integral part of many stories I love. But this was a cop-out, a deception, a betrayal of the contract the author made with me as a reader. Since then, I only ever started one other book by that author. In that one too, I picked up on a different deception. I put that book down unfinished, and that author lost me as a reader forever.

Is that harsh? Maybe. But it’s reality.

When we set expectations, we have to fulfill them. We can’t take the easy way out. If we set up our heroes with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we’d better have an equally awesome solution. The hero has to figure it out, often in a split-second flash of understanding as they put all the pieces together we’ve worked into the script. We have as long as we need to figure it out and craft that moment so that readers exclaim in wonder at the hero’s creativity and then think, “Yeah, I can see how they figured that out, but that’s clever. I get it now.”

If we can do that, we’ve got a winner and readers will come back to us again and again.

Because they know they can trust us to entertain.

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