Mortal Changes

After a weekend of working on various things, it’s now time to–get back to work?  Seems like only Friday I was looking forward to a relaxing time of doing nothing.  Which doesn’t happen around here, because if I’m doing nothing, then I’m probably sleeping.  Correct that:  trying to sleep.  Here I am, up at four-thirty again this morning, and my head is feeling a tad woozy.

One day I’ll go to bed at ten-thirty and wake up at six.  It will happen.  But today is not that day.

I was reading film reviews on Something Awful–’cause if you’re going to read film reviews, you may as well read something that’s gonna be funny, or at least sarcastic as hell–and they were doing a review of The Mortal Instruments movie.  While they didn’t care for it–they did give it a four out of ten rating “As a Piece of Absurdest Humor,” so it’s got that going for it–they did mention the fact that “Cassandra Clare”, the pen name for one Judith Rumelt, got her start penning Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring fan fiction.  They also mention that there’s more than a passing resemblance between some of the characters in The Mortal Instruments, and some of the characters and passages in the HP fanfic, all of which was pulled from the Internet as soon as her publishing career got started.

As Neil Gaiman has pointed out, fan fiction is writing, and anything that gets people writing is a good thing.  He’s also said he doesn’t care if you do fan fiction of his work, because, hey:  nothing you’re going to do is going to impact anything he’ll do to his characters.  He probably wants to stay away from Coraline slashfic, however . . .

His point about fan fiction is well taken, however.  It’s very likely that Neil never reads it, or if he has he’s sort of skimmed over it and thought, “Hum, yeah,” and moved on to working on his HBO adaptation and Doctor Who scripts.  And he’s correct:  there’s nothing millions of words of fan fiction will do to his characters that will reflect what he’s going to do to them, so why sweat it?

I wonder how he’d feel, however, if someone wrote a million words of Sandman fan fiction, put the character through some interesting changes–like having him get hammered in a strip club while watching his sister Death gyrate to some Millie Cyrus crunk as she’s making out with a demonic Taylor Swift–and then, a year later, finds a book called, Sleepytime Sam, the Dream King.  Book One:  Down and Out in Sister Stripperville.  Oh, sure, it’s just a coincidence the characters bear a little resemblance to his . . .

Not that I’ll have to worry about any of this.  I doubt that anyone will start ripping off my characters and write stories of their strange escapades, ’cause anything you can do, I know I can do better–and I love being strange.  I need to open up the strangeness stuff a little more, ’cause I feel I’m getting rusty.  Maybe it’s time to write my magnum opus about gay cuttlefish shapeshifters–

Oh, wait:  it’s been done.

Into Thin Wordage

When you’re not working on a story, what are you doing if you’re a writer?  Well, there’s always Facebook games, and watching DVDs of old shows–or DRVs of current shows if you into that new fangled technology–or maybe some reading, or . . . you get the point.  Anything but writing, yeah?

Sometimes you want to write, even if you’re not working on a story.  Some people do research for stories and get notes, some people write fan fiction, which might seem a bit like spinning your wheels since you’re working with someone else’s work, except now it looks like Amazon’s going to find a way for you to publish that stuff now.  Or some of us might write articles on other subjects for people to read–you know, like blogging about writing and your life and the world, that sort of stuff.

When I’ve had nothing to do I’ve written articles and reviews, because why not?  I like to write, I like to give my opinion on things, and maybe I’ll even bring some information to another who’s never heard about whatever it is I’m penning about.  I’ve had that happen with games I’ve reviewed, and even gotten a thank you or two from the companies that printed smaller, independent games.  It’s when you get something of that nature that you feel good about what you’re doing, and something inside makes you feel happy.

Of course there’s also the flip side of that equation . . .

It’s enviable that if I mention I’m writing an article, I’ll have this conversation with a couple of friends:

“I’m writing an article.”
“Are you getting paid?”
“Why are you writing it then?  What the hell is wrong with you?”

It’s one thing to write, and it’s another to get some kind of compensation for your work.  I’ve adopted a personal creed that if I feel like writing and sharing something, I don’t mind if I don’t get paid, if—  If I can get some kind of feedback on what I wrote.  Because as much as writers enjoy getting paid, they also like to have people talk about their work.

I don’t like to hear bad things about my work, but I’ll take it.  Because if people are making comments–even if they are somewhat inane and/or bad–it means they probably read your work.  I want people to read my stuff, and to form an opinion  or, if nothing else, to tell me they either liked it or it sucked hard roots.

When you get nothing back, when there is only the soft, quite hiss of a breeze where their should be comments, you wonder if you wrote something for the right audience.  You wonder if you were completely off the mark, or if people just looked at the title and went, “This is gonna suck, forget it.”

It makes you wonder if you wasted your time.

I know the argument, though:  it doesn’t matter if you’re not getting paid, it’s exposure.  But you know what some writers say about exposure, don’t you?  That’s what mountain climbers die from if they stay in the elements far past the time they should have gotten into their tent and zipped up in their sleeping bags.  And if your work is out there, lingering in the Internet Death Zone, with no one reading it, then exposure means jack shit, dude.

You’ll die.

What is the answer to all this?  Maybe it’s time to build my own mountain top . . .


Tales Beyond the Table

With the latest novel out of the way, it was time to get into another book and getting some information together for someone to design a cover for said story.  There wasn’t a lot to do–well, maybe I’m being modest, because there was a lot of hunting for information, and a bit of cutting and pasting, to get the final document in order.  As it was, I passed off about two thousand words of useful information–I hope.

So that’s off to the printer, so to speak.  Probably going to get into another edit tonight:  I want to shape up Replacements, and there’s a chapter I need to write to have the story make a little more sense–I’m putting in some dumb character building, I know, why do I need that shit?  Because I do, that’s why.  The story will get edited, then I’ll put in another requests for a cover . . .

April will see a lot of work towards publishing.  But I’ve got other things going as well.

In the last week I’ve had two role playing games reviews published.  These aren’t new reviews, and they aren’t new games; I originally published them on another site a few years back, and sort of let them sit.  Since they weren’t doing much in the way of traffic, I offered them to someone to post on their site after I gave them a bit of a polish, ’cause lets face it, I see mistakes much better these days.  If you are interested in reading the reviews, the are for the games Diaspora and Eclipse Phase.  Enjoy.

I don’t game much these days.  Actually, I don’t game at all; it’s been a couple of years since I’ve done any serious gaming, and while I’m always ready to jump into something, I’ve encountered the problem of either not finding a game I like, or not finding a group I like.  Both can be a problem, because if you are in a game that’s not your style, or you’re gaming with assholes, the urge to play goes right down the toilet in short order.

Yet I still pick up games now and then.  Why?  Simple answer:  they can be fodder for ideas.

There was a time when the games I ran were my stories.  Trust me:  run a role playing game every other weekend for two years, and you’ll develop a sense for story, for metaplots, and for characters.  You play in their world, but you make it your own:  you build most everything off the structure, then make your cast of characters, direct the action so your players have something interesting to do.

I did this for a couple of decades, and it helped me understand what sort of work it takes to be a storytelling.  I prided myself on my games, and I pride myself on the tales I write these days.

As for these games I still buy . . .

One can find inspiration from anywhere.  One of my first completed long stories took place in a game universe, one that I knew intimately   It could be argued that I was writing fan fiction even though the character throughout the story were entirely mine, but I won’t argue the point.  It was a good exercise for me, and my only regret is that this particular story is lost to me, vanished on a hard drive failure.  Doesn’t me I couldn’t rewrite the story from scratch today, because you always remember your first novella . . .

I hear you out there, however:  so you’re still buying game to steal ideas, is that it?  Inspiration can come from anywhere, as my muse Erin would tell you.  If you find something in a paragraph of a supplement that gets the mental gears cranking, then good for you, because working your imagination is a great thing–maybe one of the greatest things a person can achieve.

Besides, Quentin Tarantino has found inspiration this way for a couple of decades, and some call him a genius.

I already am one, so the calling should come easy . . .

Roll Away the Dragon’s Gold

After a long day, after a blog post and a nearly three thousand word article with pictures, I started on the last chapter of Suggestive Amusements.  Yes, we’re on that final stretch of a few thousand words that will wrap up the story and then pack up the manuscript–or, in my case, save it off to both my external hard drives–and move onto the next project, which is getting Her Demonic Majesty ready for epublishing.

I have my plan laid out, I really do.

So laid out, in fact, that I just updated my idea file with something that came to me this morning, another early morning, where I had a song in my head that refused to retreat to a neutral corner, and the idea that came to me for a story that I’ve played with for some time, but could never really get the hook in to keep me interested.  That happens some times; you get a feeling for something, but it never really comes to fruition, it only sort of lingers there and feels like it doesn’t want to play.

Today I will attempt to finish the current work in progress.  It’s time.  It’s the 24th of March, and I’ve been on this for almost ninety days–okay, if I finish today, it’s eighty-five, close enough.  For seventy thousand words, and change, it’s a long time to be writing, and I need to do other things.  Makes me wonder what I’m going to do after getting Demonic Majesty and Replacements up to the great ebook market–

I know one thing I won’t do . . .

Today, maybe an hour ago, I saw a comment in one of my writer’s groups.  The commented indicated that they were thinking of taking a setting and characters from another writer’s published story and writing a novel based upon those with the intention of commercial gain, and they wanted to know how people felt about that.  Gotta hand it to him, at least he came right out and said he was stealing–

I can think of two instances where I’ve tried my hand at fan fiction.  Once, a long time back when I was in a writer’s group, I developed a story that revolved around a role playing game setting.  While I used the game world, the characters were my own.  I did the same thing a few years ago with some Star Trek fanfic I did that was, once again, based around a game I was in at the time.  (A very bad game, but that’s a story for another time.)

I enjoyed working on both stories–up to a point, that is.  The point came when I realized that I had great characters, but I was using them in a world that wasn’t mine, and it didn’t feel right.  While I still feel connected to the characters, I feel as if I can’t reenter those stories simply because of where they take place.

It feels like I got lazy and decided to take the easy way out.

I’ve always said that if my stories ever got to the point where other thought my characters were worth stealing for their own stories, I’d probably want to shut down any and all fan fics as quickly as possible.  Most writers work hard to bring believable worlds and place believable characters into those worlds, and it feels like you’re getting bent over when you find that someone has taken one or the other, or both, and turned them into their own personal amusement.

I could also sorta look at it from the point of view offered by a writer friend this morning when I mentioned Fifty Shades of Grey: “I’ma more terrified someone loved her characters to make fan fiction outta them.”  ‘Cause when you get right to it, there’s some creepy fanfic shit out there, and you gotta wonder what motivation lay behind putting a couple of ripped-off character in bed with a wolverine and a steel-spiked strap-on.  Not that I would ever think like that . . .

So there’s only one thing to do–

Get famous so I can go after people who steal my characters.

A worthy goal, don’t you think?