Throwback: Creative Community, Not Bullying

I don’t know what prompted this post originally. Clearly something got me all fired up.

To everyone who is remotely creative, or knows anyone who is creative:

We have enough problems with people who don’t understand the time and effort we spend on our craft. The people who expect that we should design them a free website because we’re good at it, or photograph their kids for free. We’ve all been there at some point.

We need to stop demoralizing each other. We’re not in competition, we’re a community. None of us create exactly the same thing, the same way, which is why there really is room for all of us. And even if there isn’t enough commercial success for all of us – that’s not the point. We create because we have to, because it’s an essential part of our being, not because of the money. (Though to make a living at what we love is a dream, obviously.)

To be creative is an incredibly difficult thing, because it takes years of practice on something that often feels so intimate. Who doesn’t put a little piece of themselves into what they create?

There are so many ridiculous, subjective barriers, that we never know when we’re good enough. We see authors who can barely string together a coherent plot reach the best seller list and spawn successful movie franchises, while we agonize over the details of a character arc. A five year old gains publicity for slinging paint at a canvas, but we sell character sketches to make ends meet.

We need to be in this together. We need to encourage each other, no matter what medium, no matter what point in our journeys we’re at. We need to remind each other to do what we love, because we love it.

And we should never, ever, invalidate another person’s craft.

It doesn’t matter if you know better, or if they’re better and you know it. If they got to the same level of skill in your craft in a tenth of the time, or if they’re thirty years older and still mastering the basics, it doesn’t matter. If you spend eight hours a day and they only spend twenty minutes – it doesn’t matter. Whether you like their work or they like yours…

Don’t tell someone that they aren’t, or can’t be, what they are.

You’re an artist even if you’ve never had an exhibition.

You’re an artist even if you only have a deviantart account.

You’re a musician even if bar chords hurt your hands.

You’re an artist if you draw fan art.

You’re a writer even if you’ve self-published.

You’re a writer even if you’ve not published anything yet.

Throwback Post: A Writer’s Confidence

I don’t remember when I wrote this, to be honest. I’m going to guess it was somewhere around 2014.

A lot of my sentiments are the same, though. I do still believe that if I put the work into it, I can get Roselyn’s Legacy (and other things I write) published. The things I was proud about learning then, I only know better now. While the scope of what Roselyn’s Legacy was has morphed drastically YET AGAIN, I believe that eventually, I’ll get to what the story should be.

I’m going to make a bold statement: I believe that if I put the work into revising Roselyn’s Legacy, I can get it published.

I’m not naive. I know how difficult the process is, and how dismal the odds are. I’m not even saying that it won’t take me years to accomplish. But I believe in this story that much, and I believe in myself that much as well.

I would consider the last few months a ‘cocooning’ for myself as a writer. It wasn’t intentional, while I set out to learn a few things, I didn’t anticipate that it would go so far in changing how I approach things.

Over the last couple of years, I have been trying to learn things, using that as my crutch. I thought that I would be able to call myself a competent writer when I had read all of the proper books and done tons of research. While arguably it would have been smarter just to write regularly, this information hasn’t gone to waste. I have methods for building worlds, plots, and characters that extends beyond (but does not exclude) notes in a haphazard notebook. Because I am not flying by the seat of my pants anymore, I can point others to my resources, which makes me feel credible. I can also look back on these resources when I get stuck.

I discovered, quite by accident, that I am not alone. When I close the file after working on my novel, I feel proud of myself. What I wrote belongs on the pantheon of the gods, or at the very least in a respectable book. But by the next morning, I am pretty sure when I open that file, I am going to find that all I really did the previous day was smack the keyboard with the tip of my nose for an hour. But if I swallow that fear and open the file again, I’ll find that what’s there really wasn’t as bad as I was dreading. But if I let that fear build, it’ll keep me from working on that novel indefinitely.

While I’m not sure if this happens to every writer, or even a majority of writers, I learned that I am not alone. That revelation was gold. You know what the cure is? To keep writing. It’s easier said than done – revising Roselyn’s Legacy, whenever I think about the next scene, I’m pretty sure that’s the point that everything turns to drivel. But then I find that it’s not so bad in reality, and I think of ways to make it better.

I also discovered that ideas beget ideas. Like plot gizka, or plot bunnies, or whatever your favorite multiplying creature may be. If I don’t touch a file for a long time, my brain isn’t working on it. Ideas will be few and far between. But if I work on something consistently, it’s always somewhere in my processing queue. Not only am I finding ideas for Roselyn’s Legacy, but I’m taking notes for a couple other projects as well. I don’t know how much writing I’ll get into with these ideas at present, but I’ll toss those irons into the fire as well and see what comes from it.

I’ve also been reading like a fiend. In addition to reading stuff from writers that I would like to be when I grow up, I’ve been expanding my palette. I’ve always been a pretty voracious reader, but only in the last few years have I stopped being such a snob and started to admit that there are perfectly good books written after 1865.

Lastly, I swallowed my fear and let other people see my creation. My writing isn’t perfect. No matter how many times one section gets passed around, there is always -something- that can be improved. But funny thing, with all this writing I’ve been doing in the past year, I’ve become a better writer. No one has dismissed my novel as drivel and told me to quit writing and go back to my day job. It’s terrifying, don’t get me wrong. Originally a short story called “Heart of Ice”, Roselyn’s Legacy has existed for me for ten years now. I wrote things before it, and I’ve worked on projects since, but I need to do this story justice.

In the end, it all comes down to my willingness to sit down and do the work. The art of discipline is one that I’m still learning, but I am no longer stalling because I don’t feel capable. For the first time, I believe that I can do it…and that’s a nice place to be.

The Emberstrike Legacy

Here is another throwback piece of fan fiction for fun. Enjoy!

Alright, so, I’ve been having a lot of fun writing swtor fan fic about my Sith Warrior. So I decided that I would take a stab at writing something coherent, a little more fleshed out. I figure, it’s a good way to dabble my way back into working on projects, and if I decide to abandon it for an actual project, there’s no harm.

Karone Emberstrike was the heir to a great Sith legacy. The force had been flowing through her veins for several centuries now, making her family’s legacy one of the oldest surviving. Both of her parents were Sith, having met at the academy when they were young. She was pale skinned, tall, and undeniably human. The deep red skin and golden eyes of the “true Sith” had long since died out in her bloodline. For that reason, while the Emberstrike legacy was ancient, they were not as revered as those who still bore the genetic markers of their heritage.

She had grown up traveling the galaxy with her parents and oftentimes, their companions. The hum of a ship, deep conversation, and peels of laughter were the sounds that lulled her to sleep as a child. She was schooled by her parents in practical matters as well as academia, and she grew to be a strong, resourceful young woman. But there was one topic that she heard her parents speak of only after everyone else was fast asleep. Their soft voices became strained as they conveyed their passion in hushed tones.

“She is our legacy,” her mother hissed. “Her place at the academy has been assured since birth. With her talents, she is bound to become the apprentice to a great Lord.”

“Elana, no. The academy is not what it was when we were there. They are gearing up for more conflict with the Republic. They are recruiting anyone with even a speck of force potential. You know that there is far less prestige to be had – they are far more concerned with churning out bloodthirsty killers.”

“Would you deny my heir her chance for greatness?”

“She can be great without a lightsaber.”

Karone heard her mother scoff.

“You don’t think that she can handle herself, do you?”

“She is our daughter – of course she could.”

“Then why do you stop her?”

“I do not like what the Sith are becoming. They have embraced the darkness too fully. There is much to learn from the light.”

“Bite your tongue!”

“Quiet, Elana.”

Her mother’s voice dropped. Karone had to take a few steps further down the hall in order to hear. Even then, she strained to hear over her heartbeat.

“…In thousands of years! If others knew…”

“Suppressing these ideas is why the sides are so far apart now. There was once a time when the Sith and the Jedi were not so different.”

Karone couldn’t help but smile. Her father, the scholar.

“Your daughter will…”

Karone felt a hand clap down on her shoulder. She silently wheeled around. Kahuk, her father’s long time Mandalorian friend, held a finger to his lips. He released her shoulder and pointed back down the corridor, towards her quarters. Karone shook her head. Kahuk tilted his chin down – he towered over even her. The dim light caught the silver flecks of his hair. He shook his head slowly, then pointed.

She knew that this was not an argument she could win. It was the only way to avoid being exposed, so she walked back to her quarters, pondering her fate as sleep washed over her.

It was not normal to see such division between her parents. They had always presented a united front. She now wondered what pains they had taken to make this appearance possible.

Fortunately, she did not have to wonder about her future for long. They docked at an Imperial port on Tattooine a day later, and rather than the excavation trip that had been planned, they found themselves faced with a Sith Lord. The look on her father’s face was pure outrage. He knew, as Karone guessed, that her mother had decided to take matters into her own hands. She wondered whether her father would make a scene, but it was all handled calmly.

Lord Varek feigned surprise at seeing her mother, and she at him. He then glanced over at Karone. She had met Sith friends of her parents before, but never one with red eyes. It was intriguing and yet, she looked away. She had thought herself braver than this.

Varek asked about Karone – was she doing well in her studies? Then, the question that changed everything. Had her Force potential been evaluated? Her mother responded that no, it hadn’t. Her tone was so smooth, she made it sound as trivial as if she had forgotten to pick up eggs. She must be evaluated! Why, Lord Varek just happened to have the time. How fortunate, her mother responded. Karone was then whisked away to confirm what every Force sensitive person could tell from half a planet away – she was very strong in the Force.