Ramblings Of a Steampunk Writer

A blog about writing... occasionally mine. But, mostly just writing.

Personality Disorder & Voice: A Writer's Perspective

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Since deciding to become a writer I've discovered one of the best parts about being one is that you can be whoever you want to be. Feel like fighting a gang of train robbers in the old west? Done. Want take the fashion world by storm with killer designs while moonlighting as a super hero at night? Done. How about being a a hacker who works like a modern Robin Hood in the digital age? DONE!

I can be all and any of these things through my writing with a little research, time, and effort. Also, notes help.

At the end of the day, however, I'm still Kit with a thousand different facets. Being a writer for me means being more than one person; it means that sometimes I'm the villain, the hero, and the anti-hero. In DnD terms it means being lawful good, good, neutral, evil, chaotic, and sometimes a combination of those. (I like to mix things up.) Being a writer means--sometimes--having a million different interests to interweave into the character you become for a short time period.

But, it's more than that too.

Fahrenheit 451, written by one Ray Bradbury (my favorite writer of all time), was about a dystopian world in which firefighters burned books and mass censorship was the norm. Bradbury's key message through his character Montag was that censorship hurts. Changing something after it's written to suit the needs of society takes away from what it was. To him, it ruined not only books, their message, but the reader as well. And he sought to deliver this message to people through his novel.

While it's true that not every book has a message, or an agenda as some people might refer to it as, it is true that as a writer you can explain your views through your writing--through story and characters that count. This has always been one of my bigger goals as a writer. It makes of the very core of who I am--my identity--as a writer.

I like to tell a story that resonates and helps people see or feel something they might not have before.

As Carlos Fuentes said:


The Pen Name: Writing for a Different Genre & What It Means For Audience

Saturday, November 29, 2014

In 1968 James T. Tiptree wrote Birth of a Saleman for Analog Science Fiction. He corresponded with fans and others via letters, never once speaking on the phone or meeting with people at conventions. His life was private, and, many assumed his reasoning had everything to do with keeping his writing separate from his everyday. Considering many other writers of the time did the same, working another job on top of writing and not wanting either to become entangled, it was a sound explanation. But, in 1976 James was outed during a slip when he revealed in a letter that his mother had passed away."Inquiring fan-sleuths identified the obituary—and its reference to an only child, Alice Sheldon" (Techgnotic).

For female fan readers everywhere this meant the feminist themes in James’ stories made more sense. This also gave them reason to cheer when so many male fans of James’ writing, writers and simply readers alike, all felt there was no way such writing could come from a woman. Of the experience, Alice only had to say:

“I've had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damned occupation.” (Sheldon via Techgnotic).

Many writers like Alice have had similar reasons for choosing a pen name over the name they were given at birth (or, several days later if their parents had a case of indecision). For some, it really is a matter of keeping their identity hidden due to sexism. J.K. Rowling was also one of these women; her publisher, Barry Cunningham, thought that boys might be more likely to overlook the series if it was known a woman wrote it. Thus, her name—Joanne—was remade. (The K stands for Kathleen—her grandmother’s name.)

But it’s not just women.

In the romance genre it’s almost entirely unheard of for a man to write, so if one did write for it he too would likely choose a pen name that denoted him as female. Don’t believe me? I cite Leigh Greenwood; to meet her in person you would call him Harold Lowry. Much the same goes for Jennifer Wilde (Thomas Elmer Huff) and Jessica Blair (Bill Spence).

But a name we with write with—be it our name or one we’ve name up—isn’t just something that’s on the book. It does represent you, doesn’t it? For a writer this can be more than a matter of sexism, but also of genre. If you’ve established yourself an erotica novelist and suddenly want to write YA adventure books, it can become a problem. Do you take a different name, or take the chance of your established audience shying away from this new project—either out of fear of it being bad, or, because of disinterest in said genre?

It does pose other problems as well if you’re an indy writer, or, a writer who depends heavily on advertising via your own pocket. Do you make a new webpage for this personality? Or, remake your own page to suit both sides of yourself?

Unlike the question of sexism in writing and reading, the answer might not be so obvious. There isn’t an easy solution. It really comes down to what your capable of, and, how comfortable you are as a writer. If the genre you’ve established yourself in isn’t too different from the new one you want to write in as well, then why not use the same name instead of reinventing yourself? However, if you’re known as a children’s writer and are thinking about writing erotica… it might be best to pick a new name. (Or, if your a man writing in a female-predominated genre: a female name.) It does mean working from the ground up, but if it feels better for you then the chances might be better served rebuilding a little.


The Dreaded Creativity Curse

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow writer friend today. Actually, he shared an image with me that had me laughing and thinking, "Yes, that happens to me all the time."

I've often wondered about artists and how they continue to create and make things, constantly worrying themselves to death about how good or bad something is. A million people could think their work is amazing, brilliant, and setting some kind of precedence; however, ask them about it and I'll tell you all they wished they'd done differently now that its done.

I'm guilty of this. I look back on things I wrote last week and think to myself, "I could have done that better. I should have worded this that way." It gets worse the farther I go back; though, there are those singularly rare occasions when I create something and tell myself, "Don't fuck with it. Nope. Not doing it."

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why? Why do we worry and sigh before telling ourselves we'll just make it count in the next project? Better yet, that the next project will be better and you'll do something entirely different with it? Part of you loves what you did before, but you end up partially regretting it like a sullen child who thinks you just didn't have enough time.

That might be a drastic exaggeration, but you get my point.

I think every artist in every category in life, be it a architect, a painter, or a engineer thinks this way because its what drives them to keep going and keep making this amazingly beautiful things we all get to experience. (Which, is pretty much what the comic says...) If artists were entirely satisfied with what they made they'd stop, I think. Some musician would listen to that piece as he played it, finish, and then say, "Well, that's it. I've done it--made the perfect song. No more oboe for me, no sir."

I'm not sure I can imagine my life being unable to create and write; it would be a dismal existence indeed. And really, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't trying to achieve and unachievable perfection with each work I complete. I know I'll never get there, but I bask in that knowledge even as I desire what I can never have. The drive to write the perfect novel urges me to put fingers to keys and to keep enjoying my passion.

Perfection might be unobtainable, but striving for it has its purposes.

Recommendations and Salutations (...from the Peach State)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oh man, it's been a while, yeah? You can check out my website for the details, but to make a long story short: I've moved around a lot and finally wound up in Georgia. And now I'm back to work on this blog, my site, and my books. Rock on, right?

I have bussied myself with college work lately and came across at least two books I thought might tickle your writing fancy: The Indie Author Guide  by April L. Hamilton and Merchants of Culture by John B. Thompson. I figure it's a great way to roll out a new post after such a long time, and, give you guys some great information.

Now, the first one, The Indie Author Guide, is a great resource on not just self-publishing in a new world of web and mass media; it's also a great way to learn about formatting, advertising, and it even has snippets of publishing history. I love this book because it's very down-to-earth and written in plain language. It's easy to understand and packs tons of useful information for someone new to self-publishing. It even gives you suggestions on how to go about getting things like a book cover made and so on. It gives you the pros and con of using create-a-space and other sites for tangible copies of your book, and, ebooks sites like Amazon as well. It also tells you how to work the math on making the money you want for which site to go with. I would say this book is a like a user guide to self-publishing; perhaps even a simpler version of the next book I'm suggesting.

Merchants of Culture reads more like a technical book with tons of historical info about publishing, agents, the induction of the paperback, and more. At some points it can be a very mathy book, but it gives you unparalleled insight into the vast innerworking of the publishing industry--information you might not need, but is very helpful to have nonetheless. I was required to read this entire book for one of my classes; at first I wasn't for it at all. The book gave me a headache at moments; however, I do not regret reading it. I know more about publishing now than I ever did. I highly suggest it, even if it takes you a few months of on and off reading to get through. You won't regret it--at all.

Both of these books can be purchased on Amazon or likely at any other online retailer. Seriously, do yourself a favor and grab them. I promise you won't regret it.

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