Header Image - Getting the words out by any means possible.

I Don’t Know

Many who saw Inception still have no idea what the hell happened.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in the room who has no clue what’s going on. Maybe that’s the case or maybe others are better at faking or maybe, just maybe, everyone feels the same way but is too afraid to let on.

I’ve got a four-year-old daughter (soon to be five) who, like so many kids trying to figure out the world, is not afraid to ask questions when she doesn’t know something. Sometimes I get frustrated with her constant need to know why, but most times I hang in there and answer all her questions the best I can. Usually the line of questions ends with me saying I don’t know.

Chris Smither captures this experience perfectly here.

Even before I got back into writing fiction, I attended a conference for outdoor businesses (whitewater rafting in my case) and got a pretty good primer on how to make social media work for my company. Wouldn’t you know it, in order to compete and do well, I needed to be the go-to guy for information on white water rafting in West Virginia (see what I did there with those keywords?).

Like most writers in 2010, I have my thumb on the pulse of the writing and publishing world. Which means that I’m not really picking up everything clearly because I’m supposed to be using two fingers instead of my thumb. So I sift through the Brobdingnagian mound of must-do lists and must-must-never-do lists and try to figure out what is relevant for me.

All the while, I’m pounded over the head about author platform and how I need to offer value to keep people coming to this blog, to be an expert on what ever I’m trying to sell online (just my natural charm right now) so that people come to me for answers (which they still don’t).

Through all of it, I think to myself, “I don’t know enough to be the go-to guy for anything, unless people want a run down of what it’s like to be me.” I’ve tried that and I can most assuredly tell you that 99% of anyone I ever talk with do not desire that run down. I don’t either. I have to live with me every day (ask my wife, it’s no pleasure cruise).

Out there in the twittersphere, the blogosphere, the, shit, I don’t know, facebookosphere? and all those parts of our atmosphere that don’t actually help sustain human life I see people slinging their opinions fearless of how poorly received they may be, or how ill-conceived.

Maybe I’m just jealous of those people because I think way too much about the fallout of what I put out there. Sometimes to the point that it immobilizes my trigger finger from hitting the button. Maybe it’s the election season effect where everyone with a mouth is happy to tell why their candidate is the best or why mine sucks. Maybe I’m tired of the way everything is pitched in brilliant white and inky black with no shades in between.

It’s not just writers who are guilty of this. It’s human nature to lean on our beliefs for security purposes. But perhaps if we delved a little deeper and peeked at our insecurities once in a while (make sure the room is well lit), we would need to spout less sound and fury to make ourselves feel better.

I’m okay with people sharing knowledge. No, really. I love anecdotes and information that inform my world and make it richer. I love to hear other people’s stories. I love to know other people’s dreams and fears.

But occasionally I like to hear people say that they don’t know.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I hope to be a little younger than this guy when I start reading again.

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Some writers have sacrificed their families and marriages, discarding them along with their empty rattling Wendy’s cups in a ditch on the road to publication. Others have defaced their bodily temples with amphetamines , cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs by the handfuls. Still others have forsook the entire human race to pour their hearts into various magnum opera. And there are those who gave their lives for their work.

Me, I’m making the ultimate sacrifice. What? No, not that ultimate sacrifice. It’s hard to write when your flesh is distributed amongst the worms and insects.

No, I’m giving up reading.

Seems kind of sacrilegious, but I think I must do this thing if I am to make significant headway on my third draft. I’ve been moving along, but I need to go into deep cover and live the manuscript.

To that end, my evenings of reading for two, three, or four hours are done for now. The only reading I’ll be doing will be here:

You can be sure I won't get too much read here.

Reading is in my top five things that I love to do. I’ll miss it. Tim Powers and The Anubis Gates will have to wait. Hopefully I’ll be back on the written sauce sometime in mid August.

Magic, Magick, Magyck – Striving for Originality in Fantasy

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Spelling is a tool many fantasy writers use to lend originality to their writing. Sometimes it works and sometimes it distracts the reader from the story. I find myself getting caught up in this device, wondering if I should spell a word as it is commonly spelled or give it a twist to increase the fantastic patina with which I coat my world.

You can see in the title of this post one of the more common words with which writers play in hopes of setting their work apart. I’m reminded of the variations on popular names: Tiffany & Tiffani, Julie & Juli, Steph & Stef and on an on.

There’s nothing wrong with the whole thing, but after all is said and done, how much of a difference does it really make?

The answer is, like most things in writing and in gas mileage,  that your results may vary.

The use of word variations doesn’t mean squat if the story is stale and the characters are flat. In fact, I would argue the superficial stuff (odd spellings, two moons, green skin) not only doesn’t cover those shortcomings up, it calls attention to them.

The reality is you can always go back and word search and play with those things after the meat is on the bones. If the story is done well, then those little embellishments, those accessories can enhance the reader’s experience.