The Star Wars Theory You Never Knew You Always Wanted

I promised myself that one of my goals with Inkican was to rise above being another Star Wars fan-boy. That said, sometimes these discussions can give us valuable insights on storycraft and writing, so I wanted to share with you the Star Wars theory you never knew you always wanted. Then I want to talk about what it teaches us about telling stories.

To begin with check out this fan theory. Not only is it an extremely plausible explanation of Darth Vader’s actions in Empire Strikes Back, but it taught me something about the stories I want to tell. Here’s the theory, quoted below: Continue reading

New Wallpaper – “Gantry 17”

Created a new wallpaper – “Gantry 17” – based on some stories that pop into my head whenever I see random, everyday images. Would working in space get boring, like every other job? What would a normal day look like? Those thoughts inspired me to fire up Photoshop and get to imaginatin’ …

Finished this last night and wanted to share it out immediately. I make free scifi wallpapers to share – helps keep me fresh as I write Mesh. The original is 1920×1080 for your wallpapery goodness! Hope you like it. 🙂

Am I a Toxic Fan? 10 Questions to Ask

More news about James Gunn’s departure from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 this week. No matter where you fall on that subject, there’s no escaping the news stories abouttoxic fans.’

Do toxic fans exist? Of course they do. In fact, I’ve been talking about them for a while now. Two questions are missing from all of these articles though:

  1. Would someone know if they were a toxic fan?
  2. What are you supposed to do about it, if you are?

Just like an alcoholic who may not know they have a drinking problem, some toxic fans may not realize the damage they are doing to themselves or other people. To help fans that may not know which side of the fence they fall on, I compiled several different lists together to come up with some common behaviors of toxic fans. See if you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these behaviors: Continue reading

The Rocket – Scifi Short Story Submitted to Asimov’s

Busy as a beaver. You’ll be happy to know that I submitted another short. The Rocket is a scifi short story I submitted to Asimov’s Magazine last night.

I’ve been working on this story for a while and my beta readers think it’s top-notch. ‘The Rocket’ captures some of the difficult emotions happening in the fractured society we live in now. Will we heal this breach? What happens if we don’t? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and ‘The Rocket’ is the result of my cogitation.

Back to work on Mesh tomorrow. For now, taking a break and enjoying the fact that people like what I write.

Bo Burnham’s Answer to “Am I a Real Writer?”

Bo Burnham is doing an AMA over at Reddit, and one of his answers struck a chord with me. Often, I find myself wondering ‘Am I a real writer?’ Burnham answers that question beautifully, and I want to pass it on to all of you:

Some one asked him the question, “Was there ever a single point in your career that you thought “I’ve made it” as an actor/comedian?” Here’s his response:

“You know, that was a problem for me for a long time. Believing that I hadn’t MADE it yet or I wasn’t a REAL COMEDIAN. I think its especially prevalent for people that makes things online. That making youtube videos isn’t REAL. It took me a long time to realize that I’d been real the whole time, and the thing that I am pursuing was the thing I was pursuing doing theater in sixth grade. Do you write? You’re a writer. Do you act? You’re an actor. I’d say don’t wait to get some arbitrary version of success or attention for you to believe that you are doing the thing. You really can start enjoying it right away. You don’t have to wait to be good. The process of doing it is the process of becoming better not being good.”

I felt better as soon as I read that. I AM a real writer. So are you. So is everyone else who dares to jot their thoughts down to share with others. Stop asking whether you’re doing it for real, and just do it. That’s how you know it’s real.

Gene Roddenberry’s Sci-fi Solution to Racism

Let’s talk for a moment about Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi solution to racism. I know I’ve talked about Roddenberry before, but the guy is a personal hero and current events make it necessary to speak out again.

The NYT is talking about the worrisome trend of ‘racist science fiction.’ Being a person who loves sci-fi, it bothers me to think that my beloved genre could be co-opted to divide people. At the same time, one can see how powerful an idea can be when persons perceive that it’s time has come.

But what if that idea is horrible? What if that mindset can lead to hate, murder, and genocide? That’s what frightens me, and I think it disturbed yesteryear sci-fi creators like Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling as well. ‘Superman,’ ‘Star Trek,’ and ‘The Twilight Zone’ dealt with anti-facist, anti-racial themes in their time. Rather than taking the issue head on, which would have resulted in failure, they spoke directly to people they knew would listen: The kids.

That strategy has power. Star Trek imagined a future where the Cold War was over, and American racism had died out. Rod Serling mercilessly mocked authoritarian logic in ‘The Obsolete Man’: “This is not a new world, it is simply an extension of what began in the old one […] But like every one of the super-states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.”

Superman himself was responsible for a significant victory. In addition to defeating Lex Luthor, Superman defeated the Klan where normal, law-abiding citizens could not. He didn’t just leap tall buildings in a single bound, he jumped over impossible hurdles in human perspective.

The point that science fiction taught us is simple, and powerful: We can live without racism. We can treat each other with respect and dignity. We can eliminate imaginary boundaries to fellowship and kindness. We can use the power of the mind, and spirit, to create a decent world.

I’m not sure what this means for me, personally. What I do know is that my sci-fi is about a future that just *is*. Even if I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again. And as long as it needs to be said, I’ll keep saying it. Maybe one day, we can move onto topics of greater interest.

World Leaders Go Full Dystopia

Just read a creepy article – about a recent conversation with the nervous 1%. How will they survive the coming collapse of society? For people who project a bright vision of the future in public, it’s alarming to see world leaders go full dystopia in private. What do you do when money goes away? How do you maintain your family’s safety, or its quality of life?

These don’t seem to be idle questions. As you read through the discussion, you can see that wealthy people have no illusions about how the rest of us feel about them. They also have no illusions on the stability of society as a whole.

The sad part is, where you’d think this would lead some to introspection, and self-realization, they continue to rationalize sociopathic behavor:

They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

It’s a sad, depressing piece of news to contemplate, but not surprising. Plutocrats have been saying for a while that this massive imbalance of societal power will eventually result in disaster. However, where is the natural “hey, we have to stop the Titanic from sinking!” mentality? If you know society is going to explode, and you wield massive amounts of influence, why aren’t you doing something about it?

I already know the answer to that question, and maybe you do, too. It doesn’t change the fact that the rich and wealthy could do something, even if they chose not to because of the realities of wealth creation and social power dynamics. It’s also why I have no interest in writing dystopian fiction. We’re already living there.

The message is: Start preparing for the future, because they are.

Five Ways to Manage Author Stress

“Ugh,” you’re saying. “This is supposed to be fun. But now, after a few months, writing is starting to feel like … like work!” Creative endeavors, whether they be painting, sculpting, movies or yes, writing have a level of stress about them. I’m experiencing them, and maybe you are, too. That’s why I wanted to pass along some ideas on five ways to manage author stress. After all, we’re going to be doing this for a long time. Here’s the low-down on how to avoid burn out:

1. Plan your work, and work your plan – the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So does your writing project. Break down the work into discrete chunks, and celebrate milestones, big and small!

2. Clean Your Room – there’s something intrinsically healing about self-care (see #4). Organize your desk, organize your online story files, or return that email. Clear the clutter of your room to clear the clutter of your mind.

3. Talk it out – Nothing beats a sounding board. Find an online group, find a person in a library, find a therapist. Talk about your feelings. A recent study shows that, more than information or solutions, people want emotional support when they have a problem.

4. Take Care of You – Over and over again, experts from Stephen R. Covey to Susan Rinkunas say ‘Sharpen the Saw‘ or ‘Take care of you.’ You aren’t a machine, and even if you are, even machines need to shut down for patch updates. Take a break, get some exercise, eat right, and sleep. Take care of you.

5. Remember: This is supposed to be fun. You got into this because you wanted to do what you love for a living. Don’t forget to love it! Not loving it is your body’s way of saying “I’m not into this – I should try something else.” Take a break from that novel. Take a step back from that social media campaign. Refresh, renew, and recharge. Find the joy by doing something else for a while. Come back when you feel like you’re ready.

To wrap up, you write to live, you don’t live to write. Don’t expect more of yourself than is reasonable of any other human being. You aren’t perfect, you deserve to rest and enjoy life, too. If George R R Martin can let his public wait for a new GoT novel, then quit stressing about your deadlines. None of us are getting out of this alive, so let’s enjoy the ride as long as we can.

 

Special thanks to the following resources on stress, especially author-specific stress:

Who are you to be giving this advice?

I know I’m a weird little person living inside a carefully-constructed universe that revolves around my illness. I’ve accepted that already. Despite my disabilities, I’m still trying to push my life forward and this article is one example of that effort. Thanks for being awesome.