Mesh and the Big Book Deal Adventure – Part Two

 

Mesh and the Big Book Deal Adventure – Part TwoGood news, everyone! I have an update on the ‘Big Book Deal Adventure’ I started for Mesh a couple of months ago – some good news to share. Actually, strike that – this isn’t good news, it’s GREAT news for the writer game. Here’s what’s going on:

So the mission has always been to write a novel, find an agent, and get a book deal. In professional terms, it’s the difference between getting hired by a large company versus being an independent contractor. There are pluses and minuses either way, but I decided a long time ago that I’d rather go the professional route and get a book deal. Here’s the next installment of the story:

Our hero, Jackson, was rejected by many, many book agents. Like many other authors, he knew that this was part of the process. Jackson knew he must keep pushing forward, even though it felt like he was pushing cold, wet laundry up a mountain.

As Part One told you, he got what he thought was good news: a lit agent team at a prestigious book agency expressed interest in Mesh. Hooray! Could this be the moment when Mesh finally sees the light of day? No! Due to circumstances beyond almost everyone’s control, the agency imploded in a social media scandal. Agents resigned from the agency in protest, meaning all potential deals were null and void.

Then, the most amazing thing happened: the lit agent team, having gone their separate ways, ended up at a variety of other literary agencies. The person who responsible for recommending Mesh to a lit agent was now a lit agent themselves! More than that, she never forgot MESH and encouraged Jackson to resubmit Mesh for consideration. Then, after many weeks, Jackson received the following email:

Dear Jackson,

I’m digging your submission of MESH and would like to request the full if it’s still available. Please follow the instructions below.

Can’t wait to start to reading!

Huzzah! MESH takes another step forward toward the book deal!

It’s wonderful to see Mesh move forward to the next step of acceptance at a major lit agency in Manhattan. But let’s put this in context: in professional terms it means a recruiter likes your resume, and thinks they may be able to help you get a job. Anyone who’s ever looked for a job will tell you – recruiters who like you are great, but that’s no guarantee of success. The end of the road is when you get a new job, or sign a book deal. Our hero can’t afford to get too comfortable yet.

But it’s still great news, and I’ll post another piece of great news later today!

 

Amazing Music Video Set to Star Wars Animation

Since it’s the weekend, enjoy this *amazing* music video by The Weeknd, set to animation from the official Star Wars Kids youtube channel. The song is a banger unto itself, but when combined with the Star Wars animation well, it’s just awesome, that’s all.

Have a great weekend!

Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here

As I work to get Mesh into the hands of an agent, let me take a second to talk about something Mesh definitely does not have: Disrespect for women. We don’t do the ‘Male gaze.’ We don’t objectify female characters, or look at them like creeps. I treat all of my characters with the same level of respect and dignity. No sexism, no racism; full stop.

Does that sound unusual? It shouldn’t. And yet, stuff like the ‘male gaze’ is a thing. The casual sexism, creepiness, and misogyny that flows through male-written fiction is too common to be ignored. For anyone who says ‘this isn’t a big deal,’ you can say “Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is.

Here’s the deal: writers are people. Authors’ feelings come through their own writing and not always in a good way. Every writer comes from their own experience, their own perspective. Sometimes their perspective is skewed and it comes through their writing. Sexism in writing isn’t just an old-world concept. It’s still happening. If you start to pay attention, you see guys like this …, or this … , or heck, even this, from the Chicago Tribune.

Someone taught these guys that women only exist as plot devices in a man’s universe. I don’t know how this started. I’ve never seen that memo, but I know it’s there. It’s real, it’s happening. Little details seep into their narrative. The focus on female characters turns them into sexualized objects for … I dunno, somebody’s entertainment but it sure isn’t mine.

Like, dude.

I’ve known many strong women in my life. It would be a disservice to them to let Mesh treat female characters with any level of dignity and respect lower than the male characters. Some writers do that, but I don’t and I think it’s important to say – Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here.

I’m not alone in this quest. Other male writers, like Terry Pratchett, Hayao Miyazaki, and Brandon Sanderson, follow the mandate to give every character the same level of well-rounded, unsexualized, character development. I strive to do the same with Mesh, it’s that simple.

I wasn’t thinking about sexualizing my characters when I wrote Mesh. Maybe it’s me, but I see that as a good thing. I have a guiding principal when it comes to writing my female characters and I think it’s time to share it with you. Are you ready?

Girls are people, too.

Yes, women are human beings. That shouldn’t be a revolutionary thought. This shouldn’t be a novel concept. Yet, it seems to be the exception not the rule. So I want to take a moment to assure you, dear reader, that Mesh and any other story I write, sees you as a real person who deserves respect and dignity. The Mesh cast of characters are boys and girls from many different backgrounds and circumstances. Male and female geeks, from all parts of the world, who look through the world with a post-racist lens. They’re people. Not things.

And by the way, none of this is written like a political statement. Treating people with respect isn’t about politics. It’s about being a decent person. I’ve spoken about this before, but I’ll say it again. I want to write stories like Gene Roddenberry did; tell stories where the future we want just is. Get past the hangups of sexism, and racism. If we can do that, we’ve accomplished more than almost any other civilization in history. That’s a future worth fighting for.

So if there’s one takeaway from this discussion, it’s this. Mesh: We Don’t Do Racism or Sexism Here.

When you read my stories, you’ll get treated with respect and dignity. I made sure. There are a lot of exciting things in this universe, but racism and sexism don’t exist here.

Welcome home.

25 Reasons Creative People Are Organized People

I ran across this picture on the Internet, and it made me realize that creative people are organized people. You cannot expect to do whatever you want, if you expect people to pay for what you do. Click on it to expand – creative people have very structured daily routines:

25 Reasons Creative People Are Organized People

There’s a common myth that creative people aren’t disciplined. After all, if you get paid to express yourself, why be organized? There’s a story about Picasso, who spent an hour doodling on a napkin in a cafe. When he went to leave, a woman offered to buy the napkin. Picasso agreed, but the price was $10,000. The woman refused, saying “that only took you twenty minutes!” “No,” Picasso replied. “It took me sixty years.” Whether the story is true or not, it illustrates the point that creative people have to value their time and energy before anyone else will.

No, creative people must be organized. If you’re looking for more information on how to be professional with your creativity, you should check out ‘Design is a Job’ by Mike Monteiro.

What Close Encounters of the Third Kind Says About Creatives

What Close Encounters of the Third Kind Says About CreativesHot, sticky night in Eugene. Perfect opportunity to break out one of my favorite hot summer night movies: ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’ I re-watch Spielberg’s classic, heartfelt, adventure about once a year, and every time I learn a little bit more about the storytelling process. This time, watching Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) Neary’s mad struggle with the mashed potatoes, something new occurred to me. Stephen Spielberg wasn’t just walking about UFOs in CEIII, he was also talking about the struggle of being a creative person.

I mean, ignore everything about the aliens for a second. Just focus on Roy Neary’s character. His life, his family; they’re important but they don’t seem to be very fulfilling to him. He ignores his kids to play with model trains. Then, one hot summer night, everything changes for him.

In a flash of light, everything about Neary’s universe changes. We are not alone. There are other beings in this universe, and he is one of the first to meet them. On the surface, this journey is about his eventual departure with the aliens – in Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ model, it ends in ‘Transformation.’ But the more I think about it, I think Spielberg was trying to say something else.

This time, watching CEIII, I saw the ‘implanted vision’ as a metaphor for how Spielberg saw his creativity back in the late 70s. It wasn’t just joy and sparkles for him.

In Neary, we see a little bit of how Spielberg sees himself. A regular guy, who has something in his head that he doesn’t understand. He didn’t ask for it, doesn’t even want it. Until it turns into something that everyone else understands – like say, a blockbuster movie – it’s a source of frustration for him and his family. He picks at it, kicks at it, rages at it, but it refuses to go away. It’s still there, implacable and relentless. You see it in how Neary first reacts to the questions they put to him at Devil’s Tower:

Laughlin: [translating] What did you expect to find?
Roy: An answer. That’s not crazy, is it?

You get a little more of that insight as Neary throws garbage into the house to build that massive Devil’s Tower in his living room. To Terri Garr’s suggestion that he see a doctor, he says: “Ronnie, if I don’t do this, *that’s* when I’m going to need a doctor.” To everyone else around him, the vision is meaningless, stupid. But if he doesn’t get it out of his head, he knows he will suffer. That in a nutshell is what creativity does to creative people all the time.

Think about how frustrated Richard Dreyfuss was where he has this big huge sculpture in his living room. He was tortured on that phone call with his wife, but there was something else brewing there. It was like, ‘okay there it is. Now what?’

Some have written that CEIII is ‘escapist fantasy,’ or as a metaphor for growing up. Those can be true, but I also think there’s room to consider that creativity is an end to itself. Writers write, filmmakers film, because they have something in their head that needs to get out.

The process of creativity requires singular vision, a willingness to keep going when no one else understands what you’re trying to say. This isn’t a weekend project, this can stretch for months and years. What do you think it feels like to be that person, to wonder if all the other naysayers are right? Maybe you really are just crazy, throwing trash in your living room. As a creative person, you wrestle with those uncomfortable thoughts every single day of the week.

Then, maybe once in a lifetime, the curtain pulls back and everyone else sees it. Your vision does mean something. It isn’t garbage, it’s meaningful. Creative people live for that moment.

We admire Spielberg because he’s had so many of those moments in his life. We all wish we could do the same.