Honesty + Humanity
Making Something Important
What makes something important?
Art and writing can be imperfect. Perfectly flawed, like humanity.
I don't think you can make something meaningful unless you bring complete, vulnerable truth to it. Put it out there and say, 'this is the pure, ugly, beautiful, chaotic truth.' Even when it feels like it's clique, over used, or overstated.
No, it's not.
Someone else might have said it, but not in a way that YOU can say it. It's important to remember that, when your making things, or doing whatever it is that you do.
Making art is important. It's the shelf we sit our heavy hearts. It's the place we build ourselves up from, a flame we can light our candles with. Torches passed from country to country until they light a beacon of unity. Unity in Humanity.
We are imperfect beings,
and we are flawlessly flawed.
But someone else needs to hear the story,
so they can get through it,
or see something
or carry another torch.
If you're not dead, keep going.
If you get killed, walk it off.
What you do is important.
Go latch onto what holds you up. Make something else.
Somebodies world might depend on it.
I salute you, fellow artist.
Things I Learned From My Kickstarter
I recently ran a Kickstarter for my books, Chime and The Fleetwood Skies. I learned a few things there in the trenches, and I have some stuff I'd like to pass on. Here's the skinny:
You better be ready to back your product %100
People can smell doubt. Why should they invest if you don't believe in it either?
Don't be bland and impersonal with marketing. It's boring and stupid.
Nobody buys crap that doesn't make them feel good. If you copy/paste marketing stuff you're better off saving your advertising dollars to buy your friends a cup of coffee. (Them telling their friends is better advertising anyway.)
Sub-Note-- book campaigns need to be finished and ready for retail. I have noticed from observing Kickstarter campaigns that book projects that are not finished or complete are usually the campaigns that are not even 10% funded by the end of their cycle. I can see the appeal of trying to fund a story before you are finished because it takes a huge investment of time and money, but the reality is that unless you have a very supportive fan base or a rich benefactor, no one is going to put money into a book that hasn't been completed, especially if you have nothing under your belt to prove that you can finish it and finish it well.
Connect with your backers
THANK YOUR BACKERS. They are giving you their hard earned money to take a chance on you. RESPECT THAT. IT IS A BIG DEAL. If you don't respect your backers, you are not only being a shish-kebab, but you are losing credibility and excitement for the next project.
Also, it's fun.
Connect using platforms you already have.
If you have Facebook, twitter, Instagram, deviantArt, Goodreads, YouTube, whatever, use that. It's fine to learn new things and branch out but you're more likely to confuse yourself and get distracted from your real goal while finagling with the politics of social media.
When in doubt, buy them coffee.
Do yourself a favor and research correct keywords for searches, however. This will get you free traffic and the most promising connections online.
You will get swamped with messages from marketing companies
Everyone wants a slice of that money you're working hard for. I would not recommend any of it, even if you're project isn't going as well as you planned.
Remember that the spikes in pledging are usually at the beginning and the end of the project. Don't fall victim to these companies taking your money out of desperation. Persevere and re-plan!
Ask your friends for help
And buy them that damn cup of coffee. People that care about your success want to help, and something as small as saying, "hey, can you share this?" can go a long way. Don't expect ANYONE to do anything for you, unless they are contractually involved in the project, but you never know what will make the right connection.
When possible, reach out in person.
(Further reading on this in The Art of Asking, which also houses a plethora of info on crowd funding.)
Start small, with an achievable goal.
Do something you can know you can finish, with a goal you know you can obtain, with a time frame and budget you know you can sustain. It sounds 'dah', but it's easy to over or underestimate things, especially when you've never done it before.
But, ultimately, and most importantly:
Get 'er Done.
Good luck, :)
The Chime, Almost Here
Seems like forever ago, but last month I finally put the last red scribbles to paper and sent The Chime off to my editor.
There's that moment of celebration, the HUZZAH I FINISHED A BOOK! But it's all to quickly filled with sadness, because you won't ever get to work on that particular story like that ever again.
I'd imagine some would say it's like watching your kids go off to college, but that's not it.
I think sending off your final draft to an editor is most like watching your dog go to the bathroom in the backyard on his own for the first time, knowing there may be mistakes to clean up in the future, but the big hurdle of getting him out of the door is done.
There is still shit to do, but it is very close now.
Stay tuned for pre-order details! I'm going to do a few things differently and I've very excited.
Give Your Despair to Art
We are a flame.
As you live, the world will do everything it can to snuff it out, change the heat, change the color, and turn it into something else.
Your job is to keep that flame going no mater what. Take the storms and use it to glow brighter, so when you leave this world you a ‘better’ light than when you began.
I think we kill ourselves by snuffing out our lights. It takes a while to get it burning again.
Keep it safe, no matter what.
Life will through shit at you. That’s the way it works. Don’t let it kill your light. I recommend taking the tumultuous energy and giving it away to art.
Nitty gritty gross paint on canvas cut with a box knife painted on the hard wood floor. There is paint on your hands and shirt and boots and you had to spit on it because there wasn’t water available; you pushed in the pencil and markers so hard they broken, and when you thought only you could hear others were wondering what were you killing up there?
You're not killing anything, you’re creating something from nothing. You’ll hate everything about it. It’s art. Once it’s done, it doesn’t belong to you anymore.
That’s what artists do; we give ourselves to our work, literally. We give away the things we feel to the medium. Translate and interpret how you will.
Never forget what an important tool this is. As artists, (humans) we feel so much, but we are not creatures meant to keep it all. If it burns you, let it burn a canvas, or a saxophone solo, or paint by number, beadwork, astrophysics, etc.
It does not have to be a masterpiece, but it probably is.
You are human, and you must create, you must keep the light burning, and you must let the terrible things go.
A visual guide to finishing the first draft of your story
For None-Linear Writers & Linear Writers having trouble being Linear.
It always starts the same:
AN IDEA! A THING! $@*%! A STORY!
Everyone does this daily, but some of us write it down.
Part 1: Inspiration
Who what when where why how.
Part 2: Write the Inspiration
Write concepts or ideas that you know will happen,
especially the idea that first got you hooked.
Everything about them may change, but the essence of what they are is what you are trying to capture here.
Don't obsess over detail, that's waisted energy at this point.
Part 3: Construct an Outline
Outlines are better when organized by the story's
INTRO, CONFLICT, & RESOLUTION
Get messy. Bubble graphs, sticky notes, research, and everything else.
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLETE YET
Part 4: Fill in the Holes
This takes time. Make a consistent writing schedule.
Read through your draft,
IGNORE HOW BAD IT MAY SOUND.
Write in stuff you are inspired to write when you are inspired to write it.
Aim for a certain word count a day, write mind babble if you have to.
Part 5: Finish Filling in the Holes
This is where intense creative problem solving happens.
This is where you will hit the writer's runner's wall.
Power through it! You are very close!
Part 6: YOU HAVE FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT
Congratulations! Something exists now that did not exist before. Most people give up before they get here. If you finished your first draft, you are above average. Celebrate!
Take note of the sketch above. Notice how rough, incomplete, and inaccurate it looks?
That's what your draft should look like.
A first draft is the messy, gritty, foundation.
The grittier it is, the more footholds you will have to work with later on.
Be proud of your work; you have found the diamond ore.
Now put it away and do something completely different.
The more time you let pass between reading the first draft, and carrying on to the second, the better. I'd recommend several weeks at least.
Writing something new!
Never stop asking questions.
The real work is about to begin.
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