Categories
Writing

It’s Time To Nut Up Or Shut Up

Friends, today I received some bad news. At the end of summer my current job, which I have worked faithfully for the past seven years, will no longer exist. I received this news just before it was time to go to bed and thus, rather than sleep, spent the day tossing and turning in bed as I progressed through each of the stages of grief. In the end, believe it or not, I found serenity.

Serenity ship
I wish

After much considering and a little gentle prodding from my wonderful girlfriend, I realized I had two options.

1. I could start looking for another job where I’d be miserable and earn a pittance while making someone else rich. Or…

2. I could stop talking about becoming a successful writer and actually work full time at making it happen.

The first option would be the smart route. I would have a steady paycheck which I could count on to be there and maybe even get something with some benefits. But would I really be happy? I think we all know the answer to that.

Admittedly, the second option will be downright terrifying, but as they say, fear is an excellent motivator. If failure is truly not an option, then I can’t let myself fail. Besides, all the best writers had something I don’t. They were hungry, both figuratively and sometimes literally. The fact of the matter is, I’ve gotten way too comfortable in my current job anyway and spend far too much writing time doing other things than writing. (Damn you Netflix.) It always seemed like there was more time. Well my friends, time has suddenly gotten exceedingly short.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting my writing to pay a living wage right off the bat. Fortunately I have other hobbies that I think with a little hard work could turn enough of a profit to pay my bills. I am an amateur blacksmith and also make copper jewelry which I sell here. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MythicFlames I admit there isn’t much in it right now but keep checking back. I’ll also post to this Facebook page when I add new items. https://www.facebook.com/MythicFlames I plan to add items on a regular basis. I am also going to be setting up an eBay store to sell some of my items as well as swords and knives not made by me. I will post the details here when it’s up.

As always, please follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and Twitter @JustinMKelly1. Also, check me out on Tumblr  http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly.

I also have some informational e-books in the works on topics from wilderness survival to romantic advice and everything else I’ve learned in my time here on earth. I’ll post a link as soon as they’re done.

So basically, it’s time to make my dreams happen. Or as Tallahassee put it…

nutup

Categories
Writing

Can Genre Fiction Also Be Literary?

When it comes to my writing, I’ve always had a bit of a dilemma.

Like a lot of writers, I have a fantasy in my head of being the modern era’s Hemingway or Faulkner. Perhaps sitting in a small cafe in Paris, dutifully punching out literary masterpieces that will be cherished throughout the ages. After all, isn’t that at least part of why people write? So that while we may pass from this earth, at least our thoughts and feelings might become immortal.

Still, while I do love reading the classics, I have to admit that my favorite books have always been in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. Particularly fantasy. It probably won’t surprise most of you to find out that I’m a big nerd. I love nothing more than reading fantastic tales of swords and sorcery. Maybe I’ve always dreamed of being the valiant hero who saves the damsel in distress, (please forgive my chauvinism,) or maybe I just long for a time when courage and chivalry counted for something. Whatever the reason, I’ve always loved medieval history both factual and fictional. I still hold out hope that some day, an archaeologist will discover evidence of dragons. I’m such a fan of the genre, I’ve even taken up amateur blacksmithing as a hobby.

Because of this, I’m afraid I’ve developed a bit of a split personality when it comes to my writing. I switch from being the serious author who wants to immortalize his thoughts and feelings in print, to the writer who just wants to play and step into the shoes of his characters to live out the lives of people he will never be.

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this recently and have come to a conclusion. Who says genre fiction can’t also be literary? Why can’t one piece of work be both entertaining and meaningful? Of course there are examples of books that, were they written today, would be pigeonholed into a specific genre but have still managed to become literary classics. Books such as The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, and Robin Hood. The question is, Can it be done today?

I guess there’s only one way to find out.

So I suppose the point of this rather rambling post is this. I’m going to be true to myself and write what I enjoy. Hopefully my more literary personality will be able to reconcile with my other side and I can find some peace. Or at the very least, I’ll be able to finish a project without questioning whether it’s really what I want to be writing.

Of course, the fantasy bar has been set fairly high by certain contemporary writers, (I’m looking at you George Martin,) but I think I’m up to the task.

One other perk of being a successful fantasy writer, if I get popular enough, I might be invited to Comic Con.

What do you think? Can a work of fantasy, sci-fi, or horror also be literary?

Leave your answer here, or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60. Also, please visit my website at http://justinmkelly.com/ (I have plans for a major overhaul but I’m concentrating on the writing itself right now.)

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Categories
Writing

Okay, Okay, I Confess

First, an apology for being a day late with my post this week. I intended to write a post night before last but things got a little crazy. The motel I work at usually provides a quiet, distraction free place where I can work on my craft with little interruption. Unless there’s an escaped fugitive staying in one of our rooms and the police are trying to get him out. Yes, that was my night. So needless to say, my mind wasn’t exactly on my work. Anyway, here it is now. I know you were all waiting with bated breath.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t written a thing so far this week.

I’ve thought about writing, I just haven’t actually done any.

I have a good excuse, I promise. Although I still feel guilty.

I was trying to teach myself how to outline.

I know for some of you, outlining is probably second nature, but I’ve never done it. I’ve always just sat down at the keyboard and started writing. This can be great fun. I get to enjoy watching the story unfold and watch the characters develop as I write the story just as you get to when you read it.

Unfortunately, not having a plan tends to result in a half finished story, of which I have written dozens, possibly even hundreds. Occasionally I’m able to finish a story, but more often than not, I write myself into a corner or just reach a point where I have no idea where to go next. Sometimes the story is just dragging because I’m wandering aimlessly trying to find the story like a miner stumbling around in the dark looking for that vein of gold.

I’m trying to find a balance when it comes to outlining. I want enough plot points to keep me going when I get stuck, but I don’t want it to be so tight that I have no room to play. I want my characters to have the freedom to wander off from time to time. Occasionally they may find the real story without me.

Seat of the pants writing can be a blast, but if I really want to make a career out of writing, I’ve got to have a roadmap so I can finish my stories.

Sorry for the short post this week. I promise next week’s will be longer, and hopefully on time. Please visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 Or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1

guilty

Categories
Writing

Feeding The Habit

The only way to be a writer is to write. It seems obvious, but I never realized that there is more to this oft-repeated advice than it seems.

Yes, it’s true. If you never write anything, then you can never really be a writer. But there’s more to it. My biggest excuse for not writing as much as I should have over the last several (please don’t ask how many) years is that I had no good ideas. Or that I would get halfway through a story and run out of ideas. It’s very frustrating to suddenly not be able to do something you were once so good at. Especially if it’s the only thing you’ve ever felt you were really good at.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve finally started taking my writing career seriously. That means not just writing when the “muse” was with me. It means forcing myself to write when I’d rather be doing just about anything else. It means ignoring that new Facebook notification, not checking to see what’s new on Netflix, or giving in to any of the other millions of distractions the internet presents. It means devoting myself entirely to being a writer.

Most importantly, it means not giving up when I hit that wall but instead finding a way over, or around, or even, if need be, smashing right through it.

What I’ve found is that forcing myself to write even when I don’t feel like it, even when what I’m writing seems like complete crap, leads to new ideas. Sure, you may have to throw away some parts that took you forever to write but sometimes you have to clear away all the dirt to get to the gold.

I can’t say I don’t still have moments where I just don’t feel like writing. I can’t say I don’t still sometimes feel uninspired. Still, more and more, I look forward to my time at the keyboard. The ideas are flowing once again. I look forward to my fingers flying across the keys just so I can see where the story goes.

Writing really is like a muscle. If you want it to perform, you have to exercise it on a regular basis.

The voices are back. EXCELLENT

Categories
Writing

My New Profession

Some exciting things have been happening since my last post.

No, I haven’t been published yet. Let’s not get crazy. I have however, written some stories that I think could be publishable with a liberal application of polish. I’m not the only one either. It’s a good feeling to have someone that I’m not either related to or sleeping with praise my work.

More importantly, I think I’ve managed to change my mindset and it’s made a world of difference. No longer is being published something I hope to do at some vague point in the future. Even though I’ve yet to make a dime from it, writing is now my career. Yes, I still have to have another job until my writing pays off, but writing is my profession and I’m determined to have several pieces published before the year is out. Even if I have to do it myself.

I am realizing that the job I had gotten so comfortable in is no longer such a sure thing. Believe it or not, I look at this as a good thing. After much thinking, I realized I had two options. I could either start looking for a new job making money for someone else and living off of his table scraps, or I could get serious about my writing career and hopefully someday soon, no longer have to work for someone else. It gave me the kick in the ass I needed to finally get serious about my writing and start treating it as a business. Also, a certain amount of fear about my future has been healthy.

So here is my plan.

1: Write two short stories a week. I’m still a little out of practice so it will take some time to get my speed back to where it should be but two stories a week is my ultimate goal.

2:Once the stories are finished, I will submit some of them to magazines, while others will go into collections to be sold digitally on Amazon etc. Any stories not picked up by magazines in a timely fashion will also find their way into the collections. Ones that are published traditionally will be put into collections once the rights revert to me.

3:Spend time each night working on my novel. I plan to use the short story time as a warm up to writing the novel.

4:I plan to update this blog at least weekly. Right now I’m planning to write a post sometime Monday night through Tuesday morning but that may change to Sunday night through Monday morning. Of course I may write a “bonus” post if I have something important to tell you or if I just feel like it.

5:I will post to twitter @JustinMKelly1 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 on a more regular basis. I’m hoping to do it daily but I do get busy and forget. Still, follow both of those for all sorts of random thoughts from my twisted little brain.

I have been reasonably successful in limiting my internet/T.V. time. I still spend way more time than I should on both but I have gotten better.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. See you next week. If you don’t, feel free to yell at me.

Justin

I-am-a-writer

Categories
Writing

My Brain Is Trying To Tell Me Something

Yesterday I had what was quite possibly the most terrifying dream of my adult life.

I was working in a warehouse at the top of an unfinished skyscraper. I had no safety equipment and I spent every second of every day in mortal terror of falling to my death. I found myself so paralyzed with fear that I got very little actual work done. My bosses kept offering me drugs to calm me. I got to the point where I was desperately clinging to a beam for dear life and refusing to let go. Finally, after all my efforts to prevent it, I fell anyway.

And I was just fine.

And now for my absolutely unqualified analysis of the dream.

For some time now I have been considering some drastic steps to jumpstart my career and leave my days of working for someone else behind me. The problem is, some of the things I have in mind are very risky and liable to cost me dearly if they don’t work out. It’s a frightening thing to think of living life without the safety net of a steady paycheck. At the same time, I’m afraid if I don’t do something soon it may be too late. In short, the dream was my brain’s not so subtle way of telling me to take the leap. I’ll be just fine. Chances are, one of these days I’ll find myself without that safety net anyway and have nothing to show for it.

It’s time to start taking chances.

It’s time to start living.

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