I Am Officially A Professional Artist

Hey guys, you read that right. Since my last post, I’ve officially become a professional artist.

As you know, my current job will be ending at the end of summer and I’ve decided to try going out on my own selling my handmade copper jewelry. It’s art as far as I’m concerned. Check it out and tell me if you agree. https://www.etsy.com/shop/mythicflames #seewhatididthere?

An example of my work.
An example of my work.

Anyway, I’ve always been told that the definition of a professional is someone who makes money at what they’re doing. If that’s the case, I’m officially a professional. So far it doesn’t amount to much, but people have been buying my stuff so yes, I am making money at it.

Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. Okay, I haven’t writing as much as I would like, but starting a business takes time. Still, I have been able to carve out at least a little bit of writing time every day. I have a new (long) short story that just needs a little more polish and will be ready for submission. That is once I manage to get it part my editor (read girlfriend).

I am spending the weekend helping a friend get ready for the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This means a lot of hard work for the weekend but it will be worth it when I have a place to crash during the rally itself. It’s always a blast. I highly recommend it to anyone that likes motorcycles or the motorcycle lifestyle.

Well, I suppose I should get back to work. As always, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1 and check me out on Tumblr

I’m not going to promise because we all know how that’s turned out in the past, but I hope to get back on track as far as weekly blogging goes.

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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…

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Oh Those Summer Nights

And I’m back again. I realize it’s been a couple weeks since my last confession post. All I can say is this, it’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been adjusting to summer which has finally arrived. With the arrival of summer, my girlfriend’s schedule has changed. Which means, in effect, so has mine. I’m trying to adjust my sleeping schedule to match hers so I’ve had a hard time keeping my eyes open at night, much less writing. Also with summer come tourists. Since most of my writing time is done while working at a motel, I’ve been somewhat plagued with interruptions from needy guests. I’m finally starting to settle into my summer rhythm and last night I was actually able to get some decent writing done. There, now that the excuses are done, on with the rest of the post.

Other than the issues I listed above, the writing has been going well. I have just about finished one short story and am well into a second. I know it’s not the two a week I had planned but it’s coming faster all the time. If only I could stop myself from getting distracted by the internet. Anyone know where I can get an old DOS word processor? I’m very happy with the story that’s almost done and I’m considering, after a bit of polish, submitting it to TOR. Am I shooting too high? Possibly. But why not aim for the stars?

The other story I’m not so sure about. I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere, but it’s certainly helping me exorcise some personal demons. We will see where it goes. At least I’m writing.

I’m about to attempt a daunting task. Years ago, I gave up cigarettes. I didn’t have too much trouble with it because I did allow myself an occasional pipe because, well, writers smoke pipes. Right? Unfortunately, it’s gone from an occasional thing, to a regular thing, to an every day thing, and finally to a several times a day thing. I think it’s time to finally give up the pipe. Although I might still hold it in my mouth while I’m writing. Anyone know if they still make those bubble pipes? Seriously though, I might look into an e-pipe or something although I’m still not sure if they’re any better for you. If anyone can give me any advice, I’d certainly appreciate it.  I’m hoping for a nice long writing career and I don’t want cancer throwing a wrench into those plans.

Now that I’ve got you all down and thinking about mortality, it’s time for an up note.

The great thing about summer is, I can finally get out of the house and enjoy my surroundings. I have big plans to jump on the motorcycle and head into the black hills just to explore. I also have my hiking pack to set off on the many trails around here and lose myself for a couple of days. I’m working on setting up a YouTube channel so I can show you all the wonderful places out here and I might just talk a bit about writing while I’m at it.

Well, I guess now you’re all updated on my life.

As always, check out my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60 and follow me on Twitter @JustinMKelly1. I’m also on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/blog/justinmkelly but so far all I’ve used it for is to mirror this blog. I’m hoping to change that soon. I just have to remember not to get so obsessed with social media I forget to write.

I promise I’ll be back next week with another update but just remember, writers lie for a living.

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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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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

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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

Not Another Lame New Year’s Resolution

First things first. As the title says, this isn’t some lame new year’s resolution I have no intention of keeping. I don’t believe in them. The timing is purely coincidental. Consider this my letter of intent.

I have failed you. I haven’t written much since early October. For once I at least have a good reason. At the beginning of October, I took a trip back to my home state of California. Ostensibly, to visit friends and family. But I had a higher purpose. I wanted to bathe myself in my beloved Pacific Ocean and let it recharge me. As for that part, it was a successful mission. I felt refreshed and ready to take on the world. Sadly, all that energy was soon taken from me as my appendix chose that moment to burst and put me in the hospital. Then came the complications which I won’t go into.

I’m not going to lie to you and claim I couldn’t do any writing because of it. I did write some. Unfortunately, I just didn’t really feel up to doing much other than recuperating and wallowing in self pity and worry over medical bills as I fought my way through the infection.

By the time I did feel somewhat back to normal, we were well into the holiday season and I let my old friend procrastination talk me into putting off any writing until after the holidays. Now that the holiday season is over, (No, I don’t count New Year’s Eve.) I have run out of excuses. It’s time to get back to work. It’s time to turn this hobby into a real career.

That being said, here is my pledge. First and foremost, I will write every day. This includes weekends. Some days it may not be much, but I will write at least some. Secondly, I will update this blog on a regular basis. I haven’t decided how often just yet. It probably won’t be daily. Truth be told, I just don’t have that much to talk about on a daily basis. It will probably be weekly or perhaps twice a week. Of course, if I have something to talk about I might post an occasional bonus update. Lastly, I am hoping to occasionally put up some free short fiction. I have come to realize that although I tell you I am a writer, most of you have never read anything I have written other than this blog.

Now I want to ask you for a favor. I need you to keep me honest. If you notice I haven’t posted anything new for quite some time, please call me on it. Sometimes I need someone to crack the whip on me.

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Which One Of You Did It?

Okay, confess. Which one of you did it? Who was it? Who put the jinx on me? Over the weekend the heater in my house went out, then the heater in my mother’s house went out, then the heater in my car went out. Now my refrigerator is making funny noises. I know things break but come on, all at once?

Other than everything I own falling apart around my ears, things have been good. Writing is, well, progressing. Still haven’t come up with an idea for a screenplay yet. Let me rephrase that. Haven’t come up with a GOOD idea for a screenplay. At least nothing that hasn’t been done a million times before. I’m working on a short. Once it’s done I have to decide whether to try to publish it or put it up here. I know I’ve been promising you original stuff for a long time now. What do you think?

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