Tag Archives: Writing Theory

I Could Use Some Advice

Hey, all.

I could use some advice for writing career going forward.  If you could head on over to my author’s website and check out the latest post, maybe leave a comment, I would appreciate it.

 

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Filed under Links, Writing Theory

What I Wouldn’t Give…

“Anything lost can be found again, except time.  Just like every other creative person I know, I have ten thousand projects that I want to do and only one lifetime to do them in.  I constantly have to remind myself of what’s really important and what I really should be concentrating on.”
–    Joseph Michael Linsner

As you might expect, I haven’t exactly been idle in the two months since I last posted on this blog.  The problem is that I haven’t exactly been productive, either.  It’s not that I haven’t been writing; it’s that I’ve been working on side projects, on the theory that, with the development of the website unavoidably delayed (once again I curse you, technical problem that was really just a misunderstanding on my part, and all the time lost as a result!), this was the time to get them done.

I still thought I could do all ten thousand projects in one lifetime.  The universe had been trying to tell me for some time that I can’t.  I’d found the poem “You Want a Social Life, With Friends” by Kenneth Koch taped up on an English professor’s door; a Facebook friend posted a quote by Steve Jobs about how focus isn’t about saying “yes” to one good idea, it means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas you had at the same time.

And still I tried to deny that it applied to me.  Still I wanted to do the ten thousand things.

Then this past week hit me with a one-two-three combo.  First, I saw this trailer:

If you haven’t seen American Pop, I thoroughly recommend it.  It is indeed a movie of beauty and power, but if I have one complaint, it’s that it’s not nearly as musical as the trailer makes it seem.

Anyway, seeing that trailer, I began to ask myself: were the projects I was working on actually helping me to “grab it, hold it, and make [myself] heard”, or even work toward it?  Oh, they were great fun, but that was actually part of the problem.  Because last Friday, the second punch of the combo hit me: I took a look at those projects, and realized just how much I’d accomplished on those projects in the past two months.  I’d actually done a lot of work.  My new habits of setting a three-page-a-day goal for myself and focusing on one project, instead of having half-a-dozen documents open at a time, were paying off.

And they weren’t contributing to the career I’m trying to build.  I’d spent a lot of time, energy and pages on those projects, and they were not going to help me grab it, hold it, and make myself heard.

Then, on Saturday, I was reading an art book of Joseph Michael Linsner’s works, and I saw the quote at the top of this post.  And that was enough.  Anticlimactic but true.

I went out for a walk after that, a long walk, and I started thinking: I’ve often looked at people who are successful in their art and thought “what I wouldn’t give”.  But what have I given?  Anything?  Oh, I’ve given the time and the work, but that’s not even worth considering.  Like Benny says in the trailer, this isn’t work.  This is play.  I’ve got a full and busy life, and that’s good, but it means that I require a lot of focus to get any meaningful writing done.  I don’t have time to waste, if I ever really did.

How can I say “What I wouldn’t give” if I won’t even sacrifice some fun but distracting side projects?

So that’s what I’ve done.  One of them is probably gone for good, while the other – a tabletop roleplaying game that I would very much like to finish if only so I can play it – I hope to get back out again someday.  I’m a little sad about it, but someone wise once said that a good writer must be willing to kill their darlings, and it’s time for me to realize that that’s what I need to do.

 

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Filed under Inspirations, My Life, Writing Theory

Where I’ve Been

Hey, all.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Since Thanksgiving.  And I see I still have some readers.  I’m honored, I really am.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, well…I’ve been working and writing as usual…and I’ve been thinking very hard about this article by Jane Friedman.  I’ve explored the rest of her site a bit, but it all comes back to that article.

What I’ve decided, after all that thought, is that I’ve been going about all of this the wrong way.

When I started Dreams of the Shining Horizon, my primary goal was to gain a wider audience for my writing.  I had a lot of other things to say – things I’d been waiting to say for years, in some cases – but ultimately, the goal was to get the word out about my fiction.  I was inspired by people I knew, and knew of, who had started out by blogging and ended up publishing.

What I didn’t understand was that I had it backwards.  Those people had started with a passion, and a desire to share it.  They would have been satisfied to blog indefinitely, but they managed to build a body of material and an audience that allowed them to publish.  Me, I had a body of material, and I wanted to build an audience, and it seems that there’s a different path for people like me – a different set of steps.  And I believe it’s time I started following those steps.

(Long past time, really.  That article may only be a few months old, but I’m sure that articles like it have been circulating for years.  And of course, some of it should have been common sense.  I mean, I’m trying to build an audience, but the name of my blog doesn’t even reference my brand?)

What all this amounts to is that change is coming.

I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to launch matthewkeville.com with the New Year, like I might have hoped.  There are some issues with the domain registration that I need to resolve first, then of course I need to build the actual site.  In the end, rough estimate, I could be looking at maybe March.

(For the record, if you want to follow Jane Friedman’s instructions yourself, and you choose Bluehost as I did, get your account there as your first step.  They are also a domain name registrar, and you can register the domain name for your Author’s Website through them, and not have to transfer it from another registrar like I’m going to need to do.)

I have at least two more major posts to go at this blog – two more things to say – but once matthewkeville.com goes up (I’ll definitely let you know when), I’ll be shifting operations over there.  I hope most of you will follow me when I go.  I won’t be starting entirely from scratch: I’ll be reposting my reviews, my writing theory posts, my autobiographical posts, and anything else that seems relevant to authoring, so there will be plenty to read right from the get-go.

Oh.  Something else that will be changing: the way I’m marketing my writing.  I’ve cancelled the auto-renewal on the KDP Select membership for Hometown and The Truth of Rock and Roll.  Once the current period of enrollment ends, I’ll be putting them back up on Smashwords (and all associated websites), plus maybe one or two more.  I had to try it, but the benefits of the KDP Select program – and there were some, make no mistake – didn’t outweigh losing other channels of distribution.

At the same time, I’ll be taking all of my short stories down.  There have been some sales, but on the whole, putting them up piecemeal, one at a time, hasn’t done anyone any good.  Instead, I’ll publish them in collections once I get together enough on a particular theme.  That way, I’ll be able to provide them with real cover art, instead of pictures downloaded from Shutterstock, and people will be able to read more in the downloadable samples than the title page (seriously, this is something else I should have seen before.  A 10% sample of a 7-page story is not enough to get a good idea what the story is about!).  I may post new short stories in the blog section of matthewkeville.com before I put them into the collections.  I’m not sure yet how I’m going to handle that.

I don’t know if you can tell, but as much as I’m excited and hopeful about all this, I’m also a bit frustrated and tired.  I know it’s a serious character flaw, but even if everything works out exactly the way I hope it will – and I know just how slim the chances for that really are – I’m not the sort of person who can look at my mistakes, shrug, and say “Welp, it got me where I am today.  I have no regrets.”  I do regret.  I count every mistake and wrong path as time gone from a finite lifetime.

Still.  It’s New Year’s Eve.  I will curse the lost time and cast myself into the future.

We’re down to the last few hours.  Let’s watch it burn, and hope something better rises from the ashes.  Happy New Year to you all.

 

 

 

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Filed under Links, My Life, Writing Theory

Long Week

Hey, all.

I know I haven’t produced much material this week (and boy, do my readership numbers show it).  It’s just been busy at my day job, on top of which not one but two attempted columns fell apart on me.  Just stick with me, I’ll see if I can’t get you something to read next week.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to realize that I don’t have the aptitude for self-promotion that it takes to be a really successful indie author (or blogger for that matter).  It may be time for me to seek representation.  I’ll let y’all know about any developments on that front.

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Filed under My Life, Writing Theory

What’s Happening And What’s Coming Up

Okay.

So this is going to be the first of the “Process of Creation” posts I discussed in my “A Few Changes” post that I put up a couple weeks ago. I don’t have a real plan here, so I thought the best way to start might be to just discuss the things I’m working on, and the things I’m planning for the future.

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Filed under My Life, Writing Theory

A Few Changes

Hey, all.

As the title says, I think it’s about time for a few changes around here. Nothing major. First of all, you may notice that the sidebar is a lot less cluttered now, and you don’t have to scroll halfway down the Internet to reach the navigation tools. Listing all of my short story releases on the sidebar was a good idea when there were only two or three of them. Now that there’s a dozen or so, only the most recent will be listed with Hometown and The Truth of Rock and Roll. Don’t worry, they’ll all still be there in the Bookstore.

Second, you may have noticed that I’ve switched out the “Links” page for an “Awards” page. Granted, I’ve only received one so far, but if someone out there likes me, really really likes me, I’m proud to share.  I can re-create the “Links” page later if I need to direct y’all to a page that I can’t just follow like a blog.

The last change isn’t definite yet, but it’s something I’m considering, and I’d like to get some feedback from y’all if I could.  Part of the reason I go so long between fiction posts is because I’m working on a number of projects at once.  I suppose I should learn to get a handle on that.  It’s the curse of the creative person to have more planned projects than can fit into a single lifetime, and if I keep trying to do them all, I’ll never get any of them done.  But that’s for the future.  A New Year’s resolution, perhaps.  In the meantime, one of those projects is a tabletop roleplaying horror game that I’m designing – it’s called Midnight Theatre (at least for the moment), and the original idea was that it would get its own blog.  But then, why start all over if I don’t have to?  This game is something that will be finished, if only because I want to play it some day.  With that in mind, if I began posting sections here, would y’all read them?

Similarly, I’ve noticed that a number of fiction bloggers will post ideas, previews, excerpts and discussions of the writing process as well as finished products (cartoonists might post sketches).  Would that also be something worth considering?

Let me know what you think.

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The Reality of Fantasy – Recommended Videos #2

About a month ago, I put up a post on “The Reality of Fantasy”, featuring videos by the redoubtable Skallagrim, where he shared with us his knowledge of medieval arms and armor, along with his assessment of which arms and armor from our favorite fantasy media are viable, and which…really, really aren’t.

I meant to follow up on that post much sooner, but life interfered, as life will do.  Still, we’re here now, and I have a whole new set of entertaining and educational videos to share with you.

The Youtube scholar we’ll be viewing today is the erudite Lindybeige.  Where Skallagrim is a weapons enthusiast, Lloyd is a historian, archaeologist and historical re-enactor.  This means that while he certainly does know a great deal about weapons and armor, he can also comment on things like what pre-modern wars actually involved:

Aspects of battle that we usually don’t think about:

Things that we’ve probably been imagining wrong for a long time:

(Including some that we’ll probably want to keep imagining wrong because honestly, the misconception is so much more awesome than the truth.)

And of course, the simple, humble things that we take completely for granted today.  Things we don’t even think about, but which could make a universe of difference in terms of verisimilitude in your writing:

Funny, isn’t it?  You never picture Arthur or Aragorn or Sturm Brightblade or Sparhawk pausing in the middle of battle to take a swig from their waterskin, do you?  It’s almost like we forget pre-modern people had the same needs we do.  Honestly, there’s no excuse for it, considering that there is a very famous poem on this very subject.

Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?  Not to mention a recipe for Trench Foot.  So grateful for my modern boots right now.

I must confess, I never thought of it that way.  It’s funny what little, overlooked things make civilization possible.

Oh.  And yeah, like Skallagrim, Lloyd tells us which fantasy weapons and strategies are viable, and which…really, really aren’t:

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Links, Writing Theory