The Writer’s Curse

Most writers were readers long before they became writers. Whether the writer happens to be one who deals with the daily news to the writers who give us that great fiction we enjoy. Now, this title could be taken into many different directions, including writer’s block, writer’s inspiration, bad reviews to a good work, the many, many rejection letters that is very common, or to have the work apparently accepted and then dumped. Many on the outside believe that a writer earns a pretty good living from their creations, but for most part and that includes most of us, that isn’t necessarily so, and that could probably be added to this list. Still, none of these that I’ve mentioned are really what I’m writing about here. It actually has nothing to do directly with writing. Well, sort of.

But, one could ask, how could it then be a writer’s curse, if it doesn’t apply directly to writing? Very good question. First a little personal history. Before I took up writing seriously and self published my fictional works, I was an avid reader. Now that hasn’t changed as I still read a lot. It can easily be up to 5 novels a month, sometimes less, sometimes more. So I haven’t lost my passion for reading. What has changed is how I see the work. Oh I still enjoy a good story, and will continue a series, such as The Tower and Hive series by Anne McCaffrey, until the end. I’ve done this with many authors, and find, like most readers, that I wait, sometimes impatiently, for the next in the series to come out. For me personally, it takes just about a year  to write, edit, and self publish a book averaging somewhere between 100,000 to 150,000 words. For example, the one I’m editing presently is 135,000 words – give or take a few.

Other authors can produce more. But it is not unusual for a series to only advance 1 book a year. To give one an idea of what is involved, it takes me approximately 4 to 6 months to write the story. The rest of the time involves editing, rewriting, passing it on to my wife who does a final edit, and then to the company I use to convert and distribute my books in the e-book format, and very rarely has it been less than a year overall. I’ve found no way to shorten this process. Although, as I’ve stated in an earlier post, I’m attempting to edit 3 books this year and get all of them out into the hands of the readers. And this leads us back to that original question.

So what is this writer’s curse that I’m speaking of? It is reading other authors’ works. Before becoming a writer I would take the story for what it was. Enjoy the conflict, the story, and follow all the twists and turns that the actors faced. I, like any other reader, would see the scenes in my mind’s eye and be totally lost in the story to the point of not really seeing the written words on the page. I haven’t lost that, and it’s probably one of the reasons that I’m still an avid reader, and plan on being that way until I can no longer read. Yet, what has happened, since I’m now an author, is that I see the story from an author’s point of view. I can predict where the story is going, more clearly see the weaknesses and the omissions. I can tell when the author has gotten tired of the story or simply ran out of ideas and just ended it. Unfortunately, this insight does not enrich the reading but takes away from it – thusly the writer’s curse.

I’m sure that it applies to almost anything where one becomes part of a particular trade. In fact, like my father who was a fireman (and I fought wildfires for a number of years besides being a volunteer firefighter), watching movies where fire is involved becomes almost a joke since you can see how unrealistic it is. Seeing the fire do impossible things, and watch, knowing that the actors aren’t doing a very good job of attacking the fire or being that fireman, or the way the arsonist set his device is so amateurish that no one would do it that way, let alone have the device start a fire. Another example would be that tile layer who goes into a public rest room and can see the shoddy work that had been performed. And from here we could go on and on. So, I guess, as long as I don’t allow it to ruin what I read, then that’s truly all I can ask. Still it is frustrating when you look forward to opening a new book, with great anticipation, only to be disappointed, because you already know what is happening, how it will play out, and know the ending, all within the first few pages.

Yet, I have to admit, it’s fun to find out how other writers tackle the issues that they create within their stories, and at times I’m surprised, or there is actually something that happens that is hinted slightly and then is revealed leaving you with that “gotcha” moment, leaving you to ask, how did I miss that one. So I guess, again, that I’ll have to accept this writer’s curse. Especially if I plan on reading in the future, which I do, and know that while I may have lost some of the enjoyment because of it, I still enjoy a great story. And one last thought on this subject: We are told as writers to read, read, read. Then write in your favorite genre. So I guess I’ll just have to sacrifice and just go ahead and read those novels. After all if I’m to remain a writer, it’s required . . .

Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 7:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sorrow. Lamentation. Tears. A tearing of cloth, a deep groaning of despair. For the great lady has passed away. Not by choice but by murder and she was laid to rest in an unmarked grave, unknown, and forever lost. No eulogy would be spoken. No words of comfort or of praise for what she had accomplished, for what she had been. The very ones who had sworn to protect her were responsible, for they knew no truth, no honor. After her death she had been replaced by one who resembled her. So from afar any who might gaze would believe that she was still here, still the one shining light in this world of darkness and oppression. But look closer and one would know, one would cringe, for it was obvious that this one was only a shadow, a pale resemblance of the one who had been, the one murdered.

The ones responsible had been patient. They knew that they had all the time in the world – hundreds of years if necessary and it was so. After all, they knew that once they had succeeded that there would be nowhere in this world that the common man could go to escape their oppression, their, in their minds, right to rule as they saw fit. The laws they passed, the requirements demanded, the monies stolen meant nothing, nothing at all. After all, these things that they had enacted did not include them. They were the makers of the laws, they were the makers of policy, they were the ones who decided how the law would be applied, and because of this none applied to them personally, for they were above the law.

They were no more than common thieves, taking the monies that the citizens had placed into the banks to protect, so that the citizens would have something to live on once they were no longer able to work. After all, they were the government, and as such, all belonged to them. Who cared if some old person who had slaved their life away starved as long as they could maintain their control, their rule, their oppression.

And against the original laws that this great lady had laid down they took all the weapons of protection that the common man had. Weapons that allowed them to protect their families, allowed them to keep a government in control so that it ruled according to what the people wanted, not what the government demanded. Once this was accomplished it was so easy to take anything and everything. After all, who could oppose them behind their walls and with an armed force to protect them – why nobody, nobody at all.

The clouds had been gathering for years, but these who killed the great lady and hid her remains, were the ones responsible for these clouds. Once she had fallen then night fell on this world and the government claimed that all must worship them, since they were god. They controlled whether you lived or died. They controlled all. There was no other god but them and who could argue, who could claim otherwise? If one did, one disappeared without a trace, being placed in a similar unknown and unmarked grave designated for those who remembered the great lady, respected her and what she represented. So these governments, these leaders of oppression laughed behind their guarded walls. For darkness now was on the land and they were of the night where the deeds performed would remain unseen, undetected, unknown – never to see the light of day.

The ones who remembered, the ones who understood what had transpired wept in their despair because they knew that this one bright light that the rest of the world had looked to was now gone. The lighthouse that drew the ones looking for freedom had been extinguished leaving all to flounder on the hidden rocks and shoals, drowning as their ships were dashed and destroyed – leaving only wreckage and bodies to come ashore. And the ones responsible laughed – for who could oppose them?

With the passing of the great lady the world fell into a never ending darkness and there could be no prediction when it would end so great was the power of the ones who controlled the darkness. All is lost, all has fallen, and the hope that once existed is forever gone – replaced by suppression, control, suspicion, and the darker emotions of hate and fear. How it had happened, how it was planned would be forever unknown. And without a body none would ever be charged, and with these who ruled, they truly didn’t care. After all, it was now their world and they could and would do to all as they so pleased.

With the deaths of Lady Liberty, the United States of America, her Constitution, and her fight for the rights of all in this world, her carcass hidden and replaced with the hideous beast that was exactly as the rest of the world, it was finished, and the light of freedom extinguished, dying a quiet, final, and unnoticed death.

“Are we there yet?” – asked the voices in the wind.

“Yes”, the ones behind their protected walls answered, “of course.”

So I leave you with these questions: Are we there yet? Is it too late? Think before you answer, and while you contemplate your answers look to the east and then ask yourself this very question presented to us by one of our founding fathers: Are we like sheep that is being led to the slaughter?   F. D. Brant

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fictional Stories and Books – In a Word

Whether we are dealing with a short story or one that stretches on into what seems sometimes like eternity, there is a common thread that all have. What I thought about as I was out and about is this very thing. It really doesn’t matter the genre, whether we are talking about an individual, a family, a small group of people (or aliens), a tribe, a village, a city, a district, a state, a country or nation, or even a planet. This can apply to plants, animals and whatever else the writer may create in their fictional worlds. It goes beyond the boundaries of politics, religion, invention, abilities, and is still applicable. What I will attempt here is to boil all of this down to a single word. Even though there will be close to a thousand to describe or lead up to the revelation. Once you see it, stop, think about it, look at what has been said, and see, if indeed it fits into the context of what is being revealed. First a little history.

Stories go back as far as language and has been used from the beginning as a way to teach, and even at the beginning before writing existed a way to entertain, or to make a point. Every tribe or clan had a story-teller, and most of the time they were also responsible to maintain the verbal history of their particular tribe, clan, culture, and the holder of what other information was deemed important enough to be passed on to the next generation. It was considered a critical position, and one which held high esteem within the society. Yet not all had the capability to perform this function and many times this remained within certain families that had the abilities necessary to memorize and pass on the information in a dramatic way to reinforce what they were speaking. From these early beginnings we saw stage and theatre develop, and as soon as the written word became a reality then stories were written down leading to the beginnings of the writer and of books. And once the printing press was invented in the 14th century then slowly over time illiteracy disappeared. Because if one could not read it left one vulnerable to the ones who could.

So over time the ones who had been the verbal story tellers became the writers. And as more stories became available they were eventually moved into the different genres, making the titles easier to understand and at least, gave one a general idea as to where the story would lead. Whether we look at a Stephanie Plum novel, or a historical novel like The Pillars of the Earth, there is a common thread that is driving all the characters be they the protagonists or the antagonists. While each of these actors within the world that exists and where they live have their own goals, thoughts, and reasons for wanting to achieve what they’ve set out to do, there still is a single underlying word that can describe what it is all about.

Science fiction generally deals with this on a much grander scale since this genre takes in all of the universe putting this species in its humble place. Trying to either tone down the ego of our species, or showing that as much as we believe we are special that somewhere out there in the vastness of space we are no more than primitives that have just begun to look up at the sky. Even the formula romance novels dealing with that tragic heroine and her flawed love interest boils down to this in the end. Who’d have thought that it could be this simple? Really, I didn’t. After all stories can be very convoluted, with many twists and turns that lead one to dead ends, followed by branches and directions unexpected – even though hinted. Or it could be simple enough that within the first paragraph you already know how it’s going to end, but because of the way of the writing will continue on until the conclusion anyway.

So think about what you read. Think about what your friends read. Begin to look beyond the words, beyond the arc, beyond the outline, beyond the beginning the middle and the end. Look beyond the flow of the words and how the characters are acting and reacting. Begin to look from above and see the whole story, and compare this conclusion with any and all that you’ve read no matter the material, the genre, and you will begin to see one thing common to all. And really it’s not  that subtle, so it isn’t hiding. Yet, it has been shown that many times the best place to hide something is in plain sight right there where all can see. By doing this it is considered common, and as such not worth looking for or at, or considering giving it a second thought. After all if it is important then it must be hidden.

If you are a writer and haven’t thought about this then peruse your own works and I think that you’ll see it there, and it might surprise you. Again if you think about it then it makes perfect sense. Again whether any of us want to admit it, this is something that lies deep within ourselves and within our subconscious. After all if it didn’t, then, most likely, I wouldn’t be here to write this post, and you wouldn’t be there to read it. And this is probably the strongest hint I have given yet. If you are still with me at this point and haven’t left this post heading back out on the net to find something else, you should now have a good idea as to what this word is. Of course I could say that one of my series is named this.

Have you guessed it? Of course many of you have. That word is survival. When it struck me I thought, no that cannot be right. Yet, as I considered it, began to look across much of the reading I’ve done in my life. Looked across the different genres, all of them pointed exactly in this direction and to this word. Everytime I tried to find some fact to disprove this, I found that I couldn’t. So I throw this out to you, to give you time to think about it. After all, I’m only a single individual who hasn’t read everything ever written, or have exclusive and overpowering knowledge. So I leave the final answer to you the writers out there, and you the readers who support we humble (most of the time anyway) writers by buying our works, which allows us to create more. After all we must do this to survive.

Published in: on April 13, 2013 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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We all are created in the union of a male and female, making us the individuals that are – a blend of the two, creating a unique and at the same time similar person. We are born as one of the two – female or male. But at the time of conception, even though your sex had been determined, at this point one could have been either. We are not blessed with our memories of that time in the womb and can only reflect on what our memories were after that time, which are no more than small broken pieces of conversations and images in time from our age of around 3 years old. Small images, stills from our past with very little connection to reality and only fleeting images to the event as our parents, or possibly older siblings describe or remember it. And from the time of the womb until our passing from this life we face many changes – good and bad. Many for which we have little or no control over, to the ones that we do. The only true control we have is how we will act or react to these events or changes in life.

Although, I would personally say, we probably face more of the type of change for which we have little to no control over than the ones that we do. Because of the comfort of the known, of our present circumstance, we find ourselves kicking and screaming like a spoiled child, not wanting to leave that comfort zone for the possible pain, nervousness, loss of confidence, and deep life changes that many changes bring to the table. Even though, once completed we find, that many times, we are better for the change than we were before it overwhelmed us. One would think that because we face change all the time that we would just accept that fact, knowing that it’s coming and to move right into it. But, personally, I’ve found that this is not the rule. Of course not all change is good, and here may lie the crux of the problem. It is the fear of any change and especially those for the worse that drives us to remain within the known comfort zone even if this zone is not a very good or a healthy one. After all where we are, is a known. Whereas that coming change isn’t.

Simply stated – we fear change, we fight change, and we find all kinds of  logical reasons to avoid change. And this applies to life in general. We age, and each period of this aging offers both advantages and disadvantages. This is one aspect of change that we have absolutely no control over. How we react to it is up to each one of us individually. There are many aspects of growing old that suck, but again other aspects that I wouldn’t trade. And like all out there, I have death ahead of me – the biggest change of all. It is that final change, our final act, that none can escape – even though many try. Even Christ died. But to my knowledge no one has ever been able to avoid our final change. We’ve had brief glimpses of what may be awaiting us. But truly once one dies, one cannot come back and give us the truth.

So our biggest change life in birth and death. Again since we cannot remember our time in the womb we cannot know if our preference would have been to remain in this known universe, albeit a very cramped one. Especially as we grew towards becoming the baby that left the womb to face the bright lights and cold air for the first time. Now we had to fight for our own survival instead of depending on the womb for everything. Big change. Then, as we grew came the next major change. Do you remember how nervous you were that first day of school? Of having to leave your mother, your family, to be on your own with strangers? Do you remember the thoughts both negative and positive as you faced this first major challenge and change since being born? Do you remember those butterflies in your stomach as you walked to, or boarded that bus to school on that first day?

In a way this established a pattern to our lives. Because every time we faced another major change our reaction was much the same as that first separation, when we were that young child. So our reactions or actions have never changed, even with conscious effort, to make those feelings and reactions different. You can see it reflected in yourself when something huge is coming down, and the results are completely unknown. Like that interview for either a new job or a possible promotion. The time you sat outside to wait your turn for that particular interview or grilling. Or maybe it is a court date because you had a traffic ticket, your first date, or how about the first time you got naked in front of a stranger or the first time you were intimate. And these latter two don’t necessarily refer to the same thing or time period.  After all getting physical doesn’t require one to get completely naked, but those physical exams for the military do, as are the showers in the male barracks. Or how about when you either asked or were asked for your hand in marriage? Big change, whether you were accepted, had accepted the offer, or not.  Then, as a woman, the first time you felt that new life moving inside of you knowing that in the very near future you would be facing labor, ouch.

While we are comfortable, unless we are facing illness, or some major emotional problem, with each new day we forget that it brings change along with it. New problems, new issues, ideas and changes on that job, an unexpected phone call from an irate customer, receiving happy news about some event, all of these being minor changes. Yet, as that clock continues to move, pushing our lives forward, and we look back, we find, overall, that we are still here, and those fears, that nervousness from those unknown consequences were always overstated – well most of the time anyway. So why is it that we seem to never learn that and still look with fear to those future unknown changes and the effect that it will have on us personally? Only each can answer these questions about themselves personally. Still if we learn, if we grow, if these changes and challenges, in the end, make us a better person, then we can smile and be thankful that they did happen to us.

Published in: on April 6, 2013 at 7:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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