Has it really been nearly a month since part 4? Man, I need to suck less.
Quick recap: I’m using this article: Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking as a springboard to talk about my own creative processes. What’s more, I’ve decided to wrap it up in this last post, since 9 & 10 are pretty thin.
9. There is no such thing as failure.
I hate this one because it’s bullshit and it has nothing to do with creativity. Yeah, you can learn from failure, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t failed. The trick is to not be afraid of failing, not to spackle over it as though it never happened and never will.
10. You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.
I’d have to say that asserting our own experiences as neutral until we give them meaning is pretty silly, but it’s a clumsy way to make a half-decent point. Every individual has unique experiences and those experiences create filters that profoundly affect our creative choices. Should we write a fight scene as a rousing show of strength or as a tragic outcome of human folly? Our own experiences directs those decisions and helps us create work that’s uniquely our own.
11. Always approach a problem on its own terms.
This part of the article is a little incoherent, but let’s gloss that over.
When I face a problem that needs a creative solution, I will often try to imagine how a more successful writer would fix it. How would a best-seller set up this scene? How would a pro handle this dialog? (I did the same thing with my social life for many years–how would a self-confident person behave? was my inner dialog on many a Saturday night.)
The article writer talks about this in general terms but gets it wrong. Don’t try to imagine the work being done by random people or amateurs. Imagine it being done by skillful pros capable of surprising choices.
12. Learn to think unconventionally
The subject header here is okay but the text in the article is wrong. Yes, we will need to push beyond the so-called “normal” thinking that will lead people to the usual solutions to basic problems. No we do not have to teach ourselves to make random associations or whatever. That’s now how it works.
This one is important: Creative solutions come from going beyond the normal, but that can be done in a methodical way. Many folks think writing jokes is about a lightning-in-a-bottle talent for inspiration, but in fact joke writers will often start with long lists of possible subjects, potential angles, and likely punchlines. They’re constructed like furniture.
For me, creativity works the same way. I don’t solve creative problems (and that’s what books are–narratives that can only be advanced through creative solutions) through some mystical skill of pulling together random things. In fact, I make long lists of possible choices, including the boring, stale ideas that have become cliche. I cross off the dull ones, then I cross off the ones that don’t work, then I keep adding to the list.
Telling me I should look for useful patterns in unrelated work is like telling me I should crave salty foods: I do that all the time anyway. What I need to be reminded to do is consume information from a wide variety of sources.
The basic point is that creative solutions don’t come from a different channel than the boring, cliche ones: they come after you’ve gone beyond the cliche.
And that’s the end of this particular blog project. I’m a little disappointed in it, mainly because the original article didn’t spur me to genuinely interesting insights. Besides, there’s been a sudden flux of new pop-non-fic about creativity and I feel as though I’m stuck in the mud while others are going farther and seeing new things. Hopefully, I can revisit the subject at another time.
Thank you to those who chose to serve their country, and to those who gave their lives in service. Thank you to those who died defending this country, and to those whose lives were wasted in wars we shouldn’t have fought.
A Blessing of Monsters has been retitled. Big surprise, right? There’s no way I’d be able to keep that title. Anyway, the new title is: Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts.
That’s unlikely to be the final title, either, I know. Titles are hard.
Let me drop this quick quote on you from a Writer Beware post:
The most financially successful self-publishers write more than their peers, and spend less time marketing. In fact, those self-publishers who marketed the most earned the least.
Authors’ online activity: Mostly good for having fun and maybe letting people know when something new comes out once in a while.
“I am not a small press. I am an author with 18 titles for sale. That is more titles that some big publishing houses. I have advertising currently running in Locus, Publishers Weekly, Fantasy and Sci Fi, and Revolver magazines. I have blog advertising across the entire blog-o-sphere. I am not a small press or even self published. M. R. Mathias’ books are PUBLISHED by Michael Robb Mathias Jr. and should be treated no differently that any big named publishers title. WHY? Because I do my job as a publisher too. Please quit sending my posts into the self published/small press thread. My titles are neither. I have 92k twitter followers @DahgMahn and 10 titles in their genre bestselling list. There is nothing self pubbed, or small, about books written by M. R. Mathias.
M.R.Mathias’ publisher, Michael Robb Mathias Jr.”
He’s not a self-published author because he does his job as a publisher. Or something.
He also doesn’t seem to understand why people think he’s an ass. But hey, his bad behavior is going to really hurt his sales right? Well, as I have been saying, not so much.
One of the books in question. That sales rank doesn’t exactly scream “self-sabotage.”
Wonder no more! Here are the top 3:
Of course that doesn’t include random beat boxing, which is almost constant.
Welcome to my life!
Once again, the editor mentioned in my subject header has been accused of rewriting author’s stories without their knowledge and permission, but this time he reportedly offered to let the author buy the story back at an increased price!
Hey, I guess adding rape and bestiality scenes ups the word count, right?
making books: a blessing of monsters moi? progress words
by Harry Connolly
“I’ll never buy one of your books!”
Seriously. Don’t say this.
It used to be that, whenever authors went online, people told them “Be careful what you say! Don’t be political! Don’t be controversial! You’ll drive away readers!” And people believed that, too, until it became clear that it just wasn’t true.
The truth is that most writers don’t care about some stranger who pops up and swears they won’t give us money. That just means they’re part of the largest set of human beings on the planet: My non-fans.
What’s more, it just makes a reader look silly. So if you are never going to read some particular author’s work again, go for it. Hey, blog about it or Twitter about it with your friends. But don’t bother telling the author, because they don’t care.
In other news, life has been determined to interfere with my revisions on A Blessing of Monsters but I’m making headway. In fact, I’d be nearly finished with them right now if I hadn’t come up with a startling new idea that really pulls things together.
Tomorrow is going to be another big working day. I’m tempted to go on an internet fast so I can wrap this sucker up.
As I mentioned last December, my son has been writing a novel. A few weeks ago he gave me the first revised draft, and I have been working on a copy edit and edit letter for him. Well, I finished it last night and it’s waiting for him to notice it.
He did a fine job, to be honest. His draft came to nearly 10K words and was pretty clean. “Pretty clean” in this case means that, while there were a lot of corrections on each page, they were the same errors over and over. I think that, by the time he reaches page 50 on these edits, he’ll have punctuation around quotation marks down pat.
The title of the story is “The Twin Swords of Zordain” and it’s a comic fantasy. The current plan is that he will do the revisions and I will publish it here, on this blog. For this, he’ll receive a penny a word.
I foresee many Pokemon cards in our future.
Anyway, last week we were walking together to the bus, and we started talking about the edit letter. He was feeling a little anxious about it, because of course he wanted it to be finished for him two or three days after he gave me his manuscript.
And he wanted his money. “See, Dad, I had the money for the booster box I just bought, but I won’t have any new money until you finish my book. So, if you could get that back to me, that would be great.”
So I gave him a hug and welcomed him to my world.
Anyway, the envelope is still sitting on the table waiting for him. We’ll see how long it takes him to notice.
In other news, the book I started at the same time through the same process is going through some pretty heavy revisions. Work work work.
As I mentioned last month, I had an idea to create a homeschool project based on Mur Lafferty’s post on sexism. Basically, I asked my son to keep watch for three instances of girl-hate just like in the opening of BURN NOTICE.
It took a few weeks (we don’t watch a lot of TV or partake of other media), but he identified them. Two came straight out of episodes of BN, basically “punch like a girl” type stuff.
But the third one makes me a little sad. There’s a game I really like called Sentinels of the Multiverse; the boy and I play it a couple of times a month. In the course of supporting and following their Kickstarter, I discovered they have fun downloads on their site, one of which is a group of story challenges.
It’s a cool idea: You give yourself points based on in-game challenges they set: Defeat Baron Blade while playing as Legacy. Defeat a villain using only two heroes. Deal 20 or more damage in a single attack. Let the enraged T-Rex defeat the villain for you. Each is worth a certain number of points, and you get to count them up.
The problem comes from this challenge: “Catfight: Win a four-hero game against Citizen Dawn while using only female heroes.” Citizen Dawn is sort of a Magneto-style villain, the leader of a large number of low-powered villains and she’s pretty tough. However, as I explained to my son, if you have to come up with a special word for it when women do it…
Anyway, it’s still a great game and I still enjoy playing it. I really like trying to work out the best ways to pick heroes whose powers complement each other, especially against a specific villain. When the second edition comes out, I plan to push it to you guys (or you can still get it from Kickstarter.) But, you know, I wish I hadn’t had to explain this thing to my son.
Lesson over. I hope it sticks.
So, you guys know I’ve been working on shedding the pounds, yes? I’ve always been a big guy (When I was a teenager I had a 44″ chest, and it wasn’t muscle or fat–it was all rib cage) so I’ve always tended toward the heavy side of the bell curve. Then I got fat for real and reached, at one point, 304 lbs. Cut for triggery talk of weight loss and gross picture of cholinergic urticaria. more »
Folks, I just donated $25 to The Hero Initiative, which is basically the price of three matinee tickets to The Avengers (plus a buck).
The movie is bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, and none of that goes to the people who originally created that content, many of whom are living in difficult situations. I donated as a way to show my thanks and my respect, and I hope you do, too.
The second symptom of a kid’s sickness is a ruined schedule. In a few hours, my wife will return home and I can tag-team out to do some
Luckily, I’m utterly immune to disease of all kinds, like a paladin.
I call it the “bullshit.” As in: “I did one bullshit worth of work on my revisions today.”
Which isn’t fair to my revisions, because I found a minor inconsistency that I needed to hunt down and fix, and that stupid crap takes time. I would have had to fix this at some point, right?
Still, it’s frustrating to have this dumb stuff take so much time especially since it means I can only finish bullshit.
I saw THE AVENGERS yesterday with my son. He loved it, naturally, and so did I. While we waited for the bus home, I asked him which Avenger he would most like to be (a sure way to tell which he that was the most awesome) and his answer, after a moment’s thought, was Hawkeye.
Hey, who could argue with that? Or with a kid pretend-shooting arrows at all sorts of unlikely targets as we walked home.
Here are my thoughts on the movie: (Spoilers behind the cut) more »