Writer’s block is a rather peculiar pseudo-pop culture reference to when writers have no idea what to write or are struggling to get their ideas on paper. So what does writers block look like for me?
There are times in which I know what to write but not how to write it. Earlier in my life, I used writer’s block as an excuse, and it was true that I struggled with writing scenes at those points. Writing is not easy. Then a couple years ago, I had an epiphany. I was not that committed. I said I wanted to write, but I never chose to commit to it, to make it a part of my everyday life. As much as I wanted to produce my world and make it available for others to read, there was an endless amount of excuses contributing to writer’s block. Once I made a commitment, an earnest commitment, I found that writer’s block melted away almost entirely. Sure, I struggle with forming scenes or with the new direction the characters are taking me, but that struggle is overcome every time. I found deciding to write a minimum amount of words every day helps. More often than not, I end up doubling or tripling the minimum because once the story gets flowing, it is hard to stop it.
There is one hang up to my new plan. As I write this blog, I must confess something. I really dislike blogs and blogging, but since getting published, I have discovered one unavoidable truth: blogging is a must for writers. Knowing what to regularly blog about is difficult for me. I have generally found bloggers to be conceited. Why should random strangers care about the musings and opinions of other strangers? Apparently, there are many strangers that care about these opinions because blogging is popular. So in knowing the necessity of blogging, I buckled down and began to do it myself. I found that I have things to write about each time I sit down, and it becomes a little easier. Writer’s block is more about willpower in my life than anything else, and making a commitment to just do it helps overcome it.
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This a very hot topic! I have heard complaints from people I know, and I have read online comments that in fantasy women are over-sexualized and/or under portrayed. It is true when one walks down the science fiction/fantasy aisle in Barnes and Noble that the covers often depict women as culturally ideal. When was the last time you saw a homely man or woman featured on a cover? I suppose someone could give an example since beauty has a subjective component to it, but most images show that are accepted as beautiful by the general culture. I have also seen more and more of a demand for “strong, independent female characters” in my favorite genre. I get that women make up half the population and portraying them in a crude or cookie-cutter fashion is disgusting. However, let me ask you this: what exactly is a strong and independent female character?
In Goandria: The Schism, my goal is to make Evera the light of the story. She has her flaws like anyone, but at her heart she is overflowing with love. However, Evera is dependent upon Lorkai for strength, and Lorkai depends on Evera in the same way. These two characters lean on one another in their fights, when facing the worlox or their own personal demons. Evera is also a very strong character. When challenges come her way, she faces insurmountable odds without backing down. Then, to reiterate my question. What is a strong and independent female character? I could see potential arguments on either side saying Evera is or is not strong and independent. I suppose like many other things in this world, one knows it if he/she sees it, but it is hard to put a definition around it. The thing is, no one is truly strong and independent. No one is an island. No one can function without help in some degree. I’m sure that is not what the term “strong and independent” means, but then again, what does it mean? Sure, as authors we could write characters that are islands and could kick butt by themselves, but how believable is that? Perhaps the term is in reference to female characters that do not need a husband or boyfriend to function. Hey, if that is the case than I am all for it. Marriage and relationships are not for everyone. A woman who chooses to stay home and care for the children is not any weaker than a woman who is career-focused in the midst of having a family.
This topic brings another question: should writers focus solely on the female characters and ensure they are strong to avoid clichés? I’m sure few would actually say that, but this is the impression that is often given. What I feel should matter most is depth of a character, not the gender of a character. Characters drive stories. An author can create a beautiful world, but if the characters are static, the plot will fail. So yes, we should have strong, independent characters, but the expectations need to be realistic.
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When one does an online search of “indie author” or “self-published author,” he or she will get a slew of opinions. Some are favorable, and some are not as favorable. It seems the most common unfavorable views come from authors who are already published through a traditional service. I can understand from the perspective of an author surviving all the hoops that come with traditional publishing that some would see self-publishing as the easier route to take. There are a plethora of articles out there that tell the stories of why authors, even successful ones with publishing contracts, decide to go independent, so it is not necessary for me to reiterate that being an independent author, singer, or video game developer is just as viable of an option. You can search for yourself and find plenty of compelling stories.
What I want to share is why I have chosen this route. It is not because I fear rejection from publishers, and it is not due to laziness. No, I understand that publishers try to make an educated decision on what might sell, and an author’s work just may not fit into that. Sure, there are low-quality, self-published works out there. At the same time, though, I have read several poorly-written books that were published traditionally. I have asked myself several times how certain books made it past the editors. I chose this route out of years of research into the pros and cons of each type of publishing. I decided that I did not need to sell millions of copies to be happy, and that I did not want to sign over the rights to all my work to someone else. I understood from the beginning that I would have to bear all the weight of marketing my book, and I have grown to understand that this is a very difficult route. However, at the end of the day, no one is forced to buy any book, and no matter what means of publication an author takes, there is no guarantee the book will sell.
For me, the struggle is worth it. I am learning as I go to find what works and what doesn’t work. I have spent over half my life dreaming of the day my writings would be available for the world to read. I feel like, at least right now, handing over the rights to someone else would be a betrayal of my work. I do not aim to get rich, but instead I hope to bring into the world the type of fantasy that I would like to read.
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