Friday, May 27, 2016

Story Fragment: The Hermit by the Lake

Unfinished story fragment below. Will be built-out some time later.

"Father, why are we going to this place?"

Jack looked over at his son. Still a boy, but not much longer, so he held his tongue. "He remembers the world the way it was, before it all fell into ruin."

"So he will know?"

"I hope so, son." Jack turned his gaze to his wife, the boy's mother, as she nursed his little daughter on the other end of the table. "If he can't answer the question, then we face great peril."

His wife looked up at him. "Go on, both of you. My father's name alone will keep them at bay. None dare touch one of Ken's daughters."

Or his grandsons. Jack thought, noticing his son's resembling to the Eater of the Dead that was his father-in-law.

Jack nodded, understanding the risk. He pointed at the gun rack, and his son got up to get a pair from them. One the boy slung over his shoulder, and the other the boy handed to Jack. A third remained, meant for his wife's use.

"Show him the way, Jack." she said, "And son, use all your senses to memorize the path."

The boy nodded. Jacked checked his rifle, and looked on as the boy followed his father's example, and then they left their humble home in the wilderness.

I have no idea what to do with this. I'm posting it here as much for your amusement as I am to just get it out of my head so I can turn back to The Burning of Hugo. If you have anything to suggest, you know what to do: comment below.

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's Happening: New Gentlemen Bastards This Year

I usually don't write posts at my writing blog about specific books, but I'm making an exception for this for a couple of reasons. The first is that Scott is a friend of mine, and I've been supportive of his writing career since he first let it known that he got signed to Gollancz all those years ago. The second is that this book (as with the one previous) almost didn't happen, so I'm pleased to see it finally on its way to the stands.

Yes, in addition to be the man's friend, I'm also a fan of the series, and it's been fun to see Scott's skill develop over these years. Time will see if he becomes a figure like Robert Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Lieber, C.S. Lewis, or others whose work as fantasists formed the field which he now builds upon, but barring any Acts of God or similar folly he may yet come out from the mass of his peers and stand tall as a true literary hero. He can rise to the challenge. He can.

Friday, May 13, 2016

You're Competing With Your Heroes.

Today's entertainment marketplace is the worst it has ever been. You are not only competing with other authors in your genre. You are not only competing with all authors writing genre fiction. You are not only competing with amateurs in all genres. You're competing with other entertainment media from all over the planet, both new and old.

Yes, including offerings by people long dead, offered for free. And no, not just via Project Guntenberg

Here, let me show you what this means:

Old radio plays, (contemporary) ad-free (actual ads of the day included), for free, whenever you want compete with you.

That's a full 1940 serial. For free. If it gets nuked, it will pop up again elsewhere soon; fighting this is pointless.

It is now impossible run out of entertainment due to the Internet.

You need to adjust your expectations, both of what success is and what you need to do to get and grow that success. This is why your personal brand matters, and therefore why you need to be far more extroverted than what being an author usually required in the past few generations. It isn't a refuge for chronic introverts and shut-ins anymore. You need the hustle of the pulp magazine writers of nearly a century ago (who could, and did, write multiple novels a month for the magazines), be shameless in your self-promotion, and be on the scene daily to keep abreast of the spirit of the times.

And yet you also need to know what your audience actually is, and be as shameless in providing that audience what they want from you as you are in promoting yourself. The merchandise? Get on that shit as soon as the demand arises; make and sell the T-shirts, the posters, and so on. They like your stuff enough to want to wear it, and thus pay to be your billboard. Take their money, thank them kindly, and pay bills with it. Use the blog to keep in contact with your audience and give advanced notice of things you're making or events you're doing.

Finally, for today, this: you need to play the long game. You don't know if you will become famous after you die. You have to go in under the assumption that your work will be valuable after you're dead, and prepare now to have your works managed by trustees after you die. That means a meeting with a lawyer, and legal documents drawn up, so that your body of work isn't left to the State to mess with (as we see now with Prince). Just as you now compete against your heroes, successors will come up to compete with you- their hero.

The Internet is Forever.

Friday, May 6, 2016

It's Not All Wine & Roses

Those days WILL come.

They are the days when you look up from your manuscript, look at the shelf at the store, and wonder why all of these books are there that say the same things and do the same things and differ only in the trappings- and yours is no better.

They are the days when you look down at your manuscript, and all you see is a rancid word salad despite your best efforts to write and edit it into shape, and wonder how and why others like yours got published- nevermind success or failure.

They are the days when you look around to hear reader after reader after reader make your ears bleed by talking about the cavalier manner in which they read and thus miss all that you put into it.

They are the days when you look out for answers to questions of art, of craft, of narrative and you realize that not only have all the questions already been answered, but that the solutions are already known and perfected- that you're struggling with a solved problem, and then feel like a fucking moron who can't tie his own shoelaces.

They are the days when you learn why writers have the reputation of being moody, melancholy, and prone to self-destruction. Writing is a craft, sure, but also an art. Art demands revelation, and revelation cannot be controlled.

You don't go digging into places immaterial, mining the depths, without making discoveries. If the craft is the acumen and discipline that takes inspiration and hammers something others find useful, then the art is bringing forth the ore to be hammered.

Learning how to handle these days is part of the process, and it is initiatory in its nature. Not everyone who makes the attempt survives, and not all those who survive do so on their own. For my part, knowing that this is a solved problem gave me that fortitude; apply solution, sorted, and the problem gets reduced to an irritant.

And that is what I have to say today: you struggle with a solved problem, so all that needs doing is to find and apply the solution.