A very good post today from Mark Evanier on the dangers of getting too attached to work that isn’t yours. This also got me thinking about my own relationship with fan fiction.
When I was younger I did a lot of fan fiction writing. Not the only thing of course, but it was definitely a stepping stone in my process of becoming a better writer. There is some ease in taking characters that aren’t yours and making them into something that is and putting them through their paces, seeing how they react to situations you come up with. I’m not going to say that fan fiction isn’t real writing, because of course it is.
All my fan fiction was done before the Internet was a big thing, so few people ever saw or read it besides myself. Maybe things would have been different if I’d had a wider audience, or maybe not. My fanfic of choice was Star Trek, and I even had some books of collected stories from Trek magazine. Probably still do.
To me, fan fiction of any stripe lets you be creative with a safety net. You already know these people (or think you do). Sure, you can Mary Sue the heck out of someone (and the term itself comes from Star Trek fan fiction), but you don’t become a good writer if you don’t write a lot of bad stuff along the way. But fanfic lets you write something in a familiar universe and explore it in a way you might not otherwise be able to, and that’s an important part of being creative.
This is something that was running around the internet a lot yesterday, but something I’m definitely struggling with of late:
One common thread in many of these is letting yourself be distracted. I know for me, sometimes, I find my best ideas come in the shower. Another one seems to be getting up and going somewhere, whether it’s a walk or Tibet. I think I might just take a walk today, I do spend too much time in the house
This is pretty much totally where I am right now with this blog:
It’s been WAAAAAY too long since I updated anything. No real good reason, other then maybe I’m not writing as much. I mean yes, I’ve started school, but truthfully that shouldn’t be getting in my way. Maybe I should to look at “War of Art” again. Or maybe I should quit putting it off and just do what I’ve already committed myself to do. Resistance is only as strong as I let it be.
Today, this morning, I’ll write something. Doesn’t matter if it’s a lousy chapter or a pathetic excuse for a short story. My Muse needs the exercise. I will be back here on Monday telling how it went.
First off, yes I freely admit I’ve been slacky on updating this blog. No good reason for it either. So I apologize and will attempt to get back to my regular schedule. I am, however, also starting college next week, so if I am slow, that may be the reason, but I’m going to try anyway.
That said, today I wanted to share a link via Lifehacker: Musician Ryan Adams’ Success Secret.
The article talks about Ryan Adams and his approach to being a musician and a songwriter. Ultimately, it’s simple: he’s being paid to write and record songs, so he writes a couple songs a week. Nothing earth shattering, but truly simple. To quote the article:
“It implies that if you don’t take the simple action, then you cease to be. A song writer who doesn’t write songs ceases to be a song writer. An author who doesn’t write ceases to be an author. A non-smoker who doesn’t keep cigarettes out of his mouth ceases to be a non-smoker.”
Most of us have busy lives and a thousand other things we need to do, or even, we’d rather be doing. Lately I’ve really been learning the value of the fifteen minute timer. There are plenty of busy people who steal hours late in the night to do that thing they truly love doing. Even if sometimes they hate it.
So, I’m sure I can find fifteen minutes somewhere to pull together a decent blog entry a few times a week. Just like I make sure I write every day, even if it’s something I think is worthless, at least I’m giving my muse it’s daily workout. Writing is not about the flash of inspiration, though when it happens, it’s nice. Writing is about being consistent. About sitting down and filling up a page, then the next one, then the one after that. Even if you never see your name on the spine of a book, by doing, you succeed.
Randy Pausch died a few days ago. I admit I’d never heard of him, or this lecture, until then, but really, you should watch it. It runs about an hour and fifteen minutes. Fantastic, powerful stuff.
I almost forgot to post today. Woops. Well, read this article. Kurt Vonnegut was a brilliant man:
July 9, 2008 | 1 Comment
Saw this posted on Lifehacker.com today:
Anyone whose creative and struggling with it should really watch this. He talks most about that gap between knowing what you want to achieve and being able to achieve it. And how yes, it can take years, but you just have to keep trying. Only this is Ira Glass, so he explains it much better then me.
Times of great failure or times of great success, the problem is the same (how do you keep going?) and the solution is the same: You write the next thing.
That quote is from his yesterdays blog and a question about motivation. I couldn’t agree more. Inertia effects everything; especially the creative arts. I’m sitting here right now with at least two stories I could be working on, maybe even should, plus I still have to go back and edit the last novel. And I am writing, a bit, but I’m ignoring the urge to really have at anything, to really let myself get lost in a story.
Part of that is discouragement. While my friends and readers have been nothing if not enthusiastic, I’m getting frustrated that I can’t seem to sell anything. Some of this is my own fault, as I haven’t put the short stories back in the mail yet and I really do need to send out another round of query letters. Of course nobody is going to buy anything if it’s not out on the market.
But those same friends are good at being encouraging. I get hung up sometimes on the distinction (in my head anyway) between being a writer and an author. In my own head that first definition is an amateur, someone who wants to write, while the second is published. I will get published, eventually, if I persevere. Even if its a short story in some small out of the way publication. I just have to keep going.
And write the next thing.
Not much to talk about today. Went down to the gulf coast this weekend with the other half for some rest and recharge. That in and of itself can be a good thing. On the way back though we fulfilled one of my childhood dreams and visited Johnson Space Center, outside of Houston. All of it was very, very cool. However I was rather amused by one of the places in the food court. “The Moon Wok.” Now I’m half considering writing a story about Chinese restaurant on the moon…
The other day a friend of mine encouraged me to go back and list all of the major writing projects I’ve done. I took that to mean novels and listed out all the ones I could remember and find, with a little help from the dark corners of my hard drive. I have to say, I’m pretty satisfied with the list. There are eleven “novels” that I listed, most in some form of completion, a couple of them not, going back to my high school days.
One of the things that has certainly helped is National Novel Writing Month. Most of the “novels” from before that barely reached 20,000 words. Now, at least the first draft, is usually around 50k, whether they are a nano novel or not. NaNoWriMo has also helped me to take my writing much more seriously. I noticed when I was listing things that there was a drought of about five years where I hardly wrote anything at all. Now though, writing is very much a part of my daily life.
I also can see a definite improvement. Which is a very good thing! If I still wrote the same way as I did when I wrote Star Trek fanfic in high school (and that was basically when the internet was just starting, so I had no one to share my fanfic with), then I’d be in a lot of trouble. I went back and read what I had for my first nano-novel, which I never finished. Wow, it’s some awful stuff. The idea behind it is still somewhat solid, but the writing is downright laughable in many places. It’s rushed, the dialogue is ridiculous, and the characters are cardboard. But it was a start.
One of these days, if all goes well, I’ll be a published author with my name on the spine of a book. I’m sure it will be billed as my “first novel.” But I’ll know that behind whichever one goes to press is a long line of stories probably best left in the drawer. But each of those has taught me something and each of those has helped me improve both my craft and my imagination. After all, we cannot grow unless we stumble and fight our way through whatever troubles stand in our way.
keep looking »
Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.
Neil Gaiman-”The Sandman”