“The Hobbit” — 19 Days Away!

Taking a brief respite from edits to post this. Partly because I want to remind myself that I have a ticket to what looks like an amazing film at stake (by December 3rd I have to finish primary edits on the fantasy novel), and partly to remind you that we’re about to go back to Middle Earth.

So exciting, isn’t it?!

In less than three weeks, I will be trekking across mountains and rivers with a wizard trying to save the world, a Hobbit with more spirit in him than he realizes, and a collection of hilarious Dwarves. This is the kind of story cinema was made to tell, and I can’t be happier.

[Copyrights, of course, belong to Warner Bros.]

Now, back to edits! This book must be done as soon as possible.

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Sometimes, You Need a Carrot to Chase…And an Explosion to Outrun

Just a quick little post here. Sorry I’ve been absent for so long; I’ve been working hard on revising my novel and getting it ready to send off to the agent. And that has largely been happening thanks to adding some extra incentive. It has been a process of trial-and-error. At first I thought I could hold off on watching some of my favorite movies until the book was done.

Only problem is, movies have fed my imagination for my whole life. The realistic dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, the creatures and frenetic battles of all six Star Wars movies, the action of much swash and buckle in Pirates of the Caribbean, the immense landscapes and intricate worldbuilding in Lord of the Rings. They’re largely what inspired me to become a writer in the first place. And holding off on watching some of the best movies that came out this year would end up starving my imagination more than inspiring it enough to finish a book. Besides, how long could I say no to John Carter and The Avengers?

So, in lieu of that prohibition, I’ve realized I needed to have something to lose. So, I bought a ticket for the midnight showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and told local friends that the ticket was going to one of them (I’d pull the names out of a hat) if the novel’s in-progress revisions weren’t done by December 3rd.

So, you can imagine that lighting such a short fuse compelled me to move. Quick. I’ve been editing chapter-by-chapter, often multiple chapters a day, and trying hard to get The Wolfglen Legacy: Revived finished so I can keep said ticket. Myyyy ppprreeeeecccioouusssssssssss….

Once in a while, it’s not enough for a writer to give themselves a reward to accept when they reach the finish line. It certainly may be enough for you. But for someone who has largely starved his fiction-writing addiction for a while, I’ve discovered that that’s not quite enough. “Light fuse, run away.”

What strategies work for you in getting creative projects done? Do you need to have something at stake?

VICTORY – The Novel’s Finished

My aspirations to write a fantasy series solidified (more or less) five years ago. I embarked on a journey to create a world, to find a huge story worth telling inside that world, and play the part of Victor Frankenstein as I sent a life-giving shock through its muscles and bones. The months were drawn out by a curse of procrastination, a Bachelors degree to finish, and no small amount of laziness under the guise of writer’s block.

Tonight, that curse has been lifted. Revived, the first volume in my epic fantasy series entitled The Wolfglen Legacy, now has a complete first draft. Wrapped up into one bundle of documents and backed up across cyberspace, this first novel marks the beginning of my journey through the world and stories I have labored over since I was a teenager. Today, my writing as a career begins.

Today, I celebrate. Tomorrow is for revision. Lots and lots of revision. Half of the book, right now, is probably worse off than the hurried scribbles of a NaNoWriMo project, and reads like Cliffs Notes that only outline the plot, and hardly speak a syllable of the character development, worldbuilding, personality, or fine-tuned language I am aspiring to bring into this novel.

I have no idea how I’m going to pull those other things off. Fortunately, revision is a process I happen to relish, because that’s when I have something to work with. The old saying goes, “you can’t edit a blank page.” But now, Revived no longer has any blank pages. And at least for today, that’s victory enough.

God be thanked, it’s done. It’s finally finished. The dragon is slain.

"Tyrant's End: Morent's First Thrust." Image courtesy of E.J. Mickels II, a talented artist who was kind enough to paint this in 2006 for my short story "Battle at Engorlash."

Colorado’s Ideal Coffee Shop; An Editor for Your Manuscript; the PPWC

Well, here’s an odd little post. Two slightly-related-but-not-really subjects. Think of them as a bit of local advertising, related to two of the most essential things of life: writing and coffee.

If you’re ever in the region of Black Forest CO, and need some coffee served with a smile, look no further than R&R Coffee and Cafe.

http://www.rnrcoffeecafe.com/

One of the friendliest businesses you’ll ever know. [[I’ll post pictures of the place when I can.]] I’ve been on very good terms with the family that owns it for a couple of years, and they’re kind enough to let me write for long periods of time whenever I can visit.

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As for editing, you need look no further than Bree Ervin. I will be hiring her to look over my own novel once it is finished. With sharp wit, experience, and incredible professionalism, she has quickly established herself as a great consultant-for-hire for writers. In addition to being an editor, she also acts as a publicist, marketer, blogger, and a lover of twisted fairy tales and writer of zombie flash fiction. I recommend her blog, if you want to see her at work:

http://thinkbannedthoughts.wordpress.com/

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Either one would be terrific if you plan on attending the Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2012. Creativity and the whispers of a reinvigorated muse will find you in the friendly atmosphere of Black Forest and R&R (just half an hour’s drive away from the Marriott where the PPWC will take place), and you can experience Ervin’s humor and charm personally at the conference, where she will be teaching a workshop and offering all kinds of advice.

Hope you all have a pleasant day!

Writer’s Workshops: To Critique or Not Critique?

Written text with red ink. It is to some writers what crucifixes are to vampires.

Picture, if you will, two writing workshops. One of them coalesces each Thursday at the local Barnes and Noble, and often draws aspiring writers who need some encouragement to continue in the craft. Many of these less-experienced storytellers have not yet developed a thick skin for unflinching critique, or for rejection letters. As a rule, the workshop outlaws critique of someone’s writing during the time they read it to the group. Some members are more than happy to critique if it’s requested, but you can only give and receive positive comments during the workshop.

The other group is led twice a month at a nearby library, mostly drawing middle schoolers and high schoolers. After a few years of fun, open minded, just-get-it-on-the-page writing exercises, the longstanding group decides to go ahead with allowing critiques of each other’s work (written outside of the workshops, and brought to the group for the express purpose of putting its feet to the fire). The fun, raw creativity of writing exercises still goes on, but now critique sessions will be part of the experience.

I attend both of these workshops, and have led the latter for five years. Both have blessed my life with writer colleagues, and with resources for growing as a storyteller. I plan to keep going to both for as long as possible. The first one may not get many opportunities for its members to be direct with the weaknesses in someone’s writing, but I appreciate its attempts to accommodate new writers who are still shy and may simply need encouragement and a positive environment. The latter will help its attendees, I’m sure, with constructive criticism and iron sharpening iron, and I’m excited that the group is moving in a new direction. Still, the presence of criticism might, just possibly, turn off newcomers who are not yet ready to hear negative things about their writing, no matter how well-intentioned.

There are trade-offs, is what I’m saying. What you’re looking for and what you need as a writer will help you find out if a particular workshop is ideal for you. Some questions I have for writers out there, out of curiosity:

Which writer’s workshop would you rather attend, if you could only pick one?

What do you want from a workshop? What do you need? They’re not necessarily the same thing.

Do you prefer writer’s workshops that have no critiquing, or ones that make time for both critiques and fun exercises? Or do you want a solid critiquing session, where each member runs a gauntlet of highlighted typos, suggestions, and potentially devastating criticism of their words?

When it comes to workshops, how do you think new writers should enter the fray? What kind of group do you think stands to benefit them the most?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and get a discussion going. Thanks for your time, everyone! Catch you on Thursday.