5 Myths About The Writing Business

Here is a great article by Chuck Sambuchino titled “5 Mistakes Writers Make (and How To Avoid Them).” The title is a bit of a “bait and switch,” as it’s about the business instead of the craft. Still, it’s something that all writers–indie or traditional–should read.

Its main thrust: YOU GOTTA HUSTLE

It took me a while before I realized this. With the help of my publisher, Damnation Books, we were able to craft an extraordinary novel in Song of Simon. The support I received from them has been excellent. I foolishly believed that the book would sell by itself. That’s far from the truth.

The problem is that there are millions of books out there, and unless you do something to stand out, you’ll disappear. I’ve tried a bunch of promo techniques in the past. What I’ve realized is that if you write about stuff you love, people that love the same will join you (that’s you guys). I love writing about geeky stuff. I assume that you love reading about geeky stuff. I hope that some of you read my fiction, but I don’t get shameless about it.

If I’m going to do this, I’m going to have fun doing this. I’ll even get out my 20-sided dice.

Ooooh a dual Star Wars/D&D meme. Critical Hit!!!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read the article (if you’d like). If you’d rather geek out with me, you can always contact me.

That reminds me: I have a blog about Dungeons and Dragons coming up sometime this week. D & D is my truest, sexiest love. Ok, not that sexy (it’s more anti-sexy), but I still love it.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist).

Real Life Alignment: A Pointless Voyage Into Good and Evil

I decided to take some time off of my shameless plugging in order to discuss something that is often, if not always, on my mind.

I am a nice person. I am always polite to people. I hold doors open. I compliment people for no other reason than to make them feel good. But am I a good person? There’s a difference, and being nice does not necessarily equate to being good.

I’m not saying that I am a bad person. I don’t think that there are many truly bad people in the world. There’s a current book out whose name I can’t remember. It says that one out of twenty people, 5% of the population, are sociopathic. They have no ability to feel empathy, or to act in any way other than for their own benefit. We all know at least one sociopath (I happen to know several). Not all of them are criminals or even noticeable in their sociopathy, but all of them are incurably selfish.

We are all selfish at one time or another, but that doesn’t make the person “bad.” Being selfish all of the time–being unable to be anything but selfish–that’s bad. Of course, there are other kinds of evil too. There are many normal people out there that have explosive tempers, or purposefully hurt someone to fill a need inside of them. I think these are learned traits, though, and different from sociopathic behavior. They’re just assholes.

I play a lot of roleplaying games. In D & D, they have something called “Alignment.” This is where you decide your character’s world view on an ethical (law vs chaos) and moral (good vs evil) scale. When I was younger, I used to argue with my DM that people were inherently good, and it was ethics that were variable. He countered that most people are neutral: they care about family and friends, maybe even the greater world around them, but they do little to help anyone outside their immediate circle.

I was an idealist. I am not anymore. I think that my DM is right. You can be a nice person, but unless you are taking an active stance towards improving the world, you are neutral. “Good” is reserved for heroism in RPGs, and in a lesser sense, in real life.

Because I’m a writer, and especially because I write speculative fiction, I am constantly grappling with the nature of good and evil. Song of Simon, for example. Simon begins as a “nice guy,” but an ordinary guy. He has fears, he has moments of selfishness. He makes bad decisions that come back to haunt him. Yet the novel is about him growing from a “nice person” into a “good person,” a person that will take a stand to defend what is right.

There are other characters in Song of Simon that are not quite so heroic. And there are those that appear heroic, but have done (and do) horrible things. I tried to show the variability of what is good and what is evil. Good and evil isn’t black and white. It isn’t even shades of gray. Good and evil is every color in the rainbow and every shade therein. It’s alizarin crimson and yellow ochre. It’s midnight blue and aquamarine. There are no simple answers to be found.

As for me, I’m going to make a change. I’m tired of just being a nice person. I want to be a good person. I want to help, and I’m gonna find some way to do it.