Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Attention Deficit Creative Disorder and How to Make it Work for You

What is Attention Deficit Creative Disorder?

This is what happens when a writer or writer-analogue has lots and lots of great ideas brewing in their head at once, and their brain wants to develop all of them into Great Stories. This can result in either a lot of Great Stories, given enough time, but more often it results in a lot of Awesome Notes and Awesome Beginnings that never quite pan out into completed stories and just sit on your hard drive, mocking you. It can also mean that when you sit down to work on your current Great Story, your brain is off in the universe of another Great Story, hacking away at that and gumming up the works. This can be maddening, even if you're not on any kind of a deadline.

However, that little over-caffeinated gerbil of inspiration can be made to work for you, given proper planning. For example, I'm currently working on my sci-fi romance novel Heart of Steel, and while the main, chronological storyline might be at Scene 6, my mind has often been at Scene 12, screaming, "I wanna work on this!" Sometimes you can't force your brain to go where you want it to, and trying to do so will only result in frustration and no progress. So what if I have two chapters written that I won't get to for a while? At least I got the ideas down while they were still fresh in my head, and I can always tweak them during my rewrite.

Then there's the benefit to keeping Awesome Notes and Awesome Beginnings around. Right now I have three incomplete stories on my thumb drive, another dozen or so on my hard drive, and three on my Google Drive (yes, yes, I know...). Why? Because when Writer's Block hits me, it typically stays around until it's damn good and ready to go away, and there's no way to hammer my way through. So, instead of beating my head against the imaginary brick wall until I just shut down out of frustration, I just let the Writer's Block sit there and think about what it did, and move to another one of my Awesome Beginnings and hack away at that for a while. Eventually, the block on my original project will slink away in shame and go sulk in a corner somewhere, leaving me free to work on it.

Of course, this strategy won't work out quite the same if you have a project with a deadline, but that's where Awesome Notes come in. Jot down all the ideas you have swirling around in your mind until your head clears, and if you're lucky you might wind up with more potential Awesome Beginnings. The trick to this, of course, is not to mind that not all of them will become Great Stories. Just let go. If any of them want to be developed, they will let you know.

That's how I make ADCD work for me, anyway. What are your strategies?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why Fanfiction Is not a Lesser Art

I have a confession to make.

I'm 34 years old, and I write fanfiction. And I like it.

Since I also write original fiction, generally when I tell people I write fanfiction, they look at me sort of sideways and say something to the effect of, "You know you won't get paid for that, right?" Well, that's not why I write fanfiction, and I don't think doing so demeans me as a writer.

You know you've read fanfiction that utterly rapes the Canon on which it is presumably based, twisting established characters in ways that would make their creators cry and using spelling and grammar that would give Zalgo a headache. Heck, I've read stories that made me honestly wonder if English was the author's primary language, or if they'd even read the books, seen the movies, or understood the Canon.

I've also read some amazingly good fanfiction that takes the story in a new direction without violating the internal laws of the original material. I've read fanfiction that explored the implications of concepts that the author felt were left inadequately explored in the original material, that deconstructed and reconstructed everything from a single character to the entire franchise, and it was awesome.

To be fair, I've read original fiction that made my eyes bleed and my brain throw up as well, alongside the perfectly enjoyable novels and short stories that populate my library--meaning that getting published is not necessarily the mark of a good writer.

A good writer--regardless of the medium--can make the reader care what happens to the characters. A good writer can make the reader laugh, or cry, or hide under the bed (for all the right reasons), and make you want to follow the story to the end to see what happens. A good writer can immerse a reader in the story's world, and make it feel like a real place. This is true whether their work can be found on the shelf of a library or in the pages of Writing fanfiction does not automatically make you a bad writer--it makes you a fan of the source material.

And as with any sort of writing, fanfiction can allow a writer to practice their craft and improve themselves if they allow it. So write on, fans!

I have another confession to make.

Blue Sky made me cry.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Vampires Make Lousy Boyfriends

Now, let me start off by saying that I'm not knocking paranormal romance in general. I've got a couple ideas for paranormal romances percolating in my brain as I write this, so don't get the idea that I think the genre is stupid.

That said...

Vampires?  Really?

Vampires as a monster have had a long and well-established mythology, dating back to medieval times, although tales of vampire-like creatures may even date back to prehistoric times. Tales of creatures that consumed the flesh and blood of the living were attributed to demons, spirits, or even the Devil himself. Later on, with the rise of Christianity, their status as minions of Satan was cemented, leaving them unable to abide the presence of a cross.

Around medieval times, vampires were associated with the Black Plague and, as blood-bloated undead corpses, more closely resembled the Cryptkeeper than David Boreanaz.

It was not until Bram Stoker wrote Dracula that we got the modern vampire--the handsome, aristocratic, blood-sucking fiend who can charm the petticoats off otherwise respectable ladies. This would make him the ideal male lead in a trashy bodice-ripper novel were it not for the association with tuberculosis, syphilis, and the evils of sex in general. Aaaaaand he and his brides drank blood, directly from the tap, for preference.

Anne Rice brought about the first of the pretty vampires, and her novel Interview with the Vampire delved into the emotional and psychological issues that came along with being an immortal, blood-drinking predator, with the result that the protagonist vampire became a angsty antihero with an eating disorder, who just needs a hug and the love of a mortal woman to redeem his soul.

And here's where I start to have a problem with vampire romance stories.

First off, vampires are dead. You can't really get around that. This means that their body heat will be around room temperature (unless they've just fed, and then only maybe) and if it's sexual relations you're after, lack of blood flow will make him getting an erection practically impossible.

Secondly, there's the dietary concerns. Vampires, as a rule, tend to feed off something that is generally necessary for the continued functioning of their victims--usually blood. Sometimes they might resist the hunger, or divert it to other targets like animals or serial killers, but when you get right down to it vampires prefer to feed on humans. What kind of a relationship are you going to have with someone who, despite their best intentions, instinctively sees you as a source of food? Is he nuzzling your neck or checking out that tasty-looking carotid artery?

Which brings me to my third point: feeding on the blood of the living, and knowing that you absolutely must do so in order to survive, is not going to do kind things to a vampire's psyche. Even if you don't follow the mythology that states that a vampire is a corpse animated by a bloodthirsty spirit, and even if said vampire looks like a sex god rather than a hungry corpse, he is a predator. (I give pretty vampires a pass because being attractive to your potential food source is an effective hunting tactic. Luring them to where you are costs a lot less energy than chasing them down, and who knows how many blood-calories a burst of super-speed would burn?) So, best case scenario, your friendly neighborhood vampire will be constantly resisting his blood hunger, constantly worrying about slipping, and basically making himself a ball of neuroses because he sees his mortal girlfriend as something like a drink pouch waiting for him to stick in a straw and suck everything out. Worst case scenario, your vampire boyfriend is a soulless sociopath who has befriended you specifically to have free hemoglobin on tap for a good long while. And if you die? Well, he's immortal. People around him die from natural causes all the time--why should you be any different? Functional immortality tends to make vampires very pragmatic about the whole thing. Or suicidal, which isn't much healthier.

Now, I've read a fair number of vampire novels: Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Twilight, and I'm currently working on Dead Until Dark. I'm not ragging on people who enjoy them, and I'm not saying that people who like the vampiric sex god archetype are stupid or horrible. I've just read enough vampire folklore to notice the problems that might come up with such a relationship, and I thought I'd share them.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Welcome to Calliope's Kiss!

Welcome to my blog!

I created this blog to work alongside my author website, as a means to explore the art of writing and track my progress with my writing projects. My plan is to post at least once a week to keep my readers updated, but I will let you know if extenuating circumstances prevent this.

What does Calliope's Kiss mean?

Calliope was the ancient Greek Muse of epic poetry, which translates in the modern world to the Muse of literature. Thus, Calliope's Kiss refers to a moment of literary inspiration, which I hope this blog will fuel as I jot down my thoughts, discoveries, and all-around brainstorms to keep my thoughts moving to parallel purposes.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it!