Writerholic's Anonymous

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  1. Siege Mentality

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    Siege mentality.  It’s something a friend said to me in an email today when I wrote to her about everything I’ve been feeling since yesterday’s Rheumatologist appointment.  It’s time to bar the doors of the castle, buckle down, and dig in against the invaders.  Prepare for the worst and however long it will take to break the siege.

    I stand on the ramparts of my castle, looking out over the fields and watching as the invaders pillage and burn everything I’ve come to know and love.  It saddens me and it angers me; I want to ride out and destroy them with every fiber of my being.  But this isn’t that kind of war.  This is a war of waiting and attrition; the Fates alone deciding which side will break first.

    I am alone in this fight.  There are no reinforcements coming, no answers to our horns of war.  Only me and what few faithful knights remain to me.  They rally behind me, my spirit bolstered by their loyal courage which gives me the strength to endure and the wisdom to wait.  Not patiently, but I wait all the same.

    Battles I have fought and won aplenty in my life.  I endured and survived then, as I shall do now.  Though the numbers the Fates have lined against me are many and hope seems to dwindle with each passing day, I cannot resign myself to defeat.  Elsewise, everything I have lost will stay lost and all I have endured to this point will have been for naught.

    So I stare out over the battlements as the dark masses of the enemy cover the world as far as the eye can see.  I cannot know when this siege will be over or if it will ever be, whatever comes though, I shall endure.

    And I will still be standing at the end.

  2. Gamer. Geek. Goddess.

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    RPG-InternationalWomensDayIn celebration of International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate all the facets that make me the woman I am.  It’s high time we started celebrating everything about us and stop letting society stuff us into idealized little pigeonholes.  Embrace being a “tomboy”; embrace being a “gamer” or a “geek”; embrace everything that makes you the greatest and most engaging woman you know how to be.

    The Gamer

    I enjoy video games, even if I’m not really all that good at them.  I think the only game I’ve finished to-date is Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast.  (Yes, the Dreamcast.)  My favorite genre, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is Roleplaying Games (RPGs).  I remember tooling around in Dragon Warrior way back in the day, or playing Gauntlet in the Arcade (Blue Valkyrie needs food badly!), all the way up to the present day and my forays into Azeroth and World of Warcraft.

    It’s not just limited to video games, though.  I play a lot of tabletop, too.  I used to play Warhammer 40k, had my own Sisters of Battle army and everything.  I’ve also run the gamut on pencil and paper RPGs, from d6 Star Wars all the way to a swashbucking squirrel in Ironclaw.  I’m even currently playing in a D&D 3.5ed Forgotten Realms campaign whenever we can manage to get our group together.

    I love playing characters on grand adventures.  I enjoy fleshing them out, breathing life into their stories.  Sometimes I’ll even doodle a sketch or two.  Gaming, for me, serves as both inspiration for writing as well as a place to relax, be among friends, and just have a good time.

    The Geek

    Anime.  Fantasy Fiction.  Arthurian Fiction.  Symphonic Metal.  Cooking.  Photography.  Writing.  There are a dozen or more geekdoms I could tack on, because I love and enjoy so many different things.  Not only are they things I can do on my own, but they open doors to finding other people who are equally (or sometimes more) passionate than I am about them.

    Despite the fact that I’m shy, I enjoy talking to people.  I know, I know, it’s a contradiction in terms, but I “talk” a lot on forums or in online communities.  I enjoy sharing and being shared with — when it’s not just some dumb meme or the latest lolcat circulating the web.  I like sharing meaningful conversations about things that we’re passionate about and the things that interest or entertain us.

    I like it when people feel excited about the things they’re geeky about, because it makes me excited for them — and sometimes even curious.  Like I just started watching the anime Full Metal Alchemist – I’m behind the times, I know.  A friend couldn’t stop talking about it, so I had to see what all the fuss was about.  It’s because of that exuberance, though, that I felt the urge to check it out.  It’s how we should all be about the things that matter to us.

    Share and enjoy being shared with.  You never know what you’ll discover.

    The Goddess

    Some might look at me and think goddess is too strong a word or that I might be conceited.  However, this isn’t really a matter of ego.  I love who I am and I embrace everything about me, flaws and all, just like I try to do the same for others around me.  Beyond that, I try to encourage and inspire others, to nudge them toward things they dream or aspire to.

    I am strength.  I am beauty.  I am wisdom.  I am compassion.  All these things combined — at least in my eyes — make me a goddess.  I don’t need to be worshiped and I don’t need people to agree.  It’s just part of embracing all the facets that make me me.

    And there’s nobody else quite like.

  3. Faces of Fandom

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    Greggo Reading Primers

    Even if you aren’t a well-established author with millions of fans… the fans you do have still matter.  It’s why I love hearing from mine.  I was recently sent this photo of long-time fan and friend, Greggo, pictured here reading his copy of Writer & Roleplayer Primers.

    I love that it feels like I’m having a real conversation with you.- Greggo
  4. To Follow or Unfollow

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    My heartfelt apologies for not having updates lately, it’s been an… interesting week for me with my Rheumatoid Arthritis, so pretty much everything has been an exercise in frustration and seething hatred.

    That said, I want to look into the mouth of the beast that is social media.  Now, I don’t have many followers on Twitter (yet) so I’m able to notice when numbers fluctuate. It makes me wonder what makes a person follow/unfollow another. Here’s what I look for in people to follow (or people to unfollow):

    1.)  Do they actually post tweets themselves or are they a bunch of Retweets (RTs)?

    Retweets are great, don’t get me wrong.  It’s great to support artists and friends, but when your Twitter (or any other social media) is more about what OTHER people are doing than about what YOU are doing… why should I follow you and not all those other people?

    2.)  Do they spam-post or “Twittercast” a lot?

    When you post fifty things an hour that gets kind of annoying.  I only follow less than 100 people right now and some people make it pretty difficult to keep up with things when I log on and every single post in the space of an hour is by one person.  Be considerate to your followers and share the wall space.  If you want to keep a rolling commentary on a show then do it in a single thread by replying to your own post.

    3.) Do they do nothing but advertise?

    I get it, you’re proud of your thing that you did.  That’s not EVERYTHING that you are, though.  There’s more to you than that.  I follow people I find interesting, not people who are one long-winded commercial.

    4.)  Do they do nothing but complain?

    I’ve said it before in previous blog posts, I’ll say it again.  Nobody likes a Negative Nancy.  It’s okay to have a bad day now and then, we all do.  It’s when your social stream becomes an unending pity party of how much you suck, life sucks, or everything in general sucks — I just can’t get into that or support it.  The negative energy from people who only focus on the negative aspects of their life can be pretty overwhelming.  Share some positive energy, you (and your followers) will be better for it.

  5. 3 Easy Ways to Discourage Your Readers

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    As writers, it’s important to have a following because the readers are what sell books.  It’s the readers that recommend our work and encourage others to join in the fun.  However, there are many ways we can drive off our readership, a few of which I’m going to list here.

    3.) Slander other authors.

    I’m a firm believer that, as writers, we reap what we sow.  By slandering other authors, especially within the view of our followers and fan-base makes us look not only tawdry, but jealous and small-minded.  While there are those who might not agree with this, that’s my two cents.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

    2.) Berate your own work or your own ability.

    People aren’t going to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first.  It’s just that simple.  No one likes a Negative Nancy.  Sure, we all have bad days.  It happens.  When it’s day after day, post after post, until looking at your page is just depressing — readers are going to look elsewhere.  Readers have enough problems of their own in life without being burdened with the everyday minutiae of being a starving artist.

    1.) Give them content that is solely marketing.

    Read my book.  Read this review about my book.  Watch this video trailer about my book.  Listen to this music track that inspired my book.  Look at this instagram photo that reminds me of my book.  Don’t forget to buy my book.  Did I mention my book?  You should read my book…

    Boring, eh?  If your site and your social media are one long-running commercial to buy your stuff it’s not going to encourage your readers.  The likelihood that they’ve already purchased your work before they followed/liked your page or profile is fair to good, so you don’t need to keep bludgeoning them with commercialized spam.

    Give them something else to read.  Provide them with actual content that’s entertaining to read.  You may think it’s awesome to talk non-stop about your current projects, but for long-term followers it gets boring and your readership looks elsewhere for better content.


  6. Blunt as a Spoon: One Writer’s Critique Style

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    I recently got into a discussion with another writer about critique, because I describe my style as “blunt-as-a-spoon” and “no-holds-barred”.  I say that as a warning to people who ask me for critique, because most of the time when people ask for it they aren’t really asking for critique.  They’re asking for validation that what they’re doing is a “good thing”.  They want me to tell them that their writing is good and that they have a talent for it.  I don’t really do the validation thing when you ask me for critique.

    Critique — to me, at least — is constructive commentary designed to empower and enrich a writer’s work.  It means mixing both positive and corrective critique, but most of what I look for and do is corrective, because that is what makes better writers.  I’m not an editor and make no claim to be (if you want a good editor, go see John Adamus.)  My goal is just to give writers a nudge in the right direction to improving their craft.  However, I realize that I’m a jack-all-nobody and that no one has to listen to me.  I’m one voice among millions that can easily be heeded or dismissed on a whim.

    However, in the progress of this discussion, it was opined that blunt critique is a negative thing, that somehow it demeans and discourages writers.  I couldn’t even begin to fathom this concept. I pulled up the dictionary definition of blunt.

    blunt (blʌnt)

    — adj
    1. (esp of a knife or blade) lacking sharpness or keenness; dull
    2. not having a sharp edge or point: a blunt instrument
    3. (of people, manner of speaking, etc) lacking refinement or subtlety; straightforward and uncomplicated
    4. outspoken; direct and to the point: a blunt Yorkshireman

    Note the third definition (and, to some degree, the fourth).  Bluntness isn’t about being some obnoxious tool that’s just out to lord it over writers and beat them with their own prose until they’re a bloodied, pulpy mess of writer soup.  It’s about getting to the root of issues writers may have and giving advice on how to correct them.  It’s entirely possible to give a writer that kind of critique in a kindly manner, but still be straightforward about it.  At least that’s my humble opinion on it.

    Too many writers these days live in fear of negative (but still constructive) critique, being told something doesn’t work or how to improve something.  Critiques are not reviews.  Critique is there to make you a better writer.  A writer doesn’t get better if they aren’t given some hard, honest truths about what they’ve written.  It doesn’t have to be crass or demeaning, but it should provide a constructive means to improve.  Accolades and laurels are for when the writer has published and the good reviews start pouring in.  To get there, though, a writer needs honest, straightforward critique that isn’t afraid to say when something doesn’t work and why.

    You can still build someone up AND address their issues.  Sure I can and I do.  Being blunt isn’t about tearing someone down, after all, it’s about plain-spoken, clear language and honesty.  If being straight up and honest about things somehow tears a writer down, that’s on them and their inability to handle critique.  That isn’t to say that they need to nut-up and grow a thicker skin; they need to learn how to digest critique and process it.  Every line of critique has a grain of truth, but every critic has a different perspective.  It falls to the writer to separate the wheat from the chaff and find ways to improve from what they’ve been given — not to take offense and pore over every criticism like it’s a paper-cut to the heart; that’s taking things way too personally.

    Critique is about improvement.  It’s my feeling that a writer cannot improve unless there’s a clear, open line of communication where I can speak honestly about the things I see in a work.  I shouldn’t have to sugar-coat my criticism to “soften the blow”, because nothing that would follow is about how much the writer sucks or how much they should go back to their day job.  That’s not criticism, that’s just malicious denigration and not something that should be correlated to someone who is simply blunt in her opinions.  There is a difference.  And, again, something that every writer should learn to discern for themselves.

    Just because someone doesn’t gush all over a writer with praise or handle their manuscript with kid-gloves doesn’t mean they’re out to ruin other writers.  I’m certainly not.  The entire platform of this blog is built on empowering other writers and encouraging them to succeed.  I keep my language very casual and straight-forward, though, because I don’t like truncating my meaning in a bunch of sub-context that people have to figure out.  You know exactly what I mean because that’s how I say it.  If that makes me “rude” or “obnoxious”, well… eye of the beholder and all that.

    That’s why I offer a disclaimer beforehand.