Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why Not? Let's Make Some Dick Jokes

I don't really believe in so-called Writer's Block.

I think that anybody who sits down at a computer really wanting to write can put words on the page. Perhaps they won't be great words. Perhaps they'll need to be changed or cut later. Still, they'll get out of you and onto the page, and you'll have written something.

Most of the time I feel that Writer's Block is really just a lack of motivation to do the work of writing. It's a person - who fancies themself a writer - sitting down not to write, but to be brilliant. We can write whenever we want to. We can't always write well whenever we want to. However, if you aren't prepared to write badly every now and again you're going to have a hard time making steady progress.

I know this. I believe this. And yet, I often find myself unwilling to write badly. It is a holdover element of my old perfectionism that if I let a word remain on the page for very long it needs to be good. It can't just be serviceable. It can't be "I'll replace it later." It can't be "Let's just get through this portion and come back to it, when the rest of the book can inform it better."

It's a bad habit, and I need to break myself of it if I ever want to get all these stories out of my head. I've decided that I will first start with renaming the problem. I don't like Writer's Block.

I'm going to call it E-write-tile Dysfunction (EWD). Yes, I am basically writing this post for the sake of that joke alone. Sue me.

I've had a bad case of EWD for awhile now, but I think I'm getting through it. My commitment is firming up, you might say. I'm ready to go at it hard and fast. Once I've covered the page, I'll take a second look and see what sticks. But rest assured, at the end of it all I'll make sure my audience is satisfied.

Yeah, I'm done now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Talk to Me in a Different Setting

Not that you talk to me much here. Would it hurt to call now and then?

That of course doesn't apply to those of you who do, in fact, talk to me here. And elsewhere. Love you guys.

In any case, I'm the Reddit Fantasy Writer of the Day over at /r/Fantasy. Basically it means I get to shamelessly self-promote for a day and answer some questions. Stop on by if you'd like to ask me something!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Short Stories: Complete Arc vs. Slice of Life

Personally, my definition of what constitutes a "short story" is pretty loose. Observe:

A short story is A) Short and B) ... nope, that's it.

By which I mean, I don't really have any expectation that a short story will give me a complete character arc or a complete "story" in the traditional sense. Many of my favorite short works serve largely to enunciate some idea, or to sketch a picture of an interaction that is more or less fully sensible without further context.

This means that a lot of my favorite short stories can easily be pieces of a larger work - which is A-OK by me. In fact, my first introduction to Ender's Game was through an excerpt included in the anthology There Will Be War. It stood perfectly well on its own.

My freely-available short "Le Morte d'Arthur" has garnered a number of reviews, most fairly positive. The most common negative mentioned, though, is that it is "too short." Now, I'm fine with this - first of all because nobody ever says a terrible story is "too short" so at least I know they wanted to read more. Second of all because most of the elaborations mention they don't think it constituted a full story - that it read more like the first chapter of a book.

To which I usually respond (silently): "Sometimes that's what a short story is - the first chapter to a book that hasn't been written."

I find it wonderful that so many people have expressed desire for an extension to that story. I'll gladly write it (I aim to please. If there's an audience for a story, I'm going to give it to them). However, I disagree that it needs it in order to be complete. The idea has been enunciated. The picture has been formed. As a short, I don't think it requires a complete character or story arc in order to stand alone.

This has come up a lot with me lately as I write additional short stories for a planned collection. Some of them are complete stories in the traditional sense, but many of them aren't. I keep wondering whether or not to address this issue within the collection itself through some kind of authors note. I suppose it must be a consequence of being an indie publisher that makes me want to prepare the reader's expectations so much...