C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

Truman Syndrome & the writerly mindset

While sipping the best coffee ever at Coffee Culture, I saw a handsome, young black man standing across the street. Beside him sat an elderly white woman in a wheelchair.

I swear this is true: I watched him light a very fat joint, take a hit and pass it to the old woman. Without looking at him, she took a hit and passed it back. This wasn’t merely unexpected. It was surreal. As he rolled her out of sight I thought there was a story there but I wasn’t sure yet what it would be.

As I headed home, I had a Truman Syndrome moment. Everything looked slightly fake, like I was on a movie set made just for me. An old man with a nose like The Penguin’s beak and horrible posture scrabbled across the sidewalk as if pulled along by his cartoonish nose. At the same time, a woman ran the other way in a gait that looked…contrived. She wore a pastel green blouse that matched her socks and she ran like she was holding back a terrible case of diarrhea and trying to hop in time to an urgent nursery rhyme.

If I were to see each person individually, it would just seem odd. However, the juxtaposition of all of them made them not real people, but characters. As I scanned the sidewalk, everyone looked like an extra in an early 90s low-budget movie. I could picture the AD whispering instructions to concealed earpieces for each passerby. “Keep moving! Don’t look at the camera. Don’t look at the actor! Don’t look at Chazz! He still has no idea!”

The sense that everything is slightly off, somewhat “presented”, and utterly skewed? That feeling hasn’t left me all day.

I’m either in a writerly mood or this is a narcissistic psychosis.

Not that those conditions are mutually exclusive.

Filed under: What about Chazz?, Writers, Writing exercise, , , , , ,

Improving ourselves: Bruce Lee, Reading self-help, writing horror

I’ve been trying to improve myself to make me worthy of your love. I’m not eating sugar so I’ll lose more weight (after gaining some back.) I’ll get to the gym. I’ll keep slogging on making my ebooks. I’ve been reading a time management book by the Bruce Lee of Time Management.

I’d tell you more about the book, but it turns out the author and Bruce Lee have something in common:

good at what they do, sure, but jerks.

Bruce Lee was a kung fu legend who made some interesting movies for 14-year-old boys and those with chronically arrested development. (Yes, I was so afflicted until quite recently.) But Bruce Lee also picked a lot of fights just so he could beat up his physical lessors . (You didn’t see that much in the biopic Dragon, but getting into too much trouble and buying too deeply into his macho bullshit was one of the reasons he had to flee Hong Kong for the United States.) Bruce Lee was also (struggling for a kind euphemism here) an intense individual. He had a thing about staring into people’s eyes as he spoke, even when he was driving. He got into several fender benders because of that macho man/genius policy. Bruce was an amazing innovator and there is much about him that is enviable. He’s inspired people far beyond the bailiwick of kung fu. The legend obscures the flawed person who stands behind the fiction.

Then there’s the time management guru: He started off with some good points, though his unexpected obsession with making more time for sex hit kind of a weird note. I’m sex positive, so I didn’t write him off quickly. Making more time for sex is a good thing rarely spoken, so good on him for speaking it. Then, for some reason (no editor or an editor who got overruled) he veered off into a narrative ditch. People in China die without healthcare because they don’t have money, he said, and that’s the way it should be. If you want to be able to afford healthcare and not die horribly, get off your lazy ass. Surgery is for closers!

Whoa.

His vision of getting the best out of life seems to be scheduling your time properly in an Ayn Rand hellscape where only the strong survive as you drive your enemies before you, crush them and hear the lamentation of their women. Okay, I’m paraphrasing Conan the Barbarian there, but seriously, the author crammed some pretty ugly beyond-far-right politics into his time management book and derailed his book.

I’ll learn to manage my time from someone else. I admit it, I’m not reading the whole thing. This isn’t a book review. It’s a warning to keep your inner disregard for fellow humans tucked away when you write a self-help book. Unless you’re a horror writer. I don’t want to read more and share a mind meld with someone whose concept of compassion for the sick is to cackle while he watches the poor die, drinking from a gold goblet while scheduling a spa treatment on his oh-so-organized Blackberry.

Hey, come to think of it…I am writing a book that has “self-help” in the title and there is a lot of horror in it.

Hm. I’m complex. And I’m trying to do better.

In my horror stories, I hint at a high regard for the worth of humanity.

There’s no horror at the loss of a life if you’re just losing another nosey neighbour you never liked anyway.

Filed under: book reviews, Books, writing tips, , , ,

Don’t listen to writers too much

The phrase that pays.

Image by pirateyjoe via Flickr

When I first graduated from massage school, I visited new massage therapists all the time. Too often, I didn’t enjoy the experience much. I was too evaluative of each therapist to just lay back and receive the treatment in the spirit in which it was given. I wasn’t concentrating on the feeling of the massage, but on the mechanics. It took me some time to get past that mindset.

You see the same thing with editors sometimes, too. A bad editor jumps straight to corrections too fast without reading for story first. Typos are the last thing you correct in the story construction process. You need to look at the big blocks in the structure first to see how it holds together. Developmental editing always happens before detailed copy editing.

You shouldn’t listen too much to other writers for similar reasons. They see your work through a prism that doesn’t necessarily match ordinary reader expectations.

Writers are great people, but they usually aren’t your market. We sometimes forget that there are a lot of people in the world who have no literary ambitions. They don’t want to write a book. They just want to read a good story.

Writers are readers, but they aren’t typical readers. Writers look at your work differently. Writers are not  the average reader.

Among writers, there is a higher percentage of people who will pick apart your mechanics. Any grammatical variation from what they expected (and there are variations) will provoke more irritation than may be warranted. They will be the readers who skip from irritation at your typos to outrage, indignation and threats to take away your writer’s license and livelihood. Some will want to burn down your house.

Writer friends and editors can help you develop your work, improve and self-publish. But because of the way we are wired, we might not enjoy your work as much as typical readers will.

BONUS: 

I’m networked with a lot of great writers who help me a lot. I like them, appreciate them and thank them.

However, you’ll run into some writers who are so competitive, they do not wish you well.

Either through jealousy or the misconception that your success takes something away from them, they want you to fail.

Watch out for the hypercritical, the rabid grammarians, the perfectionists, the haters and snipers. They mistake their subjective taste for law all the time.

By the way, I wish you every success.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Same Tired Arguments

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

Misquoting me makes you sound stupid. So does taking what I say out of context, putting words in my mouth, and drawing false conclusions based on things I’ve said.   That out of the way, I keep seeing the same poor, tired arguments and examples repeated over and over around the Internet. Either folks are writing about self-publishing for the very first time, and naturally falling into the lazy trap of not thinking clearly, or they’re purposely trying to disguise failed ideas as something new, like intelligent design and creationism. (Just to be clear–intelligent design is no different than creationism, and creationism is flat-out wrong. Period.)   Here are some outright falsehoods that continue to perpetuate.
Show original

Filed under: publishing

How do you like me now?

It occurred to me this evening that the big book I’m betting on heavily to put me on the map is…unconventional. By that I mean it’s a mongrel of a book that breaks a book full of rules. It mixes stories of horror and erotica, philosophy and thought experiments with a sprinkling of non-fiction. It’s got a marketing hook that better be strong enough to overcome the “traditional” liabilities of stories told in second-person present.

Either I’m an evil genius or an idiot, but I keep flashing on Keanu Reeves in The Matrix when  he’s about to rescue Morpheus:

Trinity: “No one’s ever done anything like this before.”

Neo: “That’s why it’s going to work.”

November 1 will be my Indie-pendance Day.

More to come.

Filed under: Books, DIY, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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