Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why this is gonna be a good week in one image:

Written by Mike Grell; Art by Joe Prado and Walden Wong; Cover by Mike Grell
Revolution in Shamballah! The Warlord has been captured, and his allies must convince the downtrodden populace of the Shadow Lands to rise up against the terrible and enigmatic master who holds them all prisoner. But our heroes just might be martyred by the Minosaur first!
DC Universe 32pg. Color $2.99 US
On Sale July 8, 2009

Studies show that Minosaurs increase the Awesome Quotient (AQ) of any week by at leasy 82%. Studies. With science.

I cannot wait to read this thing. Expect a follow-up review to The Warlord soon, but in brief I have to say that after a shaky first issue things have picked up quite nicely.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Writing Dojo #2: Getting Started.

'I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.' -E. B. White

'If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.' - David Viscott

Do you want the Great Secret of Writing? I'll give it to you, absolutely free of charge. It's not an easy lesson to learn, and I can't always claim to be it's most devoted of followers, but with this lesson in hand and the 3-pages a day/scheduling method I mentioned in my previous piece, you'll have a chance. Are you ready? Here we go:

The secret to writing is that you write.

That's all there is to it. Write a little bit every day and you'll get it. It won't come easy, and it won't grant you instant success, but if you do a little bit every day you'll make progress. If you write a little every day, sooner or later you'll look up and realize you've got 10 pages, then 20. . .30 will come along and you'll realize you're actually creating something. You! All by yourself. All you need to do is sit down and start. Easy, right?

Wrong. Oh so very, very wrong.

Any writer will tell you that beginnings suck. The work is fine; you can get by on a little or a lot once things are rolling and if you've structured things beforehand you should meet your quotas and what you're shooting for in the story (and even if you've only got a vague idea the story will come to life and either stick to your initial plans or move off in new and intriguing directions you hadn't anticipated). But to actually plant your butt in a chair and face that leering white screen on the word processing program, that arrogant cursor winking at you with it's bland implacable disdain? Or the reams of white paper on your notepad going on and on for upwards of 80-100 pages of Hilroy-brand intimidation? It's not hard to see why most people don't go for it. After all, if you have that idea for a book or story it'll keep for ages, kind of like a twinkie from the Muse's Convenience Store. Actually putting down inspiration on paper or in a word file is making it tangible, making it a goal, making it real. Simply put, if you don't try you can't fail. That's kind of like succeeding. . .kind of.

Let's face it, any kind of art is intimidating at the beginning. Who the hell am I to try to bring anything new to the table? Just look at the shelves of your average bookstore. All those people are Learned and Talented and I'm just. . .well, I'm a decent enough person but to be an actual, factual writer? Where the hell do I get off? These questions can plague the novice writer. And even if you're not a novice, they'll creep up on you like a ninja and attack. Left unchallenged, Doubt will cripple your work before you even begin.

Sounding a little portentous so far? Sorry about that. I don't mean to make this sound intimidating. My point is that to write, you have to do it. Push off from the ladder and start swimming, It might just be a dog-paddle at first, but gradually you'll get the knack. The key is to move beyond that flashing cursor, that first opened page and get cooking.

Another common notion is the idea that 'I don't have anything to write about'. Nonsense. Everyone has a perspective and a voice, a unique vantage point that's entirely your own. Fiction or non-fiction, short story or essay, you've got the unique chance to make your mark and share your perspective. Of course, sometimes that perspective might be as simple as 'Dirk Daring fights RoboZombies on the Moon', or as complex as 'relationships and the emotional turbulence they bring'. Be it personal or purple, your prose has something to say and you owe it to yourself to get it out there if you believe you can do it.

One of the oldest and most revered bits of writing advice is the hallowed 'Write What You Know' trope. It's not without it's merits, but I'd give it a bit of a tweak. After all, most of us don't know what it's like to handle a sword or get a magic ring from the shire to Mount Doom. But we do have passions, notions, and ideas that we can speak about at length to anyone who'll listen. My edit of the above statement would be simply this: write what you're passionate about. Not everyone has ideas? I might buy that, at least when you're just starting out. But people without passions? No way. If you're not passionate, if you don't have a drive and a need to say something, writing may not be for you. But if you do have a passion, if you do have something you can speak on, or something that appeals to you and gets your synapses firing. . .you just might make it.

It's not going to be easy, but it's better to start with good intentions and learn from failure than to have never tried at all. Trust me.

Until next time,