Staring Down The End
Before I talk about the topic du jour, I wanted to let you all know that there’s some exciting news on the near horizon that I hope to share in the coming weeks. I’ll give you a hint. I’ve been writing quite a few stories for various anthologies and things are lining up quite nicely. Over the holidays, I also finished the first draft of a follow up to Forest of Shadows and I’m putting the finishing touches on an adventure series for kids. Yet, I still found time to watch the entire first 2 seasons of Justified, which I now declare the best show on TV. (American Horror Story and The Walking Dead come in a close second) Raylen Givens is a complete, all American badass.
As I look up at my Vampirella calendar, I can’t believe the Super Bowl is already here. I was out and about today picking up food, beer and selecting some damn good cigars for the big day’s festivities. As a Seahawks fan, I have no skin in the game, but you can’t beat a day of drinking and eating with family and friends. And no, I don’t live in Seattle or the west coast, for that matter. I grew up a Steve Largent fan, plus the helmets were bitchin’.
Last but far from least, the Monster Men tackle the devil, possession, exorcism and a review of The Devil Inside in our 13th episode. Check it out, but make sure you hold onto your rosary beads.
OK, on with the show….
I’m going to attack this particular subject from the angle of a horror writer, but this applies to anyone who creates something, whether it be a book, painting, video game, whatever, and gives it up to the world to see and, inevitably, critique. As human beings, we all just want to be loved. That’s why the Beatles are the greatest group of all time. They understood. When we create something from our soul or gray matter if you want to be pragmatic, putting it out for general consumption is a lot like streaking through the quad at lunch time. (Feel free to chant Frank the Tank at this point.) You’re utterly exposed, your stomach cramping, waiting for the worst, and odds are, there’s some shrinkage.
Every writer needs a very thick skin. (Gift idea for those of you looking to get the person who has everything!)You have to absorb rejection like a Shamwow. You have to work with agents and editors as they pick apart your words, fine tuning it until it’s something not only readable, but saleable. And when you’re done putting a spit shine to your book or story or poem, presto!, it goes out into the great beyond, available for all to read.
From that point on, all that’s left is the feedback, reviews, tweets, posts, and on and on. You pray that it will all be good, but you know deep down you can’t please everyone. There will always be people who don’t like your book. Hell, some will even hate it and ask Jesus in their prayers why He ever let you think you could become a writer in the first place.
And this is exactly what stops a lot of aspiring writers dead in their tracks. Sure, some of them will say they just need to give their manuscript a little tweak (possibly the 132nd revision in what seems as many years), but deep down, they’re terrified of what people will say. So they never get to THE END, constantly worrying that it’s just not good enough for everyone. Some folks will even change their theme or message, worried that it may offend some or cause even the slightest controversy. Any writer will tell you, you can literally tweak a work for the rest of your life. It’s up to you to end it.
For those of you who are struggling to face this fear, the only thing I can advise is to just stare it down with your best Raylen Givens squinty eyes and tell it to get lost. Even the very best writers have their critics. I think we can all agree that Stephen King is at the top of the horror game, and he gets a healthy dose of crappy, some downright nasty, reviews. Whether it’s love or hate, it’s an emotion, and isn’t that really what art is about; evoking an emotional response? So let it rip, scatter it to the winds of public opinion, and get to work on your next book. The End is just six key strokes away.
I have admired Stephen King for years & will often re-read many of his books (especially the really long ones or series). I really like his character development – by the end of the book I feel like I really know this character & could predict how they would continue to act beyond the end of the book. It is precisely because his character development is so good, I fail to finish my work. My characters seem flat & lifeless compared to his. But I am taking steps & getting back into writing a little at a time, so hopefully one day I will have the book I always wanted to write.
I agree, King’s greatest strength as a writer is his ability to build up amazing characters. He’s one of the best at it, bar none, in any genre. The key is not to get yourself bogged down in comparisons to King. He’s who he is, and you are who you are. The world already has Stephen King. What it needs is your voice, your method, your story. Sometimes you have to put some blinders on and just write from your heart. Best of luck!
Some good points here, my friend. And interesting to relate it to Stephen King. You’re absolutely right. He does get quite a fair share of bad reviews. Of course, if I was making the money he is making, it might make it easier to swallow 🙂 Chuck Wendig just did a pretty funny post on this recently (about how writers must be crazy to keep doing what we do).
I think you’ve hit on my biggest problem with academia as a writer. They seem to cultivate this endless cycle of write, workshop, revise, repeat. At some point, you got to suck it up and put it out there. (Granted, many indie authors would benefit from at least one or two of those cycles). I’m feeling okay that I haven’t got that bad review yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s because only my friends are reading my book. ha ha… ha?
Anyway, not familiar with Justified. Can I get it through Netflix (no cable for me)? And it looks like I’ll be going to the WHC in Salt Lake at the end of March. Planning on pitching to Samhain. Seems like they’ve treated you pretty well. Are you attending?
Paul D. Dail
http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog
Thanks Paul. And don’t get me started on the cult known as critique groups. That’s where good writers go to live in limbo. You can get season seasons 1 and 2 of Justified on Netflix. That’s how I got caught up. Unfortunately, I won’t be at WHC. I will be at Horrorfind on Labor Day weekend. Definitely talk to the Samhain folks and feel free to let them know you and I have gotten to know each other. They’re a great group to work with.
Cool site, Hunter…and enjoyed FOREST OF SHADOWS! Best of luck with future books and will definitely check out the followup to FOS when it hits the shelves (real or digital)…as well as your other stuff.
Thanks Chris! Stay tuned. The latest book (not related to Forest) will be out in a couple of months. This one is like the Exorcist on crack.