Monday, July 20, 2015

"Where ya been, Man?!?!"

How has it been six months since my last blog entry?  Wow, as Dr. Ian Malcolm was found of saying, "Life finds a way."  In this case life finds a way of getting in the way and preventing me from updating my blog.  Needless to say, I am still around doing what I do (e.g. working, podcasting, writing, and playing Donkey Kong).

Let's address something that came up in a conversation I had with some friend.  I am not an author.  I am not even sure I would call myself a writer.  Even though I have written several screenplays, two collections, of short stories, and one collection of movie reviews, writing is not even close to a career path for me.  It's a hobby that I enjoy.  So as an independent person who writes, some months I make enough money to go out to a dinner at Red Lobster...and some months I go to a dinner at Subway.  Not exactly a rags to riches story, but there's enough money that the IRS is always happy to come checking for their portion.  Note to newbie writers, authors, and people who write: Royalty payments never have taxes taken out in advance, so be ready at tax time to pay the fiddler.

I have been actively writing.  My second volume of There Goes Tokyo! reviews will be completed by the end of summer (then it's editing and formatting time) and if all goes well should be available for purchase by the conclusion of 2015.  This collection covers the Heisei Series, Millennium Series, and more.  There's over thirty reviews total and I made sure that this summer's Jurassic World made it into the book.  Nothing like sitting in a dark theatre frantically taking notes while eating a pretzel and attempting to enjoy an Icee.   I know at one point a man in the row behind me looked over my shoulder with a, "What the hell is this guy taking notes for?  Is there going to be a test?"-expression on his face.

Aside from TGT2, I have also been working on my first novella.  This one will clock in around 150-pages and, trust me, it's a bloody affair.  It'll be under my Late Night Horrors collection and should be available also before the end of calendar year 2015.  I can't share much about it other than the title - A TALE OF TWO MONSTERS.  I know there's a full-length novel in me, but I'm baby-stepping my way toward it.  Writing this novella as certainly taught me plenty since the concept was originally going to be a short story but as ballooned into a much larger work that I think is a real grabber for fan's who like scares, violence, vampires, and...did I mention blood?

Lastly before I end this entry and return to my writing I want to address something.  Wiser writers than me have often said it is a fool's errand to engage with critics.  Sadly, I guess I don't listen.  When people take the time to buy my work on various sites and post reviews, I like to respond and thank them for their time.  If the review isn't positive, I do my best to explain my point as well.  But, wow, there are some angry people out there.  I'm not sure if this is because an exchange of money has taken place or not but I find it interesting that when someone does not like something I wrote their review inevitably either offers me strong advice on what I should have done ("Go be a blogger ya bum!") or has such a powerful opinion that cannot in any sense me wrong, "I hate this book.  If you read it and like it you are wrong.  Nothing positive will ever come from purchasing and reading this book.").   My all time favorite was one from a year ago where the reviewer claimed my book (There Goes Tokyo!) was horribly edited with hundreds of factual and grammatical errors.  When I tried making some responses inquiring this reviewer to give me one example he responded with, "Well, I'm really busy but I'll be in touch."  A year later and I'm still waiting for that ONE EXAMPLE.  So I get suckered into a debate, have a negative review posted about my work, and naturally none of what the review wrote was true.  But, because I didn't follow that timeless advice of, "Don't engage with critics" I'm the one who ends up wasting his time trying to defend my work while some angry man with a keyboard simply wants to knock it down because apparently it threatens some part of their happy existence.  Weird.

But I guess there's caveat emptor and there's the law of being a critic which is if you pay your money you can say whatever you want whenever you want critiquing someone else's work whether it is the truth or not.  Seriously, the ire in some reviewers has caught me off guard, sometimes I think it may be jealousy that other people have accomplished a task like writing one (or several) books, and seen them through to completion where the buying public can read and enjoy them, which sets some people into a sour mood so strongly that instead of politely making a point they lie, name call, or just do what they can to sling mud over another person's efforts.

That said, years ago I read Susanna Clarke's book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  The book received high praise from people and I was excited to delve into the world of English Magic.  Needless to say, I did not like the book.  I wrote a review and explained my position.  I never said her writing was bad, that the effort was better served as being published on a blog for free, or that anyone who liked the book was an idiot.  Simply put, I did not like the book.

In retrospect I may have been wrong.  This summer BBC America has been airing the seven-part mini-series on Clarke's novel and it's a hoot.  I am enjoying the story, the pacing, and the world that is being presented on my television.  I'm liking it so much that I may have to go back and revisit the novel since perhaps my review was too critical.  Nevertheless, I showed class in explaining my opinion and what worked and what didn't work and made sure I didn't explain to Ms. Clarke that her work was a waste of time for the planet and we'd all be better off for it.  That said, I'm no Susanna Clarke and I'm sure she's smart enough to have learned the lesson about never engaging critics.  I'm a fan of Kevin Smith and in his book Tough Sh!t he made a point of explaining that if you have creative energy get out there and share it with the world and let those sour naysayers be damned.  And that's why I'm still writing, because I have tales that need to be told.

But...there's always time for BBQ!

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