Glass House Life: Survival Guide for Creative People – Part II

Click Here to ReadSurvival Guide for Creative People Part One – Last week, we started some discussions around how being an author works when you’re an authentic human being. Creative people exist on a spectrum of thinking and doing, feeling and memory. Sometimes our art feels like one big “Does anyone else feel …” post on the Internet. We’re looking for other people to go ‘yeah, me too.’ Getting there requires some kind of Survival Guide, so I started writing one.

Let’s remember though – this is a SURVIVAL GUIDE. I’ll still have the same problems when I finish this blog post and so will you. The goal is to survive the mental and emotional stress of finding your voice and audience, so that you will thrive. Hopefully, you understand that art is PART of a complete balanced wellness plan. All that said, let’s now get to the specifics. So here we go with:

Survival Guide for Creative People – Part Two

Orientation

In a practical survival situation, you want to orient yourself to your territory. Land navigation, survival techniques, they start with knowing where you are, how you are, and what your situation is. Within creativity, every situation is unique, so you need to orient yourself to your circumstances and learn to do it in a short period of time. We built from this Urban Navigation page to make the following suggestions:

 1. Interacting with others online? Watch how others do it first.

This goes for Twitter, Reddit, AbsoluteWrite, or elsewhere. Each online community has their own cultural norms – some rules are more formal than others. Learn by lurking. Participate in small ways, before posting big topics. Here are some additional tips from Disciple Media that I thought will be relevant for you:

  • Ask yourself: What are you attempting to accomplish?
  • Ask yourself: How do you want to be perceived by digital communities?
  • Base your voice on the areas you have authority to speak about.
  • Write about what you know and what you care about.
  • Understand your audience and find topics that matter to them.

Continue reading

Sci-Friday #88 – Vintage Back to the Future!

What better way to enjoy Sci-Friday #88 than 88MPH of fun, reliving some of the golden era of 80s scifi. Here are some behind-the-scenes looks at Back to the Future. As you’ll quickly find out, success was by no means assured.

 

Glass House Life: Survival Guide for Creative People

Survival Guide for Creative PeopleOof, where do I begin … Okay, here goes: I had a bad day yesterday. Life got on top of me, and I stumbled under the weight. How did I get there, and how did I get out? The answers to those questions will become what I call the Authentic Author’s Survival Guide.

First thing’s first – being a writer is a tough gig. Here’s why: The act of writing pushes you through a strange, chaotic gauntlet of emotions. You’re supposed to write about people, and for people. AT THE SAME TIME, discussing your work with other creatives (especially online) exposes you to the harshest, most caustic criticism possible.

“Why would you do that to yourself?”

Here are three reasons: Continue reading

“Do I Need Fancy Pens to be a Real Writer?” No.

"Do I Need Fancy Pens to be a Real Writer?" No.I hate to say it, but the writing business is full of snake oil salesmen. As an aspiring author, you’re marketed a variety of tools, apps, stuff all designed to ‘make you a real writer.’ When I first saw these ads, I had to honestly ask myself: “Do I Need Fancy Pens to be a Real Writer?” Happily, the answer is No.

Make no mistake: Writing is a skill the same as working on cars, playing basketball or the piano. The common myth with writing, or any other new skill, is that it takes a lot of expensive stuff to make it work. That’s not true, and thanks to this Reddit post, we have a simple explanation as to why:

I’d like to preface this by saying this is an observation, not an attack, just the human condition we are all subject to:

It’s much easier to buy things for a new hobby than it is to actually engage with skill building. Humans are highly likely to research and collect all the knowledge and parts of a hobby without ever actually participating in the hobby. It’s so common at this point I feel like the phenomenon should be given a name.

On the surface it seems healthy: learn about hobby before doing it, and it’s easy to believe that having high quality devices/products will make hobby easier to learn, make you want to learn (you spent all that money) or make you feel like part of a community. But in reality it’s just a way to avoid putting in the work… Work which often results in struggle and failure (a natural progression of improvement) which is why we would rather buy all the things, read all the expert advice, and then only barely scratch the surface of becoming adept at hobby.

It’s so easy to get caught in this cycle of reading and buying and never actually skill-building. It’s tragic. We do it to protect our ego, and the ego is a real baby about stuff like “not being immediately amazing at a new skill”.

Don’t let your ego trick you into this. Do the work with the gear that you have (unless you’re like… Sky diving or something… Please don’t skimp on protective gear. Like, ever) and as you improve you can “earn” new gear.

You can read the rest of the discussion at your covenience. The point I want to leave you with is, let yourself off the hook. You can’t afford expensive tools? No problem, neither can I. We’re all doing this for as cheap as we can. Often, there are ultra-cheap/free ways to get where you need to go. Don’t be afraid to be stingy.

Art is one of those rare places where talent, not money, still unlocks the door. It may be harder for you, but when you win, no one can take your victories away. All the struggle and work will become part of the journey.

 

Sci-Friday #87 – Scifi Soviet Smart Home

Scifi Soviet Smart HomeThis Sci-Friday comes courtesy the former Soviet Union. ‘Soviet futurism’ was a concept early on in the USSR, but it continued throughout the regime in the form of some fascinating concept art. Today, let’s explore thing right out of a retrofuturism catalog – a Scifi Soviet Smart Home!

How did this start? Two words: Russian Futurism. That’s “the broad term for a movement of Russian poets and artists who adopted the principles of Filippo Marinetti’s “Manifesto of Futurism,” which espoused the rejection of the past, and a celebration of speed, machinery, violence, youth, industry, destruction of academies, museums, and urbanism;[1] it also advocated the modernization and cultural rejuvenation.”

The Soviets were keen on describing what type of future they were hurtling toward, and made use of books, art, and movies to help explain what they were hoping to achieve.

“In 1970, the staff of the Soviet journal “Science and Technology” predicted full automation of the construction of buildings, roads, dams and the emergence of a whole network of ground and air transport, operated by an autopilot, by 2000 … One of the prototypes of the modern smart home was the project of electronic equipment “Sphinx” (a superfunctional integrated communication system).” – from slavorum.org

Kick back, and enjoy this video walkthrough of the Scifi Soviet Smart Home “Sphinx”:

You can read more about the Sphinx home here. 

I wrote a scifi short about the bad side of smart homes, but this is still interesting nonetheless. Enjoy and Happy Friday!

 

New Draft of Mesh Done

Just a quick note – I’ve been re-drafting Mesh for a couple of weeks now. Pleased to say it’s about 90% done and out to Beta readers to catch their feedback while I finish it out. I’ve already had one random lit agent express interest, so my hope is to have a final draft in her hands in a week or so.

Thanks for being a part of this journey. Write on!

Why YA Publishing is a Mess Right Now

Yikes. This is kind of a bad-news/good-news post, in the context of Mesh. Since Mesh is considered a ‘high-MG/low-YA’ novel, I’m keenly interested in what’s happening with the publishing market. That’s why I was concerned when I heard a lot of tweets saying ‘YA publishing is a mess.’ Like, what?

I did some digging, but nothing seemed to make sense. Nothing in the news, no major blog posts. I started asking authors on Reddit and Twitter and got a breakdown which I’m sharing with you here. First, read the explanation, and then we’ll talk about what this means for Mesh.

Interestingly enough, I asked this question on /r/pubtips and the answer was good enough for /r/goodlongposts:

I think this might have happened anyway, especially given we don’t actually know precisely why they closed. YA has had declining sales for a while; it’s an over-saturated category. With Jimmy, it’s possible James Patterson would have decided to shutter the “original” part of the imprint regardless. With Imprint, Macmillan recently got a new President, and he’s clearly making moves. COVID may have simply… hastened some decisions.

COVID has impacted publishing more than I think people realize. TV too. Yes, from our perspective “hey we’re doing these things more than ever!” but a lot of regular cash flow streams dried up because COVID changed buying habits and many businesses simply weren’t equipped/prepared for certain steady “norms” to bottom out so drastically. I work in TV as my day job and yes we’re still chugging along (yay I have a job!) but advertiser dollars are down across the board, and many many many many customers are cord cutting b/c of, well, suddenly falling into extreme poverty. Also production completely shut down so most media companies are literally… running out of content. It’s gonna be BLEAK very soon when everyone realizes no new shows ha. Continue reading

Sci-Friday #86 – Metropolis Concept Art

I love the transition of concept art to film – here’s a beautiful example: art from Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis.’ If you haven’t seen it, get off your butt this instant. From 1927, Metropolis is still considered one of the most interesting, impactful science fiction movies ever made.

Sci-Friday #86 – Metropolis Concept Art   

Sci-Friday #86 – Metropolis Concept Art   

   

Seeing a hundred year-old version of dystopia, and in some ways seeing it played out in modern life, gives you a lot to think about. William Gibson is famous for saying: “All fiction, whether straight or genre, whether literature or Literature, is a personal reinterpretation of its writers’ existence during the time the fiction was written.” I’d be interested to know what Lang and other cast members were trying to interpret from their time.

Happy Friday, and have a great weekend! 😀

 

Grinding Scifi Short Stories

Grinding Scifi Short StoriesRan into this helpful site while discussing short story publishing. The Submission Grinder is a website dedicated to the process of submitting scifi and fantasy short stories. Why? Because you get rejected a lot! Every SF/F writer has about a million rejection slips on their desk these days.

This revelation has given me new energy to go back to the drawing board and give some short stories another chance at publication. Visit my Short Story Board to find out where my stories are being submitted to.

In the meantime, I hope you find Submission Grinder to be helpful. I pass along all the free tools I find – let’s get better together!

Visit The Submission Grinder

The Hidden Cautionary Scifi Tale of Mesh

The Hidden Cautionary Scifi Tale of Mesh

I ran across this article on Sunday and it reminded me that I haven’t talked to you about the moral of Mesh. Yes, Virginia, there’s a moral. In fact, there’s a hidden cautionary scifi tale within Mesh.

Within the story, I talk about kids inventing a world-changing technology. By the end of the book, you’ll be scared by the implications of that technology. That’s my intent. Why should technology scare you? Let’s talk about that. First, let’s discuss the article itself and then we’ll talk about how Mesh connects.

Is Technology Making Things Better? That’s a good question. For geeks, we focus on what could be, not why it should be. We’re wired that way. Civilization follows behind, happy to reap the rewards of our curiosity. As a result, humanity has run a rabid, manic marathon of discover for two centuries now. Are we better off because of these new inventions and possibilities?

“We face a growing array of problems that involve technology directly or indirectly,” as Dr. John K. Davis of California State University, Fullerton states. “[T]he core problem is that we’re becoming more powerful but not more wise. The growing gap between our technological power and our wisdom is the ultimate cause of all these problems. We are clever enough to create problems we aren’t wise enough to avoid. ”

Dr. Davis is focusing on something I knew would be important to talk about when I started writing scifi four years ago: the Why of technology, and not just the What. I disdain scifi that’s little more than a sophisticated toy catalog. If you’re going to have laser swords and starships, I want to know why you have them. I want to know what this technology can do to push the human condition forward. Continue reading