I have two projects that I haven’t been looking forward to working on, but carry on I must. The first is a fiction story that involves the death of a character and the second is the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support.”
The reason I haven’t been looking forward to working on those projects is that working on stories that hit a little too close to home or that are sad can have an effect on me. It may have happened before without my noticing it, but while working on a short story named “The Best Job In The World” for “Nine To Five Lives,” I noticed that I began feeling increasingly angsty at work. I was even more angry and bitter than usual and it wasn’t until I finished the first draft of the story that I got over it.
I talked to a psychologist friend about it after the fact. I asked him: if reading fiction affects people in some way, wouldn’t writing it have an effect on those that write it as well? He agreed, saying that something similar had happened to him when he was writing.
In all honesty, I think I am going to have a harder time writing the second tech support book. While I can easily disconnect myself from a fictional character, I live tech support forty hours a week, which means I can probably look forward to being full of piss and vinegar for the next few weeks. I could stop writing about work, but the insanity that the general public brings to the table is too rich of a vein of material to ignore. I guess I’m stuck!
My last e-book “Con Fluff 1: 2012 Furry Convention Short Story Collection” was released seven months ago, and as the 2013 edition won’t be ready for a few months at the minimum, I feel the need to get another e-book out into the wild. My (virtual) stack of unpublished short stories has been growing and I’m pretty sure that I have enough of them to assemble another e-book.
Since my stories are very short, I have to round up a few in order to assemble a collection of decent length. One early lesson I learned in my Adventures in Self-Publishing is that five stories was not enough content for 99 cents, as evidenced by the thud that ‘One Sheet Stories’ and ‘FlipSide Stories’ made in their respective marketplaces. Luckily, people are buying the longer collections I’ve produced since so I think I’ve figured out how much stuff is enough.
The stories themselves are another matter, though. The longest anything I’ve ever written was about 12 pages. It also took me a little while to get over my habit of keeping stories about a page long due to printing constraints back in the First Storm Manga days. Even when I have a hard limit to work with, I try not to think about length, but even then I’m pretty sure that the thought of ‘is it long enough’ rattles around somewhere in my subconscious.
I don’t know that I have a Great American Novel in me but I’d like to write one eventually. Time will tell!
A spectacular failure can have the effect of dropping a big heaping scoop of self-doubt on one’s head. After failing to sell even a single paper copy of my first furry book, “Con Fluff 1,” in the Artist Alley of Furry Fiesta a few weekends ago, I found myself questioning everything I did there: my sales pitch, my table layout, pricing, and so on. The bigger question of “Am I Doing It Wrong?” has also been hanging over my head since then.
A friend recently made the observation that I was incorrectly trying to sell clean stories to an audience that was not interested in them. Given how I joke with friends about how some furry art sites don’t update until you turn off their “not safe for work” filter, I’m hardly in a position to disagree. A little part of me is wondering if I should cross that line and start writing erotica/smut/porn/what have you.
I’ve never written anything overtly sexual, and I don’t have much desire to…it’s just not my thing. Despite that, I now have a little nagging voice in my head telling me that if I just cross that line, I will gain a bigger audience. Oddly enough, the internal debate I am having is reminiscent of when I’ve see artist friends struggle with the question of whether to do fan art for conventions.
While doing your own thing as a creative person is very personally satisfying, it also carries some risk, especially where anime and comic book fans are concerned. Those fans have popular characters that they like and don’t often take chances on things that are different or new, especially coming from a little-known or new artist. However awesome an artist’s original creation may be, most folks are going to gravitate to the table with the cool looking Iron Man or Hetalia fanart. In the same way, I find myself wondering if folks are bypassing my works just because it is clean.
Part of the reason I don’t write smut is that I don’t think I’d be good at it, but that isn’t stopping me from considering crossing that line. The little cloud of self-doubt that’s been following me around since Furry Fiesta isn’t helping either.
I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t hurt if things got just a little more naughty. We’ll see.
I have been on a bit of a ‘simplify things’ kick lately, as evidenced by the fact that I am no longer a video game website editor, a drummer in a band, or involved in any conventions outside of being an attendee or panelist. I cut back on my side projects and decided to devote the majority of my time to writing and getting the word out about my e-books.
Case in point: therulesoftechsupport.com (don’t bother, the site is kaputski and I still own the domain). It was intended to be a ‘companion’ to my second e-book, Things being what they are, I didn’t get around to updating it as much as I could have, partially due to the aforementioned side projects, and also because of all the other writing I do.
So its no wonder that there weren’t very many visitors to the site. The year of hosting I had prepaid for was coming due, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to pay for a site that I didn’t have the time to keep up with and that wasn’t being visited. So I shut down the site.
While I took the liberty of grabbing all of the articles and pictures from the site prior to shutting it down, I feel a little sad over pulling the plug. Granted, I’ve had other websites that have gone off to binary heaven for one reason or another, but for what its worth, this one was mine.
UPDATE: The free promotion for “The Rules of Tech Support is now over, but you can still get “One Sheet Stories” for free!
My second e-book “The Rules of Tech Support” is available
for free today via Amazon Kindle devices and software, and of course, you can always get “One Sheet Stories” for FREE here!”
I believe that every creative person has, in their head somewhere, their masterpiece. The Big One, the Magnum Opus, that one work that they believe will knock everyone’s socks off and change the world, or at the least, make them rich and/or famous. One concept that we always preached in First Storm Manga was the idea that your Big One should never, ever, be your first project.
Why not? As eager as you may be to unleash your book, song or artwork onto an unsuspecting world, the fact of the matter is that when you undertake your first major project, you are more than likely going to make mistakes. Thus, you should undertake a similar smaller project that you aren’t quite as emotionally invested in, so when things go wrong, you won’t be discouraged from having borked up your masterpiece.
Thus, “The Rules of Tech Support” is actually my second ebook. My first one was “One Sheet Stories” which was a collection of five of my one-page stories. Nobody bought it, and I also encountered a few slip-ups along the way. I tried using a service called Smashwords which ended up not working as well as I had hoped. Their touted ‘Meatgrinder’ conversion program didn’t quite spit out my e-book the way that I wanted it to look, which was frustrating. I did some research and found a spiffy program called eCub that I could use to convert my text properly to e-book format then upload it directly to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
That was just one of the lessons I learned while working on “One Sheet Stories” that I was able to apply to the production of “The Rules of Tech Support.” The process went much smoother because I was doing it the second time around and I didn’t make as many mistakes. Time will tell whether it “The Rules of Tech Support” will be successful or not, but on a technical level, I am happy with the result.
Its not that you can’t strike gold on your first try, but the unfortunate reality is that most folks will not, and who knows, that small project just could be the one that makes it big!
I have been working on my second e-book, titled “The Rules of Tech Support,” for what seems to have been way too long. Now, it isn’t a very long work, and I have already written some of it on my old LiveJournal and on my podcast. For the longest time, though, it sat at about 80% completed. I just couldn’t get any farther; I would sit behind my laptop, fire up Microsoft Word, tap Ctrl-End to get to the end of the document, and…nothing. For months, absolutely no progress.
The project eventually got back on track. It was either because I started working in tech support again, or because I found myself writing in different places. As odd as it sounds, I am convinced that writing in different places or in different ways helps the creative process along. In my case, I found myself taking notes in between calls during work, and even stayed in late at the office one day, spending a whole hour alone just typing away. Somehow being at the office made me think different. Heck, I think that using my tablet instead of my laptop helped.
What I’m trying to say is that you cannot ‘think different’ if you are doing the same thing over and over again. To change my thought processes, I had to change where I was doing my thinking. If nothing else, its a good excuse to hang out at a coffee shop or diner for a few hours.