I posted previously that writing is sacrifice. And I posted on Facebook about how workshops, crit groups and writer friends can make the struggle less difficult. I realized I might sound like I think writing is all pain and hardship, when the truth is quite the opposite.
In truth, writing is mostly joy (and life) to me. Yes, there are sacrifices, but I don’t really notice them most times. Yes, it can be hard and sometimes frustrating work with ups and downs and moments of self-doubt and disappointment, but most anything really worth doing is, and the pros far outweigh the cons in my mind.
So I thought I’d throw together a quick pro/con list to better show both sides. And yes, this list is far from comprehensive, and there are writers for whom one or more cons have never been a con due to their successes or publishing method etcetera. But I think this is a decent “at a glance” summary that holds true for most writers.
Writing is sacrifice, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
And no, I don’t just mean sacrificing the odd goat to the Goddess of Inspiration (though if you do, also be prepared to sacrifice hours getting those stains out. Lesson learned!)
Nor do I just mean spending a little less time on gaming or Netflix bingeing, though that may also be required.
True, every writer’s writing method and path to publication differs. And every writer’s life circumstance is different. But even if you are blessed to have retired, or be independently wealthy, or have someone supporting you financially, there are still sacrifices to be made.
And sometimes, these sacrifices are ones we don’t like to admit or talk about.
Let’s talk for a second about dreams, and passions, and the need for art that provokes speculative thinking and deep Feels — and the insane masochistic lives of the writers driven to provide that.
There are a lot of folks out there working hard to create for us the stories that we deeply crave and need, even when we don’t realize we crave or need them. Stories that take use into fantastical worlds to escape our Darkest Timeline for a while. Stories that explore social, psychological, political and technological problems and stimulate our thinky organs and inspire future solutions. Stories that fill us with the Feels and help us to explore experiences unlike our own.
This act of creation is hard work. And lonely work. And often masochistic and depressing and ego-shredding work, because like all art it requires a lot of time and effort to become good at and then there is still no guarantee that anyone will appreciate or pay for it. Writing, like so many professional arts, is facing constant rejection and not quitting.
Each hour spent writing is glorious agony, and the difficult resistance of a thousand tempting distractions.
Each story completed is a big middle finger to screaming self-doubt and the whispers of futility that haunt them as they write.
These folks continue to write despite the sacrifice and rejection and doubts because it is their passion. They themselves have sought escape and inspiration and growth in the works of others, and were so deeply affected by the experience that they wish to do the same for us, to participate more fully in the genres and the artforms that have given to them, and in doing so they give of themselves to you.
There are many ways you can give back and help a writer get through the struggles and doubts and hours of staring alone at words on a screen. Send them a quick message saying you admire their passion and believe in them. If you have read something of theirs and enjoyed it, let them know, and certainly let others know through word of mouth, posts, and reviews.
And right now, you can also let one group of emerging authors know you support them and their art by donating to Clarion West in their name. Clarion West is a workshop for up-and-coming genre writers, with a mission to support diversity in voices and content.
It is a huge sacrifice for many of these authors to attend the workshop. Some travel from far away. All must be apart from their loved ones and their source of income for six weeks in order to go “all in” on their dream of being a writer. Donating to the workshop helps provide scholarships to these, your future favorite authors, among other things.
If you’re thinking of donating $20, feel free to spread it around between a few of them. Donating $5 in a writer’s name to the Clarion West write-a-thon may seem like a small thing, but you would be surprised at how much it means to the writer that you showed belief not only in this workshop, but in them.
I see “Yes, and” in the reactions to the Wonder Woman movie like the Bazaar piece, and I find that as inspiring as the movie itself. Because how we talk about issues even in a Wonder Woman movie has implications and impacts that go way beyond this one movie.
What will help you reach the next level as a writer? What is that thing you can’t quite put your finger on that would take your stories to the next level? Come to my workshop on May 21 and I will walk through the stages I see most writers grow through, from beginning writer to published pro, and some of the common challenges and lessons found at each stage. The workshop will include handouts and a number of exercises. No matter where you are at in your writer’s journey, the goal is for you to walk away with a clear idea of what you can do to “level up” as a writer.
There are limited seats available, so sign up now!
Black Mirror: San Junipero hit all of my (and Finn’s) sweet spots!
I think part of the positive reactions might be due to the fact that Black Mirror is pretty consistently bleak, but reality right now is practically a Black Mirror episode, so an episode that was (possibly) hopeful was such a nice gift.
And yes, the concept’s been well covered, so I understand why some may feel that viewer’s reactions to that concept are overblown, but many viewers may not be deeply read in scifi, so their “mind blown” reactions are understandable and a perfectly good thing.
I am fine if people discover, say, robots through Star Trek or Westworld without going back to read Asimov first (or at all) if Asimov doesn’t appeal to them (and no I’m not saying San Junipero is about robots).
We each have limited time to read and consume media, I don’t think it makes someone less of a genre fan or their love of or reaction to something less valid if they only have experience with recently produced media and not the foundational classics or the past century of fiction.
Yes, knowing the whole history of robot fiction might enrich one’s experience of a new robot story — or at least allow one say clever literary things like “this story was in dialogue with the works of Obscure Author, exploring the metaphor of so and so.”
But it also might not. And in the end, I love the possible conversations a story like this might spark among a group of friends around a table (in between Instagramming whatever artisanal fare they are eating, of course).
I have run fast enough from the theater in the future to break the time barrier and return here to give you my review of the movie.
There was a lot about the JLA movie that was sheer awesome! A lot of cool, snapshot poses, a lot of awesome uses of superpowers.
But by the end I felt disappointed, and even a bit bored.
The first problem was the character intros.
As expected, we spend a good chunk of the movie meeting the new heroes, and getting bits of their backstory. Flash. Aquaman. Cyborg. This was the first big challenge of the movie, to make us care about these characters, so that later when they are fighting and in danger, we actually care whether or not they win, whether or not they are hurt. Care whether or not they achieve some kind of happiness, or peace, as a result of the choices and changes they make through the course of the movie.
But we simply did not get enough time with each character to feel connected to them, to care. I rooted for the Flash just because he was funny and likeable. But what Pixar did in five minutes at the beginning of Up, JLA did not manage to do in the roughly ten minutes of character establishment per character.
Even Batman did not move me much, because we haven’t really spent much time with Affleck’s Batman except in his ragey conflict with Superman, so all his pain and the tragic experiences of his past that would make forming a team and being responsible for others a fear to overcome for him (e.g. the loss of a Robin to the Joker) has not really been established here.
Wonder Woman, at least, we understand a little after her LONG overdue solo movie. Which is probably one reason she was the most relatable hero beside Flash.
Heroes aside, though, I think the biggest problem was the enemy.
Steppenwolf and his MacGuffincubes
Basically, our heroes did not have an interesting villain with goals and motivations that we could relate to on some level. I never felt the villain had personal stakes that I cared about yet knew would be bad for our world and our heroes. Instead, we had a CGI Alien Armor Big Bad who wants some evil boxes, and a bunch of CGI aliens and robots to help him get them, and that would be bad. Because it is bad.
Yes, the battle scenes were epic and full of superpowered awesome. But I never felt that Steppenwolf forced a hero to confront their deepest fear or flaw and overcome it. I never felt that Steppenwolf presented a personal challenge to any of the heroes, that he was the worst possible enemy the hero could have had to face at this time because of what they had been through, or what they were struggling with.
Steppenwolf is a master strategist, yet I never really felt there was a clever cat and mouse game going on between him and Batman that made Batman question his own brilliance or ability or willingness to lead others into danger and death. Steppenwolf never really made me feel he had pushed Batman to the edge and the Bats might lose it if anyone died on his watch. They just were racing each other to get the boxes, a simple set of escalating challenges.
Steppenwolf is a badass, but I never felt that in his conflict with Wonder Woman or Aquaman that any of them were forced to question their own strength, the responsibility or consequences of strength, or who they were without it.
Part of the reason the Avengers worked well by comparison is that they faced off against Loki, a villain we had come to know already, a person filled with pain and anger and tragic, twisted need that drove him, a guy who really just wanted to be loved above all others (is that so wrong?). And because Loki played on each hero’s insecurities and flaws and fears, and turned friend against friend. Likewise, in Civil War, the enemy plays the heroes own flaws and pain against each other, turning friend against friend. And in Avengers 2, Scarlet Witch does something similar.
Steppenwolf did not really achieve that. He was not an enemy of the Justice League, of the heroes individually or as a team. He was just big badass enemy, a threat.
And as demonstrated by the Phantom Menace, simply destroying an army of enemy robots in an epic battle can in fact be extremely boring.
Finally, I understood why of course they had to keep Superman out of it for most of the movie, for much the same reason that Hulk wasn’t in Civil War (he would have just smashed anyone on the opposing team, etc). But his moping/angst over the events in Batman vs Superman was a bit of a lame reason for the delay.
In summary, I of course went and saw this movie, and overall it was a fun popcorn flick. How could I not go to see the JLA on the big screen? Not to mention Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot kicking ass and looking hot doing it. But if you are going to have all the grimdark and Pew Pew, you need to balance it with a tad more humor, and a lot more heart, than JLA delivered.
Finn Gramaraye is back in the third installment of Randy Henderson’s Familia Arcana series, which began in Finn Fancy Necromancy, and Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free.
Finn’s re-adaptation to the human world is not going so well. He’s got a great girlfriend, and is figuring out how things like the internet work, but he is still carrying the disembodied personality of Alynon, Prince of the Silver Demesne, the fae who had occupied his body during his imprisonment. And he’s not getting along at all with his older brother. And oh, by the way, an enemy from his past is still trying to possess him in order to bring about Armageddon.
In this sequel to Randy Henderson's acclaimed debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, Randy Henderson spins another tale full of adventure, magic, and laughs, exploring in more depth the magical world and characters introduced in the first book. More info →
“… it’s an urban fantasy, one that takes place in and around present-day Seattle. But even though it deals with sinister magic and family tragedy, it counterbalances that darkness with something that’s become increasingly rare in fantasy fiction: laughs, laughs, and more laughs.” -- NPR More info →