Writer's Block?

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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Why I am an Indie author

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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Avoiding Clichés

Clichés in fantasy are many, and in previous blog posts, I have addressed a few that I try to avoid.  As an author it can be dangerous to make the claim that I am avoiding clichés when they can be hard to avoid.  I would imagine that many times when authors use clichés in their works it is unintentional, or perhaps I would just like to give my fellow writers the benefit of the doubt.  Especially if the writer has a traditional publishing contract, I would guess if the author included clichés it is intentional.  What cliché have I not addressed before that is replete in fantasy books, TV shows, and films?  The one magical weapon that can destroy the dark lord.

I have seen this cliché repeated in various fantasy stories.  There is the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings, the Sword of Shannara in the Shannara series, and Harry Potter is the only one in the whole world who can defeat Voldemort.  In that sense, Harry Potter is the magical object that can destroy the villain.  It is a neat concept and is believable within the context of a nearly all-powerful villain.  If a writer sets up an immortal, super-powerful antagonist, it is very difficult to defeat him or her in a believable way.  However, does this have to be the case for so many villains in fantasy?  This cliché is also one of the many common complaints I have found with post-Tolkien fantasy.  What if fantasy started to regularly employ other means of defeating the main villain?  What if modern fantasy could rise above the common problems that make it look a lot like clones of the Middle-Earth Legendarium?  What if the antagonist destroyed himself?  What if the protagonist found an unconventional chink in the villain’s metaphorical armor?

What I want to see is new life breathed into the fantasy genre.

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Goandria: A world set apart

One of my favorite ways speculative fiction is portrayed is when the setting is a completely different world and environment. I like to see stories take place in worlds other than Earth. I understand the purpose of placing fictional stories in our home world, but for me to truly get immersed in the experience, I like it to be somewhere new. From my perspective, it seems that science fiction works much better on Earth than fantasy does.

Once again, I will use Tolkein’s mythology as an example. He paints a beautiful picture of Middle-Earth, filled with races and creatures completely different than we would encounter in everyday life. Yet the stories of Middle-Earth are supposed to be a fictional history of the Earth we know today. It is an intriguing idea, but there is a part of me that is disappointed. I feel that placing a magical world within our own ruins the mystery. Of course not all share my view and this is just a personal preference. However, when I set out to write my own stuff I decided it would not take place on Earth, nor will it be an alternate dimension. I made Goandria to be its own world. The best part of speculative fiction for me is the speculative part.

With making something entirely different with Goandria, I feel I have the freedom to be more fluid with the world. There is medieval technology in Goandria, but I mix in modern dialogue to show that Goandria does not necessarily follow the same developmental history as our own world. With Goandria I aim to take the reader on a journey that I would enjoy to go on. One where everything is new, yet there is a sense of familiarity that coincides with it.

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Behind the Scenes: The Worlox

The worlox are antagonists of The Schism and creatures of utter depravity. Long before the events of the short story series, these demons entered into Goandria, and with them came destruction and death. Much of Goandria froze over when the worlox arrived because of the power of these beings. But who are the worlox, and what makes them different from other antagonists?

The worlox are demons, but they are a diverse group. I depict several kinds faced in The Schism. Why would I chose this foe? Well, this part of Goandria’s history is only hinted at in an upcoming novel series, and when I was a kid, I wrote out a timeline when the worlox ruled. Until recently, though, I did not intend to write the story of the worlox. Then a friend who had read my first manuscript said it would make a great story. I imagined a world before the Three Republics established in Goandria, a world where there are no real governments outside of the worlox. The only laws, beside the worlox, are those of the wizards, and the wizards loosely enforce these laws at best. Being representatives of Voshnore and his will, the wizards have taken charge to care for the people of Goandria. Yet, like all people, the wizards are flawed. They become somewhat self-righteous and arrogant, focusing on war instead of the people.

What I wanted to do with the worlox is have a very different enemy than the upcoming series. In the novels that take place after The Schism, I have an oppressed people that comprise the armies of the antagonist. I wanted to toy with the idea of powerful spiritual beings taking on physical form and dominating the world. What would the world look like if demons did that? Now my answer to that question is not as dark as it could be. There was a bigger story to be told in The Schism, and I didn’t want to focus solely on the brutality of the worlox. I also aim to have a large age range for my books, but there were times when I contemplated showing the true darkness within the worlox culture. What I chose to do instead was offer bits and pieces, small glimpses into their world and what they are like. Instead of focusing on the gritty dark details of their lives, I aim to show what it would be like to have armies of demons roaming the world and what inevitably happens when a race of inherently selfish beings take over Goandria.

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