Category Archives: Writing

2019 By the Indie Numbers

I’ve mentioned author and indie published Russell Nohelty a couple times on the blog, both specifically about his book on selling your work and in his detailing his efforts to build his business.

So, as a bit of follow-up, all last year he did a monthly income and expense report about his business, often detailing what worked and what didn’t, what his predictions were, and what the basis of those predictions was. It was wonderfully detailed stuff: data you almost never get to analyze unless you’re doing it yourself.

So on January 1st, he did an income report not just for December, but for all of 2019. It’s remarkably open and informative.

Oh, and because I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, if you think you’d dig the stuff he writes, he has a Kickstarter for his “Godsverse” novels running for the next six days.

Murakami on Magic and Writing

Haruki Murakami

Magic and writing? Redundant, I know.

But anyway, this is from last year, but Japanese writer Haruki Murakami‘s birthday was yesterday, so it popped up in some of my feeds.

Emily Temple over at LitHub collected several of his observations on writing and –what can I say?– they’re a good way to start off the week.

New Year, New Works in the Public Domain

From Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.”

Public Domain is a topic I periodically cover here on the blog and what with works beginning to enter said domain once again in the United States as of last year, I suppose this might become a January tradition.

Thousands of works from 1924 are now yours for the re-imagining as detailed here in Smithsonian Magazine, Vice news, and art news site Hyperallergic.

I expect a heavy metal version of “Rhapsody in Blue,” stat. Get creative, people!

McQuarrie on Making Things and Playing the Lottery

Moving on from trying to make hobbies conspicuously unproductive, there’s the notion on not waiting on one’s creative aspirations and making things.

I wrote a longer post a couple years ago about this need to do and complete creative works, in part referencing the column above. Time is finite for us mere mortals, so you need to figure out where to feed your creative side while life happens. Maybe it’s on the job, maybe it’s outside it. For many of us indie filmmakers who –surprise, surprise– don’t do filmmaking full-time (see life happening above), that’s quite a task.

One of the notions you’ll see in the links above is the idea to just go ahead and do it. Carpe that diem, even if it annoys Latin scholars that you just mangled that phrase. Mister Keating has your back. Alea iacta est and maybe this time it’s a natural 20.

So, on the one hand, it’s nice to see an industry professional mirror some of those sentiments, which is what Christopher McQuarrie did on Twitter back in October. Not being a Twitter power user, I only picked up on it when someone posted No Film School’s recap recently in a writer group.

Christopher McQuarrie

The main thrust of his tweet thread is that those asking him for where to find an agent, read their script, etc., are asking the wrong questions, because on one level, it’s about submitting to the status quo of “the lottery,” the often random way one finds success and builds a career in Hollywood.

That he notes he realized that he was asking the wrong question and after winning an academy award no less (surely winning the lottery), made me sit up and take notice. In fact, hearing some of the same notions from someone who is absolutely “in the system” and has “won the lottery” that I hear from indie folks encouraging each other was striking.

The whole thread is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight some parts. One is the overall implication that he has played –and won– the lottery, but all that gets you is the ability to play the lottery again. This squares entirely with repeated anecdotes I get from people that Hollywood is a very binary environment, where you can be a one or zero at any time as far as various people believe.

And another implication is that if you’re not making something, you never get to be a ‘one’ in anyone’s eyes. And sometimes that something is not seen hardly at all, or it is seen and judged lacking, yet you focus on the “execution and not the result.”

That’s what I liked about him going beyond the oft-repeated idea of “doing what you love” You have to execute and keep on executing until you there’s more people that find you to be a “one”

On the Wordplay site (where the “Never Wait” column comes from), they mention writing a script is like writing your own lottery ticket. But McQuarrie makes the point several times how making a film, making more than just a screenplay, is actually giving you more chances.

“And it’s infinitely harder to sell a screenplay than it is to sell one’s proven abilities.”

~Christopher McQuarrie

I love that he closes with the notion that the business isn’t something to be broken into so much as you are the business to be acquired, that the creative folks we might look up to like-as-not made their own luck, and many –if not all– of them failed spectacularly along the way.

So make the movie. Do the thing. Don’t wait.

Rejection and Gary Owens

How does Space Ghost take rejection? Stoically. Very Stoically.

I’ve linked to Mark Evanier’s series on rejection before. It’s very useful for writers — and many entries perfectly connect to film and TV actors and voiceover artists.

This latest installment may resonate particularly with voiceover artists.

In the realm of voiceovers (and frankly, in plenty of realms), people like to work with who they know.

And it’s not only who you know, it’s safe bets. How does this relate to Gary Owens (aka the voice of Space Ghost to many of my generation)? Read on!

Spock, Chabon, and This Mortal Coil

From “Q&A”

If you’ve checked out any of the anthology series “Short Treks,” you’ll know the arguable standout thus far is the first season’s “Calypso” co-written by Michael Chabon.

Chabon, probably better known to many as an award-winning novelist, also wrote this season’s “Q&A” and is the showrunner for the forthcoming Star Trek: Picard.

When I saw a behind-the-scenes photo of Chabon and the Vasquez Rocks (a popular Hollywood “exotic” filming location and one very storied for Star Trek), you could just tell his connection to Trek.

It was very evident for “Q&A” and now from this piece in the New Yorker, one now knows just how personal Star Trek is for him. And if this pain, love, and loss can be found in Picard (and I suspect it will), then I am loking forward to it more than ever.

I could have put this in my final Crisis of Infinite Star Treks post, but this article deserves to be read now.

Finding Other Sci-Fi and Fantasy Gems

Perhaps it’s because NaNoWriMo is nigh, but I found this piece in Wired about exploring and expanding the notions of “must read” works interesting. (I’m currently trying to fold in a bit more reading each day).

Building a Creative Business by Nuts and Bolts

Trying to make a living –or just some nontrivial income– from your creative endeavors seems like a monumental task. At least it feels so for me.

Luckily, for me, I enjoy some of the minutiae of process and procedures and figuring out devilish details I can repeat so all that small stuff is not stuff I sweat over.

Then I constantly get reminded about how much I don’t know. Also I don’t have enough time. Also, there’s something else I don’t know.

That’s where I appreciate all the writers and other creatives who share their experience including the lumps . There’s Holly Lisle for a lot of advice on writing, John August for a lot of writing and screenwriting, Seth Godin for a lot of marketing among others.

One energetic creator and entrepreneur whose resources I’ve shared before is Russell Nohelty. One of his recent posts goes into all the various ways you can try and build up the business side of your creative business, including the prime importance of having and cultivating a mailing list. But lest you want more, he does go into detail on all sorts of things.

Seriously, he goes into the weeds. He wants to go into the weeds. He’s like Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio’s site Wordplayer where they want to explain what muscles in your hand are used when picking up a pencil to begin writing. I’m talking about that level of detail.

So he’s been posting his monthly income and musing on it for the whole year and he recently did a breakdown of what he’s doing with that aforementioned mailing list.

It’s so hard finding an audience –and many people won’t care for your stories anyway– that demystifying the boring yet vital stuff is very much appreciated.

(And I should mention if you really dig the sort of stuff Russell does, he’s got a crowdfunder going that’ll end in just about a day).

Science Fiction still Alien to Some Authors

I mentioned on Tuesday that my office is geeky enough to spontaneously start talking about constructed languages.

As an inveterate geek who can pass as a “muggle,” I’m well acquainted with the concept of downplaying any connections to nerd/geek culture. My reluctance to unfurl my own weird flag has waned greatly over the past 15 years or so, but I understand that reticence.

Sarah Ditum, writing in the Guardian, details how authors have historically, and even today are averse to their work being labeled “science fiction” even as “nerd culture” has never been more dominant.

Who Doesn’t Like Conlangs?

This past week at work, talk drifted to Tolkien and constructed languages, or conlangs, because that’s how we roll.

Now, I’m not about to present any paper to the Language Creation Society. It takes a lot of time to create a full, working language. For Rogue Tyger, I have actual world languages stand in for the various human and alien languages, otherwise I’d be up to half a dozen conlangs by now.

Nevertheless, I find the whole process fascinating — and apparently, Hollywood has found the whole process invaluable to their worldbuilding as Oriana Schwindt details in an article for Vox.