Writers Should Know Better

During a conversation with other writers yesterday, I became shocked, SHOCKED, at how many think that they are so good that they don’t need further study or guided practice. At how many choose beta readers for a pat on a back instead of real feedback. At writers that don’t revise. At writers that think that BOOK REVIEWERS don’t have useful critiques and are only good for marketing and promotion (I always take reviews to heart. Someone went through the trouble of pointing out strengths and weaknesses. I won’t disrespect them by ignoring it). At writers that don’t read. At the pure arrogance of thinking that you are at the height of your powers and don’t need to grow anymore. It’s the height of elitism.

Could you imagine a professional musician that doesn’t practice for hours a day? Can you imagine a doctor that doesn’t follow new breakthroughs in medicine. Can you imagine an athlete than doesn’t practice or go to the gym? Can you imagine any job where you don’t try to improve on it?

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Indie Authors’ Day Workshop

On Saturday I gave a lecture and workshop at Pine Plains Library, in upstate New York. This was my second straight year presenting for IAD. Instead of most presenters that I’ve seen, who give lectures on publishing and marketing, I focused on the actual craft. It doesn’t matter how great a writer you are, you can always be better (myself included), something so many writers forget. Being an author is a combination of narcissism and humility, and the second part is what helps you grow.

A general version of the lecture “The Hero’s Journey: It’s No Myth” is available on my website, but I was a teacher, and I’m best when I work out loud. I make jokes and obscure references. I bring props (usually toys). In this case, I brought tissue paper “plot points” and threw them back and forth with the crowd. I used a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine as a brainstorming prompt.

I miss teaching.

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Embracing the Dark Side

(A kinda funny, but mostly serious post…because they can’t all be doggos.)

doge-borken-inside

Ok, one doggo.

It’s very hard to admit this. I try to deny it, to rise above it or work around it, but I’m done lying to myself. I’m done lying to you.

I have succumbed to the Dark Side.

I am only productive when I am angry at something. I need something to focus my loathing, or some other negative trait, on something in order to get anything done. I wrote my first novel because I was pissed at the crap that was getting published by the major companies. I lost 140 pounds because someone said that I couldn’t. I succeed to prove others wrong.

I can’t write out of joy. I have to write out of hate. Only when my heart is full of grit and worms and hot garbage that smells like Manhattan in the middle of a mid-80’s summer can I create anything worthwhile. Otherwise I sit around and do nothing, or worse, have writer’s block.

writers-block-soap

And I hate it.

And ironically (or fortunately) that hate of my process, or just regular self-loathing, is what keeps me going. I am never be calm, because writing makes me calm, but I have to be pissed to write. It’s a cycle or hate, satisfaction, and more hate.

But maybe if I embrace it instead of fighting it, maybe that will give me the control to turn it on and off. Instead of falling into the Dark Side, I can control it (oh, and if that isn’t a recipe for disaster cake). Maybe it’s like a football player putting on their game face. I can focus all of my rage into a hat, or maybe a jaunty scarf, and put it on when I need to.

Craig at MNF

(Yes, that is actually me. I’m a Jets fan. No wonder I’m so full of rage.)

A jaunty scarf would be nice.

So I find things and people to be mad at and about. I harp on my own weaknesses and frailties (of which I have many, though I’m apparently very good at hiding them because no one believes me when I say that I’m awful) to fire myself up. I bleed all over the keyboard.

writing-hemingway-bleed

And I’m sure that I’m not the only one. No wonder so many artists are miserable.

There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Hemingway, Dylan Thomas, Mark Twain, or whoever made the meme feels like giving it to. It goes “write drunk, edit sober.”

I don’t write drunk, I write angry. As for editing, I’m usually calm when I start editing and ready to shoot myself afterwards. Or Force Choke myself.

Ah, the power of the Dark Side.

Wanna see the results of my self-loathing and rage? Check out The Watchmage of Old New York or Song of Simon, not to mention one of the many short stories anthologies or journals you’ll find me in (or old articles from back when I used to write non-fiction). But mostly, the books. Read the damn books. Or don’t, it’s okay. I know that you’re busy, and there’s a lot of great stuff on Netflix.

Look! I even made cute little ads:

The Watchmage Is Coming

SoS Practice Ad 1

 

Did I Make Amazon Mad?

I have no clue what I did, but over the past two weeks Amazon has removed several of the reviews for The Watchmage of Old New York, and blocked at least five (people have told me that their reviews were blocked). I’m now down to 18 reviews, and who knows how far it will fall.

I don’t understand what I did wrong. I’ve never broken the terms and conditions or tried anything shady. Hell, I don’t even let my family leave reviews for fear of breaking terms. I guess i’m just unlucky.

the-very-best-of-the-bad-luck-brian-meme-u1

They also removed several reviews that I’ve left on products and books. I think that this is kinda funny, but funny sad. They send me emails asking for reviews on this and that product, but it’s those reviews that get removed.

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Update Update Update…Update

If you couldn’t tell from the title, this is an update. A bunch of cool writing stuff happened in the past few days.

My short story “Skully” is now in the anthology Twisted Tales: 15 Literary Lies and Epic Yarns, published by Readers Circle of Avenue Park I’m in very talented and established company here, and I’m tickled magenta…which is even more tickled than pink.

You can buy it on Amazon for $2.99, or you can get it for FREE by joining their mailing list here

.twisted tales

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