The Fictorians

Posts Tagged ‘writing life’

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.

Juggling Personal and Professional Lives – Never Drop the Ball

20 October 2014 | Comments Off | Nathan Barra

A year has passed since I wrote my post on how we spend our time being a value statement, but I still find that my time is my most precious resource. By the necessity of my choices, I have become very skilled a juggling large workloads. Between extraordinarily long professional workweeks, maintaining my personal relationships, and the every day effluvia of keeping food on my table and a roof over my head, I somehow find the time to regularly blog and write fiction. It is a juggling act that I suspect that many aspiring writers will empathize with.

However, some of those balls, those commitments, have come disturbingly close to hitting the ground recently. I was able to recover, but as I grow older, the number and weight of my obligations grows ever larger. I fear that one day I will accidentally and irrecoverably sacrifice something important to me to feed my ambitions.

I have been pondering this possibility a great deal recently, as both my personal and professional lives gain momentum. For me, personal and professional progress is both exhilarating and terrifying. You see, once you start getting what you want, you have something to lose. As we chase accomplishment, we often put on blinders to what else is important in our lives. As an example, I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner with an extremely successful author in her field at a convention I recently attended. During the meal, one of the diners asked the author what her greatest professional regret was. I can still remember the broken sound of her voice as she told our group that she was afraid that her daughter would never forgive her for the years she spent locked in her office.

Despite the trepidation that such examples inspire, I am unwilling to give up my writing and my dreams of professional authorship. After all, in biological terms, the fear response serves to both identify potential hazards and prepare us to face them. If I want to accomplish my personal and professional goals, I must use my fear, not be ruled by it. My unease reminds me that I have things that I value outside of my accomplishments, and in so doing, allows me to keep my other priorities in focus. I must choose what I sacrifice, not let circumstances decide for me. As an example, for the past couple of years, I have rarely played video games or watched television. By cutting out these activities, I have made more room in my schedule for writing. I have talked to many authors who have done the same thing. Compared to the rest of my life, that particular sacrifice was well worth the cost.

Throughout my life, I have found that accomplishment is almost always paired with sacrifice. It is up to me live deliberately and choose how I spend my time wisely so that I may both achieve my goals and retain what is important to me. To live is to risk pain. To fear is to be aware of that risk and to manage it appropriately.

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