Editing sucks! / Editing’s great!

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I am of two minds on this topic, obvy.

Let’s call it a journey, shall we? You can’t develop much of a writing career if all you do is write. And let’s face it – writing is the fun part and editing, as stated above, sucks.

At least that’s how I view it right now.

Current writerly wisdom states that first drafts are systemically awful, and that the true magic of storytelling happens in the editing process. Editing is also the barrier between a story and a publishable story. So my current views on editing are hobbling me as a writer.

I have always defined “progress” as “writing,” believing that if I wasn’t writing anything new, I was, in essence, standing still. All of my goals as a writer have not been focused on learning more about craft or honing my story-polishing skills. Wordcount, wordcount, wordcount, has been my mantra of writing success.

Until now.

I will be setting editing goals, just as real and relevant as my writing goals. Perhaps more so. I have seen the light, and the light has politely informed me that I have been getting in the way of my true end-goal, which is and has always been publication.

So here’s my new mindset: editing is awesome! Editing is fun! Editing is just as creative as writing! Editing and writing two inextricable components of the same process!

Editing’s great!

 

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Have You Heard My Voice?

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You may not know this about me. I’m a trained singer and actor. Those skills have found their place in podcasting, where I not only help host a podcast, but also narrate audio fiction.

And here you thought I was just another pretty face!

RecenKC_icontly, one of my narrations went live at the Kaleidocast podcast, where I was privileged to narrate “His Only Nose” by Richard Bowes. It’s a romp of a story, which I thought called for just a bit of an accent.

Check out my other voice work on my website, and if you have any audio narration, audio acting or singing needs, hit me up! Its fun to do and I want to do more.

​ I Have A New Story In The World! And A Podcast To Go With It

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My story “The Path That Splits the Oak Asunder” is live as part of the Kaleidocast podcast. Listen to the story here, then go to the website to find out more about the podcast. My story is in Episode 3.
You can listen to the podcast at the website, on Soundcloud, or on iTunes. If you like the podcast, there are 6 other episodes to listen to. Please subscribe, and rate us on iTunes.
The goal of this project is to share the extreme talent of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers alongside other excellent writers. It’s all nested inside a fractured other-Brooklyn I hope you enjoy exploring alongside the characters we’ve created to guide you along the way.
In future blog posts, I’ll share the long and winding road that led from “I love podcasts, so I should make a podcast” to the Kaleidocast, a very real and very cool thing in the world.
Hope you enjoy!

Con Report: World Fantasy Convention 2015

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I have to admit I was afraid at first of going to this convention alone. Sure, I can be social when I need to, but I’m not great at breaking in to groups of strangers.

Fortunately, I was only a stranger for about 24 hours. After that, the warm, wonderful family of writers and fans drew me in and it kept getting better from there.

Every convention has its own personality, shaped by the committee that puts the event together, the people who go, even the venue where it takes place. I found WFC to be, in some ways, the most welcoming and accessible (socially) con I’ve ever attended.

First of all, Saratoga Springs is off-the-hook adorable, a quaint little postcard of a town. That image was accentuated by the season: gorgeous, sunny weather that highlighted the gold, red and orange of the autumn trees. Cute shops everywhere, fun restaurants, everything within walking distance of everything else.

Because this is a fantasy-focused con, and I write mostly fantasy, I found a panel to address every story issue I’m currently facing. The fey? Check. Power, politics and economics in a fantasy world? Check. Magic in epic fantasy? Check. Ghosts? Check. Each panel had a diverse range of folks to bring expert perspectives to every topic. I couldn’t get enough.

And then there were the parties. To many, this con is a social event, a chance to reconnect with friends that only cons bring together. The writers I met in the bar – even writers who had not purchased passes – almost made me squee, fanboy style, at levels only dogs can hear. Seriously. I mean, Gail Carriger. Take that in for a moment. She’s just as sweet and stylish as you’d ever want her to be. I met so many amazing people at the bar or at parties sponsored by Asimov’s, ChiZine Publications, Tremontaine (a new web-serial from SerialBox.com – check it out!) and Altered Fluid (a professional writing group based in NYC) that was worth the price of admission alone.

Best of all, the icing on the cake, if not the cake itself, were the friendships and connections I made. I had conversations ranging from fun to deep, and left the convention feeling both personally and creatively revitalized. I’m already furiously typing away at new stories, and looking forward to seeing new friends at WFC2016 in Columbus, OH.

I Am An Old Nobody And I Love What I Do

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I’m just going to leave this here.

“Ask Polly: Should I just give up on my writing?”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the rejections. It’s easy to look at the success of others and compare it to your own position on the imagined ladder of success. It’s easy to find your own work inferior to the work that others have created.

You know what’s hard? The work itself. But if you love it, if you burn with it, if it wakes you up in the middle of night, if it goes on in your head even when you’re not actively doing it, just keep going.

Most other people quit before they can even achieve nobody status. So among nobodies, consider yourself king (or queen, or monarch, or fill in your preferred royalty here) if all you do is continue to create.

You care about the environment, but are you ready to punk it? Solarpunk!

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One of the many magical things that happened at Readercon this year, and which subsequently popped my poor brain like an overripe grape, resulted from being exposed to a new type of “punk”… solarpunk!

For those of you who don’t know, all the sub-genres bearing the -punk suffix share a set of characteristics. Steampunk, cyberpunk, afropunk, clockpunk, atompunk…you get the idea. They all harken to a certain maker mentality, an edgier vibe of ingenuity and do-it-yourself-ness. 

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

“…a world built on one particular technology that is extrapolated to a highly sophisticated level (this may even be a fantastical or anachronistic technology, akin to retro-futurism), a gritty transreal urban style, or a particular approach to social themes.”

Also referred to as eco-futurism, solarpunk is a literary and visual movement that addresses the problems I frequently face when attempting to write science fiction. It’s hard to project our current course as a species forward without arriving inevitably in a world of scarcity and decay. In otherwords, dystopian. Yawn. 

Not to say that compelling dystopian stories can’t be told. I’ve read The Hunger Games. I’m not so much bored with the premise as I am worn out by it. I read for enjoyment, to escape into a fantastical world, not a dark, depressing place where I can’t get enough to eat. 

It’s why I can only tolerate so much horror, and why I avoid grimdark like the plague. A number of sub-genres have sprung up to embrace entropy and the worst aspects of our baser natures. Or is that the best of the worst in us? Either way, not for me.

I see, or at least I want to see, a more positive future. Just as I turned to science fiction in my teens for its sense of adventure and discovery, I’m unwilling to turn to it now when that spirit is absent. Solarpunk subverts the cyberpunk future of technology that overwhelms our humanity, and puts human beings back into the equation, as makers of a brighter world.

Not a perfect world, mind you. Solarpunk has the potential to nestle within dystopian settings as well as supplant them. The stories solarpunk tells will still be human stories, perhaps all the more human for the acknowledgement of how connected to the environment we are, how dependent on it for our survival. 

Consider this example of solar punk micro fiction from Romie Stott, who led the solarpunk discussion at Readercon:

“California’s property-tax-funded electrical collectives worked like fire departments, ready to rush batteries and generators onto the grid when weather events took buildings’ self-powering systems offline. It was a skittery, nerve-wracking job, and Elena loved the adrenaline.”

From her blog, Postorbital: very short science fiction by Romie Stott (and worth a visit! Very inspiring).

I intend to give this a try. I have a deep fondness for all the “punk” subgenres, and this one hacks more than just the sun. It hacks hope. It hacks optimism. It hacks a brighter tomorrow. 

Won’t you join me?

Get inspired with these articles:

Solarpunk: a new movement sees the future in a positive light

Solarpunk, the LGBT Community, and the Importance of Imagining Positive Futures

The Solarpunks Tumblr Blog

Interview with Adam Flynn on Solarpunk

Innovation Starvation by Neal Stephenson 

A Solarpunk Reading List on Goodreads

Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto

Renewable energy from living plants!

A New Length for Fiction: The Commuter Novel

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If you look up how many words you have to write before you have a novel, the lower threshold goes down to around 50,000 words. That’s sort of an average, genre notwithstanding. But there it is. Write 50,000 words and, poof!, you’ve got a novel.

That may be why NaNoWriMo sets that lofty goal for the month of November, but it’s roughly half the length of what you’ll find on your bookstore shelves.

Introducing: the commuter-length novel.

In this brave new world of e-publishing, novels of this length are very marketable. Look at it this way; you can write one 150,000-word behemoth, or three commuters. Which will yield higher dividends in your virtual book store?

As a writer who struggles with the short story, I find this category intriguing. I sit down to write a nice, marketable 7,500-word short story, and end up with 12,000 words.

Another way to think about it is this: how quickly does the average reader read? How long is the average trip to work, or the average trip on a plane? Try selling your fiction, at whatever length, not by actual length, but by the approximate length of time it would take to read.

It’s just another approach to marketing, catering your message and the way that you present your work to the specific habits of your readership. Talk about customized content!

So whether you self-publish or are considering the professional route, this is a trend to keep an eye on. Here are a few interesting perspectives I found in a quick search. They may lead you in new directions of your own.

Commuter Fiction—Making a Case for Short Kindle e-books?