Status Update: The Next Book, Series Titles, and Distribution

House of Cards has been out for nearly 10 months now and has brought a number of questions my way about when the next book will be available and what direction it will take.

House of Cards wraps up the Legacy of Shadow series in terms of this story and world by laying the groundwork for the events to come.  Despite all the chaos and struggle in both Master of the House and House of Cards, these books are the calm before the storm that Dori has warned of since their beginning.

For those following the books or in a less likely instance, following this blog, what I have coming in terms of a continuation of this story and world will really open up the mystery and mythology of these people and places.  Envy will begin taking direct action, new heroes will rise up to meet her, and the legacy of a past lost in shadows will be dragged into the light.

The next series going forward will be titled, “The Shadow of the Herald” and the tentative title for the next book will be, “The Second War of Sin”.  Familiar faces like Dori and Julian will make brief appearances and characters who played a hand in the previous books like Vavian and Sarai will have more of their past revealed.  A dangerous female protagonist and her companion, a fallen Templar from Britannia will confront Envy on her own terms with a combination of strength and cunning that the old sin may not be prepared for.

Readers will begin to see more of the King’s Realm beyond Seaside, learning of the rigid class structure in the great City State of Britannia as well as the wild and frigid landscape of Keldj where not even the undead can tread the wilderness.

I am very excited to bring this next book forward.  It is currently in editing and following that I will begin sending out queries for publication.  With this next novel being a clean break from the last, I plan to try for a more traditional publication route.  The most common question I had on the previous two books was about paper copies.  I’ve heard the requests and for those interested, it’s my #1 issue this time around.

I hope to start updating the site with some relevant content to the next book in the coming weeks.  I look forward to any feedback or comments you might have.

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Digital Publishing – Notes from the Field

When that first manuscript is complete and you step back from the keyboard to consider what you have created, there comes a point when you have to decide just what you will do with it.  There are a few options, but what we all want to do is have our work seen, in one form or another and that almost always means publishing.

The traditional publishing route is fraught with difficulty and negative experiences that might falsely give the impression that your work is inadequate.  The other side to that coin is self-publishing, which once held the stench of desperation, failure, and misplaced pride in a way that almost no other business venture did.  It was the last avenue for writers who could not break through to publishers or the agents who held the keys to the kingdom of literary recognition.

Let’s not mince any words here; getting your message through to publishers and agents is difficult.  The advice you will hear is varied and at times contradictory on how to even begin.  The changing market for online publication has opened up a host of new opportunities that for some are a more preferable option than the old ways.  If your desire is to go it alone, with some planning and a willingness to let your work speak for you, digital self-publication offers a great deal of flexibility and opportunity.

To begin, I feel like I need to reinforce one key idea here; digital publishing on your own is all about persistence and perhaps a bit of savvy.  Online publication options have changed the publishing landscape in a fundamental way.  Let’s begin with the assumption that you are a capable writer and you have a good story to tell.

What do you have to do in order to succeed now?  You have to be as good as you think you are.  An avenue for your work to be judged by the people who matter most is open to you however, the proof of your work has to stand on its own.  What I would like to do here is set forth the five things I believe are necessary for engaging the world of digital publishing and for helping your work to stand out as something exceptional.  It’s not a path I’ve mastered, like you I am an adventurer in this new untamed wilderness.  Like all other trailbreakers, our survival and success depends on learning from those who have gone before and by sharing the tools of our trade.

Continue reading

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Cover Concepts: Visualizing a Theme

HoC-Rough-Draft-704x1024

If there is one thing I am guilty of in my writing (ok, there are quite a few, but one specifically that I take a small amount of pride in), it is my attempts to tie a number of individual stories into one powerful theme.  I feel that cover art should be the reader’s first opportunity to recognize that theme because quite contrary to popular opinion (and possibly contrary to good sense) we most certainly do judge a book by its cover.  So when I go about sketching my crude designs for a cover I know that not only does the art need to connect with the story, it has to tell the story with a single glance.

The cover for Master of the House essentially ends up being one of those portraits that wealthy families or corporations commission of their important people to denote success. It is a snapshot in time that says, “Look here.  We are powerful and we will be remembered.”  Master of the House is a hard luck story of people overcoming adversity and their own failings even as the world around them descends into very dark times.  The book itself ends with a warning about how bad things will be for them going forward.  In a sense, the cover art, the portrait of those characters is the high water mark for their success amid the criminal empire of Seaside.  It also hopefully begs the question of the reader as to how the guy in the suit gets to be the one with power when surrounded by such obviously dangerous individuals.

Now we come to the sequel, House of Cards and the dire warning left for things to come:

No one, could have foreseen how quickly the delicate house of cards we had built would fall apart.

We were set against a creature whose designs on the world included the death of a God.

We would not escape unscathed.

Now I edited that slightly to avoid any real chance for spoilers, but between that passage and the title of the book, the reader knows things are about to fall apart.  The over arching story and the saga in Seaside in particular use the progression of the Fool in Tarot readings for its symbolism in accordance with growth and struggle.  With that being the case and this book being about a massive reversal of fortunes, I devised a cover scheme that would mimic the traditional callings of the Wheel of Fortune cards in Tarot decks.

Let’s go ahead and look at the first draft layout sent to me by my artist Josh.

HoC Rough Draft

So, the first thing to keep in mind is that this is a draft (a damn good one, but still a draft).  A few things, like the center character image, are only place holders.  Likewise, the character in the lower right corner just ended up disturbing the composition of the piece and was later removed.  Let’s talk about the symbolism for a moment and the not so obvious things.

One thing that I like in particular here, is the complicated steam and gear mechanics in the background.  The technology of this world is rooted in steampunk concepts and tropes, but it is played subtly, as if it is just something to accept.  The steampunk stylings are not the core concept of this world, but because there are some major technological intrusions in this story, I felt that placing the hint of it all there to be seen after the fact was a nice touch.  Especially because the actual wheel of fortune in this instance is a gear.  When the significance of this is revealed late into the book, I think anyone who notices all this will get look back with one of those ‘ah ha’ type moments.

Fortune-JacksonNow, the Wheel of Fortune is the card or event that symbolizes a turning point, the rise and fall of people and forces via events beyond our control.  Depending on the time period, the artist, and the style; the card will always depict a few central characteristics.  A heavenly presence, a central figure in or controlling the wheel (usually Fortuna), and one person rising on the wheel while another falls.

Knowing that this is the story about how things fall apart, there are some ominous tidings already in the cover that an attentive reader will pick up on.  Envy is clearly at the center of the wheel, marking her influence on the events that have transpired or will transpire.  Worse yet, is that the heavenly figure is replaced by a dragon who looms over every thing below, both good and evil.  Yet still through it all, despite his haggard appearance, it is Julian who is rising on the wheel of fate, showing that while things are certainly not good, hope has not yet died.

Of course, that leaves the fate of the character on the other side of the wheel entirely in question.  Someone is falling from grace while Julian is rising out of the fires.  Blame has to fall somewhere for such an occurrence and when your villains are incarnations of sin…we can be sure that the heroes will be held responsible somehow.

tarot-art-nouveau-italiano_MLA-O-89844479_8856So what of style?  The last cover held a very detailed, very oil painting like quality that marked the pomp and circumstance of Julian’s Syndicate.  This cover will diverge from that significantly.  After carefully considering the options and discussing the matter with Josh, we agreed that an art nouveau style was the perfect way to implement the sweeping changes that the picture was to depict.  I’m told that unruly lines and curves denote this style and that fit perfectly into my desire to see a cover that was more or less out of control (and to color outside the lines).

This example of art nouveau to the left captures the colorful movement and lack of crisp boundaries that we’re moving towards with the cover for House of Cards.

Stepping away from the thematic now, I thought it might be fun to give a look into how or why characters look the way they do and the way in which the discussion with your cover artist can influence that look.  For this example, I’m going to use Envy as the character in question.  I like to start general with the description, hitting the important notes and then working from there.  So, this was my initial description of Envy:

EnvyShe should look enticing, sexy even.  My idea is for her to be in a slender green dress that accentuates everything, blonde hair with sharp elven features.

One thing that I really have to point out here, and something that Josh would probably note as well, Envy aside, I have purposely avoided selling these covers to the audience by sleazing up the female cast members.  I really can’t stand the books that sell their story through the image of a female knight baring a midriff or who wears thigh high boots sans pants.  Point being, when I purposely noted that this charcter was meant to be alluring, it is to accentuate the fact that she is a Deadly Sin.

What I got back in regards to Envy’s distinct look was varied and provided a great range of choices.  Let’s look at them now, starting with the ones least fitting and ending with the option I eventually chose.

Envy3e

Let’s call this the “coy tom-boy” look.  To me, this is a very specific kind of appeal that doesn’t exactly hit the legendary beauty or temptation mark.  She is also somewhat more aware and smug than I wanted to show here.  The eyes and expression show off a threat that the heroes might understand, but is too well defined in the context of the story for now.

Envy2d

Here we encounter the same issue as before.  She is too assured, too outwardly dangerous or smug.  The most dangerous thing about this villain is her ability to use your own failings against you.  It is difficult to think that the clever character in the book woudl not immediately recognize this kind of character as dangerous.  In my mind, this was the “Spider Queen” look, very suitable for other ideas, just not right for this one.

Envy1aThis picture here, which I think of as the “Vallejo” look, is a perfect example of how your own discussion or idea can go just a bit too far in one direction despite being exactly what you were looking for.  The larger image of Envy here is enticing and she has that classic fantasy beauty to her.  It’s a great image, but it is also not exactly what I was looking for.  She’s cold and distant despite being attractive.  That being said, I almost went with this one because I am certain that colored in pastels, it would look amazing…

Envy1c

A surprise runner up, yet completely out of contention, I love this “Wild Child” look.  It was not Envy.  I knew that as soon as I saw it, but at the same time, I knew that this look could and should be recaptured for some other characters, likely the Shadow Elves.  She’s not prisitine enough here and there’s too much nature in the hair and gentle eyes.  I would love to use this as a base for other elven characters, especially the heroic ones.  She’s just not evil enough for Envy.

Envy1bAnd now we arrive at the chosen entry to represent Envy on the cover of House of Cards.  This particular look at her really captures the essense of this complex villain and her venomous allure.

This example nails the classic beauty ideal head on.  The slight tilt of her head and focused eyes portray the idea that she is considering her subject but do not betray the dark intent behind those thoughts.  Further, there is an innocence displayed here that in my mind, differs from the previous example with the “Wild Child”.  The innocent glance here is almost practiced, purposeful even.  This is a woman who has learned to destroy people by suggesting it to them as a best course of action, not someone who has to compell or force her victims into ruin.  When I think of dangerous beauty, this is where it takes me.

Thanks for taking a look at the design process and thanks to Josh Beach for allowing me to use some of the draft material in the discussion.  I hope to preview the cover a little bit prior to the book’s release this month.

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Giving It Away

Character knowledge versus reader knowledge, what is the proper balance?

The title of this post references the idea of giving away your “catch” in a story.  How does the author do this?  When is the right time for the author to drop knowledge?  When one character is in possession of more information than others, how long can the author strike a balance between giving away the major plot points and keeping a reader interested?

Complicating the matter further, at the beginning of a complex narrative, how does the author establish a basic understanding with the reader for the book to move forward?

These were all easy questions for me to answer when writing Master of the House.  That book being heavily character based allowed me to pair up the reader with Julian from the beginning.  As the reader developed questions, so did Julian.  There was parity there.  To keep things interesting for the reader, to keep them feeling intelligent and as if they were in a superior position, Dori would reveal other information in scenes apart from the main cast.  Turnbill also served this purpose but in a contrasting way and after the crux of the conflict was revealed, Envy participates in this dialog with the reader as well.  From a writing standpoint, the questions at the beginning of this post were never an issue.

Now, my follow up work, tentatively titled Children of the New Potential, faces a far more challenging method for delivering information and foreshadowing.

In this new book, I have the challenge of informing the reader of a vast and sweeping plot/concept and at the same time, I have characters who are learning the same things as the characters.  The difficulty comes in how to deliver plot information and still have it be believable.  This applies both to the reader and characters as well.

I am working within a fantasy realm here and the crux of any issue has to be…well, fantastic.  Trying to preserve character motivation and rationality in this environment is difficult.  If one character reveals critical information but does it such that it is presented flatly as an explanation, it sounds crazy.  I don’t mean “crazy” to the reader, they are reading a fantasy novel and have already suspended their disbelief.  I mean that a character is just as likely to say, “Right, right, end of the world…dragons, wizards, threat to all mankind… Piss off you crazy kook” as they are to say, “Let me go get my sword”.

So, to move a complicated plot forward, information has to be presented in a sane manner to the characters so that the reader can understand their motivation in context of the situation.  Think about Star Wars.  Even with Luke’s desire to leave his home planet, Obi Wan’s initial offer to travel away for adventure is rejected as “impossible”.  Only when it is shown that Luke has nothing to stay around for because his family has been killed does he make the decision to leave.  That example carries through this whole discussion despite Luke’s final choice being so obvious.  (Removing ALL other choices is a somewhat blunt way to show motivation but it works)

For plot driven stories, the author must strike a balance between showing and telling.  Too much telling and you give away not only the plot but all the suspense that builds up to the conclusion.  Too much showing robs your characters of an ability to mold the events in their own perception.  Go back to the above example of Star Wars.  Obi Wan tells Luke a whole lot in the scene after rescuing Luke but he tells the events from his perspective.  There’s clearly more to what’s going on than the viewer knows and there’s more going on than Luke knows but the plot has moved more into focus.  We know that this character Darth Vader is not only bad but is tied to Luke’s history from what we have seen and now heard.

Children of the New Potential has a character named Laylani in it.  She is an Elf of Deep Shadow much the same as Rozalin and LeShaitan from Master of the House.  Her role in the story is that of messenger.  She knows far more than any of the other core characters in the book.  The adventure that Laylani will lead them on is based on this knowledge.  To advance the plot, Laylani has to act on what she knows.

Laylani becomes my voice as the author amongst the group where plot is concerned.  She understands the threats they are facing and knows enough to explain the immediate problems that they are facing.  Just like Obi Wan from earlier, the information she reveals is colored by her own perception of things.  In her case, she thinks that she knows more than she really does.

This becomes for me, what I started to question at the beginning of this post, how to strike a balance.  Laylani reveals what she knows to the other characters and to the reader.  However, the reality of the world and the threats they face become the “showing” that keeps the plot from being revealed too early or too easily.  The “showing” also reveals that Laylani may not have as tight a grip on things as she first thought.

A far reaching and plot-centered as Children of the New Potential is, my main method for delivering information to the reader and other characters is preserved from merely being a plot device by her own vulnerability of not having the story as correct as she thinks she does.  Slowly, she will come to find that the clear lines she has established in her head to go about her tasks, are not so clear.  The understanding of it all that she shares with the readers becomes a point of sympathy for her when the reality of the situation is shown to differ from the reality in her mind.

Tough subject matter to be sure and writing about it without the source material being available for review at this point is even more difficult.  I apologize for that.  Much of what appears here and what will appear in this blog is a way for me to organize thoughts as I write and look back on it to explain my thought process as it moves forward.

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The Point of No Return

The point at which it is further to go back than it is to continue forward.  ^_^

My “second” book, such as it is for the moment (dependent on whether or not Master of the House is broken into two books at some point) is now over 50% complete.

I’d be lying if I said that this was easier or even as easy as Master of the House was to draft.  Working within the confines of a planned length and moving through knowing that a full revision would be required have been very trying on my creative style.

I often have to accept the fact that my page count per day is around half of what it normally is due to this, but the grind continues.  The biggest challenge really has been the structuring of chapters.  Previously, I would write chapters under a theme that would run clearly through.  This time around, chapters are presented more in a scene format with shifting to another location or into another obstacle as the call for beginning or ending another chapter.

If I wasn’t in the middle of it all, I would think that smaller bites and more concise sections would make for easier writing.  Working towards creating something that is “market ready” has proven to be anything but.

That being said, sometime in June this work should be complete and I will be in the midst of editing (and more regular site updates).

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Villains

Most stories live and die by the worth of their villains.  They are in one way of looking, the reason for telling stories.  There are rare exceptions.  Stories of self exploration and mastery, biographies, etc can all circumvent the need for an outside actor to move the plot along.  When it comes to fantasy fiction the need for an evil, an obstacle, or person of ill intent is key to the genre.

I think it can be very easy to slip into the trope of the mustache twisting black hat villain in fantasy fiction.  To avoid this, I think that rooting your story in the antagonist motivation is critical.  When I began conceptualizing the Legacy of Shadow series, I honestly did not have a set direction for it.  The world came first and presented me with problems that really bothered me and somewhat ruined the rationale for such a place.

I knew that I wanted some omnipresent force to oppose the heroes.  I knew that I wanted this force to be something that did not have to confront them directly, but that could corrupt their very reasons for stepping into the field of conflict.  My first attempt at the character who would become my ultimate villain for this series was known only by title: “The White Witch”.  Please bear in mind that at the time, I had absolutely no knowledge of The Chronicals of Narnia.  Seriously.  I didn’t.

This character was aloof and distant and somehow responsible for the trials and tribulations of the world I created in the Legacy of Shadow series.  She was generic and…boring.

So, I began to ask myself questions about her.  What had she done to be responsible for the undead curse placed upon the land?  Stepping back, I had to ask, what is she to begin with?  ”Elf” was the answer.  More specifically, a “Light” elf when compared to the thus far heroic “Dark” elves that this world and its characters encountered.  Then came the inversion, the typically heroic by nature good-guy forest elves would somehow be responsible for…what?  Or should it even be all of them?  Why not just one?  What if one member of this otherwise pristine race of creatures did something so terrible, that…

That what?  What could one character do that would be so condemning to vilify that character for all time?  The answer was:  she is responsible for the death of her entire race.  Already there were no light elves in the story but there were uncountable undead creatures.  So, this character became responsible for the death of her entire race and that genocide resulted in a world ravaged by undead hordes of elves.

Now we were getting somewhere.  It wasn’t very far down the road but the wheels were spinning.

What would make a character commit genocide on their own race?  Would it be purposeful?  Or would it be accidental?  Well, one thing that was certain in my mind was that this villain would be something that a reader could understand however, sympathy was not something I wanted to extend to her.  Accidental was right out.  Purposeful?  This was a more difficult thing to accomplish.

I was stuck.  I needed something beyond petty vengeance, something grand something…that was eluding me.  That’s when Jimi Hendrix happened to me.  That’s when I turned up the music in my car and happened to turn my ear at the right moment to hear the lyrics that unlocked the remainder of my story.

“Anger he smiles, towering in shiny metallic purple armor. Queen jealousy, envy waits behind him. Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground…”

It wasn’t much but the idea of sins personified struck me just the right way.  It’s been done countless times, sure.  This time though I felt I had found a unique hook.  This “White Witch” became Envy in my mind, the personification of a unique and deadly power.  (Her color happily changed in my mind as well.)

What would the personification of Envy possibly find herself jealous of?  What would a creature with immense power and a hatred of anything more powerful than it turn its attention towards?  God.  That personified sin would turn its rage towards the one thing that truly held dominion over it, in this case God.  Now the genocide of a entire race could make sense within the context of one powerful entity looking to dethrone another.

Thus my Deadly Sin Envy, the Queen of Jealousy was born.

The reasons that surround her actions and the way in which she achieves her goals are all details that play out in the book but the important thing here is that the villain’s motivations are genuine and even though a reader would not agree with her actions, they can understand those motivations never the less.

I began this by commenting that a villain’s actions are the driving force for most plots.  While this is true for Envy’s actions as the story moves forward, she is still a somewhat distant, a force that can not be engaged for most of the tale.  Her motivations and the way by which she seeks to achieve those goals create a dread and even outright fear in other characters lending credence to their own actions.  This does not even speak to the ways when Envy does reach out into the moral realm, how characters who are directly touched by her actions take on a villainy all of their own.

Creating a complex villain on an epic scale has allowed me to tie characters, places, and most importantly a plot of epic scope into a story that has its roots in a concept that everyone can identify with “Too much is never enough”.

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Status Update

As of today, my second planned work has surpassed the 30% mark for completion.  I have a tentative title for this book:  Children of the New Potential.  That title may have to change because there’s a real chance it’s too long.  I don’t mind.  One thing that will not be too long is the actual length of this book.  After the initial difficulty I found in getting Master of the House to market, I have carefully plotted the length of my follow up work to ensure it is what those in the industry refer to as a “marketable length”.

I really only quote that because it seems to apply only to first time authors.

Soon enough I’m going to have to open up some new space on this site and begin outlining this new book in the same way that Master of the House is cross referenced.  Tomorrow will mark 21 days since I started working on this second book.  40,000 words in three weeks has left me very tired if I’m honest.  I did not even notice that my pace was moving along this quickly until my buddy told me not to burn myself out. (Hi Rob)

Gotta keep moving while I have the time to do so…

I will be posting a preview section of the new book tomorrow.

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Your Worst Reviewer

I’m almost convinced that I am unable to judge the strength or weakness of my own stories.  Not because I don’t have a good mind for storytelling, but because I either doubt what I write too often or on the other side I think too highly of something I have not transferred from my mind to paper properly.

Very frequently I find I have difficulty when coming to critical points in a narrative.  The difficulty presents itself in the form of hesitation.  I don’t want to move forward in writing because I hesitate about going one way or another.  It leaves me second guessing the route I went after the fact.  I imagine this is something every writer deals with.

Oddly enough, when I send story chapters out for review, it is frequently the ones I have the most doubt about that come back with the strongest positive reviews.

There could be any number of reasons for this.  Those chapters are often the ones that get edited an extra time or two before going out.  Or perhaps the deliberative process in creating them really hammers out the inconsistencies that I see while writing.  Never the less, I’m happy to be wrong in these instances and its a great relief when something you’ve gone over again and again comes back with positive reviews.

Of course, the other side of the coin is when something you felt really strongly about misses the mark entirely.  There are rare occasions when I think I’ve nailed a chapter and idea only to find that there were key things in my mind that did not translate to words.  At least then the solution is somewhat easy to incorporate, after all, your reviewers are able to tell you exactly what it is you were unable to see the first time through.

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What’s in a Name Part 2

Yesterday I began explaining the origin of sever character names and the reasons how those names came to be.  Let’s continue where we left off…

  • Turnbill - I needed a gangster of shadowy power, someone distant with a name that meant trouble.  It was a tough one to figure out honestly.  When I get in that trap, I often scan old fantasy stuff and look for something small to go off of.  My MtG cards had a character from the Legends series called “Riven Turnbull”, note the last name is different.  I took the idea and swapped the ‘U’ for an ‘I’ because my initial idea was for him to be a powerful bureaucrat gone bad.  In essence, he turned bills that resulted in death and dishonor.  Dumb, but it stuck and it sounded sinister like I needed.
  • Honest – Honest may be my favorite character in the book.  She’s my instigator.  Her name was meant to be a strict matter of fact.  I think sometimes using a name as a means of explaining a character is quite effective.  It plays out well as she evolves in the book as well.  Her name may be one of the most effective because a reader must constantly wonder when or if she will break from form.
  • Skylar – I really just thought up the name of the worst person I had any dealings with in high school.  This was the name of a boy so callus and selfish that he left a friend of mine in ruin for several years.  Also, I think it sounds really douchy.
  • Abiel - Another real life name brought to fiction.  This is the full name of one of my friends who goes by the shorter version of “Abe”.  Since this character is for all intents and purposes a religious nut, expanding his name to its original use carries a nice bit of odd religious weight to it.

On another note, I resolved my issue from yesterday.  It was in the lamest way possible too.  I simply reverted to the original name I assigned to the main character in my initial draft.  I was over complicating the issue.  Several of the potential names I was looking at were too long or too…much.  In the end, this character will be named Eric Sturgg.  ”Eric” has connotations of leadership behind it.  There’s an old Swedish King named Eric the Saint who worked to bring Sweden back to the old ways, which has a small thread of connection to this character.

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Fear and Loathing in the Digital Landscape

Criticism is kindness in disguise.

The creative process is something new for me.  Getting into a line of thought that keeps me generating content is difficult and unpredictable.  It’s not something that is easy to explain, especially if attempting to explain it to someone who does not engage in something similar in their own life.

The best way I can find to relate the entire process of creating and the uncertainty behind it is to ask you to imagine you are made of glass.  Everything you make or create is made of similar glass yet the world you exist in remains the same as always.  Everywhere you go and everything you do allows those around you to see through you.  It’s a sense of hollowness that I imagine is difficult to avoid.  There’s a sensation that the smallest wrong move will shatter you, that the wrong kind of criticism will break you.  It’s a feeling of being insubstantial but entirely breakable at the same time.

The things you create are subject to the same forces.  Having been the one to create something, you know how to look through it.  You know where the flaws in the glass are.  The sensation that anyone or anything could ruin your work with a careless flick of the wrist or a loud noise is ever present.  The only way to make the things you have created worthwhile at all is to subject them to this very destructive element of life.

I can understand how paralyzing feelings like these might be for someone.  In a world where everything is easily broken, including yourself, it becomes very easy to tip-toe around.

The truth about glass is that there are many different kinds of all colors and varieties.  These seemingly fragile worlds that we build up around us, both personally and in our work…they just aren’t as prone to breakage as we might think.  The rewards are distant and perhaps they will never be attainable, but the creative spark is a gift.

(As an aside, it occurs to me now that I don’t know if I’m reassuring myself or just stating what has always been in the back of my mind in regard to this kind of thing.)

How often have you heard “I wish I was as creative as you…” or “I never would have thought to…”?  The world is full of people who administrate, keep on task, and facilitate.  There is great worth in that kind of thing but there is also great worth in the act of creating something.  If you can create, you more than likely should do it.

It’s always a battle against self-image.  Success outside the creative process is easy to quantify.  There are measurable goals, obvious failures, titles, and achievement.  Whether you’re writing a book, working on a series of paintings, or building a website, the measurable goals are no where near as easy to identify.  That leads to an almost inevitable feeling of failing and God forbid you compare your work to something with measurable goals.  Like I said at the beginning, it’s akin to walking around the world while made of glass.

Finding self-satisfaction is the ultimate guard against this line of thinking.  It is a task that is immensely difficult to achieve on a personal level much less in regard to your work.  What other options are there though?  The other way of thinking leaves us afraid of shadows, thinking that everyone and everything is against us.  The first step in getting others to value what you do is to value it yourself.  The next step is to put your work out there.  Your work may be constructed of glass.  The fear of having that work shattered before you may be nearly debilitating.  However, only by letting light of criticism and review hit your work can you stop worrying about it breaking and begin enjoying the ways in which it shines.

Afterword:  I used to gouge my eyes out reading stuff like this.  I may in fact hate myself for writing/owning up to it.

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